News & Politics

Professors Rally Around Bullying Colleague

Bullying is a real problem, supposedly. I say “supposedly” because so many of the people who cry and whine about bullying are also the very same people who engage in that same behavior, then try to justify it because of politics.

Take this story over at Campus Reform as an example.

About 50 University of Nebraska-Lincoln professors and students protested Monday for 40 minutes in support of a lecturer who bullied a conservative student over her political views.

The university relieved Courtney Lawton, a graduate student instructor, from her teaching duties after she flipped off and bullied the president of the school’s Turning Point USA chapter, Katie Mullen, while she was recruiting on campus.

An administrator even insisted that Mullen had to leave the premises until campus police showed up and affirmed her right to stay. Later, after the bullying became too much and Mullen was harassed to the point of tears, the officers escorted her to safety.

Lawton was subsequently reassigned to non-teaching duties, which both she and Donde Plowman, UNL’s executive vice chancellor, ascribed to “safety concerns.”

According to The Scottsbluff Star Herald, one of the signs at Monday’s rally read, “Academic Freedom is Democracy,” and the protesters made it clear throughout that their concern was for academic freedom, though the original incident with Mullen took place outside of the classroom on school grounds.

Wow. I wonder how many of those complaining about this supposed assault on academic freedom are pushing for Professor Gilley’s pro-colonialism paper to be pulled. At least Gilley’s situation deals with actual academic freedom.

What these professors are defending isn’t academic freedom. No,  they’re wanting to support harassment of students because of their politics. This had nothing to do with Lawton’s academic freedom, it has to do with her inability to act like a decent human being.

Lawton is, as far as I can tell, still free to pursue whatever area of study she wants. She’s still free to publish her findings, regardless of how popular they are. In other words, she has academic freedom.

What she doesn’t have is the right try and intimidate someone who doesn’t share her political views. She doesn’t have a right to bully people into silence. That has nothing to do with academic freedom.