This week the president of Georgetown University released a statement condemning the use of violent speech aimed at people based on gender, ethnicity or political affiliation. This statement came one day after professor Christine Fair called for extreme violence against men nationwide, contradicting the most basic rules that the Jesuit institution purports to hold all students and faculty to live by.
I am a proud member of the Hoya community, having attended Georgetown from 2017-2018. I am a country boy at heart and was nervous about how I would be received at the prestigious institution. My worldview is not one that is typically popular on the modern university campus. My apprehension turned out to be a complete waste. The Georgetown community welcomed, taught and transformed me. The time there turned out to be one of the best seasons of my professional life.
Georgetown seriously emphasizes standards of behavior to the student body. The university’s Ethos Statement says that every person has unique value and is worthy of respect. School leadership e-mailed the student population regularly, during my time there, calling on us to report any instance of intolerance to campus law enforcement. It is under that reality that I am so disappointed in the university’s reaction, to a second recently-publicized violation of the ethos statement by a faculty member.
In February of 2017, professor Jonathan Brown faced criticism in the press for saying “I don’t think it’s morally evil to own somebody,” during a presentation at the International Institute of Islamic Thought in Herndon, Va. A university spokesperson responded to the resulting news stories by saying that the school may not always endorse, but defends faculty rights of expression.
On Monday, professor Christine Fair took it up a notch, tweeting that “entitled” white men “deserve miserable deaths while feminists laugh as they take their last gasps. Bonus: we castrate their corpses and feed them to swine.” That is beyond expressing an opinion. It was a call to violence. Even Twitter, a wild west of selective terms-of-use enforcement, responded by temporarily suspending her account.
My argument is not a call for more thought policing. I wholeheartedly defend freedom of expression, even those who I disagree with. I expect the same from them in return. Professors Brown and Fair have every much the right to express themselves as any other American. The problem is the growing disparity between the kind of speech that is supported and that which leads to consequences in our society. It is nearly impossible to believe that Georgetown officials would support professor Fair’s rights to expression had her comments been aimed at other segments of the public. The same rules must apply for all if fairness and justice are concerns.
Georgetown University is an institution that has existed since before our republic. The walls of the campus have seen every challenge of American history. They are a witness to is the destructive power of hate in society. The school’s leadership has gone to great lengths to make amends for sins of the past that happened on that hilltop campus in the dark days of slavery. I call on the leadership to once again take meaningful action to address a disregard for the humanity of others expressed now in our time.
Copyright 2018 Chase Spears All Rights Reserved
My opinions are my own and do not reflect any official policy of the Department of the Army Office of the Chief of Public Affairs, the Department of the Army or the Department of Defense.