Saturday, January 7, 2017

"Muslim woman who voted for Trump asks Georgetown to intervene over professor’s ‘hateful, vulgar’ messages."

The Washington Post reports on the harassment that has befallen a former Georgetown professor, Asra Q. Nomani, who wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post — "I’m a Muslim, a woman and an immigrant. I voted for Trump."
On Thursday, Nomani filed a formal complaint with the university, alleging discrimination and harassment after comments made by Christine Fair, an associate professor in Georgetown’s School for Foreign Service....

“I’ve written you off as a human being,” Fair wrote in one message detailed in the complaint. “Your vote helped normalize Nazis in D.C. What don’t you understand, you clueless dolt?” Fair wrote, later adding: “YOU publicly voted for a sex assailant.” She went on to say that Nomani “pimped herself out to all media outlets because she was a ‘Muslim woman who voted for Trump.’ ”

Fair called Nomani’s appeal to her employer a “very dangerous trend.” She said Nomani, a former professor at Georgetown, has no standing at the university to complain.

“I am most concerned about the increasing appeal to employers to silence the criticism of citizens made in their private capacity as citizens,” [Fair] wrote in an email to The Washington Post. “Because most of us need our jobs, as few of us are financially independent, this is the most pernicious form of bullying of critics.”
Who's the bully here? The bully may be the one who's crying "bully." 

“I am writing to share with you that, as a result of my column, Prof. Fair has directed hateful, vulgar and disrespectful messages to me, including the allegations that I am: a ‘fraud'; ‘fame-mongering clown show'; and a ‘bevkuf,’ or ‘idiot,’ in my native Urdu, who has ‘pimped herself out,’ ” Nomani wrote in a Dec. 2 email included in the complaint to Bruce Hoffman, director of Georgetown’s Center for Security Studies. “This last allegation amounts to ‘slut-shaming.’ ”...

“She has no right to decry criticism . . . even criticism that is in language that offends her fragile sensibilities,” Fair wrote in a Facebook post. “ ‘F–k off’ and ‘go to hell’ and ‘pimping yourself out’ for media coverage offended her . . . but not ‘I can grab their p—–s’ or the various misogynist, racist, xeonophobic [sic] race-baiting bulls–t espoused by her candidate of choice.” Fair concluded: “So again, Ms. Nomani, ‘F–K YOU. GO TO HELL.’ ”
Well, Fair has gone pretty far, but I side with her free speech rights and interests. Nomani had her say and Fair reacted to it, with vivid speech. Fair could be fancily articulate, but sometimes what you have to say really is "Fuck you. Go to hell." Form is part of the expression, as Justice Harlan fancily articulated in Cohen v. California (the "Fuck the Draft" case)(and, yes, I know Georgetown is a private institution):
To many, the immediate consequence of [freedom of speech] may often appear to be only verbal tumult, discord, and even offensive utterance. These are, however, within established limits, in truth necessary side effects of the broader enduring values which the process of open debate permits us to achieve. That the air may at times seem filled with verbal cacophony is, in this sense not a sign of weakness but of strength. We cannot lose sight of the fact that, in what otherwise might seem a trifling and annoying instance of individual distasteful abuse of a privilege, these fundamental societal values are truly implicated. That is why "[w]holly neutral futilities . . . come under the protection of free speech as fully as do Keats' poems or Donne's sermons," Winters v. New York, 333 U. S. 507, 333 U. S. 528 (1948) (Frankfurter, J., dissenting), and why, "so long as the means are peaceful, the communication need not meet standards of acceptability," Organization for a Better Austin v. Keefe, 402 U. S. 415, 402 U. S. 419 (1971).

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