Not My Fair Lady

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

Christine Fair, the Georgetown political scientist who wished death and dismemberment upon the Republican half of the U. S. Senate Judiciary Committee over their support of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, has been placed on “research leave” by Georgetown University. Maybe she’ll learn something.

Reacting to the uncorroborated, unconfirmed, contradictory accusations against the Judge, Professor Fair tweeted her reaction to the hearings: ““Look at thus chorus of entitled white men justifying a serial rapist’s arrogated entitlement. All of them deserve miserable deaths while feminists laugh as they take their last gasps. Bonus: we castrate their corpses and feed them to swine? Yes.”

What would have been interesting, and still might be, would be the use of Fair as a test case to ascertain how impartially Georgetown applies its own free speech code. Georgetown’s “Speech and Expression Policy” reads like a free speech absolutist tract, until you click on the exceptions to the rule, or rather, rules.

Despite the curious paragraph that asserts “Indeed, members of a university community exercise ‘dual citizenship’: we are academics and we are Americans,” the online handbook goes on to proclaim, “More is better.”
“Discourse is central to the life of the university. To forbid or limit discourse contradicts everything the university stands for. This conviction proceeds from several assumptions. Besides those sketched above, there is the assumption that the exchange of ideas will lead to clarity, mutual understanding, the tempering of harsh and extreme positions, the softening of hardened positions and ultimately the attainment of truth. Some ideas, simply by being expressed, sink without a trace; others cry out for the intervention of reflection, contrary evidence, probing questions. None of that happens when one cuts off discourse. John Henry Newman’s formulation applies here: ‘flagrant evils cure themselves by being flagrant.’ The remedy for silly or extreme or offensive ideas is not less free speech but more.”

Yet and still, Georgetown’s policy statement goes on to note that “The University prohibits expression that violates the law, falsely defames a specific individual, constitutes a genuine threat, violates the University’s Harassment Policy, or unjustifiably invades substantial privacy or confidentiality interests.”

When you click on the University Harassment Policy, you learn that, “It is the policy of Georgetown University to prohbit harassment on the basis of age, color, disability, family responsibilities, gender identity and expression, genetic information, marital status, national origin and accent, personal appearance, political affiliation, pregnancy, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, source of income, veteran’s status or other factors prohibited by federal and/or District of Columbia law.”

Moreover, as far as Georgetown is concerned, “Harassment is verbal or physical conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion to an individual because of a Protected Category as specified above, when such conduct has the purpose or effect of: unreasonably interfering with an individual or third party’s academic or work performance; creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational or work environment; or otherwise adversely affecting an individual or third party’s academic or employment opportunities.”

Is Christine Fair really in compliance with all of the above?