Professor disciplined for academic speech

Professor disciplined for academic speech

Talk about Orwellian tactics. I wonder when the outrage over the trampling of academic freedom will ring out.

A professor who’s been teaching at Brandeis University for nearly 5 decades, in a class on Latin American politics, said that “that Mexican migrants are sometimes referred to pejoratively as ‘wetbacks.’” Note that he was not expressing his own opinion, nor was he he condoning the word. He was simply describing it in the context of a class discussion on politics, presumably one having to do with opposition to Mexican immigration to the US. But even that’s not allowed if even one student is offended.

If “wetback” is unacceptable, even when one is saying that it’s unacceptable, then I guess that “Huckleberry Finn” is banned from campus. Of course, if there’s a class on “gangsta rap”— and what progressive university is complete without one?— I’m sure the so-called “N”-word is just fine because it’s being used by one who would be subjected to it and thus stripped of the oppressive power it has when a white man uses it.

Likewise, you can probably assume that Professor Donald Hindley is not Hispanic, and is therefore not allowed to use the “oppressive” word in any context.

A student complained to the administration, according to the foundation, which in October found that Hindley had made “statements in class that were inappropriate, racial, and discriminatory.”

Hindley also received a letter from Provost Marty Krauss in which he was threatened with termination and told a monitor would observe his classes until Krauss determined he was “able to conduct (himself) appropriately in the classroom.”


“Brandeis … has behaved utterly outrageously and atrociously,” he said.

“I have been persecuted for some years because I am outspoken … and this is vindictive persecution for my outspokenness,” he said before refusing to comment further and referring questions to his lawyer.

The Boston Globe notes the irony that Brandeis is named for “former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, a passionate defender of free speech rights.”

1 comment
  • Well, there is something about this kind of story that makes one feel as if there has been some editing error and the offender’s real miscue has somehow been omitted from the account.

    One wonders, did the academic higher-ups actually use the offensive word in their written reprimand to the professor?  If so, shouldn’t they be reprimanded by even higher-ups, who must then, in turn, likewise suffer rebuke, and so on, and so on . . .

    There is, I must say, some karma in your posting of this story in proximity to your quotation from Orwell . .