Social justice warriors at Philly's University of the Arts want feminist flamethrower Camille Paglia's head on a pike for her un-PC opinions, but the school's president has declined to oblige them.
Lefty students at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts recently demanded that the school sack its most prominent professor, feminist bomb-thrower Camille Paglia, for her criticism of the #MeToo movement and for comments they consider to be transphobic.
But in a quick and satisfying rebuttal to the latest in long series of illiberal attempts by some progressives to shut down free speech on college campuses across the U.S., the university’s president responded to the outcry by telling this mob of social justice warriors to go pound sand.
According to an April 15 report in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Paglia-bashing kicked off when about 100 protesters demonstrated outside a lecture by the 72-year-old professor, chanting, “We believe survivors, trans lives matter.” The lecture met a premature end when someone in the crowd set off the fire alarm.
Following the demonstration, a Change.org petition posted by the protesters denounced Paglia, claiming that she had “mocked and degraded transgender individuals” and had expressed skepticism of the current, widespread practice of college officials investigating sexual assaults on campus.
The screed quoted Paglia, who self-identifies as transgender, saying in a 2016 interview that, “I question whether the transgender choice is genuine in every single case.”
It also linked to a video of an interview of Paglia by Ella Whelan, a writer for the British publication Spiked, wherein Paglia lambastes #MeToo culture and finds fault with Title IX tribunals at universities looking into alleged rapes.
“To me, it’s absolutely ridiculous for a second that any university ever tolerated a complaint of a girl coming in six months or a year after an event, okay?” Paglia told Whelan. “Right, if a real rape was committed, go friggin’ report it to the police.”
In response to this modern-day heresy, the petition presented the university with a list of demands, chief among them, that Paglia, a humanities professor at the school since 1984, “be removed from UArts faculty and replaced by a queer person of color.”
So far, the Change.org petition has garnered more 1,000 signers, but before this hyperbolic bit of sexual McCarthyism hit the internet, the school’s president, David Yager beat the petitioners to the punch, by rejecting the suggestion that his small arts college of 1,900 students cater to censors.
In a letter emailed to UArts’ students, faculty and staff, Yager stood firm against the protesters, refusing their calls for the suppression of speech, without mentioning Paglia by name.
“The University of the Arts is committed to the exercise of free speech and academic freedom, to addressing difficult or controversial issues and ideas through civil discussion, with respect for those who hold opinions different from our own,” wrote Yager. “Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis’ 1927 advice still holds true today: that the remedy for messages we disagree with or dislike is more speech and not enforced silence.”
Yager pointed out that this “resolve” was even more important at an art school.
“Artists over the centuries have suffered censorship, and even persecution, for the expression of their beliefs through their work,” he noted. “My answer is simple: not now, not at UArts.”
The letter incensed the students behind the petition. One of their demands is that the president “apologize for his wildly ignorant and hypocritical letter.”
However, Paglia, who has been pissing off left-wingers since her 1990 tome Sexual Personae challenged mainstream feminism, was delighted by Yager’s defense of free speech.
In an email to the Inquirer, she hailed Yager’s letter as an “eloquent statement affirming academic freedom” and “a landmark in contemporary education.”
She also took aim at her snowflake detractors, writing that, “the people involved evidently do not read books (I’ve written eight), but get their information from garbled social media.”
For more campus speech shenanigans, read:
Reed College Freshmen Stand Up to Social-Justice Warriors