A university professor in Michigan has been placed on leave after declaring it would be “more admirable” to kill guest speakers who hold “transphobic,” “racist,” and “homophobic” views than to just shout them down.
Steven Shaviro, who teaches film and media studies courses at Wayne State University, took to Facebook to express his thoughts about “free speech on campus,” claiming that he does not “advocate violating federal and state criminal codes.”
Nevertheless, the professor wrote that “right-wing speakers” deserve death because they are “precisely” invited by right-wing college groups with the intention to “provoke and incident that discredit the left” and give more publicity and validation to the “reprehensible views” they allegedly have.
“Protesters get blamed instead of the bigoted speaker; the university administration finds a perfect excuse to side publicly with the racists or phobes, [and] the international and national press has a field day saying that bigots are the ones being oppressed,” Shaviro continued.
To help make his point, Shaviro cited the assassination of Symon Petliura by Jewish anarchist Sholem Schwarzbard in 1926 in the aftermath of Russian Civil War. A national hero of Ukraine, Petliura led an army that not only fought against the Bolsheviks but also killed tens of thousands of East European Jews in anti-Semitic pogroms.
“The exemplary historical figure in this is Sholem Schwarzbard, who assassinated the anti-Semitic butcher Simon Petliura, rather than trying to shout him down,” Shaviro wrote, apparently comparing critics of the radical left-wing race and sex ideologies to a war leader whose troops carried out deadly pogroms.
“Remember that Schwarzbard was acquitted by a jury, which found his action justified,” he wrote.
The Facebook post caught the attention of Wayne State administrators, who took action and suspended Shaviro on Monday.
“The post stated that rather than ‘shouting down’ those with whom we disagree, one would be justified to commit murder to silence them,” Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson said in a campus-wide message. “We have on many occasions defended the right of free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but we feel this post far exceeds the bounds of reasonable or protected speech.”
“It is, at best, morally reprehensible and, at worst, criminal,” he said, adding that the matter has been referred to law enforcement “for further review and investigation.”
Shaviro couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.
The professor’s post in itself appears to be a reaction to a recent incident at Stanford Law School, where student protesters succeeded in shutting down a speech that should have been given by U.S. Circuit Judge Kyle Duncan.
Duncan, a Trump appointee to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, condemned Stanford students who disrupted the March 9 speech.
“Let’s say the quiet part out loud: The mob came to target me because they hate my work and my ideas,” he said at a different event hosted by the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.
“It is not free speech to silence others because you hate them. It is not free speech to jeer and heckle a speaker who’s been invited to your school so that he can’t deliver a talk,” the judge said at the Notre Dame lecture. “It is not free speech to form a mob and hurl taunts and threats that aren’t worthy of being written on the wall of a public toilet. It is not free speech to pretend to be harmed by words or ideas you disagree with and then use that feigned harm as a license to deny a speaker the most rudimentary forms of civility.”