Students at Princeton University got a fresh lesson in how speech rules work on today’s campus.
On February 12, Professor Lawrence Rosen sent an email to students letting them know his course, “Anthropology 212: Cultural Freedoms: Hate Speech, Blasphemy, and Pornography” was being “reluctantly” canceled, reports The Weekly Standard.
The cancelation comes in the wake of a controversy last week, when the professor used the n-word in his class on freedom of expression, causing some students to walk out.
During one such interaction, students recall near-physical altercations with the professor.
Reports the Weekly Standard,
One student in the class tells TWS that he believes the course’s cancelling may have had something to do with an interaction that happened “about halfway through the first seminar.” A male student of color stood up, inches from professor Rosen’s face and shouted “FUCK YOU,” this witness claimed. Just before that, a female student of color had shouted at Rosen, as the first was approaching, “do you feel safe right now.” “There was no physical contact,” this witness claims, though at the time the student feared there might be. During that class, “nobody except Rosen defended Rosen,” the student told me. Another student in the class confirmed this account to TWS.
In an op-ed in Princeton’s student newspaper, one contributor recounted the situation which led to Rosen using the n-word, seemingly in asking students if words or violence is worse.
According to reports of the incident, Rosen asked students in his course, ANT 212: Cultural Freedoms — Hate Speech, Blasphemy, and Pornography, this question on the first day of class: “What is worse, a white man punching a black man, or a white man calling a black man a n****r?”
After Rosen repeated the term in subsequent discussion, students were visibly uncomfortable. “So are you just going to keep using the N-word?” one asked.
“Yes, if I think it’s necessary,” Rosen replied.
From there, Rosen made headlines and reports indicate his office was plagued by complaints and harassment. In his email to students, obtained by the Weekly Standard, he did not indicate any specifics as to why the free speech class was being canceled. He instead encouraged students to move on to other courses this semester and “to listen, to converse, to grapple with the categories by which we create our own experiences.”
Princeton’s Office of Communications told The Weekly Standard that the course’s cancelation “was Professor Rosen’s decision, and there was no pressure from the University.”
In The Daily Princetonian, Princeton’s Department of Anthropology chair Carolyn Rouse said the purpose of the course was to, “be able to argue why hate speech should or should not be protected using an argument other than ‘because it made me feel bad.’”
Welp, nice try, Princeton.