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August 22, 2014


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Kevin Jon Heller

I'm sure Palestinian students at the University of Illinois will feel much better knowing that a Palestinian professor can be fired because of the content of his speech.

Kevin Jon Heller

In case you're keeping score, Chancellor Wise has now issued a statement condemning BDS and fired a Palestinian professor for being too critical of Israel. But it's all really about civility. Really. It is.


Hopefully, the comments on this post will refrain from arguing the MERITS of ISRAEL's policies.

At issue are statements that, if uttered about almost any other favored group, would be deemed by the good folks in the FL good cause to withhold final approval of an appointment.

In fact, if statements like those at issue had been uttered about the conduct of other persons/countries in the same region of the world (saints all, one could suppose from the singular and intense focus on the conduct of Israel), or about certain persons/groups in the US (deserved or not), one wonders if the appointment ever would have been considered in the first place.


I would hope that Dan and others at this blog will make clear that the University's decision is indefensible, legally and ethically. The Chancellor has unilaterally tried to repeal the First Amendment for Illinois faculty. The First Amendment protects disrespectful and demeaning speech by faculty, indeed, by anyone. The statements by the Chancellor and by the Board of Trustees are idiotic but also scary. Dan, others here, are you folks asleep?


Brian, could you please explain how the University's position is indefensible legally? The First Amendment prohibits laws impeding free speech. It does not, as far as I know, prevent employers from making hiring decisions. No one is suggesting that Professor Salaita be put in jail, rather that he not be hired.

Michelle N. Meyer

Anon123, see Part I of Perry v. Sindermann.


Meyer (what a name to address this issue!!, even is a different spelling). Unless I am wrong, Perry did not address a hiring decision, but rather a professor who had sufficient years in service to have acquired tenure like rights, at least in the view of the court at least.


Anon 123, haven't you understood, or are you asleep?

Wake up! We have learned that by reason of failing to approve a faculty appointment the Chancellor is "unilaterally trying to repeal the First Amendment for Illinois faculty." The Board of Trustees (and the University President) have made idiotic and scary statements by offering "unwavering support" for the Chancellor's decision. Anyone who fails to agree that basically the entire administration (Chancellor, University President and Board of Trustees) have acted in an "idiotic and scary" manner is "asleep."


There is no 1st Amendment violation here. If I understand correctly, three Israeli teens went missing (presumably kidnapped), and this guy said he wished that all Israelis in that region would go missing. He was basically celebrating the presumed kidnapping of presumably innocent teens.

There are limits to the First Amendment, all having to do with context. Even a state school needs to cultivate a safe and welcoming environment for all of its students. This man could have expressed his anti-Israeli views in a million different ways without being sadistic and vulgar. It is not an unreasonable limitation.

Likewise, if a pro-Israeli professor openly celebrated the murder of clearly innocent Palestinian children, he or she should be fired/not hired as well.

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