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Remain Civil
2022-09-14

            With the passing of Queen Elizabeth last week came many remarks from a world-wide assortment of people.

            They ranged from respectful and sad to happy and disrespectful.  Using the backdrop of Great Britain's past of colonization, some were downright brutal.

            One such comment came from a Professor at Carnegie Mellon University.  As Queen Elizabeth was near death in Scotland, the Nigerian-American language professor posted on social media "The chief monarch of a thieving raping genocidal empire is finally dying,"  She added, "May her pain be excruciating."  

            The social-media post included, "If anyone expects me to express anything but disdain for the monarch who supervised a government that sponsored the genocide that massacred and displaced half my family and the consequences of which those alive today are still trying to overcome, you can keep wishing upon a star."

            I'm not sure that I hate anybody to the point where I wish them an excruciating death.

            That is the opinion of the professor and, while I disagree, I would defend the professor's right to express it.  America is a country founded on freedom of speech and we can hold opposing viewpoints yet remain civil with one another.

            Of course, a social media back-and-forth ensued.  Some supporting, some opposing.

            The social-media platform eventually took down the post for its rules which bar wishing or hoping that someone experiences physical harm. 

            According to an interview earlier this year, the professor was born in Nigeria, a British colony until 1960.  At 10-years-old the professor moved to the United States and attended Dartmouth College, Brown University and the University of California, Los Angeles.

            During the interview the professor was quoted as saying "Because of systemic exclusion, my voice is unique and foundational in the field … I am the main scholar looking at race and experiences of Blackness in language learning and one of the few who examine language education from a social justice perspective."

            The Pittsburgh college issued a statement that read, in part, that free expression is core to the mission of higher education, however, the views the professor shared absolutely do not represent the values of the institution, nor the standards of discourse we seek to foster.

            There are no current plans to sensor or punish the professor; nor should there be.

            The professor expressed an opinion and the college responded with theirs. 

            But. Hundreds of academics and students weren't satisfied with the school's response and signed a petition defending the professor and criticizing the school for not defending the professor more persuasively.

            In part, the petition states that Carnegie Mellon had a choice and their response was a deliberate betrayal against one of their own highly regarded and respected scholars. It has further exposed her to threats of violence.

            No, the professor's social media posts did that.

            Nobody should ever wish violence or excruciating pain on another person; in life or nearing death.

            Remember, we can hold opposing viewpoints and remain civil with one another.


 

 

 

 

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