They’re coming for you next: Lora Burnett, a leftist professor who demanded that conservative teachers be fired or punished for expressing their conservative opinions, in February lost her university job due to the virulence of her own leftist opinions, expressed in a number of very ugly tweets.
The Collin [College] administration has now confirmed it won’t renew the untenured scholar’s contract, which ends in May, for not conducting herself “in a professional manner.”
Burnett shared images from the human resources letter she received, which allege she violated “delineated standards of conduct” through her “insubordination, making private personnel issues public that impair the college’s operations, and personal criticisms of co-workers, supervisors, and/or those who merely disagree with you.”
She characterized the firing as retaliation for “mean tweets.”
No, those tweets were not merely “mean,” they were part of a long tract record of demanding the punishment or firing of anyone whose politics disagreed with Burnett’s. For example,
In 2018, Burnett publicly demanded that several econ faculty at [George Mason University] be stripped of tenure, sanctioned, & possibly fired for no other reason than that they had received grant money from the Koch foundation.
She also demanded that the work of these individuals be censored, removed, or retracted, not because it was invalid but because the writers had a political viewpoint she disagreed with.
She has now been let go by her university, and is considering legal action.
From my perspective her intolerance of others disqualifies her as a college teacher, so her firing seems appropriate. Others on the left will disagree and say she should have the right to express these opinions, and that her firing was an example of the indiscriminate and intolerant nature of our blacklisting culture, which goes after everyone for anything they may say that offends anyone.
I can see the validity in that argument. If you are going to have free speech you must permit people to say things that are offensive, no matter who they offend. In a perfect world I think I would not care what she said, and would defend her fully, even though I find her position odious and oppressive.
At the same time, the right is under siege from people like her, who have become quite successful at squelching conservative thought as well as anyone who dares express it. Her firing is an exception to the bulk of today’s blacklisting, almost all of which is by the left, against the right.
Thus, her firing could also be considered a defensive reaction that in the long run might force the left to rethink the intolerance that now dominates its culture, as epitomized by Burnett.
That being said, I suspect some of my readers will feel some joy over this ironic story. I don’t. I see this story, including the delight that some readers might feel, as a further sign of the growing intolerance of our society.
In a tolerant and just society you never derive pleasure from the unjust suffering of anyone, including your opponents. If you do, then you are as intolerant as the bigots and petty despots who wish to squelch freedom of thought and liberty and sadly now control the reins of political and cultural power. Your targets for intolerance are merely different, that’s all.
Unfortunately too many people have forgotten this fundamental reality. I hope that maybe this story can help make people from both sides recognize it, and change their ways. Our watchword should not be how much schadenfreude we can gain from our enemies’ discomfort. Instead it should be, as historian Evelyn Beatrice Hall said once in paraphrasing Voltaire, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
It is our only hope for the future and our best chance of re-establishing the civilization we have lost.