Some angry random person twitted some ridiculously outrageous crap about former First Lady Barbara Bush and everybody went nuts.
“Conservatives keep sparking ‘free speech’ battles. When a Muslim professor tweeted about racism, guess what happened?” The subhead adds, “Randa Jarrar’s case is a reminder that when a woman of color speaks out on her views about race, she faces unique dangers.” The way Vox senior reporter Anna North tells it, Jarrar is a victim of anti-minority bigotries, a case study about what happens when progressive women of color try to engage in important conversations about race.
Some called for her to be fired, to which this angry random person replied:
I work as a tenured professor. I make 100K a year doing that. I will never be fired. I will always have people wanting to hear what I have to say.
Whether there are people “wanting to hear” what she has to say, I dunno. That she won’t be fired for twitting outrageous bizarre things, on the other hand, is true. Randa Jarrar is a tenured professor at Fresno State, sometimes referred to as the Harvard of…oh wait. Nobody refers to it as the Harvard of anywhere. But even Fresno State is obliged to respect free speech.
What this means is that some angry random person who works for a state college can’t be punished for her exercise of free speech. For the terminally clueless, the First Amendment isn’t limited to her being arrested and prosecuted, even though twitting dumb crap has yet to be criminalized, but suffer any detriment as a consequence of speech. So yes, she can’t be fired. Or demoted. Or sent to Siberia. Or imprisoned.
That doesn’t mean the hiring of someone like this angry random person doesn’t raise issues as to what Fresno State was thinking. If your kid goes there, you might want to give this some serious thought. You might not want your child taught by someone who thinks like this, who behaves like this. If your child was considering going there, your kid might want to reconsider. Then again, whether the profs elsewhere are better isn’t at all clear.
But other than the students at Fresno State, and the other profs who are now employed by a school that has hit the ether as a cesspool, who cares what Rando Jarrar has to say? She’s not a voice that matters. Millions of people don’t hang on her every word, even if her narcissistic delusions suggest she believes they should and will. She’s just another dope making stupid sounds.
Anna North at Vox, which claims to explain the news provided every explanation involves meteors striking earth, has recreated the backlash as an exemplar of how the voice of women of color are treated, that she faces “unique danger.”
Jarrar is an academic and writer who has never shied away from politically controversial topics. (I once edited a piece she wrote for Salon on belly dancing and cultural appropriation.) But the fury over her tweets is an example of a much larger debate about speech on college campuses. Conservatives have increasingly criticized liberal students for protesting speakers with whom they disagree, accusing them of taking “political correctness” to the extreme and threatening the First Amendment.
One of the perpetual problems with the willfully blind is that they can’t see what they choose not to see. Jarrar’s First Amendment rights were vigorously supported by the full spectrum of political views, conservative included. North didn’t see it? There’s a reason for that, and it has nothing to do with conservatives (or any other flavor of politics).
But the problem has nothing to do with Jarrar’s never shying away from politically controversial topics. It’s got nothing to do with Jarrar’s race, gender, ethnicity or the image of her having anything to do with belly dancer, disturbing as that may be.
Jarrar also tweeted, “I’m happy the witch is dead. can’t wait for the rest of her family to fall to their demise the way 1.5 million iraqis have,” and, in response to criticism, posted the phone number of a suicide hotline, apparently portraying it as her own, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Does she have a right to twit that she’s “happy the witch is dead”? Sure. But what sort of nutjob would say such a thing, even if she’s no fan of the Bush clan? That nutjob would be Jarrar. As to her posting the phone number of a suicide hotline, thus wreaking havoc with a real thing so she can play troll on the internet, is different. Free speech is one thing. That rose to culpable conduct, even though Frenso State chose to blink about it.
So Jarrar has some victim points, which Anna North gurgitates to recreate reality to align with her narrative? That’s swell, but Jarrar’s problem wasn’t her race, gender, ethnicity or lookist challenges. It was that she’s a flaming nutjob who spewed outrageous offensive stuff.
Women aren’t nuts, but can be. So too with minorities. Intersectionality doesn’t mean you aren’t ignorant and offensive. North’s attempt to use Jarrar’s victim points to deflect her conduct isn’t merely false, but affirmatively distorting.
But at least so far, some on the right seem to be reacting to her speech with the kinds of outrage and calls for removal conservatives traditionally criticize. On Tuesday night, Jarrar tweeted, “who’s the snowflake now?”
Anyone who stood for the First Amendment for others but called for Jarrar’s firing was hypocritical and unprincipled. That’s not what “snowflake” means, but given Jarrar’s general grasp of things, this was the least of her errors.
Now for the other side of the meteor: Jarrar’s victim points don’t make her a flaming nutjob, but they don’t absolve her of being one either. Jarrar’s not a disgrace because of her race or gender. She’s a disgrace because of what she, Randa Jarrar, said and did.
But then, she’s no thought leader. She’s a bad hire at Fresno State. Who cares what she says? She’s just another random flaming nutjob on the twitters. The joint is lousy with stupid offensive people. She’s just another one.