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November 18, 2018

DAILYKENN.com -- Some were appalled at his racist rant. Others passed it off as sarcasm. 

Either way Rutgers University's Prof. James Livingston found himself in the middle of a firestorm with the university pledging an investigation. 

The verdict is in. Livingston is innocent. 

Takeaway: We need to know what people believe; particularly individuals who hold positions of trust and authority. To that end, we should honor the free-speech principle of the First Amendment; even when we abhor the views of the speaker. Let them speak their mind so we know what they are thinking.  

From fire-mail.info ▼

Rutgers University has officially reversed its decision to find a tenured history professor guilty of violating university policy because he wrote two Facebook posts critical of white gentrification in Harlem. The reversal is a vindication for the right of professors to speak as private citizens on issues of public concern.

The university informed professor James Livingston of the reversal on Wednesday, after Rutgers President Robert L. Barchi ordered the reevaluation of the initial ruling. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education represented Livingston in the matter.

“FIRE is pleased that Rutgers did the right thing and reversed the charge of racial discrimination against Professor Livingston,” said Marieke Tuthill Beck-Coon, FIRE’s director of litigation. “Any other result would have undermined the free speech and academic freedom rights of all Rutgers faculty members.”

On May 31, while at a restaurant in his Harlem neighborhood, Livingston posted on his personal Facebook account, “OK, officially, I now hate white people. I am a white people, for God’s sake, but can we keep them–us–us out of my neighborhood?” He wrote that the restaurant was “overrun with little Caucasian assholes,” and said, “I hereby resign from my race.”

After his posts were reported by local and national news outlets, offended members of the public complained to Rutgers, prompting an Office of Employment Equity investigation.

In a July report, Rutgers determined that Livingston’s posts violated the university’s Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment — despite the report’s failure to identify any complaints by Rutgers students or faculty members accusing Livingston of discriminatory conduct. The report wrongly concluded the posts were not protected by the First Amendment and amounted to racial discrimination in violation of university policy.

Punishment for violating the policy allowed for disciplinary action “up to and including discharge.”



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