A private college decided that it did not like the public statements of an incoming non-tenured senior lecturer. They told him, in a public report, that similar behavior would not be countenanced in the future. They did not fire him. They did not dock him any pay. They did not require him to apologize. He decided that he could not live within those restrictions, so he left. Then, he acts as if he is a martyr to free speech. Not in my book.

Mr. Shapiro's efforts to compare the treatment he received from Georgetown Law with the treatment of TENURED faculty is something that he could only do if he were (a) ignorant or (b) trolling. Mr. Shapiro is not ignorant.

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I take a different view of the situation. The issue is not whether private schools can fire faculty for any non-protected reason they want, nor is the issue about tenured versus non-tenured faculty. The general principle of academic freedom applies to non-tenured as well as tenured faculty (as Dean Treanor's statement acknowledges), even if the consequences might play out differently because tenured faculty enjoy greater job protections (compare how they're treated compared to the often shameful treatment of adjuncts).

The real issue is whether Georgetown is applying its own free-speech policy is an evenhanded way. If you look at the examples cited in Shapiro's letter of speech from the left that was never investigated or written up in a report, it seems to me that Georgetown is not applying its policy in a content-neutral way.

Professor David Cole, one of the most left-leaning members of the GULC faculty, makes clear in this Washington Post piece that Shapiro should not have been fired because his tweet, however offensive to some, was protected speech under the Georgetown policy. Dean Treanor should have said as much in his statement—but instead, to avoid the ire of the left, he absolved Shapiro on a technicality.

The fact that Dean Treanor wasn't willing to say publicly what Professor Cole does in this WaPo op-ed, though, makes clear that Shapiro was right to leave: it was only a matter of time before he'd be fired before some other infraction. The hypotheticals he gives—students taking offense at professors who defend SCOTUS rulings in Dobbs or the affirmative-action cases, arguing that these professors are racist or misogynist—I expect to see at other law schools in the not-too-distant future.


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And to be really clear, Mr. Shapiro was not called to task for a well-reasoned exegesis on the demise of Roe v. Wade or Affirmative Action. He was called to task for a TWEET that even he cannot defend. It was offensive. It was not part of his role as Executive Director. It was something he did in order to jump into the spotlight. It turned out that he could not handle the attention.

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Benjamin Franklin: "A republic, ma'am, if you can keep it." Protected rights in general, and free speech in particular, require a person to stand up for the rights in question. It matters that Georgetown did not fire Mr. Shapiro, nor did they dock his pay. They said that his tweet was antithetical to the values that Georgetown stands for. "As I wrote at the time, Mr. Shapiro’s tweets are antithetical to the work that we do at Georgetown Law to build inclusion, belonging, and respect for diversity. They have been harmful to many in the Georgetown Law community and beyond."

Do you doubt that is true? Free speech goes in both directions and means the freedom to be challenged on offensive statements.

"IDEAA and HR found that Mr. Shapiro’s tweets had a significant negative impact on the Georgetown Law community, including current and prospective students, alumni, staff, and faculty, and they recommended that I put in place actions to address the negative impact that the tweets had on the law school community."

Do you doubt that this is true? Even as I believe that Mr. Shapiro had an absolute right to make the offensive statement that he made on Twitter, I have no doubt that it was a deliberate attempt to put himself at the center of the most high-profile issue in the legal community, and that he did it in a way that caused offense. It is only proper that Georgetown take action to make it clear that Mr. Shapiro's statements do not represent the views of the Law Center.

Mr. Shapiro, had he stayed, would have been required to attend the same diversity training as all senior staff is required to attend. Do you doubt that this is proper? Mandatory diversity training is an avenue to make it less likely that an individual will cause offense through negligence or "inartful" statements.

Mr. Shapiro, had he stayed, was asked to make himself available to meet with any students who had concerns about his statements. Do you doubt that this is proper?

And . . . that's it.

If Mr. Shapiro could not stand to live within those guidelines, he was not a good fit for Georgetown. I expect that his martyr cosplay will get him a lot of airtime on Fox News, and make him a hero at the Manhattan Institute.

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