Yes, Catherine Gregory Should Be Fired

Jonathan Turley is fascinated with the issue of whether  faculty members and employees generally should lose their jobs over controversial conduct outside of the workplace, particularly when it involves political speech. “There remains an uncertain line in what language is protected for teachers in their private lives,” the George Washington law professor writes. As I’ve discussed here before, I don’t think it’s nearly as uncertain as Turley does. When a faculty member’s conduct or statements on social media make an objective observer think, “No competent, professional institution would hire someone like this,” it’s bye-bye and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Even Turley seems to waver in this ridiculous case.

Conservative commentator Lucian Wintrich was about to speak on the topic “It’s OK to Be White”—I LOVE that topic!— at the University of Connecticut when a protestor grabbed his notes. He in turn tussled with her, causing a near riot, and campus police arrested him.  The protestor was Catherine Gregory, associate director of career services  at Quinebaug Valley Community College.

Today the University came to its senses (or realized public opinion wasn’t going to allow it to get away with its attempt at liberal fascism) and dropped the charges against Wintrich  while charging Gregory.

What should happen to Gregory?

Gregory’s lawyer, Jon Schoenhorn argues that his client was justified in her actions because Wintrich’s views constitute “hate speech” and his actions “are beyond the First Amendment” in their insults to minorities. This is obviously nonsense, and I would argue it even qualifies as a frivolous and dishonest defense, an ethical violation. Unless the man is complete nitwit, he must know that there is no excluded variety of speech called “hate speech” that the First Amendment doesn’t protect. He’s lying, or he’s too incompetent to be a lawyer.

Rule 3.1 says in part,

“A lawyer shall not bring or defend a proceeding, or assert or controvert an issue therein, unless there is a basis in law and fact for doing so that is not frivolous, which includes a good faith argument for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law.”

Well, there is no such thing as a good faith belief that a court is going to defy the First Amendment and get away with it. I expect such anti-idemocratic garbage from the likes of, oh, Howard Dean, Reagan Chastain,, Facebook,  Jamelle Bouie, the University of California at Berkeley, or Chris Cuomo.

All of these ignoramuses have declared that “hate speech” can be banned, but Dean is a doctor, Chastain is a fanatic, Facebook is a monster, Bouie is a racist, and Berkeley is Berkeley. They’re not lawyers…well, Cuomo is, but he’s an CNN journalist, so that cancels out any legal ethics or trustworthiness. Schoenhorn is a real lawyer. He’s supposed to know better.

More lawyerly, if ridiculous, is this part of his defense, via Turley:

“Schoenhorn… insisted that his client was merely trying in a “mild and measured way” to calm the situation. However, she was the one causing the commotion, not calming the situation. Schoenhorn added “What Ms. Gregory did was the equivalent of unplugging a microphone. It was not to stop a speech.” Hmmm, I think turning of a microphone is a way to stop a speech. Moreover, what was Gregory’s intention in stealing the speech if not to stop it.”

But enough about Gregory’s lawyer: she’s the one who needs to be fired. (He just needs to go back to law school.) Carlee Drummer, President of Quinebaug Valley Community College, issued a statement that such conduct would not be addressed by the college because “the employee attended the event as a private citizen.”  She’s dead, dead wrong.  As a private citizen, Gregory embarrassed her employer, defied basic values of a liberal education, and triggered the Ethics Alarms Bad Employee Principle: If what you do or say makes objective observers wonder if an educational institution with such an employee has the judgment and values to be trusted with the care of young minds, then the educational institution employing you should make you an ex-employee to protect the integrity and reputation of the school.

Turley, typically, won’t come out and say that this was a firing offense. Instead, he writes,

Unfortunately, college professors and administrators like Gregory have taught students that they do not have to respect the free speech rights of others under the same twisted logic. In a letter to the editor in The Daily Campus, student Emily Steck denounced the university for allowing [Wintrich’s] speech and supported Gregory’s disgraceful conduct:

“When your students were faced with the words of a man intending to incite anger, deny the reality of oppression and ultimately physically assault someone over A PIECE OF PAPER you were not there. What about this event made your administration believe that freedom of speech should be prioritized over hate speech?”

Steck’s inability to understand why freedom of speech would ever be “prioritized over hate speech” is a chilling example of the new legitimacy given intolerance and speech controls on our campuses. There is not a hint of concern that Gregory’s approach is a slippery slope that leads to the silencing of any voices that the majority deems “hateful.”  Steck is part of a new generation of censors who have no understanding of the foundation of our society in core free speech principles.

And so? AND SO??? The Professor ends his post there. Allow me to finish it for him.

Fire Catherine Gregory.

34 Comments

Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Race, Workplace

34 responses to “Yes, Catherine Gregory Should Be Fired

  1. Might Gregory have just channeled her inner Melissa Click and slobbered:

    “You have to go! You have to go! Let’s get some muscle over here!”

    UCONN ought note that the incident that led to Clark identifying as former UM Professor has had a, shall we say, negative impact on Mizzou’s prospects.

    ”Long After Protests, Students Shun the University of Missouri”

    • The market works.

      It works better vastly more times than not.

      It works slowly.

      But it works better.

      I think the modern higher education paradigm is in gross need of reformation to accommodate the modern era, professions and marketplace. I think the Leftist sicknesses pervading upper education are symptomatic of the problems that need addressing, so it’s beautifully symmetrical that those problems will be the cause of higher education’s collapse prompting a restructuring.

      I just hope the restructuring solves problems…not entrenches them.

      • ”The market works.”

        That it does!

        “It works better vastly more times than not.”

        You can say that again. Late last week, the “Gag Gifts Sure To Tweak Yer Righty Friends” category fell backwards into money.

        http://racheldolezal.com/index.php/product/2018-calendar/

        “It works slowly.’

        Not always, it sold out so fast it would’ve made your head spin.

        “But it works better.”

        That it does/Part II! Mercifully, it’s been restocked with the price goosed over 10 %.

        How many should we put you down for? And if you order now…..

  2. Frank Stephens

    I cannot improve on what Associate Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., said: “If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought — not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought we hate.”

  3. JutGory

    I don’t know the precedent offhand, but I think the legal argument would be that “hate speech” is equivalent to “fighting words” or, rather, an extension of the idea. I think a non-frivolous argument could be made to extend the law; I just hope it fails.
    -Jut

    • Hate speech is not analogous to fighting words.

      • JutGory

        I think the antifa in Charlottesville would disagree. The idea is that hate speech is violence, and, thus, incites a violent response.

        I don’t agree, but I think that is the argument that will be made.

        Or, it will probably be analogized to hate crimes. We already punish crimes more severely if speech indicates a hateful motive.

        I am less concerned about whether a judge sanctions this position as frivolous than I am concerned that the Judge will not only find it non-frivolous, but downright meritorious.

        Somewhere, out there, there is a Judge that stupid.

        -Jut

        • I think the antifa in Charlottesville would disagree. The idea is that hate speech is violence, and, thus, incites a violent response.

          That would be like throwing rocks at Colin Kaepernick and company for their hate speech against the United States.

          I am less concerned about whether a judge sanctions this position as frivolous than I am concerned that the Judge will not only find it non-frivolous, but downright meritorious.

          Somewhere, out there, there is a Judge that stupid.

          Brock Turner can personally attest to that.

        • Somewhere, out there, there is a Judge that stupid.

          Try Hawaii. Or anywhere west of Wyoming

      • dragin_dragon

        Not at all, in fact. In Texas, a valid defense for assault (hitting somebody first…’sucker punching’ ’em) is that they said something ‘inflammatory’ to you. For instance, called you a ‘Son Of A Bitch’. It is called ‘verbal enticement’.

        • But that’s not hate speech. Hate speech is opinion with content. Fighting words are direct insults with no purpose other than to enrage. Calling someone a nigger is fighting words. Saying that blacks are an inferior race is “Hate speech,” even if it moves someone to violence.

          • dragin_dragon

            And my point, as yours, exactly. Incitement to violence, or ‘provocation’ can be hate speech (my belief is that there ain’t no sich animal) or just provocative. May even be both, given the state of today’s laws, but it isn’t illegal unless it causes someone to hit you in the mouth. Then, YOU’RE the assaulter.

            • In R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, 505 U.S. 377 (1992), the Supreme Court found that the “First Amendment prevents government from punishing speech and expressive conduct because it disapproves of the ideas expressed.”

              Even if the words are considered to be fighting words, the First Amendment will still protect the speech if the speech restriction is based on viewpoint discrimination.

              That pretty much tales hate speech out of the fighting words exception.

          • dragin_dragon

            Actually, let me back-track on that. Merely expressing an opinion should not be construed as ‘fight’n words’, Saying blacks are an inferior raqce, even though untrue, does not, as you said, qualify. However, I’m not sure that calling someone a ‘nigger’ would, either. Would depend, I think, on the judge.

  4. Rich in CT

    I was frankly shocked when I read that the woman stealing the papers was not herself a student – BUT A FACULTY ADVISOR at a UConn sister organization. The woman had duty to set an example for the students, not be a provocateur.

    I am cautiously optimistic about the University president, Susan Herbst’s response (And I generally believe that she breaks everything she touches…).

    http://www.courant.com/opinion/op-ed/hc-op-uconn-herbst-free-speech-on-campus-20171203-story.html

    Should presidents, legislators, corporate executives, and university leaders squash ugly and divisive speech in order to protect us from it?

    In my view, absolutely not.

    An inflammatory “alt-right” speaker named Lucian Wintrich was invited by the UConn College Republicans to speak on the Storrs campus last week. Audience members shouted him down for nearly an hour, and then a non-student took Wintrich’s notes from the podium. Wintrich physically accosted her to retrieve them and was then arrested. A student was also arrested for breaking a window and an unknown person set off a smoke bomb.

    This event was disturbing on a peaceful campus, as it would be anywhere.

    Our Constitution and courts have already broadly defined free speech. Universities should not attempt to create our own narrower interpretation, which would never withstand a challenge.

    We simply cannot believe in or have a free and open society unless we support the First Amendment, as difficult as that can be at times. This is a bedrock principle of the American Constitution and democratic way of life, not an obscure belief held only by law professors.

    http://www.courant.com/breaking-news/hc-br-uconn-march-for-action-20171201-story.html

    Herbst responded after the march, saying, “We always encourage our students to exercise their free speech rights, just as they did today. UConn must be known as a campus where people can engage on important issues and voice their concerns.”

    I am also very disappointed by the students at my alma mater:

    “I think the administration thinks it’s just a matter of students being a little oversensitive but it’s more than that,” Phillips said. “They take it as an existential threat when you bring in people who are connected to organizations that promote violence.”

    “[Wintrich’s speech] was essentially absurdist comedy, and really bad absurdist comedy, too,” said Ven Gopal, a member of the UConn Student Coalition for Social Justice, which hosted the march. “It was obvious and should have been obvious to those who organized it that it was meant to cause something like exactly what happened.”

    The students speak as though the violent response from the students themselves was inevitable.

    • Other Bill

      My reaction to Jack’s post was like your’s Rich: “Wait! The person who took the guy’s notes wasn’t a student? That was a PROFESSOR? An alleged adult? What?”

      • Rich in CT

        Watching the video, I understand why the cops immediately arrested Wintrich. The adviser nonchalantly grabbed the speech and walked away like nothing happened. The cops saw Wintrich grab the women out of seemingly nowhere.

        This was a case of the bully silently taunting his target to get him trouble with the teacher, and the bully was the teacher!

    • Isaac

      Ah, the old “Look what you made me do” defense, much loved by rapists, domestic abusers, and drug pushers. And now social justice college students!

  5. Rich in CT

    Please discard this version… it is missing a blockquote

  6. Chris marschner

    You cannot embarrass an educational institution for behavior and ideas it embraces. That is why she is not fired.

    The better question is why do we fund institutions such as these.

  7. Michael R.

    The current Democratic college faculty, journalists, and politicians have shown how dangerous the political correctness of the 80’s and 90’s was. They are the product of that philosophy embraced by the Left and the Democratic Party. People disputed how bad it was at the time, but now we see the true effects of excusing it, ignoring it, and Democrats still voting for the Left. Let’s not pretend they all just became unhinged recently because of Trump’s election. They have been this way for a long time, it is just that people excused it or denied it. Even today, every single person I know who is a Democrat STILL denies the mainstream media has a liberal bias. Why wouldn’t they, it is the same media we had 10 years ago. All the news coverage of George W. Bush was just as unreliable as the current coverage of Trump, they just weren’t as blatant as they are now (remember Dan Rather, remember the NYT and CBS fake news story on election day about weapons of mass destruction?). In 10 years, hate speech will be illegal and hate speech will be anything the Left doesn’t like. Roughly 60% of college students, in survey after survey, already think it is illegal to express opinions they don’t like. Since about half of college students are Democrats, it suggests that ~100% of the future Democratic voters, representatives, governors, Presidents, and judges, will view it as illegal.
    As a product of the public schools, I was required to be left-leaning when I entered college. Once there, however, I saw the true nature of the philosophy of the Left and the Democratic party. I saw forced racial privileges, forced segregation, hatred of the US and all it stands for, hatred of freedom and democracy, hatred of Christianity, and the love of totalitarianism as the philosophy of the Left and the Democratic Party. I haven’t really seen them change since. They haven’t changed since Trump’s election, they have been that way for a long time. If you didn’t see it, you were blind.
    I know some people will take issue with me equating the Left with the Democratic Party, but seriously, do you think Antifa are Republicans? Not all Democrats are antidemocratic totalitarian fanatics, but enough are that support of the Democratic Party has eroded our freedoms and eroded the very principles of democracy in this country. You didn’t see Republicans declare outright rebellion against the elected government when Barack Obama was elected, did you? Why isn’t the call to #Resist the current elected government considered rebellion, especially when in violent, mob form as we have seen?

  8. Zanshin

    I thought the response of Lucian Wintrich when he went after Catherine Gregory was a bit harsh. Grabbing her from behind and wrestling her to the ground.
    Isn’t there some rule like responding proportionally?

    On another note, Why in the wolrd would snowflakes be against a speech called “It’s OK to Be White”?

    • Haven’t you been paying attention? White people should all die!

      One of a great many links showing progressives espousing this view:

      http://thefederalist.com/2017/08/02/trinity-college-reinstates-professor-said-white-people-fing-die/

      • Other Bill

        Thanks for the link to that article, sw. The most honest and intelligent discussion of the problem on campuses I’ve seen. By far.

    • ”Why in the wolrd would snowflakes be against a speech called ‘It’s OK to Be White’?”

      The same one where some snowFLAKE would be triggered to say that a fucking hat with the initials MAGA or depicting the American flag constitutes ‘Fascism and Nazism’ and thus violates a ‘safe space.’

      In other words, on the campuses of most ”Institutions of Higher Indoctrination.” Most recently, though I haven’t checked all recent news yet today, Fordham.

      https://nypost.com/2017/12/09/students-wearing-maga-hats-booted-from-safe-space-coffee-shop/

    • Zanshin

      Hi y’all,
      Thanks for your responses to my question, Why in the world would snowflakes be against a speech called “It’s OK to Be White”?
      I asked it as a kind of wordplay but to my surprise you all responded rather seriously. Which is ok with me.

      However, I still would like to receive an answer to my first question ==>

      I thought the response of Lucian Wintrich when he went after Catherine Gregory was a bit harsh. Grabbing her from behind and wrestling her to the ground.
      Isn’t there some rule like responding proportionally?

      • Some states have a rule about appropriate levels of force to respond with, some for cops and some for citizens. Maybe you are thinking about that?

        So if a man threatens or insults you, you cannot just draw a gun and shoot him. Some have silly rules about if he has a knife you cannot pull a gun, but those may all be gone by now.

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