The assault on free expression as well as the speech-chilling practice of seeking to publicly crush those who do not observe the social justice dictates of progressives in power advanced ominously yesterday. Unsurprisingly, the episode at issue occurred at an Ivy League University, as our educational sectors have been among the trailblazers in speech and idea suppression. Unsurprising to me at least was that it involved Twitter. Just like in the Illya Shapiro controversy at Georgetown Law Center, a scholar didn’t use quite the words he should have (to be safe, and safety is everything these days) according to the Democrats’ Little Red Book. This time, however, the hammer fell harder.Jeffrey A. Lieberman, the chair of the Columbia University Department of Psychiatry, was moved by this photo of Nyakim Gatwech. an American model of South Sudanese descent (that’s also her above), to tweet, “Whether a work of art or freak of nature she’s a beautiful sight to behold.” Wait, Marlon wants to butt in again, but I can’t blame him…
For that innocent tweet, Columbia suspended Lieberman yesterday. who specializes The doctor, who specializes in schizophrenia and is considered one of the leading psychiatrists in the nation, was also fired from his position as psychiatrist-in-chief at Columbia University Irving Medical Center/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. He also resigned as executive director of the New York State Psychiatric Institute on Tuesday evening.
All of this for a tweet intended as a compliment. The taboo word this time was “freak,” which the word police deemed “racist” when applied to a black woman. This isn’t just hypersensitivity and “gotcha!” race politics, it is a deliberate effort to intimidate those who will not bow in submission the “antiracism” bullies.
- All super models are freaks, defined as “persons, animals, or plants with an unusual physical abnormality.” That’s why they are famous and earn millions of dollars; if models looked normal, they wouldn’t be models. Have you ever seen one in a crowd? I have, a couple of times. It’s like seeing a unicorn in a supermarket.
- Gatwech’s publicists have dubbed her “The Queen of Dark” for her remarkable skin shade, which one does not see every day in the United States. That title is a deliberate effort to label her appearance as unique. Persons, animals, or plants with a unique appearance are freaks by definition. Michael Phelps, the Olympic swimmer, has been called a freak, and nobody had a cow, especially Phelps. I have called my son a freak, since he never gets sick and can fix electronic devices by looking at them. He isn’t insulted. Describing someone as a freak doesn’t mean you think he or she is going to start chanting “Gooble gooble! One of us!”
- This is Twitter, where the whole idea is to make quick and short comments and observations. Adding to this a life-or-career death rule that such comments must be cleared by all levels of the Totalitarian-a-Sphere for possible breaches of political correctness and “violence” to sacred groups makes tweeting impossibly dangerous as well as difficult: write it quick, but choose your words with the care of a Melville or Hemingway, or else!
Lieberman, unfortunately but predictably, having been long marinated in the warped, woke victim culture of U.S. academia, responded to the on-line furorwith an epic grovel. In an email to his colleagues on the day before he was suspended, he apologized, describing the tweet it as “racist and sexist.” He said he was “deeply ashamed” of his “prejudices and stereotypical assumptions,” and added,
“An apology from me to the Black community, to women, and to all of you is not enough. I’ve hurt many, and I am beginning to understand the work ahead to make needed personal changes and over time to regain your trust.”
Yes, the good doctor is a pathetic weenie. Like so many caught in the Left’s traps, he is unworthy of the individual rights guaranteed to Americans, as he sides with those who are now working to dilute them. There was nothing whatsoever “sexist” about describing a model as “a work of art.” Of course the “gotcha!” feminists accused Lieberman of “dehumanizing” Gatwech, who sells her body and image as art to product promoters, fashion designers and advertisers. It is an absurd accusation. Nor was there any hint of racism in the tweet. But Lieberman is a perfect progressive toady, and as such an enabler and an ally of the attack on free expression that was unjustly aimed at him.
I can’t find much sympathy in my heart for cowardly individuals like Lieberman. They are “Good Germans” whose lack of principles and respect for core American values threaten the rights of us all. The episode, however, is frightening. We are not witnessing merely an effort to chill free speech, but an escalating attempt to freeze it solid.