Professor Bigot Says What? Anything He Likes, As Long As He's Not Discriminating IRL!
So Indiana University Professor Eric Rasmusen is a bigot.
Rasmusen is a tenured professor at IU's Kelley School of Business. And he has written many things indicating he is not a fan of women, people of color, LGBTQ people, Muslims, or really anyone who isn't a cis white man. As an old cis white man, he apparently believes that only cis white men are entitled to dignity, basic human rights, and respect.
Earlier this month, Rasmusen tweeted an essay published by the alt-right Unz Review titled "Are Women Destroying Academia? Probably." But retweets are not endorsements, you say! Well when he shared this piece of garbage, he also felt the need to highlight this wonderful little assertion: "geniuses are overwhelmingly male because they combine outlier high IQ with moderately low Agreeableness and moderately low Conscientiousness."
Of course, there's never just one. Over the years, he has repeatedly denigrated all sorts of protected classes of people. He's a real sweetheart, as you'll learn below.
Why does this guy have a job?
That's a fair question. But the answer is the First Amendment. And even though Rasmusen has said some really gross things, IU is right to respect his First Amendment rights. (I'm about explain why!)
Rasmusen has always been a bigot and has come under fire for it in the past. This particular sexist Tweet went viral after it was picked up by popular Twitter user @SheRatesDogs, which normally reserves its ire for shitty ex-boyfriends.
Man you guys know I hate leaving names in, but this can’t continue being a thing https://t.co/T4hmcSIpfp— SheRatesDogs (@SheRatesDogs)1574190293.0
SheRatesDogs also shared this old tweet of Rasmusen's, which is just a gem:
I just realized--- Women's Studies and Home Ec are the same thing. They are both meant to teach a woman how to live… https://t.co/nGQYCa4rwi— Eric Rasmusen (@Eric Rasmusen)1519960200.0
After Rasmusen's sexist tweet went viral, IU was flooded with calls for his termination. But because IU is a state school, Rasmusen has First Amendment protections he wouldn't have teaching at a private school.
Employees of private companies and professors at private schools can be disciplined or fired for speech outside of the workplace without the the First Amendment being a factor. When Roseanne has a TV show canceled for being a racist or the Duck Dynasty bro gets in trouble for being a homophobe, anyone who screams "BUT THE FIRST AMENDMENT" has no idea what they're talking about. But government employees, including public university professors and staff, are protected by the First Amendment.
These protections may seem unjust, considering professors like Rasmusen are unlikely to leave their prejudice at the door when teaching, grading, and making inputs about tenure for other academics. But overall, public universities respecting the off-campus speech of professors is a good thing -- and not just because it upholds the Constitution. The First Amendment doesn't only protect people with racist and sexist views -- it also protects the people who challenge things like racism, sexism, and homophobia, and in American history those people are much more likely to be censored and punished by the privileged people in power.
Basically, you can say any dumb thing you want and the government can't do shit about it. But your fellow civilians can, and they have every right to.
That includes other IU professors, like IU Law prof Steve Sanders.
Every day in my law school and on my campus I am surrounded by women (and men) who demonstrate what idiotic piffle… https://t.co/l0FSvJhCvh— Steve Sanders (@Steve Sanders)1574301817.0
The Kelley School of Business has some kickass admins
After looking into Rasmusen's horrifying statements, both the dean and provost of the Kelley School of Business had some choice words for him.
Dean Idie Kesner's response pulls no punches.
Unfortunately, the views espoused in this article and endorsed by this professor on the matter of gender diversity reflect similar views expressed in his private Twitter account. Moreover, he holds similarly reprehensible views regarding other areas of diversity. The professor demonstrates a lack of tolerance and respect for women as well as for racial diversity and diversity in sexual orientation. The leadership of the Kelley School stands united in condemning the bias and disrespect displayed by this professor; we find his sexist, racist, and homophobic views abhorrent.
She also notes that, "[a]s a female academic, dean of the school, and a Kelley alumnus who cares deeply about" the school, she finds "the remarks and the beliefs presented in the papers cited and tweets by this professor reprehensible."
And Provost Lauren Robel's statement ... well, it's art.
Robel starts off strong:
Professor Eric Rasmusen has, for many years, used his private social media accounts to disseminate his racist, sexist, and homophobic views. When I label his views in this way, let me note that the labels are not a close call, nor do his posts require careful parsing to reach these conclusions.
Despite her strong condemnation of Rasmusen's apparent beliefs, Robel noted that bigots have First Amendment rights, too.
We cannot, nor would we, fire Professor Rasmusen for his posts as a private citizen, as vile and stupid as they are, because the First Amendment of the United States Constitution forbids us to do so. That is not a close call. [...]
The First Amendment is strong medicine, and works both ways. All of us are free to condemn views that we find reprehensible, and to do so as vehemently and publicly as Professor Rasmusen expresses his views. We are free to avoid his classes, and demand that the university ensure that he does not, or has not, acted on those views in ways that violate either the federal and state civil rights laws or IU's nondiscrimination policies. I condemn, in the strongest terms, Professor Rasmusen's views on race, gender, and sexuality, and I think others should condemn them. But my strong disagreement with his views—indeed, the fact that I find them loathsome—is not a reason for Indiana University to violate the Constitution of the United States.
But the First Amendment doesn't give Rasmusen -- or anyone else -- the right to discriminate.
Indiana University has a strong nondiscrimination policy, and as an institution adheres to values that are the opposite of Professor Rasmusen's expressed values. We demand tolerance and respect in the workplace and in the classroom, and if Professor Rasmusen acted upon his expressed views in the workplace to judge his students or colleagues on the basis of their gender, sexual orientation, or race to their detriment, such as in promotion and tenure decisions or in grading, he would be acting both illegally and in violation of our policies and we would investigate and address those allegations according to our processes. Moreover, in my view, students who are women, gay, or of color could reasonably be concerned that someone with Professor Rasmusen's expressed prejudices and biases would not give them a fair shake in his classes, and that his expressed biases would infect his perceptions of their work. Given the strength and longstanding nature of his views, these concerns are reasonable.
And the university isn't just going to sit back and wait to see if they get complaints about Rasmusen discriminating against students. It's taking a number of affirmative steps to ensure that no student will be required to take Rasmusen's courses and all grading of assignments and exams will be blind.
Therefore, the Kelley School is taking a number of steps to ensure that students not add the baggage of bigotry to their learning experience:
No student will be forced to take a class from Professor Rasmusen. The Kelley School will provide alternatives to Professor Rasmusen's classes;
Professor Rasmusen will use double-blind grading on assignments; if there are components of grading that cannot be subject to a double-blind procedure, the Kelley School will have another faculty member ensure that the grades are not subject to Professor Rasmusen's prejudices.
If other steps are needed to protect our students or colleagues from bigoted actions, Indiana University will take them.
That's heartening to hear. And by posting this statement publicly, the provost has invited students and faculty who believe Rasmusen has discriminated against or acted inappropriately towards them to come forward with their stories.
As Robel notes:
This is a lesson, unfortunately, that all of us need to take seriously, even as we support our colleagues and classmates in their perfectly reasonable anger and disgust that someone who is a professor at an elite institution would hold, and publicly proclaim, views that our country, and our university, have long rejected as wrong and immoral.
Nicely said, Provost.
When in doubt, DOUBLE DOWN
In response to Robel's heartening statement, Rasmusen chose to defend himself by ... saying more sexist, racist, and homophobic things. Because why have a hard look at yourself and reexamine your bigotry when you can double down?
On Rasmusen's website, which appears to have been coded by one of his students in the late 1990s, he has posted pages to his website dedicated to the "2019 Twitter kerfuffle," his line-by-line response to the provost, and "lessons [he has] learned" from the experience.
Rasmusen notes on the "Twitter kerfuffle" page that:
This page will be for links concerning the 2019 kerfuffle in which the Woke crowd discovered my Twitter tweets, retweets, and suchlike and got very excited, and my Dean and Provost immediately overreacted
Among other things, Rasmusen spreads rightwing conspiracy theories, rages about affirmative action, and asserts that it's totally fine to call women sluts. He claims that, by ensuring he doesn't discriminate against students because of his bigoted beliefs, IU is "not discouraging bias, but encouraging it, even requiring it, as a condition of teaching[.]"
In his screed, Rasmusen justifies calling Lisa Page "a slut who was having an adulterous affair at the office" and says he does not "think it is misogynistic to speak strongly against women who steal other women's husbands." (The fact that Peter Stzrok was also married at the time of the affair does not make him a slut; rather, the adultery is entirely the fault of the evil female temptress.)
"Is 'slut' a slur against women? Not at all," he said. "It is a slur against certain women, against a minority of women, and for them it is a justified slur, a descriptive one.
"A woman who sleeps with 100 men in a year is a slut. Whether her sleeping with 100 men is moral or immoral is a question of one's standards."
Rasmusen also justifies his sexism by gallantly permitting his wife and daughter to hypothetically work, even in academia, because teaching is okay for some women because it's "compatible with motherhood."
My wife, who has degrees from the Royal College of Music and Indiana's Jacobs School of Music, taught college students at Eastern Illinois University for a year back around 1995. I did not object. Nor did I object when she decided she liked being a housewife better, a very reasonable decision. If my daughter decides to become a philosophy professor, that is okay too. Academia is a vocation more compatible with motherhood than most jobs.
Why I do declare! If you "didn't object" to your wife teaching college for a whole year, you're practically a saint! Someone get this man a participation trophy!
One of the most horrifying parts of Rasmussen's latest rant is the part where he elaborates on his homophobia. He apparently believes that all gay men are pedophiles who molest children and prey on students. Yes, this is seriously what this guy wrote in response to being called out for his bigotry.
The Provost should really know better, but maybe we can take that as hyperbole. I am on record as saying that homosexuals should not teach grade and high school. I don't think they should be Catholic priests or Boy Scout leaders either. Back in that kerfuffle when I was widely attacked for saying that, I was careful to say that academia was different. Professors prey on students too, so there is a danger, but the students are older and better able to protect themselves, and there is more reason to accept the risk of a brilliant but immoral teacher. It would be worth accepting the risk of sexual harassment if Indiana University had a chance to hire the best organist in the world to teach here even though he were known for his immorality, though we would need to warn him strongly that he should behave himself while on the job.
I wonder if anyone has told him that there are already gay Catholic priests; they are simply bound by the same vow of celibacy as other Catholic priests. If not, it might be fun to watch his head explode.
At no point does Rasmusen express any similar concern for girls who are molested by male pedophiles, despite the fact that girls are more frequently molested than boys, with one in every nine girls experiencing sexual abuse at the hands of an adult. (For boys, that statistic is one in every 53. Obviously, both of these numbers are unacceptable.)
Girls who are molested are probably just whores who had it coming, right, Professor? Have you SEEN Girl Scout uniforms lately?
It's all incredibly fucked, but being an ignorant raging homophobe is nothing new for Rasmusen, who once wrote:
A second reason not to hire homosexuals as teachers is that it puts the fox into the chicken coop. Male homosexuals, at least, like boys and are generally promiscuous. They should not be given the opportunity to satisfy their desires. Somewhat related is a reason not to hire a homosexual as a doctor even though you would hire him as a lawyer: you don't mind if your lawyer has a venereal disease such as HIV or hepatitis, but you do mind if your doctor is in a class of people among whom such diseases are common.
We've already gotten sexism and homophobia, so of course racism is up next!
Rasmusen says affirmative action gives him grounds to say racist things, so that's cute.
The whole idea of affirmative action is that too few black students wouldn [sic] get in without racial preferences, so we need to lower the standard for them and accept that they will do worse academically.
On this point, as with most things, Rasmusen is wrong. Affirmative action admits "thrive at elite colleges" and are more likely than their peers to give back to society. Affirmative action admits are also generally more successful than legacy admits, despite the advantages in life that legacy admits are likely to have, but I don't see the good professor ranting and raving about legacy admissions. GEE, I WONDER WHY.
To Rasmusen, university policies enshrining the rule that people will not be discriminated on the basis of sex, race, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity are impermissible "political stands."
I thought public universities weren't supposed to take political stands. Just saying your political opinions are "nondiscrimination policy" doesn't mean you're not taking a stand on political issues.
Then we get to the point where Rasmusen suggests firing the provost and asserting that she is a bigot for supporting IU's nondiscrimination policy.
How about replacing the Provost? Is it not clear that Indiana University students and faculty need to be protecgted [sic] from her bigoted actions?
As for the "lessons" Rasmusen purports to have learned from the experience, shockingly, none of them are that he should treat people with more respect. Most of them are about how to keep track of how awesome you are. My personal favorite is Number 12: Masturbate regularly with the memory of the verbal fellatio you have received from your fellow bigots.
12. Keep a list of encouraging emails, comments, tweets, and so forth. Look at it every once in a while, and show it to the public too (without identifying information that might compromise your supporters) to show how numerous and reasonable your supporters are.
I wonder how many of those lovely supporters include slurs and Naziisms that Rasmusen neglected to post publicly.
What happens next?
Neglecting to punish Rasmusen now doesn't mean that the university won't take action if it receives evidence of Rasmusen's biases affecting his grading or other work decisions. (Which I assume it will.)
IU made it clear that they weren't declining to take action against Rasmusen because of his tenure, but because of the First Amendment.
"While the tenure matter keeps coming up, it's actually not something that keeps us from firing anyone," said Chuck Carney, a university spokesperson. "Tenured faculty can be fired. This is purely a protected speech matter, not a tenure matter."
And Robel's statement pretty clearly invites current and former students, faculty, and staff to report any prejudice they experienced at Professor Rasmusen's hands.
It's hard to believe that a man who writes things like what's quoted above doesn't let those views affect his actions. And if they do, I have a feeling Lauren Robel, Idie Kesner, and other IU administrators will be finding out about it real soon.
In the meantime, just cross your fingers that Trump and Pence don't find out about this fucker. They'd probably give him a damn medal.