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Professor Celebrates Death of First Lady, Taunts Detractors on Twitter

Professor Celebrates Death of First Lady, Taunts Detractors on Twitter
Susan Dutca-Lovell

A Fresno State University professor who "spoke ill of the dead on Twitter" by calling the late Barbara Bush a "generous and smart amazing racist," was applauded at a weekend literary festival. A petition to fire the professor has also gained over 10,000 signatures and calls upon the university to terminate her employment following her inflammatory comments.

Creative writing professor Randa Jarrar took to Twitter following the death of former First Lady Barbara Bush with a series of tweets that stated, "Barbara Bush was a generous and smart and amazing racist who, along with her husband, raised a war criminal." "F--- outta here with your nice words." She then made an "unintentional echo of President George W. Bush's 'with us or against us' moral logic by declaring, "PSA: either you are against these pieces of sh-- and their genocidal ways or you're part of the problem. That's actually how simple this is," adding, "I'm happy the witch is dead. Can't wait for the rest of her family to fall to their demise the way 1.5 million Iraqis have. byyyeeeeeeee."

Jarrar, who is currently under internal university investigation and on leave for the semester boasted that she cannot be fired as a tenured professor. "I work as a tenured professor. I make 100K a year doing that. I will never be fired. I will always have people wanting to hear what I have to say." She further claimed, "What I love about being an American professor is my right to free speech," and that "if you'd like to know what it's like to be an Arab American Muslim American woman with some clout online expressing an opinion...look at the racists going crazy in my mentions right now."

The university maintains that "her statements were made as a private citizen, not a representative of Fresno State." The school's president, Joseph Castro, also denounced her "deeply disrespectful statements" and that "a professor with tenure does not have blanket protection to say and do what they wish." The controversy has allegedly prompted some university donors to consider pulling out financial support if she is not removed from her position.

Although Jarrar was applauded during the literary festival, she did not attend the event amid the uproar over her controversial tweets. In your opinion, is the professor's free speech protected under the First Amendment and/or tenure in this incident? Why or why not?

Comments (10)
Destiny D 5/9/2018
The Trump Effect seems to be everywhere. I do not want to agree with the mass killing inside a country that was not guilty. The weight of this is what gives me pause in speaking against this professor. I do believe that society needs to establish an online etiquette of wordcraft.
Lillian V. 5/4/2018
Via the First Amendment, she has complete rights to say whatever she would like. However, if the university deems that her actions may cause controversy and adverse effects against their institution, they should have the right to let her go. Personally, I find what she said to be absurd and incredibly disrespectful. Think about it this way, what if Michelle Obama passed away later this year and a white male took to Twitter to say, "Glad that health-freak, anti-white woman is dead. Can't wait for her family to follow." It would have significantly more impact, but why? Because the speaker was a white male? Because the target was a the former-first lady of color? Why do we put such a value on these things? Most of the comments I've seen agree, she shouldn't have said what she said, but can you imagine the backlash if the latter had taken place? Instead of getting applauded and possibly fired, they'd be virtually lynched and booted before another word came out. How is this fair to others?
Caleb H 5/3/2018
The professor has the right to say whatever she wants to. That's what the 1st amendment grants her. However, the school has the right to fire her for her statements, as her statements reflect poorly upon Fresno State. Her statements were distasteful, false, and disrespectful. In my opinion, she should be fired, for the best interest of Fresno State. However, that decision is up to Fresno State as to whether they will allow this professor to tarnish their image.
Julia B. 5/1/2018
What the professor said wasn't 'nice,' but it has credibility. The response she got shows the accuracy of the racist state of the country, escalating as we sit here. If a head of state can call countries of color the names he has recently with no remorse, surely everyone else under the law has the same privilege.
N L 4/29/2018
Even though all are entitled to 100% free speech in America, it is quite messed up to talk like this about someone that has passed away, even if they might've been indirectly related to the death of more than a million of one's people for the "revenge" of a nation. Being that she is a professor of a university, her actions would greatly impact the thinking of her students, which may lead to them becoming distrustful or even becoming terrorists in the future due to their perceived injustice that impacted an important figure in their lives. There is an old saying: "with great power comes great responsibility", that can truly be applied in not only her case, but the case of many political and religious figures. What they say today may not seem like much, but if those seeds that they have scattered one day sprout into extreme hate or violence in the future, would it really be beneficial for them to say these things to an audience of minds that could shape the future?
TJ 4/27/2018
I can understand where’s she coming from due to her background but it doesn’t give her just cause to celebrate the death of a person that was only a figure head and had no final say on decision that caused the 1.5 million Iraqis. That being said she is correct the first amendment does protect her in this situation, her employers aren’t bond to the bill of rights though and can revoke her tenure if they see her as a liability. This of course would entail that she has made similar outrageous comments before hand or the amount of damage she has caused to the college’s reputation is too much to keep her around.
Desiree P. 4/26/2018
While many people may not agree with her comments, so what? There are too many mean comments written every second of every day on the internet that cause inoccent people the take their lives. Why don’t you do something about those people, instead of signing a stupid petition to ruin someone’s life just because they wrote a comment about someone who will never read it that you just happen to like? Grow up and focus on a real problem that effect people that are alive. So what if someone say something about someone who is dead. If you don’t like what someone writes don’t read it. Or if you must, comments to it. It’s called freedom of speech you idiots. That is why your able to write a comment about how horrible you think that professor is. if you people are so upset that someone made a comment about a dead person why don’t you do something about all the awful things that are written every second that affect the living. For heavens sake get your priorities straight fools
S.E. 4/26/2018
I suppose she technically has a right to say those things, but freedom of speech ought to be used responsibly. I would think adults, who nurture the necessity of respect into children, would follow that example of respecting other people. What this lady said was clearly out of line and disrespectful towards the First Lady and her living family. She sounds like a hypersensitive teenager rather than an adult, even less, a teacher. I expect people like her to address these issues with class and respect, but we live in a world where freedom of speech is not used for good, but rather for self-interest and abuse. Just because she had a right doesn't mean what she said was right, and it should be quite obvious (I sincerely hope; we live in a confused, broken world) that what she said was inhumane. I would not even celebrate Hitler's death, even though he is historically deemed as (and is) a monster. And, I can't even imagine those who would support her comments. She needs to learn respect.
Vivica V 4/24/2018
Just because there are no legal repercussions for what you say, does not mean you can't be held responsible by the public or your employers if you are being unnecessarily disrespectful. We teach this to children when they bully others, but it is clear that even some adults are unaware of the consequences of their words. You would never post on social media you wish your boss and their family death, or you would be fired. The same applies here. I understand her anger, however, she could have spoken with a little more etiquette.
j w 4/24/2018
Of course she has the right to say what she said. Haters can go be butthurt somewhere else.
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