Free speech for barbara bush-bashing fresno state prof

In response to death of former First Lady Barbara Bush, a professor of English at Fresno State University tweeted, “I’m happy the witch is dead.” Now a whole lot of people—including some occasional critics of political-correctness-run-amok on campus—think the university should fire her.

The professor, Randa Jarrar, made the comments shortly after Bush’s death at the age of 92. “Barbara Bush was a generous and smart and amazing racist who, along with her husband, raised a war criminal,” wrote Jarrar. “Fuck outta here with your nice words.” She later said she was “happy” Bush had died and couldn’t wait for the rest of her family to “fall to their demise the way 1.5 million Iraqis have.”


Fresno State correctly acknowledges that Jarrar’s tweets were made as a private citizen. As such, and because they touched upon a matter of public concern, Jarrar’s tweets are unquestionably protected speech under the First Amendment and Fresno State has no power to censor, punish, or terminate Jarrar for them.

It’s often said that the First Amendment doesn’t protect a speaker from the consequences of his words. That’s true to a certain extent. One who says something that offends others will often face consequences of some sort, whether it’s caustic criticism from people he offended, loss of private sector job opportunities, loss of membership in voluntary associations, and so on. But the First Amendment places limits on what consequences a government actor may impose in response to speech.

The law is well-established that employees of government institutions like [a public university] retain a First Amendment right to speak as private citizens on matters of public concern and may not be disciplined or retaliated against for their constitutionally protected expression unless the government employer demonstrates that the expression hindered “the effective and efficient fulfillment of its responsibilities to the public.” Connick v. Myers, 461 U.S. 138, 150 (1983); Pickering v. Bd. of Ed., 391 U.S. 563 (1968).

This woman is NOT protected by any law or court case, including Connick v. Myers, 461 U.S. 138, 150 (1983); Pickering v. Bd. of Ed., 391 U.S. 563 (1968). Courts have continually ruled that even if a public employee is speaking as a private individual, if that is, or becomes, identified with a public institution, that institution can then has a vested interest in the public statements of that employee. Any public statements or positions, which may prove to be detrimental to the institution can be used as justification for disciplinary action. In this case, the statements of this woman go far beyond thoughtless and inappropriate. They were calculatingly harmful to the family and friends of Barbara Bush. And, it was readily apparent that this woman was employed by the university, as she mentioned her profession.

The only question is, should she be disciplined for her speech? This is a philosophical debate which has been going on since thwe founding of this country. The courts have come down on both sides of the issue, stating that such speech is protected and that fallacious speech designed to harm another is not protected. Then, we have the imposition of “community standards on speech. So, the debate goes on.

I need to clarify; I have always gone to great pains to distinguish between Islam the ideology as opposed to Muslims the individual human beings. And I still do. But the problem is that our government refuses to make any such distinction between individual human beings that have rights under the law, and ideologies that do not have any claim to rights.

As long as the government refuses to screen out people who want to immigrate to the US to subvert it, to demand second class status for women, death for apostates and adulterers, and a superior position for the adherents of their religion over those of other religions or no religion at all to distinguish them from people who simply want to come hear and live and work in peace, then we can’t let any Muslim in.

I really do hate to say that. Not all Muslims are Arab/Sharia supremacists. But the failure of the government to recognize the danger of the Tsarnaev family when it was *&(%ing spoon fed to them shows it’s really our government decision-makers who can’t be trusted.