To the Editor:
Dr. Jennifer Ruth provides your readers with one big lie and several mispresentations in her essay “When Academic Bullies Claim the Mantle of Free Speech” (The Chronicle Review, March 18). First, the lie: Neither I nor professor Peter Boghossian used Twitter “to encourage students to post material” on the Internet as she claims. In one instance, we merely retweeted a set of class slides already posted by a student, as did hundreds of others concerned about the abusive and unprofessional content of the slides.
Next the misrepresentations: Ruth misrepresents a Portland State Faculty Senate resolution targeted at myself and Dr. Boghossian as a defense of academic freedom. Readers should judge for themselves whether it advances or suppressed that ideal by reading the report of the Oregon Association of Scholars on the debacle. Ruth also misrepresents herself as guardian of Truth and those who disagree with her as purveyors “batshit-crazy things” that should be grounds to revoke their academic freedom. She seems to think that no reasonable person could have any concerns about the constitutional or legal validity of our 2020 presidential election. One wonders if by that measure, academic freedom should also be revoked from economics professors who claim that socialism works; urban studies professors who deny that land use limitations raise housing prices; food science professors who claim that GMO foods are dangerous; or native studies professors who claim that native origin stories should have the same status as the Big Bang theory.
Ruth’s greatest misrepresentation is that she fails to mention how she has spent the better part of the past year engaged in defamation and incitment against me on Twitter, including inciting virtual harassment of an online reading group I led in Fall 2020. This culminated in her outstanding abuse of her position as “academic freedom” director in the PSU faculty union to issue a fatwa against me and my research in March. Who exactly is the bully on campus and who is abusing their academic freedom?
Professor of Political Science
Mark O. Hatfield School of Government
Portland State University