It sounds like a headline from The Onion: “Jewish prof forced to defend himself against anti-Semitism claims.”
Cameron Johnston, who has been teaching at York [University] for more than 30 years, has been forced to respond to allegations that he made anti-Semitic remarks in a lecture on Monday afternoon after a student misunderstood his comments and began sending emails to Jewish groups and the media.
Johnston was giving his introductory lecture to Social Sciences 1140: “Self, Culture and Society,” when he explained to the nearly 500 students that the course was going to focus on texts, not opinions, and despite what they may have heard elsewhere, everyone is not entitled to their opinion.
“All Jews should be sterilized” would be an example of an unacceptable and dangerous opinion, Johnston told the students.
He didn’t notice Sarah Grunfeld storm out. Grunfeld, a 22-year-old in her final year at York, understood Johnston’s example to be his personal opinion.
She contacted Oriyah Barzilay, the president of Hasbara at York — an Israel advocacy group on campus — who then sent a press release to media and other Jewish community groups calling for Johnston to be fired.
The source I got the link from already made the point that “some students simply do not have the basic powers of concentration and comprehension required for college work–not to mention, of course, that there are way too many rewards to hypersensitivity and public offense taking.”
I would add that it doesn’t say much for the girl that she thought nearly 500 people wouldn’t storm out after making such an awful comment (assuming, of course, it had been in seriousness).
I would not want to live in a society where that speech is tolerated — but if enough people cry murder when there is no wrongdoing, I fear the weight of the charge will be lost over time.
What does Sarah Grunfeld have to say on the matter?
“The words, ‘Jews should be sterilized’ still came out of his mouth, so regardless of the context I still think that’s pretty serious.”