“The right to express one’s views, particularly in matters of politics, is at the absolute core of the First Amendment’s protection of the right to free speech.”
The professor criticized the concept of microaggressions. That’s heresy in higher ed.
The FIRE blog reports:
Fired for his views, UNT math professor brings free speech lawsuit
In total defiance of the First Amendment, the University of North Texas has fired a math professor for criticizing the concept of microaggressions and for refusing to attend extra diversity training to correct his views, which the math department chair deemed “not compatible with the values of this department.”
Now, professor Nathaniel Hiers is suing UNT for violating his free speech and due process rights. Hiers is represented by attorneys from the Alliance Defending Freedom.
The right to express one’s views, particularly in matters of politics, is at the absolute core of the First Amendment’s protection of the right to free speech. As the Supreme Court wrote in Texas v. Johnson (1989), the case in which it upheld flag burning as a protected form of protest: “If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.” Yet that is exactly what UNT has done to Hiers.
The trouble started in November 2019, when someone anonymously left a stack of flyers in the faculty lounge explaining the concept of microaggressions, which the flyers described as “verbal and nonverbal behaviors” that “communicate negative, hostile, and derogatory messages to people rooted in their marginalized group membership.” According to his complaint, Hiers believes that the concept of microaggressions “hurts diversity and tolerance” because it “teaches people to see the worst in other people, promotes a culture of victimhood, and suppresses alternative viewpoints instead of encouraging growth and dialogue.” Indeed, microaggression theory has been the subject of much public debate, including — as the complaint notes — in FIRE president Greg Lukianoff and NYU social psychologist Jon Haidt’s recent book, “The Coddling of the American Mind”.
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