The Dallas Morning News (Saturday, November 9, 2019 and other media reported the resignation of an assistant general counsel for the University of North Texas.
“During a university-sponsored event on Thursday at the University of North Texas, the event’s speaker — UNT assistant general counsel Caitlin Sewell — used a racial epithet while discussing the limits of free speech on campus.
“Following a storm of controversy, Sewell submitted her resignation Friday morning, UNT system chancellor Lesa Roe and president Neal Smatresk said in a statement.
“At the event, titled “When Hate Comes to Campus,” Sewell said the following during her presentation:
“‘You know, you can say a lot of offensive things in here because it’s impossible to talk about the First Amendment without saying horrible things. Um, you know, ‘You’re just a dumb n—– and I hate you.’ That alone, that’s protected speech.’”
“Sewell’s use of the epithet sparked a firestorm….”
The article further quotes UNT President Neal Smatresk saying that “Sewell’s comment was ‘not reflective of the values of our university community.’”
“Student backlash prompts resignation” is yet another example of allowing inmates to run the asylum. Putting that aside, UNT is better off without Caitlin Sewell as assistant general counsel. I would not want anyone so pusillanimous to be my lawyer. Evidently she has not been in the real practice of law to have grown a thick enough skin. If Sewell had any mettle, and really believes in freedom of expression, she would have not apologized for using the so-called N-word merely as an illustration — not as a epithet. She should have refused to resign, and dared UNT to fire her. (I know an organization known as The FIRE who would back her.) For that matter, UNT’s president and chancellor should follow her. Their attitude fosters the snowflake atmosphere on campus.
The proscription of a word for use in any context is stupid and silly, and is reflective of a totalitarian mentality. That is what George Orwell was getting at in his Nineteen Eighty-Four. Better to turn it around to your advantage as gay persons have done with the Q-word. In the 1960s, black comedian Dick Gregory wrote a book which he titled “n*****” and dedicated it to his mother writing “Dear Mom, next time you hear that word, you’ll know they’re advertising my book.” Probably will not happen in the brave new world of coddled campuses.
I wonder if UNT, which I attended as a graduate student in the 1970s, is banning Huckleberry Finn, Gone with the Wind, and To Kill a Mockingbird.