In light of the circumstances surrounding incoming lecturer Dr. Jesse Goldberg, we at Auburn Spectrum are reminded of another situation where an employee's social media posts caused an outrage. Last year, Bruce Murray from the College of Education was shown to have made and shared several posts that deny and condemn the existence of LGBTQ+ individuals.
Despite the outcry from more than 200 faculty members and countless students who said that these comments perpetuated the harm that Auburn's LGBTQ+ students have to face every day, the University refused to condemn the comments as hate speech, saying that this professor's posts on social media and the opinions he submitted to newspapers over several years are protected by free speech.
Dr. Goldberg made posts condemning an institution he believes is violent and contributes to an oppressive system. Less than a week later his posts are condemned by the University's administration as hate speech (even though police are not considered a protected class by the University while gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation are), and his job is at risk before it ever even began.
By contrast, it was three weeks after The Plainsman published the article about Murray before anyone from the administration made a statement, and even then it was two sentences expressing vague and nonspecific support for the community harmed by the rhetoric that he had shared repeatedly.
If Auburn University is going to swiftly and harshly condemn one employee's social media posts for hate speech, it should do so in all cases.
If Auburn University is going to passively allow employees to share their opinions on social media and in newspapers - no matter how reprehensible some may find them - in the name of free speech, it should do so in all cases.
The University cannot pick and choose when it wishes to allow freedom of speech and expect people to stand idly by in the face of such hypocrisy.
If Bruce Murray's bigoted remarks are protected by the First Amendment, then Jesse Goldberg's anti-police remarks should receive similar protection.
Heather Mann is the president of Spectrum, Auburn University's Gay-Straight Alliance.
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