CFFS Condemns Cancel Culture after Law Professor Resigns over Compelled Speech
Mesa, AZ – Georgetown law professor David Batson sat in his chair and said nothing as his university colleague analyzed the performance of her students and lamented the lower ranking of some of her African-American students. As it turns out, remaining silent was his fatal mistake.
Georgetown Law Dean Bill Treanor could not fire professor Sandra Sellers fast enough for discussing the racial makeup of her highest and lowest performing students in a Zoom call, which has come to be expected in the Era of Cancel Culture. After all, if any professional recognizes an ethnic or racial minority in any manner short of enthusiastic praise, he or she is risking immediate cancelation, or termination. However, the forced resignation of professor Batson, according the Patrick Wood, founder of Citizens for Free Speech (CFFS), was even more egregious, since he did nothing more than listen to Sellers express her frustration.
“Compelling a person to speak out in a manner that may not represent his opinion, at the risk of losing his position for remaining silent, is just as unconstitutional as firing someone for actually expressing offensive language,” argued Wood. “It is astounding that a college of law—whose mission is to prepare future attorneys to argue in courts governed by the Constitution—would be so blatant as to violate the First Amendment rights of either party in that conversation.”
Batson’s official crime was reportedly his “failure to correct” his colleague for discussing her students’ performance in what became a 43-second viral video. In other words, he wasn’t canceled for saying speaking in offensive terms; he was canceled for failing to condemn someone else’s protected speech.
“I hate to say this,” Sellers told Batson on the call, “I end up having this angst every semester that a lot of my lower ones (law students) are Blacks. Happens almost every semester and it's like ‘oh come on.’
"I get some really good ones but there are also usually some that are just plain at the bottom, it drives me crazy...so I feel bad."
Sellers comments set off a social media firestorm, which is usually the first step toward a ‘cancelation’, in which online commenters immediately branded her a racist. Batson was deemed to be guilty by mere association.
“CFFS supports and defends free speech even if some consider it offensive,” said Wood, “but to even declare Sellers’ comments to be offensive is a stretch. She did not demean or insult any particular race of students simply by commenting on the statistical breakdown of her students’ performance. In fact, she expressed empathy and dismay at the results, but Cancel Culture was going to have their pound of flesh. As for professor Batson, he was simply collateral damage. Wrong place and wrong time.”
CFFS stands uncompromisingly opposed to forced or compelled speech being used as a basis for punishing or terminating employees. This is a different form of censorship, and CFFS calls upon universities, schools, corporations and businesses to respect the constitutional rights of all employees and students to speak freely or remain silent, without fear of reprisal.
For more information about CFFS please visit www.CitizensForFreeSpeech.org.
National Director of Communications