The Shaviro clause

Remember Wayne State professor of English Steven Shapiro? Who said –

Although I do not advocate violating federal and state criminal codes, I think it is far more admirable to kill a racist, homophobic, or transphobic speaker than it is to shout them down.

The president of Wayne State is not charmed.

Dear campus community,

This morning, I was made aware of a social media post by a Wayne State University professor in our Department of English.

The post stated that rather than “shouting down” those with whom we disagree, one would be justified to commit murder to silence them. We have on many occasions defended the right of free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but we feel this post far exceeds the bounds of reasonable or protected speech. It is, at best, morally reprehensible and, at worst, criminal.

We have referred this to law enforcement agencies for further review and investigation. Pending their review, we have suspended the professor with pay, effective immediately.

To be precise, he didn’t say “one would be justified to” – he said “I think it is far more admirable to.” They sound similar but there is a real difference. “One would be justified” is a good deal closer to incitement than “I think it is far more admirable to.” I’m sure Shaviro has every intention of saying that; I’m sure he was very deliberate in starting with the disclaimer and then wording it the way he did. Just saying you think it’s more admirable is…well, it’s very sly. He may well get away with it.

It’s also a nice (i.e. evil) touch to limit it to “violating federal and state criminal codes,” as opposed to confronting the horror of killing a human being. Murder isn’t wrong or bad, he hints, but criminal codes forbid it.

And all this because he hates women who know men are not women.

14 Responses to “The Shaviro clause”