Indiana University Provost: The First Amendment says we can't fire our notorious bigot professor, so here's what we're doing instead

Eric Rasmusen is a tenured business school professor at Indiana University Bloomington; for many years, he's posted a stream of "racist, sexist, and homophobic views" to his personal social media, including the idea that women do not belong in the workplace (he often refers to women by slurs like "slut" when discussing this and other subjects); that gay men should not be allowed in academia because of their insatiable sexual appetites and propensity for abusing students; that Black students are academically inferior to white students and do not belong at elite academic institutions.

Indiana U is a state college and bound by the First Amendment's prohibition on discrimination on the basis of speech and Rasmusen has confined his odious speech acts to his personal social media, apparently refraining from voicing these views on campus while acting in a professional capacity. As a result, it's the view of the university provost that he cannot be fired, despite her characterization of Rasmusen's views as "vile and stupid" and "stunningly ignorant." Provost Lauren Robel has also said that her own respect for the First Amendment is such that she would not fire Rasmusen for his personal views, even if she could.

However, Robel and the university acknowledge that Rasmusen's views call into question his impartiality and also expose students to a reasonable belief that they could not be fairly graded or assessed by Rasmusen. Accordingly the university has undertaken a pari of extraordinary measures to protect students without trampling the First Amendment.

1. All classes that Rasmusen teaches will also be offered by another instructor so that any student can chose to take the class without coming into contact with Rasmusen.

2. Rasmusen will be required to grade all assignments on a double-blind basis, and when that is not possible, he will be closely supervised by another business school prof who will ensure that he does not practice discrimination.

The provost goes on to say that this is not exhaustive, and the university is prepared to take further steps to protect students and faculty members from Rasmusen's bigotry.

Rasmusen's publications include articles like "Are Women Destroying Academia? Probably." He has posted a detailed rebuttal to the provost's article.

I think the most interesting thing about this is that Rasmusen was tenured: for decades after the rise of Reaganism, a lot of people assumed that right wingers who dabbled in eugenics, white supremacy, dominionism and other medieval/crypto-fascist ideas were just colorful provocateurs LARPing Archie Bunker. It turned out they were deadly fucking serious. They were a sleeper cell from Gilead, and now they're finished masturbating over the Turner Diaries and have broken cover and plan on enacting a full-blown Dominionist white theocracy.

The First Amendment is strong medicine, and works both ways. All of us are free to condemn views that we find reprehensible, and to do so as vehemently and publicly as Professor Rasmusen expresses his views. We are free to avoid his classes, and demand that the university ensure that he does not, or has not, acted on those views in ways that violate either the federal and state civil rights laws or IU’s nondiscrimination policies. I condemn, in the strongest terms, Professor Rasmusen’s views on race, gender, and sexuality, and I think others should condemn them. But my strong disagreement with his views—indeed, the fact that I find them loathsome—is not a reason for Indiana University to violate the Constitution of the United States.

On the First Amendment [Lauren Robel/Indiana University]