There is a rising trend that goes something like this, as per New York University’s Jonathan Haidt: A left-wing professor says something provocative on social media or elsewhere and the right-wing media goes into overdrive, covering the story ad nauseum to gin up viewer outrage. Republican politicos jump in and demand action. University administrators, terrified of the PR damage but unworried about academic freedom, put the professor on leave and begin the “process of termination,” especially if the professor isn’t tenured. (Haidt, incidentally, is no liberal pleader. In fact, he is a celebrity in conservative circles because he founded the highly respected Heterodox Academy with the sole purpose of addressing the lack of intellectual diversity on liberal-dominated campuses.)
In just the last six months, Acadia University’s Sachs has documented several incidents in Iowa, California, and Connecticut that fit exactly this pattern.
In another incident just last month, the University of Alabama fired Jamie R. Riley, its black assistant vice president and dean of students after Breitbart exposed past tweets in which he criticized the American flag and made a connection between police and racism. Meanwhile, the chief of staff of Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) personally called and threatened University of Nebraska Professor Ari Kohen for “liking” a Facebook post depicting a defaced campaign sign of the congressman showing googly eyes and calling him Fartenberry. The staffer accused Kohen of encouraging “vandalism,” arguably an attempt at chilling speech.