Connecticut professor hounded after pro-Israel Facebook post, forced to take “medical” leave while his university frantically engages in soothing hurt feelings

April 8, 2015 • 2:11 pm

In August of 2014, Andrew Pessin, a professor of philosophy at Connecticut College, posted the following pro-Israel and anti-Hamas message on his Facebook page:


To me, this post reads more or less like a passionate editorial in a newspaper: a political statement rather than an episode of bigotry or hate speech. Unless, that is, Pessin was characterizing Palestinians themselves as dogs.

But that seems unlikely. Who, exactly, was Pessin referring to with the term “pit bull”? According to Slate, which reported on this episode and its sad aftermath, Pessin had been talking about Hamas (the Slate piece was reprinted from Inside Higher Ed):

Nowhere in the post does Pessin say “Palestinians,” but he also doesn’t say “Hamas.” In an interview with Inside Higher Ed, Pessin said he acknowledges that the post was ambiguous. He posted it after a series of 10 other comments written between July 23 and Aug. 11 about Hamas and the group’s tactics and goals.

Reading those preceding posts would have made it clearer that he was using the metaphor of a pit bull to describe Hamas, he said. “Let me say unequivocally: I am not a racist,” he said. “I am a passionate promoter of equal rights for all peoples. I’m a supporter of a two-state solution.”

But the damage was done, for students found the 7-month-old post and deemed it racist “hate speech.” One student emailed Pessin and said she considered his statement racist and bigoted. He apologized and deleted the post.

That wasn’t enough. The student, Lamiya Khandakar, then wrote a letter to the college newspaper, “Why hate speech is not free speech in an ‘inclusive excellence’ community.” Other letters followed, and Pessin became a symbol of “racism”. He apologized again:

He wrote a brief letter to the editor in which—based on advice from the administration—he apologized for any hurt he caused. He wanted to defend himself, but he recognized that could put the blame on students who misinterpreted his words, he said.

But it was far too late: letters and petitions circulated asking the administration to condemn Pessin’s actions, even though they were on his Facebook page and were an exercise in free speech. Even Kandaker said that her personal interactions with Pessin, with he a Jew and she a Muslim, were not uncomfortable:

In her letter, Khandaker says that she took a class with Pessin and, as a Muslim, she never felt uncomfortable in class. But just because Pessin’s views don’t interfere in his teaching doesn’t mean they’re not a problem, she argues. In fact, because he is smart, influential, and well-liked in classes, students are more likely to listen to his posts on socio-political issues, she wrote. Khandaker is chair of diversity and equity for the student government, in which she’s responsible for bringing the concerns of underrepresented students to the administration.

Nevertheless, the vitriol, hatred, and accusations of racism mounted until Pessin was forced to cave in, and left the campus (presumably temporarily):

There also were several anti-Semitic comments made on campus and via Yik Yak after the letters were first published, Pessin said. He decided this week to take a medical leave of absence for the remainder of the semester, partially due to the stress the accusations against him have caused.

He’s toast now, and it’s not clear whether his “medical leave of absence” was suggested by the university. Now, because his Facebook post injured the feelings of some students, his life on campus will never be the same. And the university, to soothe the feelings of the students offended by equating Hamas with a semi-caged pit bull, has mounted the obligatory forum on diversity and inclusion. (They also mention “free speech”, but you can bet your tuchus that the emphasis will be on avoiding hurting other people’s feelings):

Later today, students, faculty, and staff will gather for a forum hosted by the administration on free speech, equity, and inclusion. In two campus emails announcing the forum, President Katherine Bergeron said the comments stemming from Pessin’s Facebook post have posed larger questions about the nature of free speech and the values of a diverse community. Connecticut College is a community that is aiming for “inclusive excellence,” she said.

“The conversations of the past few days—including some anonymous comments on Yik Yak—are evidence of how much work we have to do to reach our aspirations,” she said.

Fox News reports a bit more on what President Bergeron said:

“By now, there have been many opinions expressed about the original Facebook post, as well as about subsequent comments on Yik Yak and elsewhere,” Bergeron wrote in as open letter to the student body. “But one thing has become extremely clear: the level of harm that incendiary language can have on a community. The post caused an outpouring of anger and pain among many different groups of students, faculty, and staff.”

Pain? Incendiary language? Anger? What have we come to when a post like the one above can cause students not to counter with a critique of the politics, but with wails and cries about their hurt feelings? This is identity politics, with the emphasis on “identity” rather than “politics”. If one disagrees with Pesson’s analysis, then write about how his take on Hamas and Palestine is wrong, not that he shouldn’t say those things because they hurt other people’s feelings.

It can’t be said too often: nobody has the right not to be offended. Rather than giving the equivalent of blankets and puppy videos to its wounded students, Connecticut College should be emphasizing the importance of free speech and lessons about what one can do if one doesn’t like what is said.

And I wonder whether, if a professor had attacked the Israeli Defense Forces on Facebook with the same force as Pessin did when going after Hamas, this whole conflagration would have occurred. I doubt it, for on campus these days it’s pretty much acceptable to demonize Israel—but not Palestine or Hamas.

But regardless of who’s in the ascendancy, this whole affair stinks, for we’re seeing yet another example of free speech being characterized as “hate speech”—this time to the extent that a professor was forced to take a leave rather than face the rancor of hypersensitive students. It’s time for students to grow up. The Connecticut College administration is in fact infantilizing them instead of promoting their adulthood, for it’s teaching them that by playing the “hurt card,” you can silence your enemies.

192 thoughts on “Connecticut professor hounded after pro-Israel Facebook post, forced to take “medical” leave while his university frantically engages in soothing hurt feelings

  1. Apologies are never enough for the SJWs. They seek to destroy.

    I felt sick to my stomach the other day, as some SJWs on FTB were saying that it is perfectly acceptable to completely ruin someone’s life over “satire in the wrong context” as “intent isn’t magic” and “fuck the privileged”.

    They sound like sociopaths to me. The sadistic kind.

    1. Is this SJW, or the spread of antisemitism through Islam, or a mixture of both?

      Anti Israel and anti Jewish sentiment have been in numerous Muslim societies for a while, and at least some of Saudi Arabia financed Imams and madrassas have have spewing such for some time as they financed the spread of their own extreme brand of Islam around the world. Nor have they been exclusive in their antisemitism. Hamas, as shown in this very website has been teaching their children practically from birth to hate and despise not just the state of Israel, but the people too.

      I think this is a different thing than just social justice warriors gone overboard.

      1. One does wonder if he made a similar comparison but instead took the “free Palastine” stance, if there would be these sorts of complaints at all.

        1. I would feel differently about the post if he hadn’t included the “Judaea and Samaria” bit; extending the pit-bull metaphor from the caged-for-safety’s-sake Gaza to the occupied-by-armed-amateur-zealots West Bank just fails.

          1. This geographic region was known since antiquity as Judea and Samaria. After it was annexed by Jordan (or rather Transjordan, as the country was called then) in an aggressive war 1948, the name was changed to West Bank. Except U.K. no other country recognized this annexation. After another aggressive war by Jordan against Israel, 1967, this area was conquered by Israel. So the name “West Bank” was coined by Jordanian and British diplomats 1949 and was in use for 19 years in the millenia long history of this territory. Even U.N. documents used the proper names of Judea and Samaria long into 1950. Then the Arab propaganda prevailed and now using the proper geographic names of this province is condemned.

    2. What does “SJW” mean? It seems to be a common term, but I am sure that I am not the only one who doesn’t know.

      I attended Berkeley in the 60s. Most of these kids will eventually outgrow their knee jerk responses to the world, but I am so glad I don’t have to deal with them anymore.

        1. You can Google all those terms in urban dictionaries if you don’t know them – there are lots I have to look up too – one of the curses of getting older.

          1. When my friend’s mom got her first smartphone last year, she immediately became an avid texter and ended every message with “LOL.” When she got a text to the effect of “Dad’s cousin Ralph died. LOL.” my friend called to ask what was funny about that. Turns out Mom thought LOL stood for “Lots Of Love.”

            When’s The Fiesta?!

      1. Actually, they don’t outgrow it. The radicals from the 60s are now running things and teaching their children, and this is what they are teaching.

    3. My thoughts exactly (well, not exactly, but I did say “Uh oh, first mistake!”) as soon as I read:

      “He apologized and deleted the post.”

      This isn’t just an admission of guilt to these keyboard warriors, it’s an admission of forever guilt.

  2. I read the student’s letter. Pessin keeps telling her she is misunderstanding his statements. She insists she is not.

    I think she did misunderstand his statement. Her only argument against this seems to be “No, I didn’t.”

    I thought Connecticut College students were a bit sharper than that. I also call BS on her feeling “unsafe” because of such statements.

    1. I understand the desire of the professor to convince a student he is not a bigot. But whether she is interpreting his position rightly or wrongly is somewhat irrelevant to the question of whether he should be free to voice it.

      1. Quite right. I’m thinking more of the spineless university administration that let this go on.

      2. Following Derrida and Focault, anything said or written can be interpreted by the listener/reader any way they desire. Sometimes there is ambiguity in a statement. This creates a problem for those who are victims in their own mind, as they interpret anything as a personal attack on themselves. This says more about the personal psychology of the listener/reader than the speaker. For example, as a graduate student I had an interaction with another graduate student. We were having an unfortunate debate about relativity in the social sciences. My debate partner was a relativist and was arguing that statistics were basically useless in the social sciences. To me, this was ludicrous, as why would she then be in a graduate program for sociology, a social science? I personally found her viewpoint useless, and while familiar with the arguments against her position, wasn’t fluent with them to truly debate her (I just found the whole conversation a general waste of time). As someone who finds that I learn the most from debating someone who can best represent the other side in the debate, I suggested that she have a discussion with a faculty member who happened to be older and white and male, but was an expert in statistics and quantitative methodology. My thinking was that she would find it more useful than debating me. After she ignored me for a few days, I asked her what was wrong. She said I was a sexist who thought she had to go to a white male to get “mansplained.” I told her this was news to me. My motivation was that since she really cared about this topic, she would learn more talking to someone who could represent the opposite position more fluently. I didn’t care if he changed her mind or she changed his, I just thought that in graduate school, the point was to learn. She told me that she didn’t imagine it, and she knew my intent better than I did. That was when I learned that some people are natural victims. It didn’t matter what my actual intentions were, she was going to make herself the “victim” of our interaction.

      1. To me that’s irrelevant – he has the right to express his opinion in his private life.

        Two people with different viewpoints can be describing a situation exactly honestly as they see it, and come up with two completely different scenarios. Intelligent adults should be able to discuss the differences and also to agree to disagree.

        The problem is shutting down dissent, and that this is happening on the campus of a college in a country that champions free speech is appalling.

        1. The university appointed this particular student as Chair of Diversity and Equity (something not mentioned in Jerry’s post, but which I think is relevant). It seems to me that if a university has appointed someone in this position, and such a Chair exists, then it was her obligation to look into this matter when students complained. I think most people posting here miss that point. She wasn’t just and ordinary student “shutting down dissent”, but fulfilling the obligations of the position for which the University appointed her!!

          1. @ Luis Servin:
            –you did not read properly:

            –“The university appointed this particular student as Chair of Diversity and Equity (something not mentioned in Jerry’s post, but which I think is relevant).”

            –It is in the citation given by Prof. Coyne:

            “Khandaker is chair of diversity and equity for the student government, in which she’s responsible for bringing the concerns of underrepresented students to the administration.”

            –You mention as well:

            “It seems to me that if a university has appointed someone in this position, and such a Chair exists, then it was her obligation to look into this matter when students complained. I think most people posting here miss that point. She wasn’t just and ordinary student “shutting down dissent”, but fulfilling the obligations of the position for which the University appointed her!!”

            –I think here you are completely wrong:
            Appointed or not she misrepresented the position of Prof. Pessin (in my opinion intentionally to shut him up).
            And by the way: even an appointed fool stays a fool.


            1. My own amazement was reinforced by Khandaker being chosen as Chair of Diversity and Equity.

              WTF is she doing suppressing diversity!?

              And to respond to Servin on her duty, she didn’t “look” – say contact Pessin – instead she voiced her own concern based on anecdote, labeled Pessin’s actions “hate speech” and told Pessin to STFU. That was exactly contrary to her duty.

              Thus “even an appointed fool stays a fool” seems to cover her behavior.

  3. What a horrible administration for them not to support this professor! When I was in school, the professor and the administration would laugh at a student for writing such a whiny letter and tell him/her to go back and write a well reasoned response.

    He shouldn’t even have to apologize. The worst thing he did was use a clumsy metaphor.

      1. Why should that really matter? He apologized for his clumsy choices. Perhaps I should fly into a rage at the fact that Muslims consider dogs to be unclean and demand an apology for their outrage.

        It’s just silliness. Everyone should grow up.

        1. Ramen.

          The offense taken here is nothing compared to the offense I take with, in this instance, Hamas using suicide bombers and IEDs and rocket barrages indiscriminately against Israeli civilians.

          (And, yes. I get quite upset when Israeli attacks wind up killing civilians as well. But the Israelis at least have the decency to pretend that they try to minimize civilian casualties, while Hamas explicitly and proudly targets civilians and attempts to kill as many civilians as they can.)

          So…I’ll take your “offended you were called a dog” outrage and raise you an “offended your clan calls for the extermination of all Jews in Israel” outrage. Sure you really want to keep playing the outrage game?

          Civilized people don’t play outrage games. All outrage games do is justify yet more violence, more horror, more barbarity.


          1. I’m not sure that pretending that they try to minimize civilian casualties is all that decent, especially when their minimization efforts result in orders of magnitude more deaths than Hamas manages with its proud targeting. We can agree that Hamas is much worse than the current Israeli government, but can we also agree that the current Israeli government is pretty bad? Plenty of room at the bottom.

          2. But the Israelis at least have the decency to pretend that they try to minimize civilian casualties,

            It’s not all pretense. According to General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, he was amazed at the lengths that the IDF goes to to minimize civilian casualties.

            1. Agreed. I was arguing the devil’s position. Even Hamas, as I recall, will admit that Israel pretends to avoid targeting civilians (because they call the Israelis hypocrites) while they themselves don’t even bother pretending.


    1. Are metaphorical dogs unclean? I expect a Connecticut College student to understand metaphor.

    2. “When I was in school, the professor and the administration would laugh at a student for writing such a whiny letter and tell him/her to go back and write a well reasoned response.”

      Maybe these days they more readily recognise an Offer They Cannot Refuse when they get one.

  4. This crap is starting to make me sick.

    It’s group-think hysteria that is mounting to levels of the satanic cult child-abuse hysteria of the 1990’s. Exceeds the group-think irrationality of the “drug war”.

    The worst that can be said is the post used an analogy with unfortunate potential to be interpreted as an insult — calling palestinians rabid dogs. Attentive reading, even of the single post in isolation, shows that this is not the intent.

    From the mob reaction it’s like they think what he wrote is the equivalent of Nazi propaganda that explicitly described Jews as rats!

    1. I read the initial comment and my first thought was “oh no,”, but then he explained the context and apologized. To most reasonable people, that would be enough.

  5. Stephen Fry puts it nicely:

    “It’s now very common to hear people say, ‘I’m rather offended by that.’ As if that gives them certain rights. It’s actually nothing more… than a whine. ‘I find that offensive.’ It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I am offended by that.’ Well, so fucking what.”

    1. Australian comedian Steve Hughes had a skit with a broadly similar message;

      “Political correctness is the oppression of our intellectual movement so no one says anything anymore just in case anyone else get’s offended. What happens if you say that and someone gets offended? Well they can be offended, can’t they? What’s wrong with being offended? When did stick and stones may break my bones stop being relevant? Isn’t that what you teach children? He called me an idiot! Don’t worry about it, he’s a dick.”

      The rest of it’s up on YouTube somewhere…

    1. Thank you for this.

      I vote with AI.

      I stopped clicking to PZ’s site a long time ago — even to follow up on something. I have taken the links to his site off of my personal list of web links.

      I recommend silent protest: Just completely turn your back on him — until and unless he comes to his senses.

    2. Myers has also been busy badmouthing Dawkins and Harris over the past few months. He really has gone off the deep end.

      1. To be fair, Dawkins’ size-of-a-house ego and his bullheaded approach to any criticism can be a bit tiresome.

        1. As I have opined elsewhere, I wish Dawkins would stop using twitter as its restriction as to the number of characters prevents him from exercising his customary nuance.

          1. Yes, that, and it lends itself to rash rage posting. Being an old fart, he hasn’t got antibodies for siwoti and the internet drama virus, and it shows.
            If manages to stick to his tried and true means of communication, he’ll continue to do great.

            1. Or it’s possible, just possible, he sees some value in being one of the few remaining people who couldn’t give a damn about political correctness.

    3. Thank you. PZ years ago used to have some value (“The Emperor’s new Clothes”, for example). His blog has turned into a self-indulgent exercise in venting his spleen.

      1. Every time I look PZ seems to be getting angrier and more cynical. Sometimes I fear he dies of a heart attack before he can relax a bit.

        I used to comment on his blog (not very regularly), but not any more, and I’m torn – on the one hand I found the awareness raising about social issues and discrimination quite interesting, on the other hand the place has shown tendencies to turn into an extremely restrictive environment where certain truths and language conventions must be accepted as self-evident and unconditionally or one is rendered an oppressive person. There are several regulars who have been victims of rape, and they use this both to provide insights into the societal problems that come with this, which is great, but also tend to flatten everyone who is not conforming to certain attitudes with an emotional hammer. Now, I’m not blind to the fact that there are many trolls who enter discussion about social justice and start asking basic questions not in good faith, but in order to derail discussions and bully victims. This is particularly problematic when in the guise of a question, the basic humanity of a person or group of people is put up for debate. These tactics should be called out and shown for what they are. A fine line has to be drawn where this kind of bullying tactic ends and a reasonable debate begins.
        I’m refusing to see this as a black and white issue.

        1. PZ brooks only slavish ditto-head minions.

          All others are simply attacked.

          So much for having a discussion. Simply not possible at the squidly site.

          I hope you are enjoying your bubble, PZ.

          1. Well maybe, but I can’t remember him being very quick with the banhammer in the past, and I’d say less so than other blog owners. Banning everyone who disagrees is not the first thing I would accuse him of.

    4. Thank you! As I remember it, as I want to remember it, I stopped perusing PZ’s blog because it grew too large and not primarily because moderate voices started to drown in the boiling pot.

      But evidently the latter has happened, attack dog PZ has organized his perfect echo chamber, and the results are predictable.

      Well, he can bark, but he can’t bite.* Even though the response to AI is underwhelming, and PZ evidently thought little of it, the dissociation and its causes is on record.

      I’ll dissociate myself as well, have done it in practice but can make it stated.

      He is Myers from now on.

      [I don’t know what to do with my “Order of Molly”. It was popular vote on Myers’s bl*g in that bl*g’s happier days, so I think I will keep it. *Maybe I will find out that Myers bites what he can reach, and it will become a Wayback memory… =D

      May as well, because I don’t seem to be able to get WordPress to change my tag to just my name.]

      1. Yeah, those happier days is probably the time when I read regularly and commented more often. Around the time when that science of watchmen entry morphed into an endless lounge thread, which was a really amusing dynamic to observe.

  6. Khandaker is chair of diversity and equity for the student government

    Oh the irony. I guess diversity is good, as long as its the right type of diversity.

  7. If I were the professor, I would file slander lawsuits against those accusing me of criminal acts.

  8. Wait, Khandakar doesn’t want him to express opinions she doesn’t agree with because she fears that people will agree with him? Since when was that ever an acceptable reason?

  9. This is really crazy. For my tastes, the FB post was poorly argued, and if I were his student I’d happily score a few cheap points refuting him. What kind of student would pass up such a chance?

    This is what bothers me the most about the anti-Israel lobby. They won’t argue. Communication for them means just shouting slogans, quoting Jewish critics of Israel (without realizing that while it’s noble for Jews to hold their culture to higher standards, it’s not noble or smart to emulate them.)

  10. Later today, students, faculty, and staff will gather for a forum hosted by the administration on free speech, equity, and inclusion.

    In my dreams, that form goes something like this: “this University defends free speech. For that reason, we ask the students to treat equitably those students and professors who hold views that may be personally offensive to us, and recognize that including disparate views in our University community makes us stronger, not weaker.”

    1. Yeah, since when did a university become a place where we are to be protected from hearing opinions that differ from our own?

      Wow, why bother going? Aren’t you there to learn new things? Test your brain? You just want to be spoon-fed your own prejudices and patted on the back? Join a club, not a university.

      1. What, your undergrad didn’t include a kindergarten? You know, Freshman Kindergarten, Sophomore Kindergarten…

        ‘Today in class, children, before we get out the finger paints or the safety scissors, we all need to put on our group-think-ing caps. Does anyone need to go to the potty and change their Huggies, the super-absorbent-butt-hurt variety, of course.” oh for fucks’ sake!

  11. “The Connecticut College administration is in fact infantilizing them instead of promoting their adulthood, for it’s teaching them that by playing the “hurt card,” you can silence your enemies.”

    I agree with that statement wholeheartedly. Sometimes free speech is going to offend people — it goes with the territory. And this trend of higher learning institutions having to take care lest any student be offended is preposterous — these institutions SHOULD engage in difficult conversations that may offend people.

    However, I think you’re also downplaying the professor’s offensiveness to some degree. You’re right — he mentioned neither Hamas nor Palestinians specifically and he uses the “out of context” defense to insist he was referring only to Hamas and not ALL Palestinians. But that is blown by the fact that he DOES reference Gaza as the cage and its contents as the pit bull. Not SOME people in Gaza — Gaza in its entirety. What is Gaza in its entirety if not Palestinians?

    So he basically compared everyone in Gaza to not just an animal — but a RABID animal; diseased and unable to act with any semblance of intelligence because of that. That’s pretty offensive, and I’m not surprised someone jumped on him because of it.

    But I do agree that a better response would have been to extend his analogy a bit further — a RABID animal is driven to act the way it does. Similarly, acting as if the Palestinian penchant for violence is not at least partially the result of Israel’s policies towards them is disingenuous at best. Throw any animal in a cage and beat it long enough, they usually get mean. A better analogy would have been a mistreated animal or more to the point — a mistreated human being. He’s into a bit of a chicken / egg problem with that whole post, and trying to argue that it had to be the chicken that came first.

    1. Finally, a sensible post. As someone who is well outside of the Israel/Palestinian conflict and only look at it from the outside, I think the professor’s post is pretty indefensible. I see most people posting here are defending the professor’s right to free speech, but I wonder if the same people think the analogy is defensible as an argument.

      1. Explain to me exactly why he shouldn’t be free to express himself politically in a public forum, just as he pleases?

        And, since you propose he shouldn’t be able to say what he said, what sanctions are called for because of what he wrote?

        If all it is is some students playing the butt-hurt card because SIWOTI or they don’t like what he said, where does that stop? Should professors be required to sign am agreement promising to never offend a student by anything they will ever say or write?

        Good grief, he admitted he used poor judgment. What else do you want?

        Apparently the butt-hurt (words hurt me so badly, I had to read every one of them!) student wants him fired. Or something, since an apology wasn’t deemed sufficient groveling for a professor who (clutch my pearls!) dared to disagree with a student, and say it in public.

        They don’t a university education, they want kindergarten!

    2. I understand your problem with the post regarding the lack of clarity. One clearly defensible clarification of the ambiguity is the argument you make that he was speaking of all of Gaza, and therefore Palestinians and not Hamas. But, the poster himself later clarified that this was not the intended group, that he was speaking of only Hamas. Now we have two choices. We can continue to follow the logic you use, and essentially call him a liar involved in CYA or we can take him at his word. Let’s at least acknowledge that at this point in time, the author of the statement has clarified his position and we are condemning or defending him based on whether or not we believe he is a liar or just inaccurate in his speech. The only other position really is to say that Hamas deserves a better analogy with the implication being that their actions are legitimate given their grievances.

    3. On the other hand, the population voted in Hamas and continues to support Hamas, who’s charter is the destruction of Israel and the Jews.

      The population supports being used as human shields during rocket attacks, as well as using human shields for the Hamas soldiers, from the lowest soldier to the highest.

      The population supports the use of their aid money in the construction of tunnels that are used for the purpose of suicide bombing and attacking Israel.

      Israel tries and convicts those who attack and murder Palestinians on their soil.
      Hamas and the Palestinians celebrate in the street and praise suicide bombers, as well as teach their children to hate Israel and Jews in children TV shows with horrifying antisemitism and calls for murdering Jews.

      I guess we wouldn’t want to compare a vicious caged animal to an organization who’s guiding charter is the destruction of Israel and the Jews.

      Because that would be offensive.

      I would also suggest that Israel’s policies haven’t grown out of a vacuum.

    4. There is also the odd description of a single rabid pit-bull making ‘mass’ efforts to escape – a singularity that is at the same time a plurality… It does seem to me that a professor of philosophy might, in addition to knowing how to count, know rather better than to address a serious political problem in these terms – particularly when his students seem to be expected by some commenters on this thread to address such problems in a responsible way. And, as for the cries about not ‘giving in’ to terrorism, it was when the British Government finally dropped the ‘noble’ and ‘heroic’ intransigence it had adopted in the face of the troubles in Northern Ireland that some kind of settlement was reached and the violence and killings on all sides was pretty well stopped. Alas, under Netanyahu, there will be neither the imagination or the will to even attempt to create a situation that is rather better than the present one: instead, it will be made worse.

      1. I think Netanyahu’s reelection was a catastrophe, but…

        Did you observe the behavior of the militias who retook Tikrit? The looting, the murdering, the lawlessness? And that was against their own countrymen, their coreligionists.

        Now imagine them running rampant through the streets of Tel Aviv, and perhaps the Israeli response will be a bit easier to understand.

        1. There is, Steve, a distinction between understanding something and thinking that it is justified or correct, or, in this case, a valid excuse for the Israeli government continuing policies that are going to make matters worse for everybody. And, yes, I am well aware of the behaviour of the militias who retook Tikrit, just as I am well aware of the behaviour of US forces in Fallujah or My Lai, the behaviour of British forces in Kenya at the time of the Mau-mau uprising, and the massacres at the Sabra & Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon. I notice, incidentally, that the Times of Israel has just had to take down another ‘op-ed’ (this one under a fake name) calling for the extermination of Palestinian ‘cockroaches’. Now, perhaps you could explain, in nice, simple words, why you think Netahanyu’s re-election is a catastrophe.

          1. The simple answer, Tim, is that it means the continued building of settlements.

            The rest of your post is disingenuous. Yes, victorious armies do sometimes commit atrocities, but the Shiite militias in Tikrit took savagery and barbarism to new heights–against their own countrymen.

            1. I suggest, Steve, that instead of throwing about big words like ‘disingenuous’, you should acquaint yourself with a bit of history. Just to take one example, I don’t recall the Americans being victorious in Vietnam, and the atrocities committed were largely a consequence of their not being victorious and a matter of unofficial policy(My Lai was not an isolated instance).

              1. The point, Tim, is that the atrocities in Tikrit were unique in being committed by Iraqis on Iraqis (though I concede that the massacre at Sabra and Shatila by Lebanese Christians on Palestinian Arabs comes close). It is hardly irrational if Israelis are made uneasy by imagining Shiites rampaging through the streets of Tel Aviv.

              2. The trouble, Steve, is that those enormities were, and are, not unique. I am not seeking to be condescending when I say ‘Look at history’ – and in particular that of civil wars – the kind of war you often get when there is a breakdown of a political order (whether that order was benign or malign): the civil war that took place in Ireland, for example; or the kind of violence that was taking place between communities in Ulster quite recently (and also within communities: one Irish Catholic friend of mine from Derry had to get out of Ulster because somebody with the same name as his was on an IRA hit-list as a ‘traitor’). Another friend, an Argentinian pianist, learned that he was on the junta’s hit-list, in the ‘dirty war’, and escaped to Uruguay, only to be imprisoned there for years until his plight was discovered and musician friends in Europe brought about his release. Not very long ago, Bosnian Muslims were being massacred and raped by people who were ‘racially’ not very different from them.

                Of course it is not ‘irrational’ for Israelis to be alarmed by what is happening not far from their borders, and nowhere have I suggested that it is. But the political chaos in the Middle East that feeds this terror has not come about for no good reason, and it is certainly not due solely to the incorrigibility of people who happen to be Muslim (which is what talk about rabid pit bulls suggests). Anyway, I am glad that we are agreed that illegal Israeli settlements have not been helping, are not helping, and will not help to improve the situation.

              3. Tim, I see no point in quibbling about details and semantics, as we are clearly more in agreement than not. The Arab-Israeli dialogue is so poisonous that, if one says something critical of one side, it is assumed he or she is a partisan of the other. For the record, my general position can be summarized as “A pox on both their houses.”

              4. Yes, Steve, there is small point in quibbling about details and semantics, except of course that we weren’t, but, as we say in Japan, moo ii…

        2. And, incidentally, were I the proud owner of a rabid, vicious pit-bull, complete with a mass of fleas (for perhaps it was to the fleas Pessin was referring when he spoke of ‘mass’ efforts), which could only be kept in a cage, I would not consider it ‘kind-hearted’ or ‘something’ to give it some modicum of food and water: I would consider it kind-hearted as well as responsible to have the beast put down as humanely as possible – kind-hearted because of the animal’s suffering, and responsible since a danger to others and to myself would thereby be removed. Pessin doubtless did not tease out the implications of his analogy. No, I don’t think he should lose his position, since he seems otherwise to have been a good and competent teacher, but he really has been pretty silly, and at a time when police officers in Ferguson Missouri are being sacked for their tweets & twitters…

    1. As a life-long, proud liberal, I am extremely distressed to see (supposed) liberals doing their very best to fit the right-wing stereotype of liberals.

      1. Me too. If it helps they’re not liberals, they’re authoritarian left, and really have more in common with the religious right than liberals.

        Maybe I’m guilty of being essentialist in this case, however.

        1. Agree, politics is circular – not linear and the far left joins hands with the far right somewhere in the dark at the back where nobody can see the details.

          1. damn right! it’s not a “political spectrum” that it is claimed to be. it is more like a multi-circle venn diagram, where extreme left and extreme right overlap. but that makes people scared, it’s not a simple black/white up/down left/right sort of simple mindedness and makes for shitty sound bites for the “news”.

  12. “Gaza is in the cage”. “The same is true about Judea and Samaria”. It’s straightforward – he’s talking about the Palestinians, in both Gaza and the West Bank, so it’s not about Hamas. It’s bigoted. He’s not just calling them dogs, he’s calling them rabid dogs. And anyone who supports the Palestinians is either a liberal or another rabid pit bull, to him. I can see why that is a problem for someone who is taught by him.

    1. Well, his students need to pull on their big-boy and big-girl pants and buck up and realize that not everyone they encounter in life is going to agree with them — including their bosses and professors.

      This is part of becoming an adult.

      I disagree with (and am offended by) many public figures and people I interact with. But I’m not going to tell them to shut up or try to get the organizational ban-hammer on them.

      Good grief, who ever told these students that they wouldn’t be challenged at university? That they would be some how protected from anything they don’t like?

      Grow up.

      Also: Metaphor.

      “Khandaker says that she took a class with Pessin and, as a Muslim, she never felt uncomfortable in class.” [But I still want him to STFU – and probably get fired because I disagree with his politics.]

      [H]e said. “I am a passionate promoter of equal rights for all peoples. I’m a supporter of a two-state solution.” Yeah, he’s totally against the Palestinians.

      1. When your professor thinks supporters of Palestinians are ‘rabid pit bulls’ too, how confident can they be that he’ll treat and grade them fairly? In a philosophy class, there is a chance that this subject will come up (eg the principle of self-determination, or the morality of retaliation). He should have moderated his language in public (ie on Facebook). He did take it down after receiving the complaint, and perhaps it should have stopped there, but I think the original complaint was well justified.

        1. “He should have moderated his language in public (ie on Facebook). He did take it down after receiving the complaint, and perhaps it should have stopped there, but I think the original complaint was well justified.” [emphasis added]

          If it’s well justified, then what sanctions against the prof. are justified? Should he lose his job because someone took offense at some old random FB post? Should he have to sign some non-offense agreement? Should he be demoted, lose tenure? Because some random student doesn’t like his politics?

          I am extremely offended, oputraged, by people who want to destroy free speech in our society. I think I need to write a letter to the U of M newspaper to make those people SFTU! /sarcasm

          Does that mean free speech is acceptable in all circumstances? No. Not when your free speech is hate speech and takes place in a community which professes values of “diversity and equity,” and “inclusive excellence.”

          … an influential member of its own community actively engages in dangerous hate speech.

          One only needs to look at the recent horrific murders of the three Muslim Arab Americans in the UNC shootings to acknowledge that violence against minorities occur through the repetition of stereotypes [jump to conclusions without data much? equating the FB post with incitement to murder, good grief]

          … I felt unsafe when my quick stop to Shop Rite resulted in dirty looks, couples bringing up the topic of ISIS purposely in front of me.

          She is claiming that the professor does not have the right the express what he did on his FB page. Because she plays the butthurt card.

          She wants everyone else to STFU about anything she doesn’t want discussed. Who ever handed that kind of power to some random student with a self-esteem problem?

          I don’t give a rat’s ass if someone comes out as a neo-Nazi. Ridicule them; don’t try to shut them up!

          1. As I said, perhaps his taking it down was sufficient; he’s an adult, and that may have taught him that he has to think about the effect his insults could have on his students – calling people ‘rabid pit bulls’ for their support of Palestine would affect the discussions possible in a classroom, and he’s the one with the power there.

            The woman is not a ‘random student’; she is the Chair of Diversity and Equality for the college.

            “She is claiming that the professor does not have the right the express what he did on his FB page” because as a professor, he should not be calling people who can include his students “rabid pit bulls” for their support of Palestine.

            As to whether she was “jumping to conclusions”; another post on The College Voice pointed out:

            One person named Nicole commented on the post suggesting the “dogs” be put down. Professor Pessin responded, “I agree.”

            I would object to a neo-Nazi teaching philosophy. Lecturers have to be reasonable people who can debate without stooping to bigotry or insult.

  13. Pessin’s posting was remarkably sloppy for a philosophy professor. I don’t buy his claim that it was “ambiguous” – he says “Gaza is in the cage … ” which clearly means the people of Gaza. His metaphor of “rabid pit bull” is offensive even to this atheist, though I obviously have no religious attitude regarding dogs. Pessin’s use of “Judea and Samaria” rather than “occupied territories” is also revealing, and IMO is of a piece with his metaphor of Israel as “the owner” of the “rabid pit bulls” (i.e. people) in Gaza and in “Judea and Samaria.”
    Lots of people claim that they aren’t racists; and even Bibi claims, when it is convenient for him to do so, to support the two-state solution. Whether one buys these claims is another matter. Of course it is Pessin’s right to say and write whatever he wants, but he shouldn’t complain when people draw conclusions that follow from his statements.
    BTW, Yakaru: have you ever found an anti-Israel lobby as intransigently vicious as AIPAC?

      1. Are you saying that Blumenthal is a lobby? Or that his writings get anything near the exposure that AIPAC gets in mainstream media for whatever it says, no matter how fraudulent?

      1. Of course you are free to call the West Bank whatever you want. But you presumably realize that “Judea and Samaria” is a euphemism for the illegally occupied territory, so by using that name you identify yourself as in sympathy with the the ultra-right-wing.

        1. No, I am not. Judea and Samaria is the name of the area. I don’t sympathize with anything or anyone by refusing to use an incorrect term meant to express your political opinion.
          The idea that by not using the your favourite political term, I express any political position is distorted.

  14. He should be smart enough to know that statements that directly equate Gaza (and hence its people) to a rabid bulldog would provoke a reaction. Ask yourself what reactions you would expect if this was another professor saying something similar about Israelis. It’s impossible to have an adult conversation about a difficult problem if folk start throwing deeply offensive imagery around. I have limited sympathy, not least because other academics have been _sacked_ for expressing support for Palestinians in much more moderate language.

    1. To wit the case of Norman Finkelstein whose serious scholarship (praised by prominent intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky, Avi Shlaim and Raul Hilberg)based critique of Israel led to his academic career being derailed by a vicious witch hunt conducted against him by some of the most powerful players in academia.

      Many people appear to understand Freedom of Speech to extend only to the speech they approve of and want to hear.

      1. Yeah, Alan Dershowitz told the truth about Finkelstein and the Israel bashers thought it was hell (apologies to Harry Truman).

      2. Yeah, Alan Dershowitz told the truth about Finkelstein and the Israel bashers thought it was h*ll.

          1. that’s ok, I read them both and still thought “why the hell does Frankenstein have to do with this? Is it a metaphor for Israel/Palestine?” I think it’s past my bedtime.

        1. Mr. Dershowitz was free to express his opinion of Mr. Finkelstein and vice versa. Yet, Mr. Dershowitz then proceeded to follow up with mounting a scorched earth campaign targeted to destroy Mr. Finkelstein’s livelihood -the ultimate silencing- in which he largely succeeded.

          If Andrew (dehumanizing people as “snarling”, “bounding”,”rabid pit bull” and a “thing”) Pessin’s fate is ill deserved then so much the more so was Finkelstein’s whose views on Israel are anchored to a solid foundation of painstaking scholarship.

          1. Excuse me, Dershowitz did nothing of the kind. He submitted a brief to the authorities at DePaul explaining why Finkelstein should be denied tenure. As I understand it, he pointed out Finkelstein’s paucity of scholarly publications and provided criticism of those that he had published pointing out claims that he and many others considered to be poorly sourced. Those authorities, as I understand it agreed with the claim of a paucity of scholarly publications and profess to have based their decision on those grounds.

            Obviously, Finkelstein is a controversial character. His advocates claim that his views about the Israel/Palestinian issue are, for the most part, correct and accurate. His detractors claim that his views about the Israel/Palestinian issue are, for the most part incorrect and inaccurate.

            1. Peter Novick, who, unlike Dershowitz actually was a scholar knowledgeable about the topic, submitted an evaluation of Finkelstein at the request of DePaul, arguing that Finkelstein should be given tenure. But DePaul caved in to the bullying of Dershowitz and like-minded bigots.

            2. De Paul’s political science committee and independent outside experts on the Israel–Palestine conflict determined Dershowitz’
              accusations unmerited.

              The vote on denying Finkelstein tenure was a product of political maneuvering. Note also tenure denial at the same time of an assistant professor strongly supportive of Finkelstein in spite of unanimous support from faculty and the dean.

              But all that is irrelevant to the inviolability of freedom of speech which you do not appear to be shy to trample on in your attempts to justify Finkelstein’s silencing.

              Which, goes to my point that some people appear to understand Freedom of Speech to extend only to the speech they approve of and want to hear.

          2. I would also point out that tenure decisions are ofter contentious. When I was an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, there was a history assistant professor named Richard Drinnon, who was a very popular instructor, who was denied tenure allegedly based on a paucity of scholarly publications. This caused an uproar in the History Department among the students and many faculty who claimed that he was denied tenure based on his political views, which were decidedly left of center.

    2. I would compare Hamas to a rabid Rottweiler. Thomas Henry Huxley was called Darwin’s bulldog. Richard Dawkins has been called Darwin’s Rottweiler.

  15. I could be wrong but think the real issue of concern in this post is the treatment of the article by students and the reaction of the school. Free speech verses the real or imagined offense taken by some and what should be done. In other words, how should these folks be handling this?

    None of the treatment or reaction was good and in the College atmosphere this seems to be systemic in modern times. The result of this intolerance is the lose of any real discussion or debate on “sensitive issues” or anything even close to controversial.

    Who really is losing in all of this? The young people in the schools who are presumed to be there, getting an education. If a duck raised it’s little ones this way there would be no ducks.

  16. “One student emailed Pessin and said she considered his statement racist and bigoted.”

    I’m sorry, but how did we get into this situation where the mere existence of one person who labels something racist makes it so?

    1. To be fair she is not just “one student”, but actually the Chair of Diversity and Equity. It seems to me she that if the University has an appointed Chair of Diversity and Equity then it was her obligation to look into this matter and have an opinion on it.

      1. perhaps the chair of diversity and equity could take a more constructive approach in place of evoking racism and safety concerns as an opening volley. Lack of nuance doesn’t change minds it just breeds resentment.

        1. Not to mention this certifies her as a fool. You know the old saying: better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and dispel all doubt.

  17. Rather than taking Pessin’s metaphor too far, his critics fail to take it far enough. Can we really take Pessin to be suggesting that every single member of Gaza’s population “goes for the throat” when released? Doesn’t it fit the metaphor better to compare the dog to actual, active agents that engage in violence? The only direct implications of his words are that Gaza is a cage, and that there is a rabid dog in it.

    There is plenty of racism placed in service of Israel’s policies. This is not an instance of it.

  18. ” In fact, because he is smart, influential, and well-liked in classes, students are more likely to listen to his posts on socio-political issues..”

    Gee- I’ll have to remember that one: be careful not to listen to someone’s opinions just because they’re SMART. If that isn’t self-imposed “dumbing-down”, I don’t know what is!

    1. well, I’m kinda dumb, ignored or at best, politely tolerated, and have no influence over anyone beyond my two d*gs, so I suppose I’m trustworthy by that standard!

  19. Well Pessin let the pit bull out but somehow it didn’t quite look like what he imagined. Unfortunately for him, he was the one that got mauled.
    Sometimes, it is not what I THINK about a category but how I FEEL about it.
    Hurt feelings evoke all sorts of historical and prevalent emotions and a darn sight more readily available with not much effort required.
    Unlike like the former, which is what Prof.Coyne pointed out, refute with a counter argument.
    This requires thought, something the student Khandakar was closed too (because her feelings had been hurt, fearful) which sadly, trumps rationality when held with strong beliefs.
    Pessin let the pit bull out, but I lied, free speech got mauled, I hope it works out OK for him.

  20. These occurrences are distressing. No one should have to endure the kind of abuse Dr. Pessin has endured for expressing an opinion. People say things that upset me occasionally and I’m sure I say things that upset others (for example, if I mention that I’m an atheist). But really, the proper response to the professor’s comment is something like, “Do you really mean to suggest that the Palestinian people are like rabid dogs? That is, that they are uncontrollably violent and not amenable to reason? What do you think the logical conclusion of this argument might be? What actions by the Palestinians would change your mind?” This might give the professor the opportunity to clarify his statement or put it in a better context. Actual discussion might break forth instead of name calling. Almost *nothing* that is said on facebook, absent actual threats of harm, should be a basis for employment action.

    It’s interesting that, although Khandaker alleges that his post made her feel ‘unsafe’, it is the professor who has suffered real harassment and harm as a result of this affair. One’s strongly held personal convictions are not license to demonize someone with different convictions. I am dismayed to see this dynamic operating in the atheist community (ref, the above comments about Pharyng*la, a blog I no longer read). The give and take on this website is generally exemplary (perhaps there is judicious monitoring by higher entities) and should be an example of how to conduct civil discourse.

    I realize these sentiments are neither novel nor original, but I feel compelled to record my vote.

  21. Critics missed seeing his previous posts making it clear he meant Hamas. When he clarified that, what was their problem?

    1. because, Les Faby, sticks and stones may break my bones, BUT WORDS HURT ME FOREVER AND EVER AND EVER! and obviously, nobody can ever recover from hurt feelings, but they can recover from rocket attacks, suicide bombings…oh wait

  22. ” if you tread on someones toes,there will follow many woes” (I’m a poet,but I don’t know it) 🙂 this is so horrible that flippancy can be the only response

  23. As it happens, Prof. Pessin was my favorite instructor in my time at William and Mary, some decades ago.

  24. Professor Coyne, whenever you get into the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, you lose credibility. A month ago you posted that the Jewish people were “peaceful and never hurt anyone”. You put them into the same category as Jains and some other obscure faiths. Are you serious? When you make such statements, you lose credibility.

    The fact of the matter is that both sides are wrong. Both the Israelis and Palestinians. Both sides use excessive force. If you look at the history of the whole conflict you will see that religion is at it’s root cause. Jews believe sincerely (but they are wrong) that this land was given to them by Yahweh. Muslims believe that Jews have no right what so ever to this land and they can not be there. They believe this piece of land belongs to them. Where are the reasonable people? Professor Coyne, you may be an expert on evolution, but whenever you delve into this topic, you lose credibility. You pick and choose isolated cases in which pro-Israeli voices are shut down but you do not analyze the bigger picture of this dynamic conflict. The same can be said of the pro-Palestinian side. Once again, where are the reasonable people on this issue?

    1. I have to disagree. Jerry delved into the Israel conflict, and by his impartiality gained a lot of world analysis credibility with me.

      Can you link to your reference of “peaceful…”? I can’t seem to find it.

      FWIW I find this:

      “I shouldn’t have to say this, but since there are so many Israel bashers about, I must reiterate that I’ve always favored the establishment of a Palestinian state, and think that Netanyahu’s statement opposing that (though he’s seemingly retracted his position after his re-election) is reprehensible. A two-state solution is the only viable solution to the Middle East’s problems—or at least that one problem—but I don’t see how it will happen now. Nor do I really think, in my heart of hearts, that a two-state solution will stop Hamas’s attacks on Israel; after all, the Hamas charter itself calls for the complete elimination of that state.”

      [ ]

      But nothing on religious (or secular) Jews until February. And those exact words weren’t found by search engines.

    2. Sorry, Patel, but you’re dead wrong here, and I never EVER said Israel is free of guilt. I may lose credibility in your eyes, but, frankly, I don’t care. You’re a rude person and what you have lost is posting privileges here.

      1. Patel is FOS–while claiming to hold a balanced view, he clearly sees any hint of understanding for the Israeli side as wholly anti-Palestinian.

        Banning him, however, is IMO an overreaction.

      2. Patel is FOS–while claiming to hold balanced views, he clearly sees any statement not completely anti-Israeli as anti-Palestinian.

        Banning him, however, is IMO an overreaction.

          1. Apparently there is sometimes a delay in posting the comment. Try refreshing the page before re-posting.

    3. I’ll use the analogy that Sam Harris uses: Human shields.

      The Palestinians use human shields all the time. (They base their rockets amongst the population.) Because they know the Israelis will practice restraint. Israel could wipe out every Palestinian if they wished to. They do not wish to.

      Flip it around: Could the Israelis use human shields from their civilian population to shelter their military units? It’s a joke to propose such a thing.

      Yes, the Palestinians are largely restricted to small areas*, surrounded by people they view as hostile. So are the Israelis.

      (* Many Palestinians live in Israel itself.)

      I am strongly in favor of a 2-state solution (as in 1948! — though the 1948 lines were not practical). The PA might go for it; but Hamas? Not when their charter includes destruction of the state of Israel.

        1. There’re all sorts of topics on which Sam and I disagree, especially sociopolitical ones…but he’s spot on in this case.

          I would recommend reading the transcript. The original audio is clear enough, but there are those who insist on misinterpreting or reading into or whatever…and the transcript has inline notes that should help clarify any such misunderstandings.


          1. I sent it to a friend of mine (an atheist Jew who has the same opinions about Israel as I do). She liked it but said she couldn’t send it to her mom because everything in the parentheses would enrage her. LOL, those dang parentheses!

      1. The Israelis build settlements in the West Bank, knowing that they put their children in the middle,of a hostile population. And in the days before 1948, Zionist groups hid weapons in civilian areas, including religious centers, and they targeted civilians. They still do.

        As for restraint, only the most extreme government’s ever try to kill as many people as possible. Sam Harris is an ideologue. If you want objective facts from people who criticize both sides, you’d read Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International or B’Tselem.

        1. LOL
          Human Rights Watch and Betselem are not objective, even if they tell you what you clearly want to hear.
          The comparison between the settlements and what Hamas does is ridiculous. Israel does not use hospitals, schools and UN facilities for military operations. Israel does build headquarters under hospitals and does not prevent civilians from leaving areas under attack.
          Israel, and I say this based on first hand knowledge, does all efforts to minimize casualties to the civilian population on both sides. Hamas does the opposite.
          The civilians casualties ratios in the Israeli operations is smaller than that in the American and co. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, in a much more complicated situation (for one, American civilians are not threatened terrorists operating on the other side of the world).

  25. I also want to state that I fully support the free market place of ideas. No one, no person or their views should be shut down. Professor Pessin should be allowed to air his views. Professor Coyne, you have a knack of picking and choosing such isolated pro-Israeli incidents. You highlight how they were shut down and then you imply that America is anti-Israel. We are unabashedly pro-Israel. Professor Coyne, I think your Jewish faith (even though you claim to be an atheist) is clouding your lens. Just a tad bit.

    Allow the free and open marketplace of ideas to sort it all out. Once free speech ceases to exist, then progress will hit a roadblock.

    1. Coyne has made it clear that he is opposed to Judaism. I take it you’ve never read his “Jews Behaving Badly” posts. The only person “picking and choosing” is you.

    2. In other words, he should select the same stories you would? That’s free speech — like the kind available at the squidly site.

      If you don;t like the stories here, no one is making you come here. And you can comment, as long as you follow the rules (roolz).

      He’s also not implying that America is anti-Israel. He’s saying, very clearly, that Israel-bashing is safe on (the generality of) college campuses and support for Israel isn’t. The data seem pretty clear on this.

    3. Your claims regarding what Coyne has said on this issue, and on what he hasn’t said on this issue, are simply not accurate. It isn’t even a matter of interpretation. You are just plain wrong.

      As an exercise to help you see that, I invite you to show references, thorough enough to show context, of the claims you have made in this post and your number 29.

  26. Oh the warmongers are always quick to whine about being insulted and their freedoms being curtailed. It’s sad to see this nonsense happening. Having been around when Fatah/PLO agreed on disarmament and Hamas was created I can’t imagine why any thinking person would ever support Hamas. The demands on the side of people seeking peace (such as Yitzhak Rabin who was murdered by a fellow Jew for his effort) has never changed: Hamas must reject violence and surrender its weapons as the PLO had done. It has always been a reasonable request but Hamas has only made a few pretend concessions over the years under the threat of further bombardment and hunting down of their leaders. The rest of the world should continue to reject Hamas, not support it – but I guess people too young to know the history and too lazy to learn are easily persuaded to support terrorists.

  27. Complaining about parts of the younger generation makes me feel old…

    but really, this whole subculture of “my hurt feelings” is not based on anything rational.

    Its an empty balloon of “feel good” rethoric.

    Hopefully, facts and reason will prevail in the end, and the professor will come back to work.

    That said, I neither agree nor disagree with the professors post, both sides in that conflict commit atrocities towards oneanother, fueled by a grotesque hatred.

    1. This should make you roll your eyes and shake your head:

  28. I’m not quite so weary of the Culture of Offense as I am of the consequences. Tenured professors are humans and so have flaws just as the rest of us do (PCC excepted, natch), so the bar for censure should be higher than a Facebook post that hurts some students’ feelings.

    It strikes me as terribly wasteful and unproductive to put this man’s career at risk over a single statement unless it involved a clear violation of his contract and/or university policy, and any punishment should be specifically stated in the above as should the process for adjudicating the matter. I would expect no less for a student and would be just as outraged if a student were expelled over a single Facebook post if it were like this professor’s.

    Where’s the mercy? Isn’t that a liberal value? I might have thought it is the liberal value. Can’t people get together and work things out when there is a grievance? If South Africa and Chile can approach their bloody pasts with “truth and reconciliation,” what does it say about America that we have such an overreaction to a Facebook post? I have to think there is a way to have a grown-up conversation where each side can get a little insight to the other and maybe even find something to validate in the other’s actions (and reactions). If this isn’t a process that can be demonstrated for and provided to the kids, we are doing them a disservice: in personal and other human relationships, pointing fingers, trying to get people fired and refusing to listen to opposing viewpoints do not add up to success and social effectiveness; they add up to nobody likes you.

    1. It’s a little weird to think this is only about a Facebook post. The bigoted professor should keep his job, but the issue comparable to apartheid South Africa would be the one where a government supported by the U.S. practices apartheid and blows up homes with families inside. And yes, Hamas is also loathsome.

      1. If you think that Israeli-Palestinian situation somehow resembles the apartheid, you are either totally misinformed about both the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Apartheid or just dishonest. I will let you choose.

          1. Don’t worry.
            The vast majority of Israelis wouldn’t seriously consider annexing the West Bank without giving full citizen rights to the people who live there.
            I cannot deny that there is some support for ideas that, if implemented, will do just that, but they are nowhere close to gain enough support.

  29. Christ on a bike this is depressing. Yet again the Pit Bull named Offence has been let out and inflicted a savage injury on Free Speech. Due to economic cuts there are no dog wardens so all we can do is hide for fear of attracting it’s attention.

  30. The worst thing about these SJW campus crusaders is that they are burning liberalism to the ground. The GOP makes itself more anachronistic by the day. They unload volley after volley into their own feet and yet, progressives control no part pf the agenda in any meaningful way. This crap is a big reason why.
    PCC nailed it, it’s identity politics without bothering much with the politics.

  31. I disagree slightly with what you’ve said.

    We *do* have the right to be offended, but we *don’t* have the right to use passive-aggressive bullying to silence people we disagree with.

    I’m really hoping that Jon Ronson’s new book (link to interview at #1 above) encourages some people to reconsider their behaviour. I think he’s right that many SJW delude themselves into thinking that they are punching up, when in fact they are just pelting people in the stocks.

  32. The treatment Prof. Pessin has received is quite over the top and he shouldn’t be hounded out of a job or silenced simply because of his statements. However I do find his statements to be quite reprehensible. Even if he meant to apply the pit bull analogy to Hamas and not Palestinians in general, it is a very horrible and dehumanizing analogy. He is comparing an entire group of people (and a very vile and intolerant group) to rabid dogs and portraying Israel which is guarding the “cage” that is Gaza to be the kindly “owner” of the rabid dog. The rhetorical push back he has received is quite deserved IMO. If someone had written anything even remotely dehumanizing about Jews, even badly behaving orthodox Jews, I’m sure they would have received (quite deservedly) similar push back. I might even venture and say that this website would have been one of the places I would expect to see such a push back.

  33. That post is in no way like a passionately argued newspaper article. Even Arutz Sheva would probably think twice before making that analogy. That said, get a life people. Better things to do in college. Learn math for example.

  34. Free speech isn’t possible without a high risk being offended by someone. Democracies cannot operate properly without it. If this is hate-speech my pit-bull is a pussy, metaphorically speaking.

        1. I am Israeli and I think that here, it is common knowledge among interested people.
          To be clear, I don’t think that Jews are the main source of current Palestinians (there is very strong evidence for large immigration of Arabs to Palestine before 1947). But clearly there is “a Jewish component” in today’s Palestinians.

          1. I learned about it from watching a documentary, up here in Canada. I can’t remember the title, however.

            I found it fascinating!

            BTW, one of my friends in the late 1990s was a wonderful Israeli boy. Well, young adult. I hadn’t had internet for very long, and didn’t know a whole lot about Israel, other than what I had learned in school.

            Honestly, I thought that Israel was like, majorly religious. That everyone there was Orthodox. I told my friend this, he laughed and said No silly, we aren’t all rabbis

            That quote of his still makes me chuckle. I think he was an atheist too, which is cool.

            1. The majority of Israeli define themselves “secular”. This does not necessarily mean atheist, but obviously, observant Jews of all types combined are a minority.

  35. He was clearly talking about Gazans–the post is incoherent otherwise. The humanitarian argument for lifting the blockade was that ordinary Gazans are hurt by it–rather than argue that point he says this would be like releasing a rabid dog. The reference to Judea and Samaria is also a clue to his mindset–that is how the Israeli Right refers to the West Bank.

    If he had said that Israel should be blockaded using the same terms, nobody would buy the excuse that he only meant the government. His passionate defenders under the current circumstances would call him an anti- Semite if he said this about Israel. His free speech rights should be defended, but on the grounds that free speech is granted to everyone, including loathsome bigots, or it means nothing. The students are right to be disgusted by him, but he should keep his job.

  36. Some years ago in another place, I apparently posted this comment which might as well get recycled:

    ‘Being offended’ is not an actual emotional state like anger, fear etc. (which are about reacting to physical threats), but a role being played in a social situation. In particular, it only makes sense in a culture based on status and ‘honour’; go back a couple of hundred years and only ‘gentlemen’ had the capacity to be ‘offended’ (which was a pretext to duel). Thus, affecting to be offended is a claim to high social standing; but in these days when duelling happens rather less often in polite society, it’s safe for almost anyone to do it. In jail or the military or a gang or on the subway late at night, taking offense at somebody’s words is still a serious business. On the blogosphere, it’s just silly.

    1. I wouldn’t go that far. Some writing offends me and I can have an emotional reaction to it. If contributors here were extremely sexist, say, I’d find it offensive, and the subtext that women are less than whole humans does arouse emotions no matter how cerebral I try to remain.

      OTOH, I do agree that no one “has a right not to be offended,” and that free speech is the more important principle here.

  37. I wonder if apologizing at all was his mistake. Time and again it seems that those who back down and apologize only empower their opponents, while those who stick their ground and clarify without apologizing prosper.

    That’s not to say never apologize. If you’re actually in the wrong, acknowledge it and apologize. If you’re not, don’t.

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