Could the editorial, “Only Words,” in the Eagle on the Nigaleian controversy possible be more obtuse? In full, it says:

The flap at Williams College over, as The Eagle story gingerly puts it, “an art professor who may be the victim of a racist comment from a colleague,” is straight out of Philip Roth’s novel “The Human Stain.” Professor Aida Laleian faces the ruin of her career for a thoughtless remark in a heated faculty meeting. Though she did not actually call Professor Laylah Ali by the N-word, what she said, misconstrued or not, violated the college code and Ms. Ali is pursuing the matter even though the college has imposed sanctions on Ms. Laleian. She could face a star chamber proceeding with no right to counsel or transcript. To be a university professor one must give up not only the right to free speech, but to due process as well, all in service to an institution dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge and truth.

1) “Faces the ruin of her career?” Give me a break. Laleian has tenure. Barring stupidity of inhuman proportions, her job is safe. She will be able to keep teaching photography, in the same department as her husband, at a very nice salary for decades to come. While her chances of moving to another College are now slim to none, it isn’t clear that they would have been any better prior to this incident.

2) “Ms. Ali is pursuing the matter even though the college has imposed sanctions on Ms. Laleian.” I think that the technical term for thinking in this way is “blaming the victim.”

3) Most delusional is the claim that “To be a university professor must give up not only the right to free speech, but to due process as well.” Your “right to free speech” does not include the right to say anything in a professional setting and expect your employer to put up with it. If Laleian had pulled that stunt in almost any other workplace in Berkshire County outside of Williams College, she would already be out on the street. You have a right to free speech — meaning the government should leave you alone — on the corner of Spring Street. You do not have a right to free speech — meaning that your employer needs to keep sending you a paycheck no matter how offensive/idiotic you are — in the workplace. Is that distinction really so hard for the Eagle to understand?

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