Just days after Georgetown University Law Center reinstated Ilya Shapiro after a four-month-long investigation for an ill-worded tweet, Shapiro proudly resigned. Georgetown reinstated Shapiro based on the technicality that he was not yet an employee when he tweeted negatively about Biden's narrow-minded pool of potential SCOTUS nominees, a move that led students and faculty at the law school to protest him being hired. But in resigning, Shapiro is standing up for free speech, contrary to Georgetown Law Center’s spineless actions, which were not based on law school policy but rather based in part on an effort to avoid "woke" student backlash. As FIRE points out:
When Georgetown reinstated Shapiro, it said that university policies did not apply to him when he tweeted on Jan. 26, as his employment was to begin Feb. 1. The university reasoned it could not punish him for tweets made when he was not a university employee. As Shapiro said in his resignation letter, Georgetown investigated him for four months when the situation “apparently could’ve been resolved by looking at a calendar.” Georgetown’s investigation was primarily calendar based, concluding just days after its academic calendar ended — and just days after commencement, when the majority of students left campus for the summer. (emphasis added).
Here’s my resignation letter from @GeorgetownLaw, a place that doesn’t value free speech. In the name of DEI, it stifles intellectual diversity, undermines equal opportunity, and excludes dissenting voices. pic.twitter.com/KrAlfTEk7z— Ilya Shapiro (@ishapiro) June 6, 2022
As far as free speech goes, Shapiro highlighted the hypocrisy of Georgetown in tolerating highly controversial statements made by liberal employees under its free speech policies but not others. In the past, Georgetown Law professors have tweeted that 1) Kavanaugh supporters deserve miserable deaths and to be castrated and fed to pigs; 2) no one should ever hire a clerk of a judge appointed by President Trump; and 3) Republicans are an insurrection-supporting crime syndicate. But Shapiro's last example best sums up the tolerance Georgetown has for liberal viewpoints but not conservative ones:
Last month, law professor Josh Chafetz tweeted: “The ‘protest at the Supreme Court, not at the justices’ houses’ line would be more persuasive if the Court hadn’t this week erected fencing to prevent protesters from coming anywhere near it.” He added, “When the mob is right, some (but not all!) more aggressive tactics are justified.” Later, he invited “folks” to “snitch tag @GeorgetownLaw” and taunted that the school was “not going to fire me over a tweet you don’t like.”
Mr. Chafetz was surely right about the last point. Apparently, it’s free speech for thee, not for me.
It’s all well and good to adopt strong free-speech policies, but it’s not enough if university administrators aren’t willing to stand up to those who demand censorship. And the problem isn’t limited to cowardly administrators. Proliferating IDEAA-style offices enforce an orthodoxy that stifles intellectual diversity, undermines equal opportunity, and excludes dissenting voices. Even the dean of an elite law school bucks these bureaucrats at his peril.
What Georgetown subjected me to, what it would be subjecting me to if I stayed, is a heckler’s veto that leads to a Star Chamber.
Unfortunately at Georgetown, free speech means that you can call for violent protests in front of Supreme Court Justices' homes, but you can't make a conservative argument. But free speech for only one side is not at all free speech. As National Review’s Dan McLaughlin wrote:
“[Georgetown law school] also sent an unambiguous signal that Georgetown would have caved to the mob and fired Shapiro if it was at liberty to do so, and would lie in wait for the first instant that a student found it politically useful to claim offense at Shapiro in order to make that happen once his defenders had let down their vigilance. That makes an obvious mockery of the university’s supposed commitment to the sort of robust free speech we associate with academic freedom when the speaker is left-of-center. . . .
Should these [liberal] professors [cited by Shapiro] have been punished? Under a genuine regime of academic free speech, no, and Shapiro says as much. But under the standard applied to him, yes. And therein lies the problem. Calling out the double standard would shame the university, if it was capable of having principles to which fair-minded people could appeal. Because it plainly does not, Ilya Shapiro will not be teaching at Georgetown.
At the end of the day, this is a loss for open inquiry, but it’s also a loss for @GeorgetownLaw and its students, who would have benefited from intellectual diversity and from @ishapiro challenging woke orthodoxy. https://t.co/CVjBFW3Oxt— Christina Pushaw 🐊 🇺🇸 (@ChristinaPushaw) June 6, 2022
Kudos to Shapiro and shame to the cowardly hypocrites of Georgetown law for their double standards and opposition to free speech.