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Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Professor’s Tweets Prompt Tepid University Response

SUBUL MALIK/THE HOYA Professor Christine Fair has come under fire for a Saturday tweet.

Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia condemned the use of “violent imagery” Tuesday after professor Christine Fair was criticized for a Saturday tweet that called for violence against Republican senators.

The tweet has come under fire from alumni, students and conservative-leaning media. DeGioia said the university would follow established procedures if comments made by faculty are found to affect student learning.

On Saturday, Fair posted the tweet in response to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s Sept. 27 Senate testimony denying allegations that he sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford and to Republican senators’ continued support for Kavanaugh.

“Look at [this] chorus of entitled white men justifying a serial rapist’s arrogated entitlement. All of them deserve miserable deaths while feminists laugh as they take their last gasps,” Fair wrote. “Bonus: we castrate their corpses and feed them to swine? Yes.”

Fair clarified in a subsequent tweet Tuesday that she does not actually wish to see violence against Republican senators and that she intended to instill discomfort in readers.

“I do NOT and NEVER have condoned violence. My tweet, as I have explained, was an attempt to make YOU as UNCOMFORTABLE as I am using the language of the abuse I receive by the hundreds,” Fair wrote.

A poster was hung early Thursday morning in Red Square displaying Fair’s initial tweet and questioning the university’s response, reading “Why won’t President DeGioia condemn this?”

DeGioia responded to Fair’s tweets supporting university officials’ right to freedom of speech in a statement released Tuesday. Fair remains employed by the university, Fair wrote in an email to The Hoya.

“We protect the right of our community members to exercise their freedom of expression. This does not mean the University endorses the content of their expression,” DeGioia wrote. “We can and do strongly condemn the use of violent imagery, profanity, and insensitive labeling of individuals based on gender, ethnicity or political affiliation in any form of discourse. Such expressions go against our values.”

Fair says she does not expect any significant changes in her professional life following the attention her tweet has received.

“My dean knows how to reach me,” Fair told The Washington Post on Tuesday. “This morning I’ve been prepping for classes. I’ve not checked my email because most of it is rubbish.”

The media coverage has not affected her classes or student interactions, Fair said. However, she said she has received a large volume of hate mail and two active death threats which she has reported to the Metropolitan Police Department.

“I’m still doing what needs to be done!” Fair wrote.

Fair’s tweet quickly gained attention, and Campus Reform, a conservative news outlet that aims to combat a liberal bias it alleges exists on U.S. university campuses, requested a comment from Fair on her tweet.

Fair published Campus Reform’s request for comment with a 2,400-word post on her personal blog Sept. 30.

Fair criticized the effects of conservative media reporting in her post, underlining the threats she has received.

“For one thing, you intend to outrage CON-servatives (especially those pissed off men who hate women) and thus motivate them to harass me and send me threatening missives,” Fair wrote in her blog post. “If you don’t intend to do this, then you’re ludicrously obtuse because this is the inevitable consequence of your ‘reportage.’ Would you like to see some of the violent missives I get as a result this ‘news’ cycle?”

Fair’s tweet received further coverage and backlash after Fox News host Tucker Carlson accused Fair of advocating for genocide during his Monday night monologue.

Carlson’s comments themselves received significant backlash, including landing him on Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Hatewatch” list, but Fair still found her Twitter account deactivated Tuesday morning, according to The Washington Post. The account was reactivated Tuesday evening.

Despite critiques to her abrasive language, Fair said she believes her methods are more likely to bring about the results she wishes to see.

“The idea you can effect change by using the normative language expected of someone with a Ph.D. is false,” Fair told The Washington Post. “I aim to create language that creates as much discomfort as I am forced to feel in this regime.”

Fair said she strongly objects to attempts to restrict women’s ability to express their anger over sexual assault and rape culture.

“It’s another way to discipline women’s bodies, by asking us to discipline our rage,” Fair told The Washington Post. “I cannot tell you the rage and hurt it feels as all of those men on that Judiciary Committee kicked sexual assault survivors in the gut.”

Fair’s Saturday tweet is not the first time the professor has received significant attention for her commentary. Last year, Fair was accused of calling German police officers Nazis during an altercation at a Frankfurt airport. In November 2015, she came under fire for publicly supporting the use of drones in civilian-inhabited regions.

Coverage of Fair’s tweets follows the suspension of National Catholic School of Social Service Dean at Catholic University of America Will Rainford for his tweets questioning the validity of Kavanaugh accuser Julie Swetnick’s account.

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  • G

    guwinsterOct 9, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    “The idea you can effect change by using the normative language expected of someone with a Ph.D. is false,”

    Maybe the primary job of a professor is to teach students about the world and not to “effect change” by insulting a bunch of people on the internet. If she really thinks things are so bad for women, then she should pull a Warren and run for office or take a fulltime job at a pro-women NGO.

    This isn’t the first time Fair has stirred controversy on Twitter. I don’t think that a professor should get fired just for saying or Tweeting controversial things, even if he or she has demonstrated a persistent pattern of intentionally insulting others. However, at this point Georgetown should mandate that all of Fair’s public statements focus on her areas of expertise (i.e. South Asia and counterterrorism). I suspect that Fair could still find lots of places within those topics to advocate for women.

  • S

    Srichand OliOct 8, 2018 at 3:10 am

    Georgetown is probably hoping to quietly reinstate her into her position in a few weeks or so after she returns from paid leave. As if someone with such a long history of vile outbursts against those with whom she disagrees can be reformed in that period of time. Are we to believe someone with such lack of self-control will suddenly transform into a calm, fair, and respectful person once she arrives on campus?

  • C

    Christoph NettesheimOct 7, 2018 at 10:54 pm

    “A serial rapist’s arrogated entitlement?”

    Does Professor Fair understand that not one of the accusers even made a claim of rape, much less claim that the accused is a serial rapist? Professor’s should deal in truth.

  • J

    JohnOct 7, 2018 at 10:41 pm

    I, too, was shocked and dismayed by Professor Fair’s comments as reported in the national media. They seem to go against the spirit of what I took away from the school. I was at Georgetown in the 1980s. It was during the Reagan years and conservatives ruled DC. One of the great things at GU was that I had both conservative and liberal professors. Debate and the understanding of points of view that sometimes differed dramatically were encouraged. Much like the required course, Problem of God, which studied different religions, my government courses explored the two party system thoroughly. Even as a conservative, I remember Professor Elaine Kamarck, a DNC member, being one of my more outstanding professors. Similarly, I remember a liberal professor talking about how out outrageous it was that Steve Jobs was worth $200 million at age 25, only to be debated by a 19-year-old student in the business school about why the innovation his company brought to the world was easily worth that much, if not much more. 30 years later, it appears the student was right!

    One great gift of Georgetown was it opened me up to learning and understanding disparate views. However, violence was never encouraged condoned, particularly in such a crude manner. I am stunned and embarrassed for my alma mater.

  • I

    Illuminated AlumOct 7, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    President Jack DeGioia is a total clown and lightweight compared to his peers. As an alum, I love the university but am so disappointed by it in so many ways. If anyone thinks Professor Fair should be a Georgetown professor, I implore you to read here nonsensical Twitter posts. It’s full of lunacy and uneducated points of view that only make Georgetown look bad.

    Years ago, I decided to stop donating to Georgetown as long as DeGioia remained president. This all validated that decision.

  • B

    Boat GuyOct 5, 2018 at 10:34 am

    Fair should be fired for tweeting a call to violence against white men. Is this the role of an academic? Does this show academic “temperament” fit to teach our children? It’s also interesting that the authors say the tweet was condemned “…by..conservative-leaning media…” Why is not the entire media condemning such a violent position? As an Independent voter, i look for verifiable facts before making decisions, not emotional “feelings” toward someone. Please condemn this horrific tweet by removing Fair from her position of power and authority and restoring Georgetown’s good name!

  • D

    David MuchowOct 5, 2018 at 10:00 am

    Dr. Fair: As a Georgetown alum and Adjunct Asst. Professor, I agree with you that Judge Kavanaugh should not be confirmed. There are plenty of conservative judges without his baggage that will make the Supreme Court look more partisan. But your language about Senators who support him “dying a miserable death” doesn’t help.
    “I Disapprove of What You Say, But I Will Defend to the Death Your Right to Say It.” Free speech is a priceless right, but it also carries an obligation to use it wisely and for the benefit of mankind. Like a hammer, it can be used to build or destroy. As a lawyer, I’ve never found yelling the best way to settle disputes, discover truth, or provide healing. As to Eric Trump’s attack on you, if he is concerned about intemperate speech, perhaps he could talk to his father, the President, about not using thousands of lies, as reported by the Washington Post, to score political points. It damages the trust we must have in our political institutions. So, let’s all work a little harder to turn verbal swords into plowshares. More light, less heat! Dave Muchow, BSFS ’66, L ’71.

  • A

    Anthony B EbenOct 5, 2018 at 9:03 am

    Jack DeGoia should be ashamed. Professor Fair should be fired . As a 1968 graduate of the College I am saddened and angered by her conduct. I will not be making a further financial contribution to the University.