Bisexual student threatened by a University of Texas official after saying he said he didn’t have a “high opinion of Islam” because he’d be killed in some Muslim countries

This report comes from the Volokh Conspiracy site at the Washington Post, which got it from Gay Star News. The quote below, from the WaPo, includes links where you can hear the audio recording and read the transcript that documents the incident.

In short, Alfred MacDonald, a bisexual philosophy student at the University of Texas at San Antonio, had a conversation with a fellow student that got reported to MacDonald’s boss, Eve Browning, Chair of Philosophy and Classics. Volokh says this:

Gay Star News reports on an accusation made by Alfred MacDonald, a philosophy graduate student at University of Texas at San Antonio (who has since moved to another university); see also this Bruce Bawer (PJMedia) post. MacDonald says he was involved in a conversation with a fellow graduate student that turned to religion:

The student MacDonald was talking to mentioned she was a Christian while her fiance was Muslim.

MacDonald responded by explaining he didn’t have a ‘high opinion of Islam’ because ‘there are Muslim countries where I could get executed.

‘I mentioned that I didn’t have anything against her fiance personally and that I was strictly talking about the religious beliefs themselves.

‘I took this to mean that she wanted to talk about our personal lives, so I mentioned my fiancee and our leanings and we talked about what restaurants she’s worked at….’

MacDonald was then called into the department chair’s office, where she told him that he could be subject to administrative discipline for this speech; he secretly recorded the conversation and put what he says is the audio online here and here (shortened version), and the transcript here. (Secretly recording a conversation to which you are party is legal in Texas, though in some other states it’s illegal without all parties’ knowledge or consent.) Some excerpts:

Dr. Browning, in a long conversation, told MacDonald that his comment was inappropriate and violated University standards, ultimately threatening to expel him if he said anything like that again.

Now be aware that MacDonald appears to be a problematic student for several reasons, not just the comment at issue. For example:

  1. He’s had problems with being late, being lazy in his assignments, or making stream-of-consciousness comments in his philosophy classes, and was apparently reported for those as well. Browning discusses this general behavioral problem.
  2. There’s no doubt that MacDonald’s comment to the fellow student was churlish; there’s no need to go off on Islam when you’re talking to a friend engaged to a Muslim, and the offended student appears to have been MacDonald’s friend.
  3. His comment was simply not relevant to the conversation, so MacDonald may have problems relating to people socially.

So MacDonald may have deserved some criticism for his failure to do his schoolwork, but he was called into a meeting with Browning that heavily emphasized his criticism of Islam. MacDonald recorded that conversation (links above), and it was transcribed. Although recording conversations in most states is illegal unless both parties consent, that’s not the case in Texas, so MacDonald’s recording was legal.

What was probably illegal was Browning’s threat that MacDonald’s exercise of “hate speech” (legal on a public university campus) could get him expelled. Since he’s transferred to another school, that’s no longer the issue, but you can see how offended his chair was at what he said.

In my view, Browning had no right to threaten MacDonald for such a comment; I wonder if she would have done it had the criticism been about another faith. Or whether someone would have complained had it been about another faith. But that doesn’t matter, for while criticizing any religion may be inappropriate in such a conversation, it’s neither “hate speech” nor illegal. You can read the transcript here; here are a few bits (emphasis is mine):

ALFRED MACDONALD: No. We got to the subject of Islam, not the fiance.

EVE BROWNING: Do you understand how someone would find that offensive?

ALFRED MACDONALD: How someone would FIND that offensive, yeah; how they could perceive it, yeah; yeah, I mean, if I…

EVE BROWNING: It’s a confusing comment to me because Muslims do not all live in countries in which bisexuals are executed. Muslims live in the United States–

ALFRED MACDONALD: Sure.

EVE BROWNING: –Muslims live in France, Muslims live in every country in the world — it’s the fastest growing world religion.

ALFRED MACDONALD: Yeah, one of my good friends at the university is Muslim.

EVE BROWNING: And do you tell him that you object to his religion because there are places on earth where gay, lesbian and bisexual people are discriminated against, including your own country?

ALFRED MACDONALD: Well, “her.” And my verbiage was “killed” not “discriminated against.” I mean, Death penalty’s pretty severe.

EVE BROWNING: What does that have to do with her being engaged to a Muslim?

ALFRED MACDONALD: Nothing. I wasn’t talking about the engagement to the Muslim. I was talking about Islam in that particular moment.

EVE BROWNING: Well, let me just say that kind of thing is not going to be tolerated in our department. We’re not going to tolerate graduate students trying to make other graduate students feel terrible for our emotional attachments.

ALFRED MACDONALD: Um… all right.

EVE BROWNING: And, if you don’t understand why that is, I can explain fully, or I can refer you to the Behavior Intervention Team on our campus which consists of a counselor, faculty member, and person from student affairs who are trained on talking to people about what’s appropriate or what isn’t.

ALFRED MACDONALD: I just won’t bring anything up about Islam again. That’s pretty simple. Although I’m not sure what you mean by… so I’ve read the student handbook pretty th–well not pretty thoroughly, but I’ve read it at least twice, and what do you mean by “it won’t be tolerated?” Like I’ll be straight up prevented from registering? Or the team that you mention, the behavior intervention team, they’re going to do something or… what exactly is the penalty for breaking that assuming that I’m in some other situation where I say something that someone else finds offensive and you…

EVE BROWNING: We’d put it either before the behavior intervention team or the student conduct board and ask them to make a recommendation.

ALFRED MACDONALD: Ask them to make a recommendation? What does that mean?

EVE BROWNING: Whether they would refer you for counseling; whether they would recommend that you be academically dismissed; they would assess the damage. They would probably try to speak to the students who are complaining and the faculty that are complaining and make a recommendation. In any case…

ALFRED MACDONALD: And this is over… I thought that UTSA was a public university with first amendment protections? So I could be dismissed for stuff like that? Just…

EVE BROWNING: Making derogatory comments? Yes.

Two more snippets:

EVE BROWNING: I would add to that that confrontational interaction with other graduate students is objectionable and unprofessional. So you need to decide whether you have been excessively confrontational. The example that you give me is very objectionable to me, and had I been there I would have taken exception to it very strongly. So “who were the people offended?” — they were offended enough to talk to a professor about it, and you need to think “what effect are my words having on these people?”… and you don’t seem to be acknowledging that their response was legitimate. I believe it was. Just from what you’ve said. And that’s the most I know about this; I wasn’t told anything more general than … I’ll read it to you: “Mr. MacDonald improperly inserted himself into the conversation and worse yet, says another faculty member, when he learned that Sarah’s fiance and his family subscribed to Islam, made comments on Islam which Sarah felt to be extremely offensive. She was deeply offended.” So that’s what I knew before you described it; now that you’ve described it I completely agree that that was an offensive thing to say. So what we need from you is a commitment to meet these expectations.

and

ALFRED MACDONALD: …Would it really get me fired to say that I could be killed somewhere?

EVE BROWNING: In that situation as you’ve described it, absolutely yes.

ALFRED MACDONALD: How?

EVE BROWNING: Don’t even ask. It’s clear you’re not taking my word for it. I don’t care to convince you. If I can’t persuade you that it’s in your interest to behave in ways that other people don’t find offensive and objectionable, then at least I’ve done my job.

ALFRED MACDONALD: Well I know that it’s in my interest. I’m just trying to understand the reasoning.

EVE BROWNING: You don’t have to.

ALFRED MACDONALD: Well, this is a truthseeking discipline!

EVE BROWNING: In your hypothetical situation where you’re going to get fired for that comment you can sit and talk to the human relations officer until you’re blue in the face. [laugh] It would not do any good.

Now if you read the entire conversation, you’ll see that Browning is often acting properly, telling MacDonald that he has to get his act together about his work and class attendance. And, I suppose, it’s okay to mention that a student complained about his remark about Islam. What’s not okay is Browning’s explicit threat, made in her official capacity as a faculty member, that MacDonald’s comment about Islam violated university standards and could get him “fired.” And her final laughing statement about how the “human relations” officer would ignore him is simply rude.

I’m not going to give Browning’s email as she says she’s been threatened over what she said (and listen up: the Left should not be issuing such threats. Complaints, yes, but not threats.) But if you want to complain about First Amendment violations on a public university campus, you can email the UTSA President, Taylor Eighmy, at president@utsa.edu. I will, and I’m going to be very polite.

h/t: Orli

 

60 Comments

  1. jaxkayaker
    Posted October 15, 2017 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Browning should be formally disciplined by the school, if not fired as chair. A review of policies is in order and remedial policy training. Why is a department chair involving herself in interpersonal interactions between two students that are unrelated to curriculum?

    • BJ
      Posted October 15, 2017 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      The entire point of these “bias response teams” and “behavior intervention teams” that have popped up all over the country is for students to report anyone who they feel said or did something offensive. She won’t be fired as she probably did exactly what she’s supposed to do.

  2. Posted October 15, 2017 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    It’s one thing to regulate what may be said in the classroom, but surely students have a much wider latitude in casual interactions outside the classroom? The speech reported here does not seem to violate any legitimate prohibition.

    By the way, I’m surprised that it is illegal in some states to record a conversation without consent. Wouldn’t that fall foul of the first-amendment freedom of the press?

    [In the UK there are specific rules about taping, for example a business cannot record a phone call without first telling you, but there is no general ban on secret taping.]

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 15, 2017 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      “no general ban on secret taping” — Does that mean you can bug a room to tape a conversation you’re not party to? Can a private citizen tap another private citizen’s telephone?

      • Kevin
        Posted October 15, 2017 at 11:41 am | Permalink

        I have been involved as defendant’s witness in an employment disciplinary hearing which we decided to clandestinely record on a cellphone (the HR department was keeping a handwritten minute). This was done for several reasons, mainly because the company had a history of distorting procedures to their own advantage.

        As I understand, it is not illegal to do this, though the recording may not be admissible as evidence. However, the recording enables a verbatim copy of all dialogue occurring to be made. This was in conflict with the ‘doctored’ version that the HR department presented.
        Where the recording itself is perhaps not admissible in court, the written transcript may be, since it can be presented as signed under oath.
        There is a grey area in that, if the judge reads the transcript and hears the original recording, he knows that the company has been lying under oath. It would be difficult to argue that the recording is illegal, since it constitutes proof of perjury (lying in court under oath is a criminal offense).
        The industrial tribunal is apparently disposed to accept a recording, High Court less so. It seems that an ‘analogue’ recording is considered more valid than a ‘digital’ recording.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted October 15, 2017 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

          It is a violation of the federal Wiretap Act, 18 USC section 2511, punishable as a felony, to intercept any wire, oral, or electronic communication without the consent of at least one of the parties to that communication. There are certain tightly circumscribed exceptions to this general prohibition, including those for court-ordered and FISA warrants.

          • Kevin
            Posted October 15, 2017 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

            The comments that I made relate to UK law: its not illegal to make recordings in case of legal dispute, employment issues etc. if BOTH parties are involved in discussion.
            Covert recordings of one party only may be an invasion of confidentiality.
            If there are both parties in open discussion, there is no confidentiality issue.
            The courts may or may not accept recordings as evidence.
            There are recent Industrial Tribunal hearings which have discussed the subject specifically.
            According to the Federal Wiretap Act, in our case the person making the recording was involved in the discussion, so is also ‘one of the parties to that communication’ so consent is implicit.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted October 15, 2017 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

              In Canada you can record in a two way conversation. Only one person has to consent and that one person can be you. If there are three people, you are in trouble.

              • Kevin
                Posted October 15, 2017 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

                What’s the problem exactly with the third person (apart from playing gooseberry!!)?
                In our case there where two company representatives (production manager and HR) and the defendant and his witness (me).
                There were two legal parties however: the employer (plaintiff) and employee (defendant).

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted October 15, 2017 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

                I’m actually wrong there. You can record any conversation you are part of, legally. You cannot record a conversation you are. It part of

          • GM
            Posted October 15, 2017 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

            Of note, without the last part that would mean that the last three presidents, plus tens of thousands of federal employees and independent contractors should be in jail now.

            However, the last part has long ceased to be a meaningful barrier so it’s anything goes for some people and strict restrictions for others.

  3. Randy schenck
    Posted October 15, 2017 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    As soon as I heard about the Behavior Intervention Team I’d be out the door. This kind of thing at the college level is just crap.

  4. BJ
    Posted October 15, 2017 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Absolutely Orwellian. Citizens reporting other citizens to the government for transactions against thoughts and words sanctioned by the government (obviously, “government” here refers to school administration, and “citizens” refers to students and professors). Behavior Intervention Teams. etc.

    When I was in college, we could discuss anything. People would get offended. Sometimes things would get heated and we would yell at each other. Now you must carefully consider each word that might leave your mouth, lest someone reports you for making them uncomfortable or offended, and the administration “intervenes” and forces you into counseling or even expulsion.

  5. Diana MacPherson
    Posted October 15, 2017 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    I think what I find most disturbing is he was stating a fact. So, facts can get you thrown out Of a university if someone doesn’t like them.

    • Randy schenck
      Posted October 15, 2017 at 10:50 am | Permalink

      Another thing to consider. We have a president who does not give a hoot about the first amendment and he took an oath to protect and defend the constitution. Yet he condemns the free press and even said “people need to look into it”. Not a word from anyone in congress on this behavior. The press is sure as hell covering it.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted October 15, 2017 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

        Yeah and he tried, in a very Putinesque move, to banish TV reporting. Sad times indeed.

        • Travis
          Posted October 15, 2017 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

          what are you referring to?

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted October 15, 2017 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

            His threat to “revoke” broadcast licences. This attitude is similar to Putin’s. Putin nationalized television stations and intimidated network owners to comply with the state.

            • Travis
              Posted October 15, 2017 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

              Yikes.

              For others clicking the link, remove the quotation mark at the very end of the link.

            • E.A. Blair
              Posted October 15, 2017 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

              Networks are not licensed by the FCC; only local broadcasters have those permits, so there is nothing for Trump to revoke. In order to prevent NBC from broadcasting, he would have to order the FCC to revoke every individual license from every single NBC affiliate station, something that probably could not be justifiable since every revocation would have to stand on its own. NBC is carried on 226 full-power affiliates and 338 low-power affiliates for a total of 564 stations altogether. That’s a lot of permits to revoke.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted October 15, 2017 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

                You know that, I know that, hell, everyone probably knows that…. except Trump. His impulses are authoritarian and Putinesque.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted October 15, 2017 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

                Which means for Trump “nobody knows that” — it’s what he always says when he learns something new (“Nobody knows that Lincoln was a Republican”; “Nobody knows that health-care is complicated”).

  6. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted October 15, 2017 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    The ‘behavior intervention team’. That could be a good thing, if applied to students who are failing or otherwise causing issues. But somehow here it sounds rather… Orwellian.

    • Randy schenck
      Posted October 15, 2017 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      I was just thinking. Shouldn’t the behavior intervention team be mom and dad?

      • Posted October 15, 2017 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

        It is likely that most students in college are 18 or older, so the students are not considered minors.

        • Randy schenck
          Posted October 15, 2017 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

          I was reading some things about millennials so I am not sure that 18 applies any longer. More like 25 now. These were grad students so still might be mom and dad. Besides 18 does not mean anything when we are speaking of mental.

  7. Craw
    Posted October 15, 2017 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Browning should be fired. Conspiracy to deprive him of his civil rights is a federal felony. She seems at least close to that.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 15, 2017 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a prosecutor to pursue that case — even in Texas. 🙂

      I in no way approve of what Browning did, but were it prosecuted, for a price, I think I could defend it successfully.

  8. Posted October 15, 2017 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Browning needs a session with the “behavior intervention team.” How Orwellian.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted October 15, 2017 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      Yes, very totalitarian. I’d be worried it was code for sending you to some sort of academic gulag.

  9. DrBrydon
    Posted October 15, 2017 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    ALFRED MACDONALD: …Would it really get me fired to say that I could be killed somewhere?

    EVE BROWNING: In that situation as you’ve described it, absolutely yes.

    ALFRED MACDONALD: How?

    EVE BROWNING: Don’t even ask. It’s clear you’re not taking my word for it. I don’t care to convince you. If I can’t persuade you that it’s in your interest to behave in ways that other people don’t find offensive and objectionable, then at least I’ve done my job.

    ALFRED MACDONALD: Well I know that it’s in my interest. I’m just trying to understand the reasoning.

    EVE BROWNING: You don’t have to.

    ALFRED MACDONALD: Well, this is a truthseeking discipline!

    EVE BROWNING: In your hypothetical situation where you’re going to get fired for that comment you can sit and talk to the human relations officer until you’re blue in the face. [laugh] It would not do any good.

    My emphasis. Wow. I am glad MacDonald transferred. That was smart.

  10. Posted October 15, 2017 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    ‘Behaviour Intervention Team’ sounds more Orwellian than anything even Orwell came up with.

    • Frank Bath
      Posted October 15, 2017 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

      A department of The Thought Police.

  11. Posted October 15, 2017 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    What ever happened to “sticks and stones …”? And the Dept Chair didn’t call the student on the carpet to complain about his academic performance or his churlishness. She was objecting to affecting the female student’s emotional response to a criticism of Islam. (Boo hoo!) I hate to break it to you but we create our own emotional responses and no one else should be responsible for husbanding them but ourselves. A more thoughtful student might return to her fiance to ask him if his particular beliefs extended to executing gays and bisexuals. If she shies away from that question, due to religious sensitivity or whatever, she could up married to someone who advocates executing gays and bisexuals, and who might object to her having friends of such a persuasion.

    she might also not know that if she traveled abroad to a Muslim country, see might find herself subject to Sharia law and not able to return to the U.S> because she would need her husbands approval to travel.

    Why the hell are we setting so many topics that desperately need discussing aside because of the intellectual and emotional “sensitivities” of people who might hear the discussions. This is insanity.

  12. Posted October 15, 2017 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Just a thought, a thought, ok. If this student was female, and was saying that she could be stoned to death or something similar in a foreign country for being bisexual, do you think ANY of that university head discussion would have been had? Of course not! Because there are a crowd of vocal feminists ready to create a march on the university campus if the administration went anywhere near this. Just another example of stupid political correctness in action.

    • biz
      Posted October 15, 2017 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      Actually, you should update your conception of the present intersectionality victimhood hierarchy. Muslims are 10x above white females, so probably the same thing would have happened if the student were female.

    • Bruce Gorton
      Posted October 16, 2017 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      Chances are she’d be punched.

  13. Posted October 15, 2017 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    ALFRED MACDONALD: …Would it really get me fired to say that I could be killed somewhere?

    EVE BROWNING: In that situation as you’ve described it, absolutely yes.

    ALFRED MACDONALD: How?

    EVE BROWNING: Don’t even ask. It’s clear you’re not taking my word for it. I don’t care to convince you. If I can’t persuade you that it’s in your interest to behave in ways that other people don’t find offensive and objectionable, then at least I’ve done my job.

    ALFRED MACDONALD: Well I know that it’s in my interest. I’m just trying to understand the reasoning.

    EVE BROWNING: You don’t have to.

    ALFRED MACDONALD: Well, this is a truthseeking discipline!

    WHAT KIND OF PHILOSOPHER IS BROWNING expecting somebody to “take my word for it?

    This has to be one of the most egregious situations involving conversational speech I have been exposed to. MacDonald stated an observational fact, truth. The other student could have engaged in a meaningful conversation pointing out that that wasn’t true in in other countries.

    I would argue that SHE was the one with a lack of social communication skills.

  14. nicky
    Posted October 15, 2017 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Wow, as they say, just wow (never wrote that term before). Mc Donald is not allowed to express his unease with or dislike of a religion that under many circumstances (ie. when in a position to carry it out) would execute him? I think he is the one that should be offended. After all, Islam is offensive in this regard (and several others).

    • Posted October 15, 2017 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

      Exactly, I am bewildered by the response of a Chair of Philosophy no less – she should know better

      • Michael Waterhouse
        Posted October 20, 2017 at 10:13 am | Permalink

        She should know better, indeed.
        She doesn’t know better, why?
        I wonder.

  15. Posted October 15, 2017 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Hey, it’s Alfred — the student mentioned here. My wordpress name defaults me as “Admin”. I should clarify a few things:

    1. The article takes Eve’s word at face value that my conversation with the other student proceeded as she described it. In actuality, the conversation was about ideas and religious leanings of professors from the get-go, and the student brought up her fiance in the context of this discussion. Narrating the event as me bringing up my views of Islam in the context of someone’s fiance has it precisely reverse; we were discussing ideas and someone brought up their personal life. If you read the full transcript, you’ll see I disputed Eve’s account of how this occurred.

    2. Not only am I deeply aware that I had attendance issues, I never disputed this and worked as best as I could to remedy them. I emailed professors several weeks in advance to describe my situation. At the time I did not have a car (but was in the process of buying one), I had just returned from being out of the country, and I was moving 20 miles away. (If you’re from San Antonio, this is the Live Oak area to the Bandera/Culebra area.) Further, I’m aware that sometimes I am annoying and just need to shut the fuck up — I’ve been diagnosed with ADHD since I was 21. Being too assertive or impulsive in conversations is a criticism I’m deeply familiar with and try to fix when it’s pointed out to me. But none of this was under dispute. In fact, if you read the transcript, I acknowledged all of this as soon as it was pointed out to me.

    I’ve had the full audio available for a while now, so none of this needs to be speculated about. My full statement, the full transcript, full audio, and multiple versions of the video transcript are all available here —

    link: http://www.fb.com/a.macdonald.iv/posts/10214041075807901
    mirror: https://pastelink.net/8a9w

    I also have several forms of contact on my website should anyone wish to reach me.

    • Carey Haug
      Posted October 15, 2017 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

      I wish I had read your comment before posting my own.

      My suggestion to you personally is to ask for a 504 plan in order to require the school to provide accommodations. That could include a requirement for considering your disability during disciplinary proceedings.

      Good luck

    • BJ
      Posted October 15, 2017 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

      I agree with Carey: with the proper documentation, you can get certain accommodations. I have a severe learning disability that causes me to process visual information at an extremely slow pace (so reading takes me an inordinate amount of time). My learning disability also makes concentration almost impossible when noise and other people are present. With proper documentation, I was able to take my exams in my own room and receive extra time for them.

      So long as you have proper documentation and your disability warrants certain accommodations, schools are required under federal law to provide them.

      Best of luck to you.

      • Cate Plys
        Posted October 15, 2017 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

        But he shouldn’t need any type of special accommodation to exercise free speech at a public university in particular.

        • Carey Haug
          Posted October 15, 2017 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

          That is true.

          Nobody should be fired or expelled for stating a fact or for criticizing religious dogma that demands killing LGBT people.

          For people with disabilities such as autism, ADHD, Tourette’s Syndrome etc, these outrageous unwritten rules can be nearly impossible to follow. This is yet another reason why there shouldn’t be bias response teams or rules against hate speech.

        • BJ
          Posted October 16, 2017 at 9:32 am | Permalink

          Of course not. I was just trying to provide some helpful information regarding the other issues he’s had, as my learning disability often resulted in me being late or forgetting to attend class, as keeping track of dates and times is difficult for me (I eventually learned to compensate with a series of complex written and digital systems. I loud cellphone alarm and calendar, combined with a pocket notebook, has done wonders for me).

    • Posted October 15, 2017 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

      I am glad you stood up for yourself. Even if it were an off-the-cuff remark (which you say it wasn’t), it would be between you and your friend and nothing that should concern the U of T Philosophy Chair.

      Frankly, you should have gone up the chain at U of T. Missing classes is no great crime. If it were, half the students at university would be out on their asses.

    • Posted October 31, 2017 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      Thanks for commenting.

  16. Carey Haug
    Posted October 15, 2017 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Why didn’t the young woman confront him during the conversation and tell she found the comment offensive? I don’t think a real friend goes behind your back and tries to get you disciplined. His position is quite logical even though it was rude to say it.

    We can’t tell from the report if the young man is neurotypical. If he has Aspbergers Syndrome, the college is discriminating on the basis of disability.

    • Posted October 15, 2017 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      I would like to correct this because philosophers (and people who value reasoning/rationality for moral concerns) have a tendency to be typed as autistic/aspergers, which I feel cheapens both (a) the importance of rigorous reasoning and (b) the realities of autism for people who are actually autistic.

      I am negatively autistic. In other words, a typical American has a *higher* autism quotient score than me. So typing me as autistic is not just wrong, its the opposite of true.

      I am, however, ADHD. So far this is the only neuroatypical result I’ve had on any psychological battery, and I’ve taken a lot. (Mostly because people can’t resist bringing them up in Facebook arguments, lol.)

      If anyone cares or just wants to be nosy, I have a whole gallery of crap like this here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10213421825647034.1073741873.1441668545&type=1&l=e864fd2a31

      • Carey Haug
        Posted October 15, 2017 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

        I only intended to give Aspbergers Syndrome as an example of neurodiversity, not to imply that you that you have that diagnosis. Our comments were posted at almost the same time so your comment hadn’t yet been posted when I wrote mine. Otherwise I would not have mentioned Aspbergers. I apologize for any misunderstanding.

  17. Posted October 15, 2017 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    I strongly disagree with PCC and Browning that raising the topic of Islam in the conversation with the complainant was irrelevant and implying that Macdonald is at fault for doing so.

    It is in the nature of conversations that they wander in their focus, often to closely related subjects. For example, if someone informs me they saw and enjoyed a romantic boy-meets-girl movie last night I’d have no qualms replying that I don’t enjoy watching that genre and might possibly volunteer that I particularly detest those casting Hugh Grant.

    • mordacious1
      Posted October 15, 2017 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

      I find that last sentence difficult to believe (blink blink blink blink blink).

  18. Tim Harris
    Posted October 16, 2017 at 1:13 am | Permalink

    What strikes me, apart from Browning’s disgraceful words, is the infantility of the female student who went and reported Alfred MacDonald’s words to Browning. Any sensible adult would have told her to grow up, but not, alas, Eve Browning.

  19. Leigh Jackson
    Posted October 16, 2017 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    Browning wasn’t listening to MacDonald who repeatedly pointed out that all he had said was that he could be killed in Islamic states.

    Browning viciously accuses MacDonald of speaking viciously and backs it up by threatening him with the grand inquisition.

    That’s bullying. She should be fired.

    • Carey Haug
      Posted October 16, 2017 at 7:01 am | Permalink

      Or be required to attend a re-education session focusing on the Constitution and Enlightenment values. Some sort of cult reprogramming.

  20. Zetopan
    Posted October 18, 2017 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    Problem in the philosophy department you say? Nobel laureate Richard Feynman told about his early days at Cornell where the head of the philosophy department talked about keeping the Jews out of Cornell. Of course Feynman left Cornell after that, in effect assisting the philosophy department’s wishes. Fortunately, most philosophy departments are not like that. Browning should be terminated from that position.


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