A petition calling for the firing of a Fresno State professor who slandered former First Lady Barbara Bush as a racist in the hours after the announcement of her passing has blown up online, racking up over 38,000 signatures.
In the hours after Mrs. Bush death, English professor Randa Jarrar tweeted that Mrs. Bush was an “amazing racist,” adding gleefully that she was happy “the witch is dead.” She followed up the distasteful and inaccurate tweet by bragging about how much money she makes as a professor and how she can’t be fired because of tenure.
“I work as a tenured professor. I make 100K a year doing that. I will never be fired. I will always have people wanting to hear what I have to say,” she boasted on Twitter.
“Remove Randa Jarrar from Fresno State University for Racist comments,” reads the heading of the petition, which was created by Patrick Hofsetter.
“Immediate termination of professor Randa Jarrar for racism and inflammatory comments regarding a former First Lady of the United States, Barbara Bush,” says the petition, adding a link to a Fox News post concerning Jarrar’s tweets about Mrs. Bush.
Fresno State administration distanced themselves from Jarrar and condemned her comments but stopped short of firing her.
Many free speech advocates have argued that while Jarrar’s comments might be reprehensible, she shouldn’t be fired, including Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro.
“Jarrar has a right to speak, and setting the precedent that professors should be fired for saying gross, atrocious or impolitic things seems like a serious problem,” Shapiro argued. “The governing legal standard for punishing a professor on campus is from the Supreme Court case Pickering v. Board of Education (1968); in that case, the Supreme Court declared that they had to weigh the state’s ‘interest in promoting the efficiency of its employees’ public services’ against whether the employee was speaking as a citizen rather than an employee, and whether the employee was speaking on a ‘matter of public concern.’ Both the Ninth Circuit and Fourth Circuit have supported broad rights for professors to speak on controversial issues.”
“If we’re going to call for freedom of expression on public university campuses, Jarrar’s speech is protected,” he added. “[D]umping her over a nasty tweet about Barbara Bush is beyond the scope of the First Amendment.”