A professor at the University of San Diego School of Law is under investigation by administrators for a personal blog post that used colorful language in reference to Chinese government propaganda.
“If you believe that the coronavirus did not escape from the lab in Wuhan, you have to at least consider that you are an idiot who is swallowing whole a lot of Chinese cock swaddle,” wrote Professor Thomas Smith on March 10 on his blog the Right Coast.
Students took notice and complained, and Smith appended an update.
“It appears that some people are interpreting my reference to ‘Chinese cock swaddle,’ as a reference to an ethnic group. That is a misinterpretation. To be clear, I was referring to the Chinese government,” Smith added to the post.
Despite Smith’s clarification, as well as the fact that he wrote it on his personal blog and not in an official capacity as a law professor, he remains under investigation.
In a statement emailed Friday to The College Fix, USD spokesperson Elena Gomez said that “While the blog is not hosted by the University of San Diego, these forms of bias, wherever they occur, have an adverse impact on our community.”
“It is especially concerning when the disparaging language comes from a member of our community,” Gomez added. “A core value of the University of San Diego School of Law is that all members of the community must be treated with dignity and respect.”
“University policies specifically prohibit harassment, including the use of epithets, derogatory comments, or slurs based on race or national origin, among other categories,” Gomez stated.
“We have received formal complaints relating to the faculty member’s conduct, and in accordance with university procedures, there will be a process to review whether university or law school policies have been violated….”
Seven members of the USD law faculty wrote to the law school’s dean. The letter, obtained Saturday by The College Fix, states:
We have read your email to the law school community as well as your email to one of us. Here is our reaction.
The faculty member in question made a political comment in forceful language. He has the right and perhaps the obligation as a citizen and an academic to comment on matters of public concern such as the Chinese government’s handling of COVID, and to do so in evocative and forceful language. No fair, much less lawyerly way of reading what he wrote would conclude anything other than that “Chinese cock swaddle” was referring to propaganda of the Chinese government and surely not denigrating people of Chinese origin or descent. The context makes this perfectly clear….
Weighing in on the matter, UCLA law Professor Eugene Volokh, who specializes in First Amendment issues, pointed out that even without Smith’s update to his controversial blog post it’s clear he is referring to the government of China.
“To the extent people who feel some connection to China find it offensive, that is no basis for the university to prohibit such speech, or even investigate a faculty member for such speech — just as a university has no business investigating a faculty member for sharp criticism of the government of Israel (or of other Israeli institutions), or of Russia or, back in the day, South Africa or whatever else,” Volokh wrote on Reason.
The above comes from a March 20 story on the College Fix.