This is the fifth post in a series about the glorious completion of my academic career, the internet, and the future of intellectual life. At some point, I will very likely edit and compose this story into a nice little book. To hear about that, make sure you've subscribed.
If you recall from a previous post, when my Dean informed me of my suspension, she said she was being inundated with complaints.
I was curious how many complaints had really been lodged. Was she bluffing or was her bar for what counts as major outrage just really low? In the final investigation report, it was incumbent upon them to include the actual complaints. They attach as evidence a few emails and one face-to-face interview they conducted, but since the names are redacted it’s hard to know how many of these complaints are from unique individuals. Was the face-to-face interview with someone who submitted an email? The report was not clear about this. But even generously assuming every included complaint is from a unique person, I count only a grand total of 5 student complaints lodged against me over the several months of the investigation. Plus only 1 complaint from the public. Keep in mind that one of the student complaints, and the one public complaint, were both lodged after the Daily Mail articles, so they don’t reflect organic protest or discontent caused by, say, something I said or did in the classroom or online before this controversy. They partially reflect the university pwning itself by suspending me and drawing media attention. Some of the student complaints even say explicitly that they heard about me from friends posting screenshots on social media, which certainly doesn’t invalidate any objections they might have — but it does suggest we’re not talking about some popular groundswell of objections from several young minds independently traumatized by my speech history. We’re talking about a small campaign by probably one or two students, to get a few friends to submit complaints.
If two Daily Mail headlines can only get you a grand total of 6 complaints over the course of several months, you might want to shop around for something more problematic. Maybe go find a mural of white men getting diplomas! Oops, that’s a World War I memorial. That’s right folks, I’m not making this up: The same student who protested my occasional use of the word “retard” and triggered my suspension, would find herself the victim of a much larger outrage mob. She got suspended, too. Want to know what negative reputation effects really look like? Try here or here, for a few small samples. To be clear, I support her 100%. Students should certainly be free to say whatever they want, and I include in that talking smack at and about profs on the internet. I just wish she didn’t apologize. She could have turned her story into quite an internet product. She should have hired my consulting agency before deciding how to play it. We could be collaborating right now. With all this free time we both have, imagine what we could be doing together to overthrow our common enemies. I’m not even kidding. Unfortunately, it appears she has chosen the path of apologizing, but she could still change her strategy…
If you’re reading this Emily, have your people call my people. You are not my enemy. As I’ve always said, I support student radicalism. We could make a video together in Southampton. Do you realize how mega viral it would go? On its back you could launch a whole “lifestyle brand,” make yourself the face of British feminist youth culture, and (if successful) be much richer and happier than you otherwise would be after graduating and getting a statistically average job. Of course, my consulting agency would suggest you take an “anti political correctness” turn here, come out and say you’ve learned the problem with “social justice warriors,” and make yourself the heroine of free speech feminism. I kid you not, you could do this right now and it could work.
(Minor corrections 12/22/2019 at 19:36 GMT, I toned down my initially overzealous confidence in a radical counter-institutional gambit for Emily. I still absolutely think it could work, and I would still be eager to collaborate, but given that my operation has not yet concluded, it would be irresponsible of me to nudge her too strongly in this direction. Not everyone would be cut out for such a path, and it is risky, so I should not glibly encourage a young person to do it, especially if I don't know them.)