Where Are the Free Speech Advocates?

When Douglas Muir lost his job teaching entrepreneurship at the University of Virginia after making a Facebook comment highly critical of the Black Lives Matter movement, WCVE reporter Hawes Spencer wondered if his treatment raised free speech issues. He couldn’t get any first amendment advocates to return his call. Recalling the column I wrote  a couple of days ago (see “Safe Spaces: Not Just for Classrooms Any More“), he contacted me.

Listen to the podcast here. It’s only 58 seconds long.

UVa’s over-reaction was bad enough. It’s an even sadder commentary that Spencer could find no other than a blogger willing to question UVa for that over-reaction.

Update: I’m getting Facebook feedback that Muir may have had problems other than his Facebook post. My comments were based only on Daily Progress news articles and the university’s official announcements on the subject.



  1. Larrytheg

    on a pure free speech basis – nothing else he has done – no matter how negatively one might see it – should not affect his “free speech” , right?

    I’ve pointed out that this guy has a restaurant and I assume which qualifies him as an adjunct professor for a course in entrepreneurship… Apparently he opened a restaurant in Short Pump that failed and there are folks after him for his debts…

    none of that should affect his “free speech”…. “rights” but it might undermine his legitimacy as an entrepreneur who would “teach” entrepreneurship….

    I do not think he has the unrestricted “right” to “free speech” – without consequences. There are consequences… no one is guaranteed free speech without consequences. I’m not sure why anyone would think that to start with.

    he’s certainly entitled to go say whatever he wishes to say – and others are entitled to take those comments into account for whatever relationship they might choose to have with him – and that includes an employer.

    I’m quite sure if a Police Chief compared BLM to KKK – publically – that people would question whether or not the people under him would treat BLM folks the same as others in carrying out the law… that’s consequences.

  2. Acbar

    Agree with Vic, here, with caution:. if Prof Muir has another problem that merits dismissal, then so be it, but let’s keep these issues separate; his firing should not be attributed to saying something controversial if the real reason was his other problem.

    1. Larrytheg

      yup – as much as I believe that free-speech is not unlimited – I very much believe that restrictions to it should be used in arbitrary and illegitimate ways.

      but free speech is not guaranteed at the employer level to start with if the job you do for that employer involves dealing with the public in such a way that your opinion about certain members of the public – could damage the public’s trust of you to provide them with unbiased service.

      For instance, if you things gays are disgusting… and you teach courses that have gay students… it’s probably a problem – no matter where you spoke publically about your dislike of gays… your job is to provide the scope of your job duties to any/all without regard to who they are… and your personal views about them.