FLATBUSH – After a Brooklyn College professor posted statements that seemed to be condoning sexual assault on his blog (and later said it was satire), several hundred students and faculty rallied for his termination on campus this afternoon.
“Whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no!” Students chanted outside the Brooklyn College Library.
On Thurs. September, 27, Mitchell Langbert, an associate professor in Business Management at Brooklyn College, posted a blog post titled, “Kavanaugh.” He began by writing, “If someone did not commit sexual assault in high school, then he is not a member of the male sex.” He then referred to Brett Kavanagh’s allegations as “spin-the-bottle” activities.
Toward the end of his post, he wrote, “In the future, having committed sexual assault in high school ought to be a prerequisite for all appointments, judicial and political.” His post was about Brett Kavanaugh’s allegations and how Democrats are a party of “tutu-wearing pansies, totalitarian sissies who lack virility, a sense of decency, or the masculine judgment.”
When we asked Langbert to comment, he defended himself by saying that defamatory sexual allegations are used as political tools. “I… believe that allegations of sexual harassment have been repeatedly used here at Brooklyn College and at colleges around the country to defame, lie about, and attempt to harm the careers of faculty with whom the dominant Democratic Party power structure disagrees.”
“As a result, I have twice had to bring an attorney to campus to defend against defamatory allegations.”
The two allegations Langbert is referring to occurred in 2003 and 2014. He claimed that in 2003, a professor “falsely accused me of violence and racism in order to coerce me to leave a hiring committee.” In 2014, a student accused him of being racist because “she disagreed with my views on laissez-faire capitalism.”
A Brooklyn College student then posted Langbert’s blog post on a private Facebook page for the college community. The post went viral and students organized a rally to get the professor terminated.
When Langbert was asked what he thought about the rally and a potential termination, he said the post was satire.
“I wrote the blog as a satire. There is no evidence that refutes my claim that the allegations about Kavanaugh are lies,” he said. “I find the blog funny, and I still laugh when I read it. I’m sorry the humorless left wing is intolerant of alternative views, and I’m sorry that Democratic Party students are intolerant of those who do not agree with them.”
In fact, he updated the original blog post and included a section about satire. He wrote, “I was surprised to learn that some readers took me literally, claiming that I advocate rape. This, in turn, has resulted in a demonstration against me at Brooklyn College.”
When we asked how his piece could possibly be satire, he said, “If you don’t know what satire is, I suggest you look it up. Your response below suggests that you don’t know what satire is.”
Yesterday, Oct. 4th, Brooklyn College Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs released an official statement.
“I view the post as offensive, obviously abhorrent, and contravening the fundamental values and practices of our community,” Anne Lopes said.
But, Langert is safe because the First Amendment protects him, Lopes wrote.
“The First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects even speech that many experience as offensive, such as the faculty member’s post.”
Students on the private Facebook page expressed their outrage over the official Brooklyn College statement. Many argued that the First Amendment does not apply here because it protects citizens from Government censorship. This isn’t the government; this is Brooklyn College, students wrote.
“If we look at what Langbert said, he said it should be a prerequisite to sexually assault,” Carlos Jesus Calzadilla-Palacio, president of the Young Progressives of America (YPA) said. “I’m going to change that. Being a feminist and standing up for everyone should be a prerequisite for a man in power.”
“If you’re a man and you don’t understand that, then maybe you shouldn’t be a part of the male gender.”
Langbert is a tenured professor. Those with academic tenure receive certain rights (administrative and legal) that include the ability to pursue research without fear of consequences or fear of losing the job. Despite that, the LGBTQ Resource Center at Brooklyn College had this to say:
Brooklyn College President Michelle Anderson, who is also a leading scholar on rape law, had been silent on this issue until today. At the rally, students chanted, “Michelle Anderson, are you with us or with him?”
In a statement, she wrote, “‘Whatever we wear, wherever we go: Yes means yes and no means no!’ I and my senior leadership team at Brooklyn College support this sentiment entirely.”
She addressed Langbert but did not use his name.
“I find his words repugnant to our values as an institution of higher education,” she wrote. “His remarks contravene our commitments to diversity, equality, and intellectual respect.”
YPA, the organization that co-hosted the rally, listed a few demands they want from the administration. They want the demands fulfilled by this Monday.
“We unequivocally condemn Mr. Langbert’s sexism, glorification, and promotion of sexual assault, and his calls for violence- as well as all legitimate threats of violence from any member of the campus community,” the YPA statement read. “Professor Langbert’s statements must be taken as a credible threat to the safety, security, and rights of the campus community, and be acted on swiftly.”
The Professional Staff Congress union (PSC/CUNY) also released a statement denouncing Langbert’s comments.
“Regardless of Professor Langbert’s subsequent claim that his remarks were intended as satire, his advocacy of sexual violence, together with the misogynistic and homophobic views expressed in his blog post on Judge Kavanaugh, are the antithesis of what colleges—and unions—represent,” the statement reads. “Nevertheless, the PSC vigorously opposes calls for immediate dismissal of Professor Langbert, repugnant as his comments are. Professor Langbert is entitled to the due process protections the PSC has won for every CUNY employee represented by the union.”
The rally, which lasted one hour, was filled with emotion, tons of passion, and anger. Students marched in the East Quad of campus to the Brooklyn College Library, holding their posters and chanting. “Sexual assault is not something to joke about,” a student holding a poster said.
At the end of the hour, students marched out the way they came in, chanting, “Hey hey, ho ho. Mitchell Langbert has got to go!”