Cambridge University has defended a professor’s right to free speech after a petition called for her to be sacked for sending a tweet which said “White lives don’t matter.” The tweet was subsequently deleted by Twitter for breaching it’s hateful conduct policy, but the academic has said she stands over her statement and that we need to “abolish whiteness.”
The University responded to a petition calling on Ms. Pruyambada Gopal to be fired with a statement saying, “The University defends the rights of its academics to express their own lawful opinions which others might find controversial and deplores in the strongest terms abuse and personal attacks.”
Cambridge University subsequently promoted Ms. Gopal to a full professorship.
The petition stated that MsGopal’s “statements are racist and hateful and must not be tolerated by Cambridge University leadership. Cambridge must move to immediately discontinue their relationship with Ms. Gopal in the best interest of all students and the community at large.” At time of print the petition had been signed by 15,000 people.
Critics have said that there have been multiple instances over the last few years in which Cambridge has failed to defend the rights of academics, most notably when it removed Noah Carl from his position in the University following a petition calling on him to be fired and when it rescinded its invitation to Jordan Peterson to become a visiting fellow following a backlash. They say that the current defense of Ms Gopal is due to her politics rather than any actual belief in academic freedom and tolerance of potentially controversial views.
Ms Gopal previously came to the public’s attention in 2018 when she refused to teach students at King’s College Cambridge because porters in the college referred to her as “madam” instead of “Dr”, a situation which she said showed “consistent racist profiling and aggression.”
Ms. Gopal has now said that she was trying to say that white lives matter, because “all lives matter”, but not because they were white.
A British man, Jake Hepple, was sacked from his job at an engineering firm this week for flying a banner which said “White lives matter” during a football game.