On June 23, a University of Cambridge English professor tweeted that “White Lives Don’t Matter,” and it struck a chord with some students.
A group of people from the university who were offended by the tweet organized a petition to have the professor fired for her remarks, and it quickly garnered attention.
“I’ll say it again. White Lives Don’t Matter. As white lives,” English professor Priyamvada Gopal tweeted.
She did indeed tweet that tweet… I saw it with my own eyes and screen grabbed it myself… pic.twitter.com/PYj2C7FrVw
— Oliver Wong (@wonggt) June 29, 2020
Twitter later removed the tweet, but it wasn’t the only platform to take down something it deemed offensive.
The students’ petition to have Gopal fired received more than 20,000 signatures before it was deleted from Change.org for “bullying and harassment.”
“This petition was removed for being in breach of our bullying and harassment policy,” a spokesman for Change.org said, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
Change.org’s decision to remove the petition for violating policy might make sense, except for the fact that the website has thousands of petitions calling for individuals to be fired for similar incidents.
For example, a petition that has nearly 300,000 signatures is calling for Los Angeles Police Chief Michael Moore to be fired for “belittling the struggles and ways of the Black Lives Matter movement.”
Another petition, with more than 30,000 signatures, was started in an effort to remove University of Central Florida professor Charles Negy from his position for “abhorrent racist comments” made on his personal Twitter account.
Unlike those petitions, though, Change.org swiftly cut the students’ efforts short, and Gopal won’t be worrying about external pressure calling for her job.
“I would also like to make clear I stand by my tweets, now deleted by Twitter, not me,” Gopal told The Washington Free Beacon.
“They were very clearly speaking to a structure and ideology, not about people. My tweet said whiteness is not special, not a criterion for making lives matter. I stand by that.”
Cambridge defended Gopal in a statement on Twitter, explaining that it encourages its “academics to express their own lawful opinions.” The university’s statement also denounced the students’ efforts to have Gopal removed from her position.
“The University defends the right of its academics to express their own lawful opinions which others might find controversial and deplores in the strongest terms abuse and personal attacks. These attacks are totally unacceptable and must cease,” the university tweeted.
The University defends the right of its academics to express their own lawful opinions which others might find controversial and deplores in the strongest terms abuse and personal attacks. These attacks are totally unacceptable and must cease.
— Cambridge University (@Cambridge_Uni) June 24, 2020
While Change.org appears to have given Gopal a little more job security, others in similar situations might not be as fortunate.
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