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Department of Sociology and Anthropology response to the events of last week

As many in our university community know, our colleague, Daniel Brewster, was publicly assaulted with a vicious and defamatory verbal attack by a visitor to campus last week.  The faculty of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology strongly repudiates these actions and we stand united in support of our dear and valued colleague.  What Daniel Brewster was cruelly subjected to was nothing short of hate speech.  Having specialists in the area of criminology generally and hate crimes specifically, we understand the ways hate speech not only wounds morally and emotionally, but often begets hate crimes writ large.  Hate speech on campus has a chilling effect on free speech and academic freedom.  It creates a hostile campus environment where any one of us who may be considered different or “other,” or who hold opinions and teach principles that question the status quo, will feel threatened and fearful.  This is unacceptable.  The sort of ad hominem personal attack by last week’s visitor does not constitute a rational presentation or the free and open exchange of ideas, and as such has no place in an academic environment.  It undermines academic discourse, which is rooted in valid and reliable research, not personal defamatory assertions.  College campuses are rooted in free speech and critical thinking – we are not arguing that voices should be silenced, but we demand that they be civil.  Always.