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September 14 2017

DeVos Backlash Incites Dangerous Language

by Patrice Lee Onwuka

A community college professor proposes that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos be sexually assaulted just because he disagrees with her effort to review campus sexual assault policies and that’s not okay.

Adjunct professor at Austin Community College, Rob Ranco, was so outraged that he tweeted he'd be okay if sexual harm came to DeVos:

@RancoLaw: I’m not wishing for it… but I’d be okay if #BetsyDevos was sexually assaulted. #SexualAssault #TitleIX

Not surpringly, Twitter pushed back against Ranco prompting him to explain:

@RancoLaw: Yes, @twitter. My words were harsh. I don't wish harm on anyone. I wish there's some way #BetsyDevos would understand and care about others.

He also added:

@RancoLaw: Perhaps Betsy doesn’t understand how horrible rape is. She’s made the world more dangerous for my daughters. I need her to understand.

His back-track was too little too late. 

Ranco deleted the tweets from his account, hoping to cover his tracks, but in the world of technology, nothing is every truly gone. The tweets resurfaced and the story is gaining attention for Ranco as welll as his college and the law practice he belongs to.

Secretary DeVos announced recently that she would review Obama-era guidelines to colleges and universities about investigating cases of sexual assault and harassment. As I wrote for Real Clear Education, this is not about diminishing justice for victims, but protecting rights of the accused. After all, in our legal system you are innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately, the Obama education department’s guidance leads schools to trample due process rights for accused students.

Disagreement with the administration on policy is perfectly fine, but it’s dangerous for faculty to be prompting others to harm those working for our country.

Sadly, this level of violent language is becoming normal among those who oppose President Trump and his administration including educators. As Campus Reform reports, Ranco has a history of tweeting using inflammatory language about the president. A lecturer at California State University issued a worse threat against President Trump earlier this year:

“To save American democracy, Trump must hang. The sooner and the higher, the better. #TheResistance #DeathToFascism

Faculty are entitled to their thoughts and to engage in thoughtful intellectual debate, but threats and violent language are a different ballpark.

We’ll see how the community college handles this professor. Faculty should know that there are ramifications for inexcusable actions like this. 

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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