This webpage is a fisking of Indiana University Provost Lauren Robel's memo about me. As "Provost", she is the leader of the Bloomington Campus of Indiana University (as opposed to the campuses at Fort Wayne and other places, with all campuses being under President Michael McRobbie). I have put her words in green.

Dear Kelley Community Members,

Professor Eric Rasmusen has, for many years, used his private social media accounts to disseminate his racist, sexist, and homophobic views.

These insults no longer have much meaning. I oppose admitting people to universities based on their race; I open doors for ladies; I say that sodomy is a sin. I am sure that is enough to qualify me for those insults under the Provost's personal definitions.

When I label his views in this way, let me note that the labels are not a close call, nor do his posts require careful parsing to reach these conclusions. He has posted, among many other things, the following pernicious and false stereotypes:

ē That he believes that women do not belong in the workplace, particularly not in academia,

My wife, who has degrees from the Royal College of Music and Indiana's Jacobs Schoolf of Music, taught college student at Eastern Illinois for year back around 1995. I did not object. Nor did I object when she decided she liked being a housewife better, a very reasonable decision. If my daughter decides to become a philosophy professor, that is okay too. Academia is a vocation more compatible with motherhood than most jobs.

and that he believes most women would prefer to have a boss than be one;

Yes, I do believe that. It's a bit of a cheat, because I think most men would prefer to have bosses than be one too. People don't like responsibility.

he has used slurs in his posts about women;

My guess is that the Provost is referring to a tweet on that important woman in the Justice Dept. who was married but carrying on an affair with an important man as they conspired against Trump. I'll find the tweet later. Someone had tweeted that when they hear that woman's name, they think of a classic poem-- I think it was Prometheus Unbound--- about bravery, I think. I replied that when I hear her name I think of a slut engaged in various improper activities. The tweet said it much better, I think.

Many women don't like the term "slut". Many women *do* like the term "slut". I haven't figured out why there is this giant gap between women--- most men are neutral, I think--- but it's worth some sociologist's investigation. My use was perhaps hyperbole, depending on one's definition of "slut". The woman is certainly an adulteress; slut is more vaguely defined.

Is "slut" a slur against women? Not at all. It is a slur against certain women, against a minority of women, and for them it is a justified slur, a descriptive one. A women who sleeps with 100 men in a year is a slut. Whether her sleeping with 100 men is moral or immoral is a question of one's standards. To be sure, using the word "slut" implies that you think it is immoral, but that is a reasonable position to take.

ē That gay men should not be permitted in academia either, because he believes they are promiscuous and unable to avoid abusing students;

The Provost should really know better, but maybe we can take that as hyperbole. I am on record as saying that homosexuals should not teach grade and high school. I don't think they should be Catholic priests or Boy Scout leaders either. Back in that kerfuffle, when I was widely attacked for saying that, I was careful to say that academia was different. Professors prey on students too, so there is a danger, but the students are older and better able to protect themselves, and there is more reason to accept the risk of a brilliant but immoral teacher. It would be worth accepting the risk of sexual harassment if Indiana University had a chance to hire the best organist in the world to teach here even though he were known for his immorality, though we would need to warn him strongly that he should behave himself while on the job.

ē That he believes that black students are generally unqualified for attendance at elite institutions, and are generally inferior academically to white students.

It's hard to know what "generally" means here. Are most black students admitted because they are black, and would not be admitted if we did not give them preference for their race? I don't know (though the Provost surely does). What is clear is that *some* students are admitted because of their race--- which means that other students are denied because of their race, since we have a fixed number of spots. The whole idea of affirmative action is that too few black students wouldn get in without racial preferences, so we need to lower the standard for them and accept taht they will do worse academically. Affirmative action may be right; it maybe wrong; but that's what it is.

Ordinarily, I would not dignify these bigoted statements with repetition,

That is, we don't want to debate things like affirmative action, because once you start talking about them in the open, it's clear how corrupt they are.

but we need to confront exactly what we are dealing with in Professor Rasmusenís posts. His expressed views are stunningly ignorant, more consistent with someone who lived in the 18th century than the 21st.

I was just reading Nietzsche, and somewhere he says that the goal of philosophers is to escape from their own time, from the biases they grow up with, what Francis Bacon calls the Idols of the Cave (your culture) and the Idols of the Theatre (false ideas everybody accepts because all the scholars or priests propound them, e.g. bleeding will cure your fever). One thing I try to do is think, "How would someone from the 18th century critique my view? Is what I am saying just a product of 21st century culture?". What I aim for is a view that stands up to both the 18th century and 21st century critiques, not to mention 1st-century, and to critiques from ancient China as well as ancient Greece. The Provost is taking the opposite tack here, saying that we should not care about what other cultures and times think of our views, only what people in 2019 think. One problem for administrators is that the pressures of their office tend to limit their views. They have constituencies to please.

Sometimes Professor Rasmusen explains his views as animated by his Christian faith, although Christ was neither a bigot nor did he use slurs; indeed, he counseled avoiding judgments.

Rhetorically speaking, Professor Rasmusen has demonstrated no difficulty in casting the first, or the lethal, stone. His latest posts slurring women were picked up by a person with a heavily followed Twitter account, and various officials at Indiana University have been inundated in the last few days with demands that he be fired. We cannot, nor would we, fire Professor Rasmusen for his posts as a private citizen, as vile and stupid as they are, because the First Amendment of the United States Constitution forbids us to do so. That is not a close call.

Indiana University has a strong nondiscrimination policy, and as an institution adheres to values that are the opposite of Professor Rasmusenís expressed values. We demand tolerance and respect in the workplace and in the classroom, and if Professor Rasmusen acted upon his expressed views in the workplace to judge his students or colleagues on the basis of their gender, sexual orientation, or race to their detriment, such as in promotion and tenure decisions or in grading, he would be acting both illegally and in violation of our policies and we would investigate and address those allegations according to our processes. Moreover, in my view, students who are women, gay, or of color could reasonably be concerned that someone with Professor Rasmusenís expressed prejudices and biases would not give them a fair shake in his classes, and that his expressed biases would infect his perceptions of their work. Given the strength and longstanding nature of his views, these concerns are reasonable.

Therefore, the Kelley School is taking a number of steps to ensure that students not add the baggage of bigotry to their learning experience: ē No student will be forced to take a class from Professor Rasmusen. The Kelley School will provide alternatives to Professor Rasmusenís classes;ē Professor Rasmusen will use double-blind grading on assignments; if there are components of grading that cannot be subject to a double-blind procedure, the Kelley School will have another faculty member ensure that the grades are not subject to Professor Rasmusenís prejudices. If other steps are needed to protect our students or colleagues from bigoted actions, Indiana University will take them.

The First Amendment is strong medicine, and works both ways. All of us are free to condemn views that we find reprehensible, and to do so as vehemently and publicly as Professor Rasmusen expresses his views. We are free to avoid his classes, and demand that the university ensure that he does not, or has not, acted on those views in ways that violate either the federal and state civil rights laws or IUís nondiscrimination policies. I condemn, in the strongest terms, Professor Rasmusenís views on race, gender, and sexuality, and I think others should condemn them. But my strong disagreement with his views---indeed, the fact that I find them loathsome---is not a reason for Indiana University to violate the Constitution of the United States. This is a lesson, unfortunately, that all of us need to take seriously, even as we support our colleagues and classmates in their perfectly reasonable anger and disgust that someone who is a professor at an elite institution would hold, and publicly proclaim, views that our country, and our university, have long rejected as wrong and immoral.

Lauren Robel

Executive Vice President and Provost