University decries professor's 'vile' racism and sexism – but says it can't fire him

An economics professor at Indiana University Bloomington has published a number of extremely racist, homophobic and sexist tweets – and yet the university has put out a statement saying it cannot penalize or fire him for doing so.

“Professor Eric Rasmusen has, for many years, used his private social media accounts to disseminate his racist, sexist, and homophobic views,” read the statement from the university’s provost, Lauren Robel. “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.”

Rasmusen’s tweets include an article retweeted on 7 November titled “Are women destroying academia? Probably”. Rasmusen quoted a comment from the article that focused on the intellectual superiority of men: “Geniuses are overwhelmingly male because they combine higher outlier IQ with moderately low agreeableness and conscientiousness.”

Eric Rasmusen

“geniuses are overwhelmingly male because they combine outlier high IQ with moderately low Agreeableness and moderately low Conscientiousness.”

November 7, 2019

Since outrage over his tweets began on Thursday night, Rasmusen has tweeted an article focusing on the economic benefits of slavery.

In 2003, he wrote a blogpost in which he claimed gay men are more likely to molest students; that they “are generally promiscuous”; and are not suited for “moral exemplar” professions such as teaching and preaching.

Reacting to complaints, the university decried Rasmusen’s bigoted stances and said it was bringing in a set of measures it claims will protect students who might be “reasonably be concerned that someone with Professor Rasmusen’s expressed prejudices and biases would not give them a fair shake in his classes”.

These include allowing students to opt out of Rasmusen’s classes; providing alternative classes by other faculty members; requiring double-blind grading on all of Rasmusen’s students’ assignments; and having other staff check Rasmusen’s grading in cases where double-blind grading is not possible.

Rasmusen responded to what he called the “Twitter kerfuffle” by saying Robel has a “wrong view” on his opinions. In his statement, he defended calling women “sluts” with the line: “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.”

Rasmusen also quoted his pastor, who allegedly once said to him: “Eric, I want you to be persecuted, but I want you to be persecuted for being a Christian, too, and not just for being a conservative.”

The university statement said: “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.”

The controversy doesn’t seem to have upset Rasmusen, who claims it has been good for his Twitter following: “The number of my Twitter followers has risen from less than 400 to 833 from November 18th to 21st.”

Rasmusen has also posted some encouraging emails to his website. One says: “Do not let the thought police shut you down. The leftwing media always tries to skew the truth. Keep fighting the fight for critical thinking!”


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