Several students at Princeton walked out of a class when the professor repeatedly said n*****.
The incident occurred in a course entitled “Cultural Freedoms: Hate Speech, Blasphemy, and Pornography” and was first reported by the college’s newspaper, The Daily Princetonian. At one point in the class, the professor, Lawrence Rosen, asked students, “What is worse, a white man punching a black man, or a white man calling a black man a n*****?”
Destiny Staller, who was in the class told the Daily Princetonian, “All the black students were looking at each other, as if asking whether he actually said that.” When another student asked Rosen if he was going to continue using the slur, he allegedly responded, “Yes, if I think it’s necessary.” Students slowly began walking out of the class, though it’s unclear how many decided to leave.
Here’s how the course is described in the description on Princeton’s website:
Freedom of expression is always limited, both by the harm that may be said to occur if unbridled and by the constraints of the dominant culture. Using such topics as hate speech on campus, the cultural defense plea, the Mapplethorpe exhibit, the Supreme Court opinions on pornography, and the Salman Rushdie affair, we will ask how civility relates to free speech, how codes may channel expression without oppression, and how cultural difference can relate to shared values and orientations.
At least two students filed complaints with the university, according to the New York Post. But in a statement, the college defended Rosen’s remarks, saying, “The conversations and disagreements that took place in the seminar led by Professor Rosen on Tuesday afternoon are part of the vigorous engagement and robust debate that are central to what we do.”
Rosen has been at Princeton for decades and is a decorated anthropologist. In 1981, he even earned the distinguished honor of being named a MacArthur fellow.