Massachusetts college fires employee for 'condoning violence' against US
- A Massachusetts college official posted on Facebook that Iran should choose American targets to "bomb."
- Babson College initially suspended the official with pay but has now terminated his employment.
The Massachusetts college official who joked in a now-deleted Facebook post that Iran should choose American cultural targets to "bomb" has been fired.
Babson College told Campus Reform in a statement Thursday, “Babson College conducted a prompt and thorough investigation related to a post shared on a staff member’s personal Facebook page that does not represent the values and culture of the College. Based on the results of the investigation," the college continued, "the staff member is no longer a Babson College employee. As we have previously stated, Babson College condemns any type of threatening words and/or actions condoning violence and/or hate.”
The news came just hours after Campus Reform reported that Babson College had suspended with pay Director of Sustainability Asheen Phansey. The college official had apologized for a Facebook post he is now calling a "bad attempt at humor."
"Ayatollah Khomenei should tweet a list of 52 sites of beloved American cultural heritage that he would bomb," Phansey's post, which came after President Donald Trump took to Twitter threatening to strike Iran's cultural sites if the Middle Eastern country targeted any Americans or American assets, read.
"I regret my bad attempt at humor. As an American, born and raised, I was trying to juxtapose our 'cultural sites' with ancient Iranian churches and mosques," Phansey said in his apology. "I am completely opposed to violence and would never advocate it by anyone."
"I am sorry that my sloppy humor was read as a threat. I condemn all acts of violence," Phansey added.
Although the college cited Phansey's alleged endorsement of violence as the reason for the official's termination, the free speech nonprofit Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is defending Phansey, claiming that the college is trampling on his "freedom of expression."
"The professor's post is obvious rhetorical hyperbole and cannot reasonably be read as a threat, incitement, or even a sincere endorsement of violence," FIRE's director of the Individual Rights Defense Program Adam Steinbaugh said.
"Babson's process-free termination of the professor in an attempt to quell criticism on social media is censorship, plain and simple, and reveals Babson's stated commitment to freedom of expression to be worthless," Steinbaugh said.