Yesterday, the media began to pick up the lawsuit filed in Indiana last week by a Purdue University Calumet professor who had generated controversy by criticizing Muslims on Facebook. As his lawsuit points out, Professor Maurice Eisenstein was cleared of nine complaints after a months-long investigation only to be found guilty of "retaliation," when really it was his own colleagues who had ganged up against him to shut him up. FIRE has been advocating for Eisenstein since January.
The case was covered this afternoon by Mike Jaccarino at FoxNews.com:
"When you investigate free speech, you chill free speech," Eisenstein said. "How am I supposed to do my job without free speech. I’ve changed. Every time I go into a classroom, I look around and wonder who will complain about what I say."
Eisenstein enlisted the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) in bringing his suit against the Big Ten school.
Information from FIRE’s press release also appeared in an Associated Press article by Charles Wilson as well as online in USA TODAY by John Bacon, in an article by Abigail Rubenstein for Law360 (a news source for lawyers), and in a piece by Dennis Carter for eCampus News.
Most of the media so far (including Fox News) have quoted FIRE President Greg Lukianoff:
This is not the first time and it won’t be the last time we will see a university punish a student or professor for constitutionally protected speech on Facebook. Professors at public universities should not have to go to court to defend their free speech rights.
In addition, Eisenstein’s lawyer, Edward W. Hearn of Johnson & Bell, Ltd., told Law360:
We are asking for an award of damages because this investigation dragged on for many, many months and the individual named defendants conspired to basically shut him up, which violates his civil rights.
FIRE will keep you informed as new information comes in.