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Fire Mitchell Langbert. Now.

Students, alongside Young Progressives of America, protest for Professor Langbert to be fired. PHOTO/ Zainab Iqbal

By Assibi Ali

Published: October 10th, 2018

Hello, October! In this final quarter of 2018, instead of cozying up and enjoying our pumpkin spice flavored delicacies, students are shifting their focus to protesting the employment of professor Mitchell Langbert. Langbert, an Associate of Business with our Koppelman School of Business, is facing severe backlash for a recently published piece on his personal blog that was made public on September 27th. If there’s any reason nobody has spoken on it until this week, I can assume it’s most probable that the only audience who enjoys his blog posts is himself!

Langbert had the outlandish idea to pen a satirical piece that proudly and openly supports Brett Kavanaugh, whose hearing he claimed to be a “travesty”. Inspired by “A Modest Proposal” by Dr. Jonathan Swift, Langbert unsuccessfully and distastefully makes an attempt to replicate the cynical, deadpan tone present in the aforementioned piece of Enlightenment literature. This blog post did not receive the critical response Langbert desired – although, I can’t see how he’s surprised. His disgustingly insensitive and abhorrent words are, unfortunately, reflective of the current political climate within the country, where survivors of abuse are plagued by men in positions of power who clearly possess little to no traces of empathy.

Langbert’s blog post comes in the wake of the allegations against Kavanaugh, who has been accused of sexual assault by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and numerous other women – who all unanimously remember him as verbally abusive and lacking in physical boundaries. Julie Swetnick, for example, has come forward to share her experiences with Kavanaugh in the 80s. She claims to have bore witness to his volatile behavior as he would regularly press his body against other women while also attempting to remove their clothing without their consent. Deborah Ramirez, schoolmate to Kavanaugh at Yale University, vividly remembers seeing his exposed penis in her face at a freshman party in 1983. Kavanaugh and another male partygoer laughed it off while Ramirez bore the weight of the shame and humiliation all for herself.

Kavanaugh, Donald Trump’s SCOTUS nominee, has denied each and every single one of these allegations, and for some odd reason, that signified an OK for Conservatives nationwide to dox Ford and send her death threats for her actions. An already ongoing conversation about rape culture in our political atmosphere has now been amplified by the masses of Americans who refuse to be complacent any longer to the horrible injustices committed by those who are in power.

I, as well as a vast portion of Brooklyn College, am calling for the immediate firing of Mitchell Langbert. His horribly written satire is riddled with undertones that represent his sexist ideologies. He used his online platform to share a fatuous, revolting, insensitive message that I can assure you nobody asked for.

There are students on this campus that are fighting silent battles, processing their own trauma and experiences with sexual abuse. Langbert is supposed to be a trusted authority figure at Brooklyn College. What students would feel comfortable reaching out to a rape apologist? A man who empathizes with Kavanaugh because of the “defamation that he has suffered at the hands of the media…” but refuses to empathize with the victims? Republicans are calling for neutrality amongst Americans until the FBI investigation yields results, yet are not aware of their inherent hypocrisy. They have publicly picked a side before the investigation has even begun – the same behavior they are condemning.

Here is the First Amendment, as follows: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Freedom of Speech means Langbert has every right to post whatever he wants, whenever he wants. It doesn’t mean there can’t be consequences. For the students and faculty reading, are you going to be complacent with this behavior? What message does it send out to survivors on this campus if Langbert is able to retain his position? What message does it send out to the future students who look to Brooklyn College as the next step in their life? I don’t feel comfortable sharing a space with Langbert, who so proudly minimized the humiliating and agonizing pain that afflicts a portion of Americans throughout the country.

“If someone did not commit sexual assault in high school, then he is not a member of the male sex.” This is a red flag. Langbert had the gall to post this online and justify it under the grounds of “satire.” I’d like to know what thought processes led to Langbert saying to himself, “Wow, this​ is a good one.”

Mitchell Langbert, you are hurting thousands of people right now. You don’t care about protecting justice. You don’t care about ensuring the rights of the afflicted. You only care about protecting the group of adult men like you who seem to be too fearful to admit they don’t have a shred of empathy for victims of sexual assault. You’d rather project the voice of a belligerent, infantile, villainous man – probably so you can feel more comfortable with your ongoing obligation to being a sexist, homophobic rape apologist who deserves no place in an environment of higher education.

I’ll say it again, I do ​NOT​ want this man to be anywhere near me or the almost 20,000 students we have on campus. As documented by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Bureau of Justice Statistics, there are 321,500 victims (aged 12+) of rape and sexual assault each year in the United States. It’s our duty to protect them and their individual right to feel ​safe.

Freedom of Speech also means Freedom of the Press and I’ll be using every platform accessible to demand the proper reparations occur. I stand with Christine Blasey Ford, Julie Swetnick, Deborah Ramirez, and every victim of sexual assault who has to experience firsthand that America does ​not ​care about survivors. Do you?

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4 comments

  1. Don’t get me wrong, I am completely against what Langbert said and I think it’s not right that he was capable of writing something like that. But sadly, it’s not about this anymore.
    For starters, him writing this in a blog post has nothing to do with who he is as a professor. He wrote this in a personal account and the students are being unfair to privacy. You cannot fire a professor for what they write about on their free time. If that were the case, you should also fire the whole English department for writing books containing rape or sexual assault. Him stating certain opinions doesn’t mean he has made those actions. None of his students have ever been sexually assaulted by him and as long as nobody comes up and says they have been sexually assaulted by him, there really isn’t anything you can do. He didn’t threaten anyone by writing that and he really didn’t put anyone in danger. He could have gone a long time thinking this way but for some reason, the moment he voiced his opinion, partial student body wants to fire him. That’s unfair. Isn’t Brooklyn college supposed to be a free space where people have to be open to other ways of thinking?

    As someone who has been actually sexually assaulted, I will still walk around campus with my head up high and without fear of anything. And if I ever encounter Langbert, I will gladly have a political debate with him about how my ideas are different than his.

    That’s something that people neglect on college campuses; they fight to call themselves liberals and then banish anyone who thinks differently than they do. Instead of exposing ourselves to people who think differently, we are pushing them away. How can we truly say we are prepared for the real world when the real world is full of people like Langbert? We aren’t exposing our minds to that type of people. It is now — while we are in school — that we should learn to argue with people like him as opposed to show fear and beg the system to take them away because they’re ‘scary’.

    As a college student who walks in Brooklyn College, I’m ashamed of my peers. I’m ashamed because they think they look like heroes by jeopardizing the job of professors for thinking a certain way. That’s behavior modification at its finest. How are we any better?

    And I write this here, because if I voice this publically on campus, the same group of people will attempt to jeopardize my enrollment. I state, I am not defending what he said, I am pointing out that The students of Brooklyn College are being unfair.

    • Jessica, think about what you’re saying. His words are not merely a statement of his opinion–they are an incitement of violence. To the extent that words can provoke physical harm, the person from whom those words came from needs to be disciplined. And by the way, Langbert actually told the Gothamist that “he himself has twice been forced to defend himself against [sexual harassment allegations]”. With that in mind, his his blog post should no longer seem to you like just a set of innocuous words.

  2. “Freedom of Speech means Langbert has every right to post whatever he wants, whenever he wants. It doesn’t mean there can’t be consequences.”

    Yes, it actually does mean that there can’t be state-enforced consequences. You’re welcome to boycott his classes, post scathing opinions about him as a person, et cetera. But you can’t fire him for satire (and you yourself have admitted in your own post that it was satire). People have died for this right, and you’ve failed yourself in your own education to not realize how hypocritical and ultimately self-defeating your stance is.

  3. It seems to me that this brouhaha is really a kind of set-up. As a responsible professor, citizen, and parent, not only do I abhor witch hunts, I also abhor language that I believe inappropriate for the sensitive eyes and ears of the young, the foolish, and the easily influenced. Therefore, if someone writes something I believe to be dangerous to vulnerable groups, I certainly don’t repeat that language far and wide as Langbert’s critics have done. Ergo, I think it this is more about witch-hunting and almost nothing about protecting the vulnerable. P.S. Are English majors actually trying to kill satire and irony?

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