Indiana U. says can't fire professor over his 'racist, sexist, and homophobic' views

The university provost said she condemns "in the strongest terms, Professor Rasmusen’s views on race, gender, and sexuality," but that is not a reason to violate the Constitution.
The Sample Gates on the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington.
The Sample Gates on the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington.Michael Hickey / Getty Images file

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By David K. Li

An Indiana University professor blasted by his employer for "sexist, racist, and homophobic" views penned a lengthy response to detractors, reiterating his notions that gay men should not be K-12 teachers and that women could indeed be "sluts."

Eric Rasmusen, a 60-year-old business and economics professor at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, created a web page to respond to what he called "the 2019 kerfuffle in which the Woke crowd discovered" his social media posts and other comments.

He also responds directly to the university's executive vice president and provost, Lauren Robel, who earlier this week slammed his views while also saying they constitute free speech protected by the First Amendment.

"Professor Eric Rasmusen has, for many years, used his private social media accounts to disseminate his racist, sexist, and homophobic views," Robel said in her statement. "I condemn, in the strongest terms, Professor Rasmusen’s views on race, gender, and sexuality, and I think others should condemn them."

But she said that "is not a reason for Indiana University to violate the Constitution of the United States."

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Kelley School of Business Dean Idie Kesner also posted an open letter to students and staff, criticizing Rasmusen but defending the school's stance: "While many have called for the professor’s dismissal, there are legal reasons why the University cannot dismiss him over his postings. Like all of us, Professor Rasmusen has First Amendment rights."

Rasmusen in his response, said, "These insults no longer have much meaning."

"I open doors for ladies; I say that sodomy is a sin. I am sure that is enough to qualify me for those insults under the Provost's personal definitions," the professor said.

He also touched upon some of his views that have drawn criticism.

  • On alleged sexist slurs: "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. A women who sleeps with 100 men in a year is a slut."
  • On whether gay men should be teachers: "Homosexuals should not teach grade and high school," Rasmusen said. But he says he's OK with them teaching college. "Professors prey on students too, so there is a danger, but the students are older and better able to protect themselves, and there is more reason to accept the risk of a brilliant but immoral teacher."
  • On affirmative action: The professor said affirmative action may be right or wrong. "What is clear is that *some* students are admitted because of their race — which means that other students are denied because of their race, since we have a fixed number of spots."

Rasmusen also said he strives for views that stand the test of time. "What I aim for is a view that stands up to both the 18th century and 21st century critiques, not to mention 1st-century, and to critiques from ancient China as well as ancient Greece. The Provost is taking the opposite tack here, saying that we should not care about what other cultures and times think of our views, only what people in 2019 think."

The recent attention to Rasmusen was sparked by his Nov. 7 retweet of an article, “Are Women Destroying Academia? Probably." Rasmusen prefaced the tweet by saying, "Geniuses are overwhelmingly male because they combine outlier high IQ with moderately low Agreeableness and moderately low Conscientiousness.”

Robel said in her statement that while the university will not try to fire Rasmusen, it will take steps to ensure that "students not add the baggage of bigotry to their learning experience."

No student will be required to take any of his classes, Robel said. In addition, she said he will have to use double-blind grading on assignments to "ensure that the grades are not subject to Professor Rasmusen’s prejudices."