Saturday, April 23, 2011

Did Political Correctness Kill Antonio Calvo?

It didn’t happen in some despotic third world country. It happened at Princeton University, a pre-eminent educational institution. There a cabal of graduate student night riders forced a Spanish professor out of his job. Link here.

Antonio Calvo was a lecturer at Princeton. Apparently, he had once raised his voice to a female graduate student and had once made a vulgar and insulting remark to a male graduate student.

To the best of our knowledge, those were his crimes.

In the politically correct academy, Calvo’s statements were hanging offenses. A group of graduate students banded together to destroy his reputation and to make him a pariah on a campus where he had taught for ten years.

Not only was Calvo’s contract not renewed, but Princeton University subjected him to the humiliation of being escorted off the campus in mid-semester, like a common criminal.

A Spanish immigrant, Calvo’s green card had been sponsored by Princeton. In the ultimate indignity he was going to be expelled from the United States.

It was more than Calvo could bear. He went home and stabbed himself to death. Score one for the thought police.

Funny thing, if Calvo were an illegal immigrant who had snuck across the border, these same graduate students would surely have defended his right to stay in the country.

Now, Princeton has forbid all members of the Spanish department to talk to the press. Concerned with its own reputation, and unwilling to explain why a respected teacher was forcibly expelled from its campus, Princeton is enforcing a code of omerta.

As for those graduate students who destroyed Antonio Calvo, they have become mysteriously silent. If they believe in what they did and are proud of their actions, they should face the world and take responsibility for what they have done.

We can only hope that, before long, we will see their grimaced faces in the press.


Anonymous said...

Did you just call some guy a dick or did he go into a full Mel Gibson style tirade? - those details will make all the difference in how one reads these events.

David said...

How on earth can this university prevent its faculty members from talking to the media, or to anyone else they want to talk to? Do they sign contracts giving the university the legal right to zip their lips? Or are they so easily intimidated that they automatically obey higher authority, even despite the fact that many of them surely have the protections of tenure?

Stuart Schneiderman said...

From reading the article in the Daily Mail I get the impression that Calvo was not at all engaging in a Mel Gibson tirade.

He was trying to motivate a male student and told him to stop playing with himself and to get down to work.

We are told that this is a common Spanish expression... which brings to mind the question of whether the Spanish department believes in multiculturalism. After all, some of Calvo's comments might have been judged politically incorrect in America but might have been common parlance in Spain.

And he told a woman that she deserved to be slapped. Again this feels to me like an effort, perhaps misguided, to motivate her.

One other commenter, whose comment has not yet appeared here, suggested that in an American business such a remark would be grounds for dismissal.

Does the same apply on a university campus? Would the same apply if a teacher had said something insulting and threatening to a woman who just happened to be conservative?

As for David's question, I certainly agree that it does not make any sense that the university can silence the faculty.

I too would like to know more about the contract that they sign and why it allows the university to silence them.

Of course, given that all aspects of the story are not being reported, we are engaging in some speculation based on the reported evidence.

I do not think that it is too much to say that Calvo was shamed by the university, expelled from a campus that had been his professional home for ten years and was facing deportation.

Whatever could he have done to deserve that?

Jordan Henderson said...

What happened to Antonio Calvo might have been unfair, but nobody killed him but himself.

This urge to identify psychological or social pressure as murder because a suicide results is dangerous.

It's part and parcel of the "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can break my heart." culture.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

If it were merely social pressure or nasty language- which was, after all, what Calvo was accused of, I would agree with you entirely.

Here, it's not just social pressure. Calvo was publicly humiliated, ostracized from the Princeton campus, and threatened with deportation from the USA.

This level of punishment goes beyond social pressure... it represents an effort to obliterate a person's moral being.

Anonymous said...

You can't count "threatened with deportation", though, as an action by the university - that's just standard immigration practice if you lose your job while on a job sponsored visa.

Pete said...

"You can't count "threatened with deportation", though, as an action by the university - that's just standard immigration practice if you lose your job while on a job sponsored visa."

A practice the university knew would take place, and they effectively did it by firing him.

Lame, yet typical of what we're seeing in the higher ed universe anymore.

Anonymous said...

Antonio was a Spaniard, director of the department and after 10 years of sponseored visa and service to University, he was probably close to obtaining his Permanent Residence card (greencard). How is the world does this happen in US immigration after 10 years? Isn't that slavery? he had a life here in the US and that's what probably he could not bear.
I'm a spaniard and I know how difficult it is to live in this country where there is no freedom tof speech, and a lot of censurshiP.

Anonymous said...

If you're complaining about loss of residency, that's a dispute with USCIS. Otherwise you're saying it's unethical to let someone go if they are at any point in the immigration process - effectively favoring foreign employees and tying the hands of employers.

In this case maybe the professor should not have been let go for other reasons, but to say that immigration status is a good enough reason to tie an employer to an employee is to impede the labor market well outside normal bounds.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Let's try to show a bit of sympathy for the man. A group of graduate students set out to destroy him... and they succeeded. More than anything it is a cautionary tale, designed to terrorize people into toeing the politically correct party line.

That is why I believe it needs to be called out and opposed.

After ten years at Princeton he was escorted off campus in the middle of the semester by security.

That is major ostracism, treating him as a subhuman pariah. What did he do to deserve such disrespect?

The university should probably not have kept him on solely for the purpose of ensuring that he not be deported... but there are ways of handling the situation with consideration... giving him notice and allowing him a semester or so notice so that he could find another job.

Anonymous said...

"Let's try to show a bit of sympathy for the man."

Agreed - and I think that's what he's almost universally receiving. What I'm not seeing is anyone willing to show sympathy for those on the other side, who are being vilified in 99% of the media I’ve seen. They may well have been in the wrong, but nothing like enough facts are out for the one sided coverage we’re seeing.

Anonymous said...

I'm a spanish professor and the "vulgar" comment in question (I won't repeat it here) may be compared to English expressions such as "Get of your A**" and "Stop F****** around"... they are not nice and there are bad words in there, but they are common enough not to be construed by any reasonable English speaker as a form of sexual harassment. I think the "Stop F*** around" comparison is the best, it has the same meaning as the comment reputedly made.

Sarah said...

Aún no doy crédito a todo lo que he leido sobre el gran Profesor Dr. Antonio Calvo.
Absurdo,que por dos frases políticamente incorrectas que sólo intentan reforzar el mensaje: "Ponte a trabajar bién y de una vez",hayamos perdido a una gran persona.
Debe de haber algo más, como envidias, celos, que perdió las ganas de vivir en el espacio de 4 días. Descanse en paz,Don Antonio,digno Profesor de la conocida Universidad de Princeton.Profesionales magníficos como él,son los que hacen GRANDES a las Universidades del mundo.

Anonymous said...

I´m Spaniard, living in Spain, and begining to understand this strange world. This is not political correction, in my opinion. I have read a lot of messages of "trolls" who intended to be Spanish without truly be such thing, or who intends to make the mistery as "normal".

It is horrible to be in front of the hidden things, of the lack of answers in a case in which a man has died, ignoring the pain of his family, who need to have those answers, no matter if were hard or not, and who do not know anything, as they have said to press.

The procedures of the Spanish Inquisition, such well regulated and archived that scholars can consult today, were much more transparent on the rights of persons than the which of the Princeton University. Neither Franco in person would have dared to enter a University to impose the law of silence in this way.

None of this is normal, is a real shame. None of this is done without a good reason. No one hides what may look under the light of the day. All the people knows that Antonio was homosexual. So ¿what are they hidding?

The one who pays is a dictator and makes it absolutely. It is better to work for the animals that walk on all fours.

puertas metalicas cortafuegos said...

This cannot have effect as a matter of fact, that is what I suppose.

Pamina said...

It probably wasn't political correctness; Antonio Calvo must have done something that annoyed the Princeton administration. This is the way Princeton functions and yes omerta is part of the style (I spent a dozen years there once and know it well). In fact, if he had broken any rules, he would have been given a nice golden handshake and retired. His innocence -- even of infractions against PC -- is argued by the way he was treated.

site said...

Here, I do not really imagine it is likely to have effect.