Massachusetts Professor Fired After “Joking” Iran Should Bomb U.S. Sites

Massachusetts Professor Fired After “Joking” Iran Should Bomb U.S. Sites


A Massachusetts college professor has been
fired after a sick joke suggesting that Iran should pick out U.S. sites to bomb in retaliation
for the killing of Soleimani. The “joke” posted on Facebook by Professor
Asheen Phansey was made to mock Trump’s threat to bomb 52 Iranian cultural sites should
they attack any Americans and said, “In retaliation, Ayatollah Khomenei [sic]
should tweet a list of 52 sites of beloved American cultural heritage that he would bomb,”
Phansey wrote in the since-deleted post. “Um… Mall of America? Kardashian residence?” Although the Facebook post has been deleted,
this was not before word got around to Phansey’s bosses at Babson College, who axed the now-former
professor. The New York Times has more details on why
Phansey was fired: In a case that has stirred debate about free
speech on college campuses, an adjunct professor at a Massachusetts college was fired on Thursday
after posting on Facebook what he described as a joke suggesting that Iran pick sites
in the United States to bomb. The professor, Asheen Phansey, wrote on his
personal Facebook page on Jan. 5 that Iran’s supreme leader should “tweet a list of 52
sites of beloved American cultural heritage that he would bomb,” suggesting the Mall
of America in Minnesota and a Kardashian residence as targets, Judy Rakowsky, a spokeswoman for
Mr. Phansey, said on Saturday. The post was a response to President Trump’s
comments that he would target Iranian cultural sites if Iran retaliated against the United
States for killing one of its top generals. The Pentagon later ruled out striking Iranian
cultural sites because of “the laws of armed conflict.” Mr. Phansey deleted his post, but not before
it was captured in a screengrab and circulated on social media with the school’s phone
number. “Why does @Babson ‘College’ have an
America-hating terrorist supporter on their payroll. Ask them!” said one widely shared tweet. Mr. Phansey received a master’s degree in
business administration in 2008 from Babson College, a private business school in Wellesley,
Mass., near Boston, that has a student population of about 3,000. He became an adjunct professor at the school
that year, according to his LinkedIn profile. Babson soon learned of Mr. Phansey’s remarks
and suspended him. Babson said in statement on Wednesday that
it condemned “any type of threatening words” and “actions condoning violence.” “This particular post from a staff member
on his personal Facebook page clearly does not represent the values and culture of Babson
College,” it said. After his suspension, Mr. Phansey said in
a statement that he regretted his “bad attempt at humor.” “As an American, born and raised, I was
trying to juxtapose our ‘cultural sites’ with ancient Iranian churches and mosques,”
he said, adding that he was opposed to violence. “I am sorry that my sloppy humor was read
as a threat.” Daily Mail also said: A adjunct professor at a Massachusetts university
was fired after suggesting Iran choose 52 American cultural sites – including the Mall
of America and the Kardashians’ home – to bomb in retaliation for the U.S. drone killing
of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. Asheen Phansey, an adjunct professor at Babson
College in Wellesley, made his ‘attempt at humor’ in a Facebook post shared on Tuesday. ‘In retaliation, Ayatollah Khomenei should
tweet a list of 52 sites of beloved American cultural heritage that he would bomb. Um… Mall of America? Kardashian residence?,’ Phansey wrote. This appears to be a riff on Iranian warnings
that at least 35 U.S. targets, including warships and Tel Aviv, had been identified for retaliatory
strikes. The Facebook post has since been deleted,
but not before Phansey’s employers were alerted to the post. In response, Babson College initially suspended
him with pay. In a statement shared Thursday, Babson College
told WHDH that Phansey’s post is not representative of their institution. ‘Babson College condemns any type of threatening
words and/or actions condoning violence and/or hate. This particular post from a staff member on
his personal Facebook page clearly does not represent the values and culture of Babson
College,’ they wrote. ‘While we understand he has deleted the posts,
we have immediately suspended him, with pay, pending the completion of our investigation.’ In a statement released just hours later,
Babson College revealed that Phansey was no longer a member of their staff. ‘Based on the results of the investigation,
the staff member is no longer a Babson College employee,’ they said. Phansey has since apologized for the Facebook
post, saying he regrets that his ‘sloppy humor’ was perceived by many as a threat. He told the Boston Herald: ‘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.’ ‘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.’ ‘I am particularly sorry to cause any harm
or alarm for my colleagues at Babson, my beloved alma mater, and the place where I have enjoyed
teaching students and serving as its sustainability director,’ he said. Phansey is currently working with a public
relations firm to steer through the negative press he’s received since the post began circulating. FIRE, a national civil liberties nonprofit
that defends student and faculty free expression, issued a statement to Babson College saying
they must uphold their commitment to ‘freedom of expression.’ ‘Babson College has terminated an adjunct
professor for a personal Facebook post criticizing the President of the United States,’ said
Adam Steinbaugh, director of the Individual Rights Defense Program at FIRE. ‘The professor’s post⁠ is obvious rhetorical
hyperbole and cannot reasonably be read as a threat, incitement, or even a sincere endorsement
of violence,’ he continued. ‘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.’ His poorly timed joke comes off the heels
of a tumultuous week between the U.S. and Iran after an airstrike killed a top Iranian
military leader on January 3. Soleimani was killed by missiles outside Baghdad’s
International Airport around 12.03am local time after arriving from Syria.

Author: Kevin Mason

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