Controversial Purdue Professor Wins Battle Over Publishing Public Documents
July 6, 2012
by Adam Kissel
Professor Maurice Eisenstein, who was ganged up on for months by some of his faculty colleagues due to his protected expression, has won another battle for free speech at Purdue University Calumet.
After investigating nine complaints of harassment and discrimination against Eisenstein, Purdue University Calumet dismissed all of them. Among other comments on his personal Facebook page, Eisenstein had criticized "‘moderate' Muslims" who he believed had not condemned violence after an attack by "a radical Muslim group" had killed Christians in Nigeria. Although Eisenstein was cleared of all charges after intervention from FIRE in January 2012, he was found guilty of "retaliation" due to other protected comments, violating his free speech rights. He filed a lawsuit in May 2012.
Meanwhile, on March 5, 2012, Eisenstein described his case on his personal website and posted public documents that he received in response to a public records request. It appears that the publication of these public documents became the basis of a new retaliation complaint against Eisenstein on April 17. In yet another public document, it appears that the complainant "states that when her name is ‘Googled' the e-mails [see link above] appear. This has the potential of interfering with possible business opportunities."
It is amazing that this complainant didn't want to be held publicly responsible for what can be found in public documents.
Fortunately, in a letter on June 8, Chancellor Thomas L. Keon notified Eisenstein that this complaint was dismissed because "the allegations of harassment and retaliation are not substantiated."
Time after time, FIRE has seen faculty members and students required by their schools to remain silent about violations of their free speech and due process rights, told that if they tell anyone about their treatment, they will face additional charges. This time, a professor exercised his rights and suffered another six weeks of investigation—for publishing public documents demonstrating what his colleagues were doing to try to get the university to punish his protected expression.
It is far past time for those of Professor Eisenstein's colleagues who are intolerant of his expression to stop hounding him out of the community by filing meritless and seemingly malicious complaints. And it is far past time for Purdue University Calumet to stop taking such meritless complaints seriously and investigating them for so long. It makes the university complicit in the hostility against him, which cannot be good for the university's side in the lawsuit.