Last Wednesday, Temple University media studies and production professor Marc Lamont Hill made controversial pro-Palestine remarks during a speech at the United Nations.
As a result of comments many have called anti-Semitic, CNN dropped Hill as a commentator and many Jewish organizations and individuals have been demanding Temple do the same.
The ensuing debate is a necessary and deeply complicated one. That’s why the Editorial Board decided to not take a stance on the meaning of Hill’s comments. We are made up of non-Jewish, non-Palestinian students and don’t believe we have the authority to speak on behalf of either group. We don’t have the history or personal connections to those issues to present a thoughtful or personal opinion for our readers.
What we can write about with sincerity and knowledge is Hill’s First Amendment right — a right that is the epitome of what we do. We believe he had the right to deliver his speech and is protected by that right as a professor at Temple.
Patrick O’Connor, the chairman of the Board of Trustees and a staunch defender of convicted comedian Bill Cosby, criticized Hill’s comments as statements that “blackens” Temple’s name.
“Free speech is one thing,” O’Connor told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Hate speech is entirely different.”
But that’s not true — hate speech is directly protected by the First Amendment, as the Supreme Court has ruled on multiple occasions, most recently in 2017.
The Editorial Board is glad that Temple didn’t take any rash or immediate action with Hill, like CNN did, because Hill’s speech is protected and he should not be fired from Temple. This protection applies to every single critic or supporter of his, too.
At The Temple News, we hope to provide a platform for everyone: Hill, his defenders and his critics. We want to foster productive discussions that help the Temple community to learn and grow so we can continue this debate with thoughtfulness and information.
In Spring 2018, The Temple News reported a Disqus account registered to journalism professor Francesca Viola posted anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant sentiments and fake news conspiracies on media websites. Viola admitted making some of the comments but denied writing the anti-Muslim one.
Viola is still a professor in Klein and is teaching in Temple Rome this semester. We don’t believe she should be removed for her alleged comments, although we condemn them. And Hill should not be fired, either.
In his letter to the Temple community, Hill wrote he wants to hold “healthy public and private dialogues with board members, administrators, faculty, students, and community groups.” We want to be in attendance at each of these conversations.
It’s our job to make sure those discussions, both public and private, are ones the entire Temple community can access and participate in. That kind of platform is the core of our mission as a student paper.
So let’s take this opportunity as a community to learn from different experiences and realities so we can better understand the world around us.
Editor’s Note: News Editor Greta Anderson, who reported the News story on Marc Lamont Hill’s comment, is a member of the Editorial Board. She took no part in the writing of this editorial. Editor in Chief Gillian McGoldrick is a current student of Hill. This played no role in the opinions of the Editorial Board.