Fired University of Missouri (MU) professor Melissa Click published an op-ed Thursday justifying her actions in The Washington Post, claiming she has been unfairly victimized by the Internet outrage machine because she “took a chance” by attacking a student journalist.
“I do not understand the widespread impulse to shame those whose best intentions unfortunately result in imperfect actions,” Click says. “What would our world be like if no one ever took a chance? What if everyone played it safe?”
Click’s rhetoric about taking a chance makes it sound as though she founded a failed business or attempted a dangerous stunt, but in fact she did nothing of the sort. What she did was attack an MU student who was attempting to cover Concerned Student 1950 protests at the school. When the student approached the protesters, Click ordered him to leave, grabbed at the camera and, when he resisted, called for some “muscle” to help remove him. (RELATED: The 9 Most Preposterous Parts Of Melissa Click’s Absurd Résumé)
Click’s behavior was denounced as a physical attack on the free press and free speech. But in her op-ed, Click says the real threat to free expression was the student journalist himself. The student’s effort, she says, was an act of “surveillance” that will suppress free speech in the U.S.
“I believe this situation raises broader cultural, ethical, and legal questions about how surveillance and social media significantly impact the terrain of public engagement,” she says. “Whose interests are served when our drive to combat societal imperfections is defeated by fears of having our individual imperfections exposed?”
Click’s op-ed comes a few weeks after she was fired by MU administrators, who were under heavy pressure from Missouri lawmakers to get her off the state payroll. Earlier this week, Click’s appeal against her termination was denied.
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