Below is Part 1 of an essay I received from noted educator, writer, and author Johnathan David Farley. It’s a story that puts a unique spin on something seldom seen–an African American man defending a white man in a sex scandal. The salacious and gossipy tale involves Princeton University, a tenured professor in the Classics Department, a female student, and a campus uproar about bigotry and racism that ultimately led to the professor getting canned. I bet there hasn’t been this much excitement and intrigue in the Classics Department at Princeton University in years. Check it out and judge for yourself. Part 2 will be published next week.

Fired Princeton University professor Joshua Katz was accused of being racist in his now infamous Quillette essay.  Therefore, you wouldn’t expect an African-American like me—someone who has been on the cover of the NAACP magazine—to defend Katz.    

Almost 25 years ago, I was dancing with a girl I didn’t know at a club. At the time, I was a professor at Vanderbilt University, and a Vanderbilt co-ed was in the club and came up to me (not vice versa) after she saw me dancing with the girl (who had nothing to do with Vanderbilt) to say, “Hello.”

Author John Farley (Contributed photo)

The Vanderbilt co-ed had never been a student of mine and was not a math major (I teach math). I’m not a mind-reader, but it’s reasonable to suppose that, given her approach, she would have been open to more of a non-academic interaction had I pressed it. (I didn’t. I left with the girl I had been dancing with, and I’m not sure if I ever spoke with the co-ed again.)

This was long before feminists banned all romantic relations between male professors and female undergraduates, but suppose a co-ed and a professor 5 years older than she is are interested in each other. Exactly what bad result can any honest, rational person say would occur? In case you have returned from a deep-space expedition, Princeton University has fired tenured classicist Joshua Katz.

The university administration claims it is because he gave a female student bad advice some 16 years ago, a student who disclosed last year she had had a relationship with Katz 16 years ago, but if one were to ask, “Why now?” it is clear that it is because of a “racist” essay Katz wrote as a private person in 2020, calling a purportedly anti-racist group “terrorist”.

There are three issues. First, should a university be able to fire a professor over anything he has written, regardless of how awful it was? Second, was what Katz wrote really that awful? And third, should universities be able to fire professors over relationships with other adults?

On the last point, I make three more at the end of this essay.

The first issue, I will not make a judgment. I am not a free-speech fetishist. If Charles Murray says blacks have an IQ of 75, it is absurd to expect me to reply with a calm, reasoned essay contradicting him, citing sources. He should expect the rebuttal to come in the form of a fist.

If that’s hard for old-guard ACLU-types to understand, imagine Charles Murray’s calling your mother a prostitute, and then tell me with a straight face that your response would be, “No, you are incorrect, sir. Here are her tax returns….” 

But in fact, what Katz said wasn’t that bad. I say that as an African-American who has met the widow of the co-founder of the Black Panther Party, who has had dinner with the Communications Secretary of the Black Panther Party, and who has been in the home of the Chief of Staff of the Black Panther Party. I’ve spoken in person with Stokely Carmichael and Julian Bond. The NAACP even put me on the cover of its magazine. I don’t know what Katz was thinking when he described the “anti-racist” group; it certainly sounds wrong to me: Occupying buildings has been a student protest tactic for 50 years, and no one should ever have regarded such students as terrorists, even when, as was the case at Cornell in 1969, the students were armed

I know about terrorism, not just because I studied it as a Science Fellow of Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, but also because I received about two dozen death threats (before getting death threats was cool) from supporters of a Confederate general and leader of the Ku Klux Klan. Unlike Katz, I voluntarily left my tenured position because my life was worth more than the estimated $900,000 I lost (in terms of lost income and opportunities) since I had to flee Tennessee.

Katz’s essay made other points that were wrong: anti-blackness is, in fact, foundational to America. Fox News hosts who disagree with that self-evident truth are children who still believe George Washington never told a lie.


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