It is obvious that the display is not just triggering for Rodríguez’s students given the professor’s unhinged response. It is all part of an anti-free speech movement that seeks to treat speech as harmful. Once this foundation is laid, any speech can then be curtailed or denied for the protection of others.
This is unfortunately not surprising. Years ago, most of us would have been shocked as we were by the conduct of University of Missouri communications professor Melissa Click who directed a mob against a student journalistcovering a Black Lives Matter event. (Click was later hired by Gonzaga University). Since that time, we have seen a steady stream of professors joining students in shouting down, committing property damage, participating in riots, verbally attacking students, or even taking violent action in protests. Others like Fresno State University Public Health Professor Dr. Gregory Thatcher recruited students to destroy pro-life messages. At University of California- Santa Barbara, professors actually rallied around a professor who physically assaulted pro-life advocates and tore down their display.
As has been the case in many of these incidents, Rodríguez was supported by others at the college in violently opposing dissenting viewpoints. The group CUNY For Abortion Rights declared support for Rodríguez and said that she was “justified” in her actions. Her trashing of the display was presented after an effort to “constructive critique” the students’ exhibit. Furthermore, she is portrayed as acting only after she “correctly assessed the damage” the exhibit was doing to Hunter College’s “learning environment.”