Remember Melissa Click? She was the University of Missouri professor seen bullying a student photographer at a protest in a video taken by another student. (It's possible the photographer and videographer were "baiting" the protesters hoping for just such an incriminating confrontation, but the fact remains that they had the right to make photographs in that situation.)
Here's what I said about her in that post:
...a more serious issue is the woman seen at the end of the video...she is Melissa Click, an Assistant Professor of Mass Media in the Communication Department at the University of Missouri. She's clearly seen assaulting the videographer (her blow jolts the camera) and then inciting violence against his person, asking for "muscle" to help her "get this reporter out of here." (Keep in mind the "reporter" is a student.)
Is this appropriate behavior for a University faculty member? Even when acting out some fantasy of being a neo-1960s lawn-chair revolutionary, or whatever she thinks she's doing? Doesn't seem that way to a lot of people. The video of her unfortunate behavior went viral, and has created considerable backlash against her.
This morning she was fired from the University of Missouri for her actions on that occasion, and for her actions at an earlier protest. In a "Statement from University of Missouri leadership," Pam Henrickson, chair of the University of Missouri Board of Curators, said, in part:
After reviewing the report and Dr. Click’s response, and, after extensive discussion, the board voted last night in executive session to terminate the employment of Dr. Click. She has the right to appeal her termination. The board went to significant lengths to ensure fairness and due process for Dr. Click.
The board believes that Dr. Click’s conduct was not compatible with university policies and did not meet expectations for a university faculty member. The circumstances surrounding Dr. Click’s behavior, both at a protest in October when she tried to interfere with police officers who were carrying out their duties, and at a rally in November, when she interfered with members of the media and students who were exercising their rights in a public space and called for intimidation against one of our students, we believe demands serious action.
The board respects Dr. Click’s right to express her views and does not base this decision on her support for students engaged in protest or their views. However, Dr. Click was not entitled to interfere with the rights of others, to confront members of law enforcement or to encourage potential physical intimidation against a student.
(Thanks to Mike Plews)
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Featured Comments from:
Doug Thacker: "It's kind of delicious that this case centers around student photojournalism rights, and the perpetration of abuse against a student photojournalist, and that the perpetrating, professing doctor's name is Click. That's the sort of detail a writer like Vladimir Nabokov would add, and that a reader like me might both enjoy and think slightly contrived. But I digress before I've begun. (Always better to digress afterwards.)
"After reading several articles about the event, I watched the student photojournalist's video of it, both the short version and the unedited one. Each time I did I could feel the hair rising on the back of my neck and my blood pressure moving likewise.
"I can't quite convey what my immediate impulse was, probably because the language to do so would not be appropriate to your blog. And having not been there it's difficult to say for sure that I have a complete grasp of the situation. (I hate to be herded into an internet pile-on, only to find out later I was missing vital information.)
"But, honestly, it's hard to see how this so-called professor has a leg to stand on. Doing exactly the opposite of what any thinking person, never mind a university professor, should be doing. Where is the commitment to liberty, to free speech, to freedom of the press and the fourth estate? What was she teaching, Totalitarianism 101? Talk about setting a bad example. When next she appears it will be as media liaison for the NSA.
"The great thing about this, though, and perhaps the most surprising, is that the university fired her. From what I can tell she certainly had it coming. Sayonara, Dr. Click."
Mike replies: Yes, many people might not realize how difficult it is for a teacher or professor to be fired. The nail in Dr. Click's coffin might have been that in defending herself, she claimed she had never been involved in "altercations" before in her 12 years at the University—and then another video surfaced of her, at a different protest, getting in a cop's face and shrieking "get your f---ing hands off me." So that both indicated a pattern, and also undercut her credibility in her own defense of herself.
As for the "Internet pile on," the awkwardness for me is that I'm not reporting on, or analyzing, the entire larger situation. I'm just concerned with a small "kernal" inside the larger situation, which is that the student photojournalist was claiming he had a right to take pictures on the public Quad of a public protest, which he did, and he was being bullied, and was standing up for his rights. It's never hard to stand up for your rights when everyone accepts them. But it recent years (since Diana's death and especially since 9/11) photographers have been increasingly persecuted, and I think we need to continue to assert our rights, or we will lose them.