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A Massachusetts college professor has been fired after a sick joke suggesting that Iran should pick out U.S. sites to bomb in retaliation for the killing of Soleimani.
The “joke” posted on Facebook by Professor Asheen Phansey was made to mock Trump’s threat to bomb 52 Iranian cultural sites should they attack any Americans and said,
“In retaliation, Ayatollah Khomenei [sic] should tweet a list of 52 sites of beloved American cultural heritage that he would bomb,” Phansey wrote in the since-deleted post. “Um… Mall of America? Kardashian residence?”
Although the Facebook post has been deleted, this was not before word got around to Phansey's bosses at Babson College, who axed the now-former professor.
What do you think of the college's decision?
The New York Times has more details on why Phansey was fired:
In a case that has stirred debate about free speech on college campuses, an adjunct professor at a Massachusetts college was fired on Thursday after posting on Facebook what he described as a joke suggesting that Iran pick sites in the United States to bomb.
The professor, Asheen Phansey, wrote on his personal Facebook page on Jan. 5 that Iran’s supreme leader should “tweet a list of 52 sites of beloved American cultural heritage that he would bomb,” suggesting the Mall of America in Minnesota and a Kardashian residence as targets, Judy Rakowsky, a spokeswoman for Mr. Phansey, said on Saturday.
The post was a response to President Trump’s comments that he would target Iranian cultural sites if Iran retaliated against the United States for killing one of its top generals. The Pentagon later ruled out striking Iranian cultural sites because of “the laws of armed conflict.”
Mr. Phansey deleted his post, but not before it was captured in a screengrab and circulated on social media with the school’s phone number.
“Why does @Babson ‘College’ have an America-hating terrorist supporter on their payroll. Ask them!” said one widely shared tweet.
Mr. Phansey received a master’s degree in business administration in 2008 from Babson College, a private business school in Wellesley, Mass., near Boston, that has a student population of about 3,000. He became an adjunct professor at the school that year, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Babson soon learned of Mr. Phansey’s remarks and suspended him.
Babson said in statement on Wednesday that it condemned “any type of threatening words” and “actions condoning violence.”
“This particular post from a staff member on his personal Facebook page clearly does not represent the values and culture of Babson College,” it said.
After his suspension, Mr. Phansey said in a statement that he regretted his “bad attempt at humor.”
“As an American, born and raised, I was trying to juxtapose our ‘cultural sites’ with ancient Iranian churches and mosques,” he said, adding that he was opposed to violence. “I am sorry that my sloppy humor was read as a threat.”
Daily Mail also said:
A adjunct professor at a Massachusetts university was fired after suggesting Iran choose 52 American cultural sites - including the Mall of America and the Kardashians' home - to bomb in retaliation for the U.S. drone killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani.
Asheen Phansey, an adjunct professor at Babson College in Wellesley, made his 'attempt at humor' in a Facebook post shared on Tuesday.
'In retaliation, Ayatollah Khomenei should tweet a list of 52 sites of beloved American cultural heritage that he would bomb. Um… Mall of America? Kardashian residence?,' Phansey wrote.
This appears to be a riff on Iranian warnings that at least 35 U.S. targets, including warships and Tel Aviv, had been identified for retaliatory strikes.
The Facebook post has since been deleted, but not before Phansey's employers were alerted to the post.
In response, Babson College initially suspended him with pay.
In a statement shared Thursday, Babson College told WHDH that Phansey's post is not representative of their institution.
'Babson College condemns any type of threatening words and/or actions condoning violence and/or hate. This particular post from a staff member on his personal Facebook page clearly does not represent the values and culture of Babson College,' they wrote.
'While we understand he has deleted the posts, we have immediately suspended him, with pay, pending the completion of our investigation.'
In a statement released just hours later, Babson College revealed that Phansey was no longer a member of their staff.
'Based on the results of the investigation, the staff member is no longer a Babson College employee,' they said.
Phansey has since apologized for the Facebook post, saying he regrets that his 'sloppy humor' was perceived by many as a threat.
He told the Boston Herald: 'I regret my bad attempt at humor. As an American, born and raised, I was trying to juxtapose our ‘cultural sites’ with ancient Iranian churches and mosques.'
'I am completely opposed to violence and would never advocate it by anyone. I am sorry that my sloppy humor was read as a threat. I condemn all acts of violence.'
'I am particularly sorry to cause any harm or alarm for my colleagues at Babson, my beloved alma mater, and the place where I have enjoyed teaching students and serving as its sustainability director,' he said.
Phansey is currently working with a public relations firm to steer through the negative press he's received since the post began circulating.
FIRE, a national civil liberties nonprofit that defends student and faculty free expression, issued a statement to Babson College saying they must uphold their commitment to 'freedom of expression.'
'Babson College has terminated an adjunct professor for a personal Facebook post criticizing the President of the United States,' said Adam Steinbaugh, director of the Individual Rights Defense Program at FIRE.
'The professor's post is obvious rhetorical hyperbole and cannot reasonably be read as a threat, incitement, or even a sincere endorsement of violence,' he continued.
'Babson's process-free termination of the professor in an attempt to quell criticism on social media is censorship, plain and simple, and reveals Babson's stated commitment to freedom of expression to be worthless.'
His poorly timed joke comes off the heels of a tumultuous week between the U.S. and Iran after an airstrike killed a top Iranian military leader on January 3. Soleimani was killed by missiles outside Baghdad's International Airport around 12.03am local time after arriving from Syria.