Citing what he called “civic interest and curiosity,” Skidmore College Professor David Peterson headed out in late July to watch a “Back the Blue” rally in Saratoga Springs’ Congress Park. Peterson, who teaches art classes at the Albany-area college, didn’t intend to join the pro-police rally, and he didn’t intend to join the Black Lives Matter counter-protesters on the other side. He was merely interested to see the spectacle. And after about 20 minutes of watching the protesters shout at each other, Peterson and his wife headed on to dinner, having satisfied their curiosity.
He would never have dreamed that such an innocent stroll downtown might endanger his job.
From the Times-Union paper:
That brief and quiet presence at the rally infuriated some student activists at the Saratoga Springs school. They’re demanding that Skidmore College fire a professor who has taught at the school for 31 years.
“Tonight, I and other Skidmore students witnessed Profs. David Peterson and Andrea Peterson at an anti-Black Lives Matter protest,” reads an email template posted to social media. “We demand the immediate dismissal of both Skidmore staff members for engaging in hateful conduct that threatens Black Skidmore students.”
A supposedly damning photo of the Petersons (Andrea is not actually a Skidmore employee) circulated by students shows them standing at the rally, which was advertised as a “positive, all-inclusive event” designed to humanize and support officers. The Petersons weren’t wearing pro-police T-shirts. They weren’t carrying a banner, holding a sign or waving a black-and-blue flag. They appear to just be listening.
But merely listening to an opinion that some Skidmore students find objectionable is apparently enough to get a professor in hot water.
Please, liberals: Tell us again how cancel culture is just a right-wing fever dream limited to Fox News. Tell us again how anyone actually canceled probably deserved it.
“What’s troubling is the mob mentality,” Peterson told the paper. “All of a sudden, you have all these people who hate your guts and they know nothing about you.”
Apparently, there is now a full-on boycott of Peterson’s art classes; he told the paper that he’s down to only a few students in many of his classes and zero in another.
So far, Skidmore College has not cratered to the pressure and fired Peterson, but we wouldn’t be surprised if that comes next. When it comes to these student activists, there’s no such thing as logic or reason. You either give in to their demands or you stand up to them. Those are your choices. And as we’ve seen, far too few people – in academia or elsewhere – have the guts to do the latter.