A NYU professor has filed a lawsuit against a number of his academic colleagues, alleging libel after an uproar of official reaction ensued when one of his students called for his firing based on in-class comments he had made on the utility of masks.
The pleadings, filed in the Supreme Court of the state of New York on November 30, 2020, stated that a letter signed by nineteen of Professor Mark Crispin Miller’s academic colleagues included “numerous misstatements of ‘fact’ maliciously intended to portray plaintiff in a negative light” and intended to “diminish, if not destroy, his professional reputation and standing.”
In a modern day rendition of the silencing of Socrates, the furor surrounding Professor Miller began shortly into this semester at New York University. Miller has for many years taught a course on propaganda in the Department of Media, Culture and Communication, in which he discusses current events and historical trends in the light of their propagandist purposes. This semester, he states he had encouraged students to research the scientific utility of masks.
One student took public issue with Miller’s mask comments and launched a Twitter campaign against him, stating that he was “spouting dangerous rhetoric that serves to cultivate fear and confusion during a pandemic” and called for his firing.