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NYU professor sues colleagues over letter blasting his anti-mask views

A New York University professor is suing several colleagues for a “scurrilous and maliciously intended” letter regarding his views on the effectiveness of masks and COVID treatments.

Mark Miller, who teaches media, culture and communication, is seeking $750,000 from a total of 19 peers for “numerous misstatements of ‘fact’ maliciously intended to portray plaintiff in a negative light; to diminish, if not destroy, his professional reputation and standing,” according to Patch.com.

The controversy began in September when Julia Jackson, a student in Milller’s class (on propaganda) went on social media to note she was contacting the NYU bias hotline about Miller’s comments and views on masks, etc.

Jackson said “It is not acceptable for NYU representatives to dismissively state that this professor is ‘entitled to his views’ […]  when he is spouting dangerous rhetoric that serves to cultivate fear and confusion during a pandemic.”

Miller’s department told Jackson it was “very sorry” she had to endure what Miller was teaching, and noted it was “escalating” the matter.

According to the report, Miller complies with NYU’s mask rules, but does not wear a mask when walking around outside.

In October, the NYC MCC department sent a letter to Dean Jack Knott and Provost Katherine Fleming stating that academic freedom does not excuse Miller’s “discrimination, attacks against students and others in [the] community, or advocacy for an unsafe learning environment.” It alleges Miller “used his position to intimidate” students who wear masks, and in the past has “mocked and ridiculed” trans individuals.

The letter further claims the First Amendment does not protect Miller’s “intimidation tactics, abuses of authority, aggressions and microaggressions,” and “explicit hate speech.”

Miller’s lawsuit says the “false statements” put forth in the department letter are “meant to arouse the university community and cause it and others to believe [Miller] is mentally unstable and unworthy of belief.” In addition, it notes students “have not unusually complained” about Miller; in fact, most have been “highly praiseworthy” based on “university ratings” and “unsolicited letters and comments.”

A Change.org petition established two months in support of Miller has garnered almost 18,500 signatures. It states NYU has no right to hinder Miller’s urging his students to read scientific literature on COVID-19, nor to punish him for his “right to freely research, study, and interpret data on a variety of matters regardless of their controversial nature.”

The university previously has backed Miller on an issue of major controversy; it seems the professor doesn’t buy the official story regarding the 9/11 attacks. In 2016, he gave the opening speech at an event questioning that story, saying “9/11 was a crime against humanity […] and we frankly don’t believe the government’s conspiracy theory of how that happened.”

Read the Patch.com article, MCC complaint letter and Miller lawsuit.

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IMAGE: Maksim Kabakou / Shutterstock.com

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