University ‘reviewing the matter,’ but unclear what it can constitutionally do
Sarah Parcak is not afraid to speak her mind.
The University of Alabama-Birmingham professor of archaeology shared her wisdom with George Floyd rioters last summer on better ways to topple obelisks, called for the cancellation of a “racist” TV show about aliens, and tore into The Wall Street Journal for publishing an op-ed mocking Jill Biden’s self-identification as a doctor.
The scholar once dubbed a “high-tech Indiana Jones” has strong feelings within her own field as well. She demanded that a university press stop publishing a book that criticizes a federal law that makes it harder for archaeologists to study human remains. Parcak called the book “racist garbage” against indigenous people.
But publicly hoping that Rush Limbaugh suffered until he died Wednesday prompted such a backlash that Parcak has decided to go silent for a while.
The professor marked her Twitter account private sometime Thursday, after The College Fix started reviewing her recent tweets, following a flood of criticism about her tweet against the longtime conservative radio host.
“When a terrible piece of scum who caused immeasurable harm to millions dies, there is no sympathy,” she wrote, referring to Limbaugh. “Only a desire that they suffered until their last breath.” Parcak removed this tweet before marking her account private.
Dr. Sarah Parcak, a professor at UAB is an absolute POS!!! pic.twitter.com/xJLa1wC0Hf
— Andywide1 (@andywide1) February 18, 2021
UAB President Ray Watts should Fire this LIBERAL CLOWN Professor Sarah Parcak @indyfromspace for making the Disgusting statement that Rush Limbaugh should have suffered to his last breath. If he Don’t get rid of this Disgusting Liberal then he is a Pathetic Candy A$$ pic.twitter.com/2wPVOSVNSl
— @Bamawear (@GregBates7) February 18, 2021
Referring to widespread power outages in Texas caused by a winter storm, Parcak also tweeted that members of “the ‘pro-life’ party … can rot in hell” for their votes on energy policy.
An anonymous person claiming to be a “concerned faculty member and administrator” at UAB emailed The Fix Thursday, saying it has received “numerous calls and emails from community members with valid concerns” about Parcak’s tweeting:
I am disgusted that someone like this continues with no discipline by the University. Had anyone made this comment about a left-leaning individual, they would have been reprimanded or fired. I believe she should, at the very least, be required to undergo the same diversity training that anyone else would, had they made similar remarks to someone other than Me. Limbaugh. …
Higher administration has admitted that they will not be pursuing action against Dr. Parcak, and I believe students, parents, alumni, and other UAB employees would be very disappointed to know that UAB is, again, taking no action against her thoughtless remarks on social media.
The person did not respond to Fix emails asking to confirm their identity, provide some “emails from community members” against Parcak and show where the administration said it wouldn’t take action against Parcak.
UAB President Ray Watts identified Parcack by name in a Wednesday night statement that said the university is “disgusted and extremely troubled” that she would share something “so unprofessional and blindly inhumane and cruel,” referring to the Limbaugh tweet.
The university is “reviewing the matter,” Watts said. That drew an unusual tweet response Thursday from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which warned the public university that sanctioning Parcak for her “extramural speech” would be unconstitutional.
FIRE’s Adam Steinbaugh told the Kaleidoscope student newspaper that the university’s suggestion that it can “investigate political speech will have an unacceptable chilling effect on protected speech.” The university must clearly state “that it has no authority to punish faculty for their extramural political speech.”
The civil liberties group formalized its concerns in a Friday letter to Watts. The professor’s speech is “unquestionably protected by the First Amendment, Alabama law, and UAB’s own policies,” it said, asking for the university’s “clarification” by Wednesday that it will “not investigate or discipline Parcak.”
What is there to "review?"
This is extramural speech protected by the First Amendment.
Learn from CSU Fresno's experience: https://t.co/TvcCVHtWPv
— FIRE (@TheFIREorg) February 18, 2021
It’s not the first time UAB has singled out Parcak’s tweets for criticism. AL.com reports that it denounced the “poor judgment” she showed by tweeting that the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was stronger “than any M*GA f*ckstick bootlicker could ever dream of,” referring to supporters of President Trump.
UPDATED: FIRE’s Feb. 19 letter to UAB has been added.
IMAGE: Dr. Sarah Parcak/Twitter