James Spiegel, a professor of philosophy at Taylor University, a Christian liberal arts college in Indiana, was fired from his position after posting a video to YouTube of him performing one of his songs, “Little Hitler,” sharing it on Facebook, and refusing to take it down when asked to do so by the college administration.
Spiegel had been a professor at the college for 27 years. According to Taylor University student paper The Echo, he was fired on August 24th. Reporter Sam Jones writes:
Spiegel said the reason for his termination was connected to the song “Little Hitler,” a song written by Spiegel, and performed by the professor on more than one occasion on the campus of Taylor University. On Aug. 17, Spiegel uploaded a link to the song on his personal Facebook page.
On Aug. 19, morning, Spiegel received an email from Provost Hammond, who ordered that Spiegel take down the video.
On Aug. 20, morning, Spiegel met with Hammond and Jones to discuss the issue further. Later that evening, Spiegel informed Hammond and Jones that the video would not be taken down.
On Aug. 24, morning, Spiegel’s employment was terminated.
Between Aug. 20 and Aug. 24, there was no additional communication between Spiegel and Taylor administration.
“Yes, their decision was based on my refusal to remove a video of my song “Little Hitler” from my personal YouTube channel after the University received a harassment complaint about it,” Spiegel wrote.
The song is about inner evil thoughts people have, with lyrics like:
We’re appalled at injustice and oppression
and every atrocity that makes the nightly news
but just give it a thought:
If you knew you’d never get caught
you’d be thieving and raping and murdering, too.
Here’s the video:
Spiegel appears to be an outspoken religious conservative who, according to Religion News Service, “wrote a petition opposing plans to bring Starbucks to campus because of its ‘stands on the sanctity of life and human sexuality’ and signed onto another supporting Vice President Mike Pence’s invitation to speak last year at graduation… [and] was one of the authors of an anonymous conservative newsletter that popped up on campus with complaints that the school had become too liberal.” You can read about that newsletter here.
The university administration denies that Spiegel’s termination was about politics or restricting academic freedom. According to The Echo, university leaders in an email wrote, “Taylor is not a political enterprise, nor was this an effort to silence disagreements with the University and/or its leadership… There is no mandate or effort to remove people based on politics or ideology, nor is there a desire to ‘cancel’ the opinions of others.” Apart from a vague reference to restoring “damaged relationships,” though, they have not offered any alternative explanation.
(via Tim Hsiao)