This is Cameron Johnston, a professor of social sciences at York University. During an introductory lecture to one of his courses, Johnston made the point that his class would be based on texts and facts rather than opinions. Why? Because opinions in social sciences can be dangerous. Johnston illustrated the fact that not everyone is entitled to an opinion on the subject by saying “‘All Jews should be sterilized’ would be an example of an unacceptable and dangerous opinion.”
One of his students, Sarah Grunfeld, stormed out of the room having only heard “All Jews should be sterilized.” Before the day was out she had contacted the local Jewish advocacy groups and had put out press releases to the local media calling for the professor to be fired.
The news of the incident spread online and has caused quite the controversy at York. Johnston, who is Jewish, took the high road in response:
“I think it’s a very good thing that people are sensitive to this kind of remark, and I think it’s a very good thing that someone would respond immediately and deal with it if they thought that they heard an anti-Semitic comment, but in this case, it’s a misreading.”
Though Grunfeld now acknowledges that she may not have gotten the context that Johnston’s remark was made in, she doesn’t think that’s an issue. “The words, ‘Jews should be sterilized’ still came out of his mouth, so regardless of the context I still think that’s pretty serious.”
Grunfeld also indicated that she had doubts that Johnston is in fact Jewish.
This may be among the most frustrating stories I’ve come across in a while.
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