The Corner


The Cowards in Missouri

The question cannot be avoided: Are University of Missouri acting president Mike Middleton and MUPD chief R. Douglas Schwandt moral cowards? Each has had adequate time to act in the matter of Professor Melissa Click, the Missouri communications professor who assaulted a student journalist—a crime conveniently captured on video—before attempting to incite mob violence against him while citing her status as faculty to attempt to intimidate the undergraduate she attacked.

She has not yet been charged with a crime, but Professor Click is prima facie guilty of, at the very least, third-degree assault, which is defined under Missouri law as “placing someone in fear of immediate physical injury”—which is what she did with her call for “muscle” to eject the undergraduate from an open public space on campus—as well as “knowingly causing physical contact with another person knowing it will be considered offensive by the other person,” which she plainly does in the video, swatting at his face. That is an offense that comes with a modest jail sentence under Missouri law, and Professor Click should do every day of it.

Worse, she committed her crime in furtherance of another illegal act—obstructing access to a public space. The University of Missouri quad would be a public space under any ordinary circumstance, but in this case a state statute specifically guaranteeing access to the space makes that unequivocal.  

As a professional matter, Professor Click is in violation of specific policies of the University of Missouri regarding violence on campus and standards of professional conduct. She should be terminated as a matter of course.

We have seen institutions such as the University of Virginia move with great speed to punish students corporately for fictitious crimes in the absence of any evidence. Here we have a professor, incontrovertible evidence, and a police complaint filed by the student. But no action has been taken. This isn’t an occasion for an apology, a mandatory sensitivity seminar, or a disciplinary afternoon with human resources. This is a criminal assault on a student committed by a professor who then attempted to incite mob violence against him. She should not resign—she should be terminated, charged as a criminal, convicted, and jailed.

Does Governor Jay Nixon have no interest in this? Has county prosecutor Daniel K. Knight not seen the video? Or are we to conclude that, amid all these shouts of “privilege!” state university professors with the right political affiliations are in fact a special protected class under the law?

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