Senator Loren Lippincott wrote an editorial for the January 9 issue of the Aurora News Register in which he made the argument for his bill to eliminate tenure at state colleges and universities in Nebraska. In the editorial, he spends a great deal of time proving that he has no idea how tenure works, including how a person earns tenure, nor does he have any idea what goes on in university classrooms.
However, what we want to respond to is Lippincott’s specific pointing to us, Seeing Red Nebraska, as the reason to eliminate tenure in Nebraska. Here is what he writes:
I often hear of the woke ideology being pushed at the U of N campuses. If you want to take a peek at that mindset, visit SeeingRedNebraska.com. What you find there may indeed make you see red and will provide an example of the spoiled fruit of professor tenure. (I’d love to see one of these professors do a day of labor on a farm!)
So let’s be clear here. Loren Lippincott has been seeing red about Seeing Red Nebraska for years because we have taken to task his ridiculous administrative aide, Haile McAnally (formerly Haile Kucera), for her presence at the January 6 Trump mob in Washington, D.C., her transphobia, and her embarrassing flaunting of a beauty pageant title that she “won” from a pay-to-play scam that hands the award to whomever buys the package. So in retaliation, Lippincott has introduced a bill that he wants to use to punish some of our contributors by terminating their employment. (We appreciate him making this clear in print for us!)
Lippincott is demonstrating exactly why tenure should exist, and why other workers need protection against overreaching employers. Let’s unpack this.
First, Lippincott simply directs the reader to our website. He does not indicate how many of our contributors work as faculty (a minority do), what content those contributors produced, or in what alleged ways this content is relevant to their teaching. This is the most important detail to notice about Lippincott’s complaint: he is saying that the fact that some faculty are affiliated in their private lives with an organization he does not like should provide grounds for terminating them.
Tenure—which is much harder to earn than he indicates and involves annual evaluation and ways to dismiss for cause—was invented precisely because of people like Loren Lippincott. Lippincott believes that adult students should only be exposed to ideas that he agrees with—so much so that people who merely hold beliefs he disagrees with should be fired, regardless of whether he has any evidence of those beliefs even appearing in a classroom full of adult students, much less being forced on them.
So while Lippincott conjures the boogeyman of faculty zealots forcing ideological compliance in the classroom, it is actually Lippincott who is this boogeyman. Lippincott is the party here who is requiring an ideological test for who can be in a classroom.
Lippincott also argues that somehow taxpayers are paying for ideology they dislike. (Presumably he means classroom content, and not extracurricular speech that no taxpayers are paying for.) As a public institution, universities include all kinds of content that all kinds of people might dislike—supply-side economics, factory farm meat production, software engineering for surveillance, and libertarian legal theory, just to name a few topics available at the state university that folks on the left are unlikely to favor. That is the point of a university: to offer a broad range of topics, ideas, and expertise so that students can pursue a global range of curriculum. They are called universities not Lippincottities because their range aspires to the universal, not to the narrow limits of Loren Lippincott’s interests.
Lippincott also throws in a strange flex, that he would like to see any of us do a day’s work on a farm. In fact, our contributors include the following:
- two adult children of generational Nebraska farm families, both of whom worked on their family farms;
- faculty, admittedly including one who is, in fact, a city slicker who “wouldn’t know a farm if you took me by the hand and said, ‘here, this is a farm,’” as well as a couple who spent many years working minimum wage manual jobs;
- a licensed pilot and veteran who posits that “nitrogen suffocation death penalty supporter Loren Lippincott is suffering from permanent hypoxic brain injury from one too many cabin pressure losses;”
- a public school teacher from a working poor family, whose dad worked on a steel iron gang laying railroad track for Union Pacific;
- several employees of private companies, who do indeed sit at desks all day, doing work that they would describe to Lippincott as essential, even if it doesn’t involve agricultural labor;
- some contributors who remain anonymous because they know they live in a state where the Lippincotts in public and private walks of life pry into employees’ personal lives and inflict job consequences on competent workers whose private lives don’t suit the employer.
We are quite proud to offer people in all those positions a way to share their perspectives on local issues, even if some of those in the controlling party of state government would like to fire them for it.
For a country that is proud of its freedoms, we sure have a lot of workers who are afraid to engage in politics for fear of reprisal, and a lot of people in power looking to clamp down further. Lippincott has made it clear that he wants the laws of Nebraska to allow him to have his political adversaries fired, with no evidence of their political activity inappropriately occurring on the job, even if this would severely wound one of the state’s greatest institutions. Lippincott’s anti-tenure bill is why tenure should be protected, and we should be working to ensure that more people are protected from inappropriate political interference.