In Brief

‘Smug little minds’ lecturer Michael Blackburn quits

Lincoln University academic triggered controversy with comments on female oppression, Islam and terrorism

A university lecturer who sparked outrage by saying that he was sick of marking essays about “patriarchy and oppression of women” has lashed out against his critics after quitting his job.

Michael Blackburn posted a series of contentious tweets about feminists, Islam and terrorists during his career teaching creative writing and English Literature at the University of Lincoln. 

The Times reports that in June 2012, Blackburn tweeted: “Thank God all those papers going on about patriarchy and the oppression of women are out of the way for another year.”

In a 2013 tweet, he wrote that “if the left hadn’t told me the EDL [English Defence League] were the real threat, I would have carried on thinking it was machete-wielding, Koran-quoting Muslims”.

And a tweet posted by Blackburn in August 2017, following a series of terrorist attacks in Britain, said: “I know the media haven’t told us but I suspect these terror attacks were carried out by Muslims because of Islam.”

The newspaper reports that following a string of complaints from students, the university “defended him on the basis of freedom of speech” last October, with a spokesperson saying that the institution “recognises individuals’ rights to hold different beliefs and views”.

However, the university this week confirmed that Blackburn has left his post, halfway through the academic year. 

It is not known if his departure was directly influenced by his online activity, reports the Daily Mail. But after leaving his role he posted a blog on online journal The Fortnightly Review that said: “It’s unlikely that most of the students at our universities who are so keen to snitch on their classmates and lecturers for wrongthink, wrongspeak or wrongtweet have heard of the Stasi or the Securitate.

“That’s a pity, because a brief acquaintance with those two institutions of modern totalitarianism may, just a smidgin, introduce a spark of self-awareness into their smug little minds. On the other hand they may pick up a few tips from their practices.”

A university spokesperson said the institution “cannot comment on complaints made against individual members of staff”.

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