Iowa Professor's Vulgarity Toward Republicans Propels Calls for Ouster

Friday, 22 Apr 2011 07:51 AM

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A University of Iowa professor's emailed vulgarity to the school's College Republicans student group deserves an "F" of her own and an expulsion, according to a deluge of protests from around the country. Ellen Lewin, a liberal professor of anthropology, gender, and women's sexuality studies, used the "f" word in response to the group's emailed promotion this week for what it billed as "Conservative Coming Out Week" at the Iowa City campus.

Ellen Lewin, University of Iowa, Republicans
Ellen Lewin objected to "coming out" phrase touting the GOP student group's events to rally Republicans. (Photo from UI Website)
Her indelicate response of "F--- YOU, REPUBLICANS" to the invitation and the ensuing national publicity have propelled an avalanche of emails to the university demanding the ouster of the 65-year-old prof, according to the Des Moines Register.

Although Lewin apologized for her indiscretion, more than 200 mostly negative emails landed in the professor's and university officials' inboxes after blogs linking to the story posted her email and phone number, the Register reported. The university provided copies of the protesting emails at the request of the Iowa City Press-Citizen.

An example: "It is pathetic that a taxpayer-supported employee abuses the privilege of your position. What on earth could you do to support yourself in the real world??? What a miserable, shallow fraud you are. Resign."

Several of the emails objecting to Lewin's vulgarity lobbed obscenities back at her, but a handful were supportive, the Register reported.

Part of the fuel that fired Lewin's own visceral response was her impression that the Republican group's "Conservative Coming Out Week" appropriated the "coming out" phrase associated with the angst many gays and lesbians face when publicly declaring their sexual orientation.

The student group's invitation urged conservatives to "come out of the closet" and promote values in events planned for the week. The events included a screening of the 2002 film "Journeys with George," in honor of former president George W. Bush; a "Red vs. Blue" kickball game; and blood drive and an "Animal Rights BBQ."

Lewin also objected to the BBQ, as well as comments the invitation included about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's recent battle with public employee unions, according to the New York Daily News, which published her apology.

The emailed expression of regret she sent to the group: "This is a time when political passions are inflamed, and when I received your unsolicited email, I had just finished reading some newspaper accounts of fresh outrages committed by Republicans . . . I admit the language was inappropriate, and apologize for any affront to anyone's delicate sensibilities." She also asked the group not to send mass emails anymore.

Some emails to the school supported Lewin. A former student wrote: "I appreciate how you've used the recent attention as a platform, and how you had such strong talking points criticizing that group's deliberately provocative and callous 'week.' "

Despite the critical tone and vitriol in some emails, none included physical threats, university officials told the Register.

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