University invites New York Times columnist offended by being called bedbug to ‘speak about civil discourse’ – Washington Examiner
The George Washington University’s provost responded to New York Times columnist Bret Stephens after he emailed one of their professors who called him a bedbug on Twitter.
In the email, Forrest Maltzman told Stephens, “as an academic, Professor [David] Karpf speaks for himself and does not take direction from me. His opinions are his own” because of the school’s commitment to free speech.
“I see on Twitter that you invited him to your home,” the email continues. “I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to come to our campus to speak about civil discourse in the digital age.”
Copying Maltzman, Stephens sent an email to Karpf about a tweet in which he joked the bedbugs in the New York Times newsroom were actually just Stephens. Stephens encouraged Karpf to come to his home, meet his family, and then call him a bedbug to his face.
Facing intense ridicule for sending the email, Stephens deactivated his Twitter account. Appearing on MSNBC Tuesday he said he was offended because the bedbug comment was “dehumanizing rhetoric.”
“There is a bad history of being called a — of being analogized to insects. It goes back to a lot of totalitarian regimes in the past,” Stephens said. “I’ve been called worse, I wrote this guy a personal note, now it’s out there for everyone to see.”