March 27, 2020

Heterodox Academy learned this week that an HxA employee had made statements on social media that expressed contempt toward Chinese people and culture, particularly regarding the current coronavirus pandemic.

As an organization that champions responsible discourse and constructive disagreement, we promptly reviewed the posts and determined they clearly fail to exhibit the constructive, respectful engagement we expect of our employees and our members. The statements also violate our standards of conduct.

Our working relationship with the individual involved has been terminated.

To further our core organizational mission — fostering viewpoint diversity for the purpose of improving research and teaching — HxA has espoused a particular set of norms and values, which we call “the HxA Way.”  As our website explains, “we believe that these values can help foster more robust and constructive engagement across lines of difference.”

In short, our core mission of fostering constructive disagreement is undermined by expression that doesn’t comport with the HxA Way. Accordingly, not only do we “insist upon these norms and values for those publishing on our platforms or participating in our events,” but we also incorporate these values in our employment agreement, requiring that employees not act in ways that undermine our mission.

As noted by HxA Advisory Council member Nadine Strossen, who was the longtime national President of the American Civil Liberties Union: “If an ACLU staff member made a widely publicized statement that was squarely inconsistent with the ACLU’s civil liberties policies and positions, in a way that undermined our work, that person should not remain on the ACLU staff.  S/he has a right to make any such statement in countless other contexts and capacities, but not to do so while occupying a selective, privileged position as our organizational representative.”

In reviewing this matter, HxA chose to exercise our own free speech and association rights as an employer and as an organization:  to choose which messages and modes of communication to endorse, and which to disavow – and, accordingly, to decide which individuals we will not welcome as members or employees based on their particular messages or modes of communication.