Listen Before Accusing Your Professor of Anti-Semitism

A student misunderstood a professor's comment in class and raised the alarm

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A professor at Toronto's York College found himself at the wrong end of a very nasty accusation of anti-Semitism after a student mistook an example he gave in class of an indefensible opinion as his expression of his own opinion. Cameron Johnston, a York professor of more than 30 years (who also happens to be Jewish), gave a lecture on Monday, the first day of his Social Sciences 1140: “Self, Culture and Society” class, in which he made the point that not everyone was entitled to his or her opinion, reports the Toronto Star:

“All Jews should be sterilized” would be an example of an unacceptable and dangerous opinion, Johnston told the students.

He didn’t notice Sarah Grunfeld storm out. Grunfeld, a 22-year-old in her final year at York, understood Johnston’s example to be his personal opinion.

Grunfeld, who is not the world's best listener, was off to complain to Jewish groups about the outrageous opinion that her professor didn't have. Soon campus Jewish groups contacted Johnston for an explanation, and the whole thing turned into a very big deal on campus. Johnston, understandably, says he's "terribly upset." Grunfeld, meanwhile, is sticking to her guns: “The words, ‘Jews should be sterilized’ still came out of his mouth, so regardless of the context I still think that’s pretty serious," were words that came out of her mouth.
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