Sophia Nelson, a scholar-in-residence at a university in the tidewater region of Virginia, is decrying cancel culture after students voiced outrage over a since-deleted tweet she posted criticizing DC Comics for depicting the latest iteration of Superman as bisexual.
The comment, some students said, made them feel unsafe.
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Abigail Honeycutt, a sophomore at Christopher Newport University, told the local news station WTKR-TV that she and her classmates “felt uncomfortable and scared” after reading Nelson’s comments about the superhero’s sexual identity.
On Monday, students in the LGBTQ community, supporters, and some professors gathered on campus to rebuke Nelson. At the gathering, one student yelled, “How does it make you feel? Is it enough to evoke change?” Another added, “We will keep fighting for our rights. Our rights are human rights.”
The small group of protesters want Nelson fired.
Nelson, an author and journalist, wrote in the Oct. 11 tweet that she doesn’t understand why it’s “necessary” to focus on the comic book character’s sexual orientation.
“What if Christian parents of children reading comic books don’t want their kids exposed to bisexual characters?” she asked. “This is being pushed on kids. Then parents have to explain it. Most cannot!”
After deleting the tweet, Nelson apologized, acknowledging she is “a university professor scholar now and mindful of the diversity” on campus, adding her “intent wasn’t to hurt.”
The damage, though, was already done. Honeycutt said she was “sad and angry” after reading Nelson’s erstwhile tweet, noting she wants CNU “to publicly denounce her actions” because “it’s not what we stand for” and “it’s not a community of excellence.”
What did the university say?
Paul Trible, the longtime president of CNU, released a lengthy statement vowing to bring Nelson onto campus for a listening session to hear from students pained by her remarks.
He said CNU “intentionally creates and values our community of diversity, equity, and inclusion,” noting “it is at the heart of who we are.” He went on to say the university “also value[s] and protect[s] freedom of speech.”
“Upholding that freedom is most important when it is hard — when ideas conflict and opinions differ fiercely,” said Trible, a former U.S. senator. “In this moment, it is important that we live into both of these university commitments.”
The president went on to say Nelson will come to campus to participate in an open discussion about her beliefs to hear from students hurt by her deleted tweet:
She will have an opportunity to share who she is, her views and opinions, and her heart. She will talk about why she tweeted what she did. We will listen. And we will share our views, opinions, and hearts — the pain, the anger, and the questions. She will listen. She will learn what it means to be a part of this community. Everyone may never agree, but we will support our LGBTQ+ students and colleagues, listen and talk, and learn how to be different, together.
How is Nelson responding?
This week, Nelson took to Twitter again, this time to condemn the “cancel culture.”
She wrote, “We are cannibalizing one another with cancel culture. It has to stop or, I promise you, in a decade or less, America will no longer be America.”
“It’s bullying,” the university scholar continued. “They are mean, nasty bullies. Vicious with their words, with intimidation and hatred in their hearts. And there is no excuse for ever bulling another human being because they made a mistake, messed up, misspoke, were just caught simply being human.”
“There is a wave coming,” she added. “A movement of sick and tired Americans. Tired of being pushed around and bullied, canceled, targeted, harassed for our faith beliefs, for our values, for our free thought and free speech. Today it’s me in the crosshairs. Tomorrow it’s you.”
Faithwire has reached out to Nelson for comment. If she responds to our request, this story will be amended to include her remarks.
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