A San Jose State anthropology professor has lost her legal attempt to regain access to the university’s collection of Native American remains after she was caught up in a cultural firestorm over her tweeted photo smiling with an indigenous skull.
In a showdown over academic freedom, tenured professor Elizabeth Weiss argued in a lawsuit filed in February that the university retaliated against her and violated her First Amendment rights when it closed off the collection for research.
But this week, U.S. District Court Judge Beth Labson Freeman dismissed Weiss’s request for a temporary injunction on the university’s ban. The judge also pointed out that Weiss cannot use the First Amendment as a “shield and a sword” to protect her own controversial statements and to silence the First Amendment rights of those who disagree.
Elizabeth Weiss, PhD Professor of Anthropology at San Jose State University holds a skull in the curation facility. (Photo Courtesy Elizabeth Weiss)
Weiss, a professor at San Jose State since 2004, had claimed she was the target of a “woke activist mob” for the backlash she suffered after tweeting a photo of herself returning to campus after COVID lockdowns last fall, holding a skull with her bare hands and writing “So happy to be back with some old friends.”
The university had argued, however, that it closed off the collection to everyone as it prepares to return the remains to the Muwekma Ohlone tribe. But Weiss says it directly targeted her — the only physical anthropologist on campus who studies and catalogs the remains.
Weiss, an avowed atheist, has been a vocal critic of efforts to return indigenous remains to tribes, saying it favors religion over scientific research. Her troubles began in 2020, she said, when hundreds of academics signed a letter condemning her “racist ideology” for a book she authored …read more
Source:: East Bay – Entertainment