Following an infamous episode on a recent flight, thousands are rushing to First Daughter-elect's aid online by trying to fire the husband of Ivanka Trump's airplane heckler. A Change.org petition is calling for urban studies and planning professor Matthew Lasner's termination from Manhattan's Hunter College, following an outburst by his husband, David Goldstein, against Trump.
Lasner and Goldstein were onboard the same San Francisco-bound JetBlue flight as Trump, her husband, and her children, when Goldstein voiced his displeasure at having to share the flight with the president-elect's daughter. According to TMZ, Lasner and Goldstein were accompanied by their child. "Your father is ruining the country,” Goldstein allegedly told Ivanka, according to The Wrap. Lasner allegedly tweeted about the incident, describing his husband's outburst as "calm," but later removed those posts and deleted his account.
Lasner and Goldstein were removed from the flight, prompting JetBlue to issue a statement regarding the outburst. "The decision to remove a customer from a flight is not taken lightly," said JetBlue." If the crew determines that a customer is causing conflict on the aircraft, the customer will be asked to deplane, especially if the crew feels the situation runs the risk of escalation during flight." The day after the incident, the petition to fire Lasner was created on Change.org by a group called Right-Wing Millennials.
Ivanka Trump, children harassed on flighthttps://t.co/FDI14nfaIl— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) December 22, 2016
Goldstein's actions were harsh in the context of the situation — he is entitled to his freedom of speech — and it should have no bearing on Lasner's status as an employee at Hunter. However, Hunter may also be within its rights to terminate Lasner for how the incident reflected on the school, particularly in light of the petition. Further convoluting the matter, Hunter is a public university, making Lasner's job technically government funded; therefore, firing him could set a dangerous precedent of political retaliation, or at least give Donald Trump some extremely bad press for allegations of impropriety. There's also the optics of Lasner and Goldstein's same-sex relationship to consider; action against the two could further alienate liberals and the LGBT community from the president-elect.
No matter your feelings on the election, it's difficult to argue that Goldstein's outburst against Ivanka was situationally warranted. However, I'd argue that retaliation against Lasner for Goldstein's actions also seems inappropriate. The polarized climate of the country in the aftermath of the election has prompted intense reactions to difficult situations like these, and the outcomes could determine social and institutional norms for the coming four years.