A cure for the threat of instant outrage: Talking

Some African-American students at the University of Missouri, scene of a showdown in the last week over the administration’s alleged unwillingness to do anything about racism on campus, allegedly received anonymous death threats when the university boss was forced out.

When one student emailed professor Dale Brigham about an exam scheduled on a day when the students were threatened, he emailed back, the Washington Post reports.

“If you don’t feel safe coming to class, then don’t come to class,” Dale Brigham replied in an email that appears to have been sent to his entire class. “I will be there, and there will be an exam administered in our class.

“If you give into bullies, they win. The only way bullies are defeated is by standing up to them. If we cancel the exam, they win; if we go through with it, they lose.

“I know which side I am on,” Brigham wrote. “You make your own choice.”

The student didn’t like the answer, so he posted it on Twitter…

And Twitter did its thing, the Post says.

Soon the anger spilled beyond the confines of Brigham’s classroom. People posted his office phone number and e-mail address on Twitter

“How can [you] tell a student to face bullies when there are threats that he will die?” reads another e-mail posted to Twitter. “He is fear for his life and you are telling him to still risk his life to come to YOUR class to take a test? Are you kidding? These aren’t bullies we are talking about…”

A legitimate point, for sure. One that might hold sway in an actual conversation with the professor about his decision.

But we don’t have conversations anymore. We amplify.

Yesterday, the professor recognized the student’s concern, and he canceled the exam.

Then he quit his job.

“I am just trying to do what I think is best for our students and the university as an institution,” Brigham told KOMU 8 News.

A university spokesperson said the school will not accept his resignation.

Similar situations are spreading throughout the country, the Post’s Michael Miller writes this morning. He blames the smartphone.

“Their [professors at the school] experiences reflect a harsh new reality for American university professors: a combination of politics and technology has made it easier than ever for professors to become targets,” Miller says. “In the age of Facebook and Twitter, trigger warnings and microaggressions, college professors can go from being educators to the accused in the blink of an eye.”

Related: ‘That’s racist!?’ Why our addiction to outrage sells the debate over racism short (Washington Post)