A university lecturer has been suspended after comparing abortions to necrophilia.
Dr Justin Murphy, a politics lecturer at the University of Southampton, has been blasted by ‘disgusted’ students after a string of ‘hateful’ and ‘disrespectful’ tweets.
In a tweet posted in May, he said: ‘If you’re pro-choice in the abortion debate, I find it very difficult to see how you could possibly have ethical objections to necrophilia.’
The University of Southampton revealed it received complaints about Dr Murphy’s ‘personal views’ which are ‘incompatible’ with its own and confirmed a formal investigation has been launched.
American-born Dr Murphy said he has been suspended following his tweet and said the university called him in for an ‘urgent meeting’ and gave him a ‘30 day paid vacation’.
The 32-year-old married academic, who completed a PhD in 2014, also works as a personal academic tutor and a dissertation supervisor at the university and his absence will cause issues for students.
He compared abortion to necrophilia after saying the ‘question of necrophilia raises interesting challenges to positions held today’.
Abortion up top 28 weeks was made legal in the UK in 1967, whilst necrophilia was made illegal in 2003.
Dr Murphy tweeted: ‘The question of necrophilia does raise some interesting and useful challenges to many comfortably held positions today.
‘For instance, if you’re pro-choice in the abortion debate, I find it very difficult to see how you could possibly have ethical objections to necrophilia.’
When asked about the tweet, he said: “I don’t see why it caused offence, it was a great tweet.’
Dr Murphy has previously explained he compared the two because ‘if you support a woman’s right to choose what she does with her body then you will be inclined to support her necrophilic enjoyment’.
In other tweets, he suggested people with ‘humanities degrees have mental illnesses’ and used the slur ‘retard’.
A spokesman from the university said: ‘The University has received a number of complaints about the personal views expressed by a member of staff on his personal social media channels.
‘These appear incompatible with a University which prides itself on its tolerance, collegiality and inclusivity.
‘As a University we promote and defend academic freedom, but this must always be done with due regard for the need to respect others.
‘We do take this matter very seriously and we have now launched a formal investigation.’
Dr Murphy tweeted after he was suspended: ‘Wow, so today I was invited to an “urgent meeting” at the university.
‘In all sincerity, they were very nice and reasonable about everything. They were so nice that they gave me a 30 day vacation! (Not joking.)’
He added it would be ‘paid’ and continued: ‘For everyone who’s concerned, I appreciate it, but I’m not really worried.
‘If I actually lost my job for this, it would go down in history as perhaps the single most ridiculous case of university admin over-reaction in the history of the culture wars.’
In a statement, Dr Murphy said: ‘I’m an intellectual, which means I try to find and express as much truth as I can, in the most authentic way possible.
‘I sometimes use bad language, as most people do. Who cares?
‘You can’t lie to people anymore, so academia has to decide whether to open up or double down on its traditional pretense of being special or righteous.
‘I’m no saint or martyr, I’ve just personally decided that transparency and authenticity is the only way forward for me, even if it looks a little reckless.
‘Academia doesn’t need more polite bureaucrats. Academia needs smart people who are weird enough to be real and tell the truth, about the little things as much as the big things.’
In a blog, Dr Murphy, who brands himself a ‘highly skilled’ intellectual, said: ‘What I am doing is simple. I am just thinking and saying whatever I feel like.’
He added: ‘I want to enjoy the right to make mistakes, to be rude, to occasionally overshoot and occasionally undershoot, perhaps even wildly.’
He also said: ‘If my bosses think that any of this is inconsistent with my employment, then I will just infer that their employment is inconsistent with a real intellectual life.
‘I am a highly skilled researcher and lecturer, with good publications, and a fine track record in every aspect of my academic career thus far.’