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What has Professor Kong Qingdong done this time?

Peking University, Nov. 20, 2011: Recently, the famous Peking University (PKU) professor, Professor Kong Qingdong from the Department of Chinese Language and Literature, has run into controversies again because of his insults to a journalist from Southern People Weekly. The insults, which were written on Kong’s micro-blog, have spurred both criticism and praise, and also provoked much debate.

 

On November 8, Professor Kong Qingdong rejected an interview request from a Southern People Weekly reporter, and expressed his discontent on his micro-blog. The rude comments on the journalist quickly caused huge controversies both inside and outside the university.

 

Southern Newspaper Corporation itself quickly replied to this issue and criticized Kong’s behavior on micro-blog. Also, other major Chinese media, like Xinhua News Agency and Yangcheng Evening News, all published critical articles, saying Kong has degraded his role as a PKU professor by throwing insults randomly and publicly.

 

Professor Kong Qingdong

 

Back to PKU, there were voices from both sides. Some students wrote a letter, strongly suggesting school fire Professor Kong Qingdong because his words indicated violence and was very inappropriate. They said Professor Kong’s insults undoubtedly needed criticizing, however his obvious support for violence should be paid more attention. Those students thought these words had far exceeded the freedom of speech and ignored a teacher’s basic principles.

 

 A caricature on this issue

 

Speaking of different voices, meanwhile, some students showed strong support for Professor Kong’s words. At PKU bulletin board system (BBS), a student said, “The journalist himself is the one to blame. There are lots of annoying and cheesy journalists in China at present.” Another student added, “Some journalists really deserve it.”

 

At the same time, most students were opposed to firing Professor Kong. They pointed out at BBS that the spirit of Peking University was a certain kind of tolerance towards different opinions. A student said, “Although I dislike his words, I still think he shouldn’t be fired. PKU needs a kind of open-mindedness.”

 

A student from PKU School of Journalism and Communication told the reporter, “I don’t think Professor Kong Qingdong will be fired. We can’t neglect his academic contributions. But I disagree with his behavior. Though some people say that his behavior only shows his own natural thoughts, I still think as a public figure, he should be more careful about his words.” At the end of the interview, the student demanded, “Don’t write my name. I am sacred of insults like what Kong has thrown.”

 

Another student from PKU Department of Sociology made comments on this case from the perspective of PKU’s unique impact on society, “Sometimes society really burdens PKU with too much attention and standards. Those controversial things can never cause equal debates when it happened in other universities. It’s both honor and tragedy for our school.”

 

Miao Yamin, a student from PKU School of Journalism and Communication gave a different and deeper understanding, “Professor Kong Qingdong’s behaviors are like a kind of acting. He is trying to play a role. Doesn’t he know what kind of influence his words might cause? I don’t think so. But he still chose this way. I think the essence of the whole issue lies in whether his way to express his thoughts, criticism towards society is appropriate, and whether it can really be helpful to the society.”

 

Reported by: Liu Yineng
Edited by: Qian Xin