Student Claims OCC Professor Ken Hearlson Wrote "Gays are Racist" on White Board During Class

​Proposition 8, California's same-sex marriage ban, was declared unconstitutional last week in a federal appeals court. But for one gay student, 18-year-old Ali Azarifar, the celebration quickly turned sour during a class at Orange Coast College.  

Azarifar claims that political science professor Ken Hearlson made several anti-gay remarks in his U.S. government lecture on Feb. 7, the day of the court ruling. Some of the alleged comments include:  

"Being gay is a sin." 

"No one voted no on Prop 8 because gays are racist." 

"Soon, all of the U.S. will be illegal for the gay community to marry." 

"Gays don't go to black churches because they are racist."  

Hearlson was talking about the upcoming elections when the topic turned to Prop 8. That's when the conservative professor wrote the words, "Gays are racist" on the board, and launched into an anti-gay rant, the student claims.   

"I was shaking in my chair," Azarifar says. "Then I looked around the room and saw people taking notes. . . . We pay to go to school, and to have someone talk like that about me and say those awful things, it's really hurtful." 

The freshman said he raised his hand a couple times to try to debate Hearlson, but was never called on him in the class of 300. The next day, he and his boyfriend, Nolan Robert, made a complaint with Paul Asim, the dean of the school's social science department. "He told us that he gets a complaint [about Hearlson] every semester and that I should drop the class," Azarifar says. "To me, that was even more hurtful, knowing that he can say whatever he wants and they can't do anything." Asim could not be reached for comment.  

Azarifar and Robert plan to make a formal complaint with the dean of OCC next week.


In 1998, a student said that he told his class that if a homosexual ever taught his child sex education, he'd "string him up by the toes and shoot him in the face with a .357 Magnum." In 2001, a week after the Sept. 11 attacks, Hearlson was accused of calling Muslim students "Nazis," "terrorists," and "murderers." (An investigative report said that most of the allegations were "unsubstantiated.") And in 2003, the tenured professor harangued college protestors at a peace rally. 

Hearlson, when reached by phone, had no comment on the issue, but did have some choice words for the Weekly.   

A gay rights supporter made this flier in hope of bringing attention to Hearlson. Robert, who is active in the gay community, aims to start a larger movement.   
OCC-ken-hearlson-1.jpg
Nicco Starr
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53 comments
Student
Student

Sounds like the student is the bigot. I took Hearlson twice, and he is awesome. And he is completely fair. He encourages discussion and welcomes all views in his classroom.  It is the crazy student who obviously has a problem with divergent views, not Hearlson. I loved when Hearlson would say extreme things in class; it forced students to think, speak up, and defend their own beliefs if they happened to be different. It is a healthy atmosphere, unlike most classrooms where professors care only to indoctrinate you with no regard for any other point-of-view. You are allowed to disagree with Hearlson, and that's what makes him an top-notch professor. Oh, and that "other time" Hearlson was accused of "offensive outbursts" he was proven INNOCENT by a recording of the lecture. I have no doubt that this is the same thing: a whiny, weak student who can't handle someone challenging his political views. Hearlson is the only victim here.

guest
guest

I'm in this class and the guy is a total embarrassment to teaching. Honestly, he doesn't even teach anything. He rambles on for 2+ hours about things he doesn't like. The students in the class aren't getting anything close to an education from this guy. His tests are ridiculously easy and it seems like he's doing as little as possible to collect a paycheck. I've been bored out of my mind since the first class. While he didn't state those comment above word for word, the message was stated as such. He's entitled to believe what he likes, but it's an absurd class to be a part of. Truly the worst teacher I've ever experienced in my life. 

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

 I am not sure what the class was other than a government class. I do believe in the necessity to openly discuss political theory and beliefs in the proper forum, however the lectern should not be used as a bully pulpit to cram your views upon students in what may be a required course without the option to discuss different opinions.  I see several comments of class members denying the comments were made or they were taken out of context, so I wonder... was the complaint unfounded, or were a few dedicated students, (or persons posing as students) standing up for the instructor? I hope Ms Woo is as forthcoming if or when the School Administration releases findings on the alleged incident. Inquiring minds wish to know

Allister_013
Allister_013

I'm in taking class right now. And, those weren't his exact words. This guy is just blowing things out of proportion. I identified myself as gay also. Honestly, he's making the gay community seem hostile. 

mike
mike

""Everyday Conservative students are lectured down to by liberal professors and I know for a fact that happens more often than this."" VERRRYYY VERRRYY TRUEE!!!!fuckin liberals... 1st of grow some balls and 2nd research your so called "information" before you open that whiny mouth. 

OCC_Student
OCC_Student

Ahh this article is completely incorrect and taken out of context. I was in the class when he "said" all of this and I can assure you he didn't say any of this. "The freshman said he raised his hand a couple times to try to debate Hearlson, but was never called on him in the class of 300." It's kind of hard to get called on in a class of 300 when 20 people are always raising their hands for questions or comments. If Ali was so offended by Hearlson's comments then why didn't he talk to him after class? Was he denied of that too? Articles like this are pathetic to say the least. Get your act together Michelle Woo. I've said enough here. Good day

Iluvdiemonds
Iluvdiemonds

this should be retracted...what this student is doing is slander. there should have never been an article written on this especially with posting this ridiculous poster that the student made that is also slander. completely ridiculous.

Acruik86
Acruik86

I am in this class, he didn't say these things!!

Iluvdiemonds
Iluvdiemonds

this article should be taken down because everything written here in my opinion is slander.

Gerald Neal Allen II
Gerald Neal Allen II

i was in that class, im in the class tonite, kids need to grow up, He didnt say those things

Chip Douglas
Chip Douglas

Ms. Woo... I'm not saying that the professor did was right. Take a African-American or Chicano studies class sometime. You will hear a hundred times more hate speech in those classes.

kushibo
kushibo

On the face of it, I don't like what the professor said, but I get the feeling the words of an in-your-face, opinionated professor maybe are being taken out of context.

For Ali, I would advise learning to suck it up and, when given the chance as he wasn't here, dispassionately state your case.

As for Nicco Starr, might I suggest that you dispense with the mindless Christian bashing (re: OCC meaning "Oppressive Christian Conditiong"). Certainly not everyone who is Christian thinks that way (I am Christian, many of the people around me are Christian, and none of us think that way), while many who do hold negative views of homosexuals are not Christian either.

To inject that kind of sweeping indictment simply makes it harder to have a dialogue that resolves anything. Or are you dupes in the right wing's culture wars?

Marty Capella
Marty Capella

Uh-oh.  Hearlson is at it again.  Unfortunately, nothing will come of it.  Again. He loves this stuff.  He wants student complaints.  He hopes he'll be fired, so he can take his extremist views to a larger stage.  However, his dean will only scold him because he really hasn't done anything that is outside the scope of the course outline or not covered by academic freedom. What he says may smack of bigotry, stupidity, or provocation, and while it may be repugnant to me personally, I'll defend his right to say it. Where I think the student in the article and the creator of the flyer have it wrong: just because they pay $36/unit doesn't suddenly make them customers and the faculty and everyone else their servers in a restaurant-model college. Not, at least, while the tenure system is in place along with the basic tenets of academic freedom which protect speech in the classroom. Is he wrong? Probably. Is he an asshole? Definitely. The only way to get him out of the classroom before retirement is for the students to vote with their feet. If they don't sign up for his classes, they'll be cancelled, and he won't have his captured audience of students to proclaim his Truth to. Of course, they'll still have to pay him for not teaching, but he'll lose his bully pulpit.

Christopher Neal
Christopher Neal

I cannot help but wonder what the leadership at Orange Coast College thinks of their official logo being used by this Nicco Starr clown.

Fuck political correctness anyway.

There is nothing that goes against policy for a teacher to be "an admitted sign-bearing protestor in favor of prop 8." After looking at the poster design, I just realized the blue man is Adolf Hitler. So if someone is anti-gay, according to Nicco Starr, they are Hitler-esque? That's fascism in itself...

Fuck!

Alwaysright
Alwaysright

Stop crying Princess Ali! Teachers say thing I dont want the hear all the time. Sounds like you knew what you were getting into with this class. Strange a Gay Middle Eastern would sign up for Hearlsons class.

Christopher Neal
Christopher Neal

From my recent past experience, there is no policy against professors being complete assholes.

Starlight
Starlight

The homosexuality behavior is a sin.  It states in The Holy Bible:Leviticus - Chapter 18 - verse 22:God speaking to Moses stated, “Thou shall not lie with mankind as with womankind. It is an abomination!”You don't hate gays.  You pray for them!

mitch young
mitch young

Poor Ali -- just getting what the average white heterosexual student, particularly males, get every week in any social science course (except maybe econ).

20ftJesus
20ftJesus

 "Being gay is a sin."

Gee, I wonder where Hearlson heard that?  

909Jeff
909Jeff

College is a place where people should be able to openly share ideas and philosophies.  perhaps what he said wasnt the smartest.. but on the same hand its equally reprehensible to depict him as a Nazi...  Whats that they say about two wrongs?  

Everyday Conservative students are lectured down to by liberal professors and I know for a fact that happens more often than this.

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

 Try proof reading and fact checking before posting. I am not sure if you were attacking Ms Woo for her article or the comments of the complainant. I believe Ms Woo wrote an objective report.I am also a student at OCC I first started taking classes there in 1981. I have seen more liberal bashing there than conservative bashing, any wonder? it is in OC, duh!

listen up
listen up

Have any other students come forward to support the claims made by Ali Azarifar?

Can any student make a claim against a professor and the OC Weekly publish the claim?

*If the professor did say some of the things he is accused of saying he is a douchebag.  He can believe whatever he wishes and exercise his rights of free speech outside the classroom.  Inside the classroom he should stick to the material he is supposed to cover.

Fishermom21
Fishermom21

Right there with yah! This "princess" needs to take the podium and own up to this bs! All lies and misinterpretation!!

Acruik86
Acruik86

Hey buddy, I take hearlson's class, and there are a lot of people who take his class because they like him and agree with him! Not everyone is a 'bleeding heart liberal' like yourself!

Christopher Neal
Christopher Neal

Excellent post.

Here is what students should do to help remove asshole professors, and I speak from experience--not as an asshole ex-professor, but someone who served on a grievance committee at a local university. You know those evaluations that students fill out at the end of the semester? The school takes those seriously although students usually do not. If one student has a grievance, they will look to the past evaluations and see the professor had good ratings, no complaints. Students need to take SEVERAL minutes and fill out those forms in a way they see appropriate. That is their chance to get their voice heard.

Matuart
Matuart

 For me it was sending youth too harass me~ is that considered fascist? or racist? I'm not Caucasian~ question

Bill T.
Bill T.

Sometimes the only class available that you need is one you really don't want to take.

ditaboy
ditaboy

"You" are the SIN! I pray for you! Its an abomination to do many things stated in the bible that I am sure we all do on a daily basis. READ IT! You're a hot mess! 

909Jeff
909Jeff

And God doesnt make mistakes.... So how do you reconcile that? 

DubV
DubV

Hate Speech is something you can say or practice as you please, this guy works for a government entity.  I've actually been in plenty of classes where I would have preferred the professor put an intellectual ass whooping on one of your conservative prodigies; however, we let them rant and students begin the dialogue.. DUH?

DubV
DubV

Your assumptions are always hilarious 909

FishWithoutBicycle
FishWithoutBicycle

Of course a professor is entitled to their opinion and has a right to express it...but if that belief has a negative influence on how the student is graded in the class or creates a hostile learning environment then that's a different animal...it violates Title IX I do believe...

Kevin White
Kevin White

I am also in the class and was there tonight, as well as on the February 7th class in which these "false" and misinterpreted allegations towards Ken Hearlson were made. this is utterly disturbing that one disgruntled student who CLEARLY misunderstood and twisted Mr. Hearlson"s comments could ruin this mans reputation! or worse career. this is slander at best. way to go Ali Azarafar... Pathetic!

HB OHANA
HB OHANA

My feelings exactly! My son is in this class and was there that evening in question. He saw nothing inflammatory or to be mean spirited.It is all being taken out of context. I believe Ali and his friend are only trying to bring attention to their own personal agendas. I would not be surprised if Ali and friends were just waiting for their moment to pounce.  These young men need to grow up and get over themselves. Maybe education is not going to benefit them after all! Maybe they really are just wasting their money taking classes.Professor Hearlson has our support. He is a well achieved and supported professor. Nicco Starr your are way off base and should be held accountable for participating and encouraging this form of slander.

Hpmanderson
Hpmanderson

I Disagree. He shouldn't be removed in any way for voicing his beliefs. GAYS are allowed to speak up for their movement and say they want equal rights. CHRISTIANS/conservatives should be able to disagree because they believe being gay is sinful. Mr. hearlson has the right to say what he believes. Thats what freedom of speech is for. Hell, if I here more of this I will begin a movement myself.And it will be anti- those going against hearlson. I had a best friend who is gay, I respected him and adored him..but as a christian,he knows I don't agree with his sexual orientation. That didn't effect our friendship though. He had his beliefs I had mine. Although I never bad mouthed him, I just wanna say..the bible tells me to love thy neighbor...it doesn't tell me i have to agree with their lifestyle.  

Christopher Neal
Christopher Neal

"Matuart," could you please restate your question please?

Whatever the situation, you could file for harassment. 

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

 especially as a freshman student. it takes a few semesters to learn who is who.

909Jeff
909Jeff

Wasn't title IX where mens sports were ruined by whiny women? ;-)

Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act was named in honor of its principal author Congresswoman Mink, but is most commonly known simply as Title IX. The law states that No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance...

 Looks like they are barred from discrimination based on sex... Not who you have sex with.

Ba dum ch!

Bill T.
Bill T.

he he he, one of my hobbies is ro see how long I can string along phone solicitors. They get pretty defensive when they have to admit that only about 10 to 20 cents of each dollar they collect for care packages for troops actually goes to the cause. collect stuff from your neighbors and co-workers, and send it directly. SOMEONE you know has a son/daughter/sister/brother/mom/dad/uncle/aunt/husband/wife over there.

um, off the subject, apologies.

909Jeff
909Jeff

I dont speak no mexicanese!

909Jeff
909Jeff

I read it and didnt comment at the time but i just did... 

mitch young
mitch young

Hey Jeff, missed you on the 'Armenian Wrestler' story!

909Jeff
909Jeff

I would agree except I'm usually SUPER pissed of when they ring my doorbell on a Saturday morning... 

909Jeff
909Jeff

Dang it Mitch.... Cant I just argue with the Christians?

I sometimes... A lot of the time I like to take the Contrarian position. Not Saying that this is one of those times but...

909Jeff
909Jeff

I believe you may be correct my dear! 

FishWithoutBicycle
FishWithoutBicycle

Ah...I was incorrect about which law...but I believe there is something on the books about "equal access to education"...:-)

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