Writes Maureen Dowd, in “The Ivy League Flunks Out” (NYT), talking about the line “It is a context-dependent decision” spoken by U Penn president Penn’s Elizabeth Magill.

We were just talking about Bill Clinton rhetoric — 2 posts down, here — but that was about “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” and the topic was Biden’s denials of involvement in his son’s influence peddling.
Dowd is writing about the “pathetic display” put on by the presidents of Harvard, M.I.T. and the University of Pennsylvania “when they were asked if calling for genocide against Jews counted as harassment.” Dowd only uses the word “harassment” once and doesn’t seem to see any need to define it or discuss it in any depth. When is an ugly/cruel/immoral/hateful statement harassment? Dowd — like many others, and unlike the “pathetic” presidents — glides immediately over to the much easier matter: It’s ugly, cruel, immoral, and hateful to call for genocide, against the Jews or against any people.
And by the way, as I’ve always thought and may have mentioned on this blog once or twice, Bill Clinton was correct. It did depend on “what the meaning of ‘is’ is”!
Clinton had agreed with Monica Lewinsky’s affidavit — “There’s nothing going on between us” — and it was phrased in the present tense. Clinton’s full statement began with the memorable and unwise “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is,” but he went on, immediately, to explain what he meant: 
“If the—if he—if ‘is’ means is and never has been, that is not—that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement. … Now, if someone had asked me on that day, are you having any kind of sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, that is, asked me a question in the present tense, I would have said no. And it would have been completely true.”
What Clinton did and what these university presidents did was to make a statement that seemed apt and technically, legally correct but not to realize how it would feel to the larger audience.
Speaking of context!
ADDED: Over at The Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin has a column with a similar headline to Dowd’s — “University presidents flunk the humanity test.” 
Like Dowd, Rubin fails to look into the question when offensive speech becomes harassment. I don’t see that she even notices it:

Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) called Magill’s comments “offensive,” and said “calling for the genocide of Jews is antisemitic and harassment, full stop.”

Does Rubin even see that there’s a difference between saying something offensive and engaging in behavior that constitutes “harassment”? 

Rubin quotes someone identified only as “Shapiro” (I had to click through a link to discover it’s the governor of Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro):

“That was an unacceptable statement from the president of Penn,” Shapiro said in response to Magill not condemning calls for genocide. “Frankly, I thought her comments were absolutely shameful. It should not be hard to condemn genocide.”…

How sloppily was this column thrown together? Don’t you see that there’s a big difference between condemning genocide and committing to the proposition that a statement endorsing genocide is always harassment? Is this willful blindness or a conscious effort to seize an oozingly ripe opportunity for constricting the freedom of speech?

Rubin continues:

The Anti-Defamation League also weighed in, with a written statement: “This utter failure to show moral clarity at a time when antisemitism is surging on college campuses is dangerous. This is not a question of free speech, but rather a question of whether genocidal calls on campus will be met with consequences. The only acceptable answer is yes. They couldn’t say it. Will your president do so now?” 

How is it not a question of free speech? Can we at least debate what free speech is here? If you try to dictate what is and is not a question of freedom of speech, you don’t sound as though you give a damn about freedom of speech. This is where your commitment to freedom of speech is truly tested, when the speech is revoltingly offensive.
Speaking of flunking a test!
The announcement… followed months of intense pressure from Jewish students, alumni and donors, who claimed that she had not taken their concerns about antisemitism on campus seriously…. Ms. Magill, a lawyer, is expected to remain at Penn as a faculty member in the law school…. With students deeply divided over the war, university presidents have tried to balance pro-Palestinian protesters’ right to free speech with concerns that some of their language has been antisemitic….