University of Kansas journalism professor David Guth was placed on administrative leave after his anti-NRA tweet on gun control in response to the Navy Yard shooting in Washington, D.C. last week.
Guth’s tweet, since deleted, said that “blood is on the hands of the #NRA. Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters.” The tweet ignited a firestorm in the Twittersphere and on campus.
University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little issued a statement on Friday announcing the action against Guth:
“In order to prevent disruptions to the learning environment for students, the School of Journalism and the university, I have directed Provost Jeffrey Vitter to place Associate Professor Guth on indefinite administrative leave pending a review of the entire situation.”
And who knows how long that could take. But if it keeps Guth out of the classroom, that’s probably a good thing.
Guth, told the Associated Press in a phone interview Thursday that his tweet “got a conversation going — that was exactly what I wanted to do.” He blamed gun rights advocates for orchestrating a social media campaign against him, saying that he “respected their First Amendment rights and it would be nice if they would respect mine.”
Ann Brill, dean of the journalism school, tried to place some distance between the university and Guth when she issued this statement:
While the First Amendment allows anyone to express an opinion, that privilege is not absolute and must be balanced with the rights of others. That’s vital to civil discourse. Professor Guth’s views do not represent our school and we do not advocate violence against any group or individuals.
Guth’s tweet also received negative response from Kansas Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce (R-Hutchinson), who said Thursday he was “appalled” by the tweet and called for the university to remove Guth from the faculty.
“Wishing death and damnation upon parents and their children is reprehensible and not befitting an employee of such a distinguished university,” Bruce said in an emailed statement to the AP.
On paper the support for Guth appears weak or non-existent, but thanks to the liberal nature of academia and the tenure system, I wouldn’t be surprised if he retains his job, despite this outrageous act.
Don Irvine is the chairman of both Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia.
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