Saturday, September 21, 2013

In the wake of the Navy Yard mass shooting, a University of Kansas professor posts a tweet critical of the NRA; professor placed on leave

From the New York Daily News, written by Michael Walsh -
The University of Kansas placed a tenured journalism professor on administrative leave Friday after a controversial Tweet in which he suggested victims for the country's next mass shooting: children of National Rifle Association members.

"The blood is on the hands of the #NRA. Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters. Shame on you. May God damn you," tenured associate professor David Guth said in the wake of the Navy Yard shooting in Washington, D.C.

A snippy of the tweet at issue, courtesy the same article -

When asked about the tweet, Guth stated that his tweet was in no way threatening or advocating violence, and upon reading it, I agree.  
I would have phrased it differently, something along the lines of "if the NRA's adherents and families were doing the dying instead of the killing, maybe their reaction to calls for better gun safety measures would be more thoughtful and reasoned than their current standard of reflexively hysterical."
In other words, if they were directly experiencing the same tragedies and losses as civil society, maybe they would be a little less enthusiastic about the effect of their attitude that the best way to deal with gun violence in society is to introduce more guns into society

However, Republicans in the Kansas legislature aren't fans of free speech, especially when they disagree with the speech in question.  
They are calling for the University to fire Guth and threatening the school's budget if it doesn't accede to their demands.

While the university has taken steps against Guth, Republican state lawmakers want Guth fired. If he isn't, they say, the school could face consequences. State Senate President Susan Wagle (R-Wichita) and Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce (R-Hutchison) have both issued statements calling for Guth's dismissal. State Sen. Greg Smith (R-Overland Park) released a statement Friday saying that unless further action is taken against Guth, he will react.

"As a public educator in the Kansas high school education system, I am often consulted by my students as to which college they should attend," Smith said in his statement. "As long as Professor Guth remains employed by the University of Kansas I will no longer recommend the university as an institution worthy of attendance by any of my students nor, as a state senator, will I support any budget proposals or recommendations for the University of Kansas."
Much of the rightwing echo chamber has leaped on this, twisting Guth's words in ways ranging from "he wants to kill the children of NRA members" to "he wants to take the guns of, and kill the children of, NRA members".

Guth, to his credit, hasn't backed down from his tweet, saying that perhaps his words were too "nuanced" for certain segments of society.

For what it's worth, I don't think that his words were nuanced, not even a little bit.
I think that they were words very obviously filled with outrage, frustration, and grief.

I also think that certain segments of society have deliberately misinterpreted them in order to cover their own bloodlust with a mask of false equivalency.

Guth has a blog here.  While I don't agree with everything that he's published, I give credit where it is due - he's not afraid to call people out for their BS as he sees it.

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