More than 100 active, retired faculty, staff support Guth’s “right of free speech”

More than 100 active and retired faculty and staff at Kansas University today released a signed statement in support of the free speech rights of Professor David Guth, who was placed on leave after he wrote a controversial tweet blasting the NRA.

Bill Tuttle, retired professor of history and American Studies, helped gather the signatures, saying he wanted to “stiffen the backbone of the university” in the face of calls from some legislators to have Guth fired or face appropriations battles.

“They are under attack,” Tuttle said of the university.

The statement released by the current and former KU employees said, “Whatever one may think of Professor David Guth’s recent comments, we support his right to express his ideas, just as we support the rights of others to express their own opinions about his comments. Promoting freedom of expression should be a core value of any university.”

Last month, after the Navy Yard shooting in Washington, D.C., Guth, a journalism professor, posted on the social media site Twitter: “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.”

Some criticized Guth, saying he was wishing death on the children of NRA members. Guth said he wasn’t advocating violence, but trying to make gun-rights advocates see mass shootings from the point of view of the victims’ families.

Top KU officials and the Kansas Board of Regents blasted Guth’s statement, and KU said it would conduct a review of the situation. KU Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Tim Caboni said today that KU was still forming the committee and the charge and scope of work for the review. “We are not going to create an artificial timeline for when the group will complete their evaluation,” he said.

Guth was placed on indefinite leave, but KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said that was done to avoid disruption of his classes “and not because of the nature of the professor’s comments, regardless of how controversial they may be.”

At that time, Guth said he agreed to take administrative leave “in light of the abusive email threats I and others have received.”

Contacted today by email, Guth declined to comment on the situation.

Earlier, most of the professors of the School of Journalism and department of anthropology supported Guth’s rights to free speech. Some of those professors’ names were also on the list released today.

Powerful legislators, including Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, have said Guth should be fired. And other legislators have said if he is not fired, then they will not vote for KU’s budget.

Tuttle said, “We’ve seen this happen before with Susan Wagle going after Dennis Dailey.”

Tuttle was referring to Wagle’s allegations made in 2003 that Dailey, who had taught a human sexuality class, had shown pornographic videos, used inappropriate language and harassed female students. An investigation by KU found no validity to the claims.

At that time, Wagle had pushed through a budget amendment that could have eliminated $3.1 million in state funding to KU’s School of Social Welfare budget, but then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius vetoed the provision.

Here is the statement in support of Guth that was released today, followed by a list of the signers.

As members of the faculty and staff of the University of Kansas, the undersigned individuals strongly support the freedoms of expression specified in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Whatever one may think of Professor David Guth’s recent comments, we support his right to express his ideas, just as we support the rights of others to express their own opinions about his comments. Promoting freedom of expression should be a core value of any university.

Omofolabo Ajayi-Soyinka

Giselle Anatol

Robert Antonio

Margaret Arnold

William Arnold

Victor Bailey

Elizabeth Banks

Philip Baringer

Frank Baron

Alice Bean

Surendra Bhana

Henry Bial

John J. Bricke

CJ Brune

Robert Buddemeier

David Burress

Byron Caminero-Santangelo

Ben Chappell

Maggie Childs

Muriel Cohan

Tony Corbeill

Chris Crandall

Tom Cravens

Tamara Dutton

Arienne Dwyer

Jonathan Earle

Charles Eldridge

Mohamed El-Hodiri

Michael S. Engel

Paul Enos

Chuck Epp

Daphne Fautin

Josh Feldman

David Frayer

Bruce Frye

Bill Getz

Jane Gibson

E. Gaele Gillespie

Don Green

John Gronbeck-Tedesco

Don Haider-Markel

Mary Lynn Hamilton

Peter Haney

David Hann

David Hansen

Allan Hanson

Richard F. Hardin

John Hoopes

Randal Jelks

Paul Johnson

Mark Joslyn

Dennis Karney

David M. Katzman

Richard Kershenbaum

Aaron Ketchell

Dongbin Kim

Jeanne Klein

Elizabeth B. Kozleski

Clarence Lang

Mechele Leon

Cheryl Lester

Eve Levin

Burdett Loomis

Beverly Mack

Lucille Marino

Rose Marino

Don Marquis

Chuck Marsh

Bob Marvin

Gerald Mikkelson

Rachel Miller

Tim Miller

Jeffrey P. Moran

Joane Nagel

Karen Nordheden

David Ohle

Chris Petr

Catherine L. Preston

John Pultz

Sarah RobinsBrian Rosenblum

John Rury

Wayne Sailor

Richard Schowen

Elizabeth Schultz

Stephanie Scurto

Janet Sharistanian

Robert Shelton

Tom Skrtic

David Smith

Joey Sprague

Haskell Springer

John Staniunas

Bill Staples

Joan Stone

John Stratton

Patrick Suzeau

Edith Taylor

Sarah Goodwin Thiel

Gail Trottier

Sherrie Tucker

Thomas Tuozzo

Kathryn Nemeth Tuttle

Leslie Tuttle

William Tuttle

Peter Ukpokodu

Delbert Unruh

Kevin Willmott

Ted Wilson

James Woelfel

Lisa Wolf-Wendel

Nathaniel D. Wood