Archive for Thursday, September 19, 2013

KU journalism professor condemned by administrators for tweet about NRA

September 19, 2013


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A Kansas University journalism professor has been condemned by school officials who describe as "repugnant" remarks that the professor posted on Twitter after the mass shootings in Washington, D.C., this week.

In the aftermath of the Navy Yard shootings in Washington on Monday, in which 13 people were killed, David W. Guth, an associate professor at the School of Journalism, tweeted: "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."

The tweet drew criticism from conservative groups. The website Campus Reform, an Arlington, Va., college news site affiliated with the conservative Leadership Institute, suggested that Guth's tweet "called for the death of NRA employees (sic) children." A national gun rights website,, said that Guth had been "calling for the deaths of tens of millions of innocent children."

Today, KU officials strongly condemned Guth, who previously has been censured by the university, saying his opinions don't reflect the university's views.

Ann Brill, dean of the journalism school, said in a 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… Guth’s views do not represent our school and we do not advocate violence directed against any group or individuals.”

Timothy Caboni, vice chancellor for public affairs at KU, called the comment "repugnant" and said in the same university statement, "Like all Americans, he has the right under the First Amendment to express his personal views and is protected in that regard. But it is truly disgraceful that these views were expressed in such a callous and uncaring way."

Guth, in an interview, said, "I did not advocate violence against anybody." He said he was, instead, trying to make gun advocates see shootings like the one at Navy Yard from the point of view of the victims and their families. "I was getting tired of hearing comments in the media and Twitter that, 'Gee, this wouldn't have happened if the office staff at the Navy Yard had been armed," he said.

As for the "May God damn you" comment, Guth said: "I think they are on the wrong side of the angels on this issue. I wasn't cursing them. I was stating that I would like to see God put judgment on them."

Guth, who was censured by the university in 2011 over an angry exchange with a colleague, said he was not surprised that Brill and Caboni condemned his comments publicly, though he regretted that they were drawn into the debate. And that is his only regret, he said.

"I'm the same guy I was yesterday and I'll be the same guy tomorrow," he said. "I think this is just the price of doing business in a democracy."


chicago95 4 years, 9 months ago

Guth's language was ill-chosen, but on what basis does his employer get to chime in? The Campus Reform link actually offers pertinent information that the LJW story missed:

“Faculty have their own social media accounts and use those to express personal opinions, but those opinions do not represent the university,” spokesman Jack Martin wrote in an email statement to Campus Reform on Wednesday.

While Guth’s Twitter account is personal, his biography includes a link that directs to the school’s website.

KU's involvement seems to be justified only to the extent of their responsibility to clarify university policy when questioned by Campus Reform and others.

Hoots 4 years, 9 months ago

This reminds me of the comments made by the head of Chick-fil-A last year. I think he disliked fuzzy puppies or kittens or something like that. Anyway, everyone was all up in arms about his opinion. They wanted to burn him at the stake and close the Chick-fil-A in the Underground at Wescoe hall. Opinions are expensive things to have in our little elitist environment. Funny how people are all for freedom of speech until they don't like what you have to say. Looks like someone got a taste of the poison pill in this case. Yummy stuff...isn't it Mr. Guth?

EarthaKitt 4 years, 9 months ago

Let me guess, bluefirebird. You defend the "right to bear arms" (which is misinterpreted and misguided at best), but you'll condemn the guy who uses his words. Did you learn nothing in kindergarten? Picking and choosing from the constitution is just as gross as picking and choosing from the bible.

Patricia Davis 4 years, 9 months ago

Or perhaps, picking and chosing your nose. I say : Go Guth!

fu7il3 4 years, 9 months ago

Isn't that what Guth is basically doing, as well? Picking the first and condemning the second? It works both ways.

Carol Bowen 4 years, 9 months ago

Freedom of speech certainly has changed over the years. Firstly, this is a personnel matter. Why am I reading this guy's name in the news? Secondly, anyone in education should be cautious about expressing bias. Students should not be exposed to bias and the university should not be tainted by this type of activity. The same rules apply in public and private employment. As adults, we have responsibility for a certain amount of decorum. We have freedom of speech, but it should be used wisely. Technology does not always bring out the best in us.

webmocker 4 years, 9 months ago

hear_me 17 hours, 26 minutes ago "Students should not be exposed to bias..." Perhaps students should be taught how to think so that they can better distinguish the various types of bias they will encounter every day of their lives.

Carol Bowen 4 years, 9 months ago

I agree, but this was a one sided exposure.

Paver 4 years, 9 months ago

While I don't think the guy should be fired, I wonder what the reaction would be if instead of the NRA a staff member had referenced a minority or protected group? I know politics has always been ugly at times but in the electronic age, these impulsive comments can spin out of control rapidly and the repercussions can be brutal and any intended nuance/sarcasm, lost.

Mike Ford 4 years, 9 months ago

pro gun people can gather at massacre sites like Aurora and the Navy Yard and have no clue how offensive what they're doing is. I'm a three decade gun owner and collector who has no use for the NRA or it's political or chest thumping bravado. If you're pro gun and offended by this professor's comment have you ever considered how offensive your tactics to people like me? Guess what.....there's another side to this issue and you probably won't like it.

tomatogrower 4 years, 9 months ago

So your "deeply-held and well-founded beliefs" are more legitimate than Guth's?

Liberty275 4 years, 9 months ago

I think it is offensive that you think there are public places in America where citizen's shouldn't be allowed to go to because of their beliefs.

Not really. I expect nothing less of you.

Scott Morgan 4 years, 9 months ago

tuschka, I agree with you to a point. I am a member of the NRA only because the organization fights to uphold the Second Amendment.
Key word, organization.

gatekeeper 4 years, 9 months ago

this is where you are wrong. All the NRA does is fight to uphold the rights of gun manufacturers. They don't care the least bit about you because your yearly dues are nothing. all their money comes from the gun manufacturers.

Cathy Ackerman 4 years, 9 months ago

Insane that he is chastised for posting an opinion shared by the majority of Americans

fiddleback 4 years, 9 months ago

I don't think the majority of Americans, even if they disagree with or resent the NRA, would wish any future violence or a vengeful God's wrath upon NRA members' families. This is exactly the sort of inchoate rage that we don't need in the public discussion.

gatekeeper 4 years, 9 months ago

No one is saying they want any more shootings. the point being made is that if some NRA members loved one's were killed, maybe they'd open their eyes.

Liberty275 4 years, 9 months ago

You don't think family members of NRA members have been killed with firearms?

Bud Stagg 4 years, 9 months ago

How do you know NRA members loved ones' were not killed? From what I understand this horrific act was done in most part with a shotgun. Are we really thinking we can take all the handguns, shotguns, rifles, swords, knives, explosives, baseball bats, etc away from people? This is another mental health issue. Prof. Guth is dead wrong on his assumption, but I will defend his right to say it in the manner that he did.

fiddleback 4 years, 9 months ago

Gatekeeper, I don't find the remark worthy of being parsed or construed for more defensible sentiments. Regardless of intending something more nuanced, he recklessly suggested that gun violence and eternal hellfire should befall a certain group. Neither his tweet nor apologism for it would seem to further the national discourse on this topic in the least.

I also don't think that NRA members or their families being victims will change members' minds. They simply don't see this problem as best addressed by gun restrictions, or don't believe that such restrictions will offer effective prevention. These emotion-based arguments are not what worthwhile. You would be better off with a documentary or some other means of illustrating how such restrictions can prove effective.

fiddleback 4 years, 9 months ago

An aside to Ben -- I think the headline's a little off in terms of its direct object; you don't want to suggest that Guth is headed to gallows. Wouldn't it be better to say "KU journalism professor's tweet about NRA condemned by administrators?"

I can't believe that a guy whose research and areas of expertise supposedly include "crisis communication, political communication, and public relations history" would write this sub-Youtube comment level of hateful garbage. How is this supposed to advance the public discourse? No surprise that Caboni is trying to get out in front of the outrage by acknowledging it as "disgraceful." Just wait until the legislature is back in session...

kansas_native1969 4 years, 9 months ago

Seems that some who champion the second amendment forget about the first...

Hoots 4 years, 9 months ago

This guy's going to Tweet himself out of a job someday. Maybe not today but someday. People get themselves in more trouble by Tweeting stupid comments without thinking through it. It's one thing to say something but once you put it in writing it stays with you for the long run. Freedom of speech doesn't come without cost. You are free to say whatever you want but you may also have to deal with the ramifications of what you say. I'm free to poke myself in the eye with a rusty nail yet I refrain from that activity.

Hoots 4 years, 9 months ago

Twitter is nothing more than a modern version of writing on the bathroom wall except everyone knows who the author is now. People pay for what they say all the time. They get fired, kicked off football teams, basketball teams, they get sued for slander, and the list goes on. Who knows, maybe you'll post something idiotic after one too many glasses of Merlot and get your butt canned someday. Twiitter is full of Twits.

kansas_native1969 4 years, 9 months ago

Opinions are protected by the same piece of paper as the right to bear arms... Many people in history have been punished by what they believe in.

Greg DiVilbiss 4 years, 9 months ago

The offense is not the opinion but in the manner it was expressed...."Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters".

Clearly he believes the NRA has undue influence and is at fault for the number of gun violence incidents that occur. That opinion is a valid part of the debate.

I am not an NRA member but guess what, with as big an organization the NRA is, their sons and daughters were probably in the Navel Yard. This part of the statement in my opinion sounds an awful lot like, a wish to harm someone or that someone is harmed.

That is offensive. Should he be fired? No, Should he be more careful the way he is expressing his opinion in public? Yes

dougbe50 4 years, 9 months ago

I am not a member of the NRA but I think it is incredibly stupid to blame the gun violence of this country on them . They are no different than the Teamsters or any other group of individuals that have gotten together to lobby the lawmakers of this country . Millionaires do it , big business does it , why cant the 4 or 5 million people in the NRA do it . Washington DC has the strictest gun laws in the country , he had to go thru 2 armed guard stations with a shotgun ,which would not have been banned anyway . Just like world hunger and the homeless , people want to stop these horrible acts of violence against innocent people . Most gun violence is tied to gangs , drugs and mental illness and if some crazy wants to hurt people they will find a way to do it . Sometimes there is no easy answer and the conservatives and liberals fighting over every little thing means nothing ever gets done .

gatekeeper 4 years, 9 months ago

The NRA fights basic laws that would make it harder for criminals to get guns and they don't like any background checks. They ARE a huge part of the problem and they only care about those that give them huge bucks, the gun manufacturers. What do the gun manufacturers want? To sell more guns. Yep, more guns in this country with lax laws is just what we need.

Try again.

John Hamm 4 years, 9 months ago

Background checks equal registration which leads to confiscation.

Tim Orel 4 years, 8 months ago

Registry lists are outlawed by the government laws, and the recent efforts at putting more limitations on gun ownership restated the forbidding of any registry, so this is factually incorrect. The NRA has a large registry of gun owners but that's private so that's okay? You need to learn who your true enemies are. Oh, and read the 2nd Amendment again. Every word, not just the last half.

Mike Ford 4 years, 9 months ago

I doubt anyone else has such a guilty conscience that they show up at massacre scenes to subconsciously and publically worry about what should probably be done with the gun problem. For starters I've been a gun owner since 8 years of age and I'm 43. I lived at that time in SW Louisiana where people do hunt and fish for subsistence. I've helped collect antique weapons since 1985. I'm a Democrat and a gun snob. We go to gun shops and I have people there ask me about Dreyse, Mauser, and Gras early bolt action rifles. I have no use for people who do this whole chest thumping gun culture nonsense and who wear their assault weapons like a shirt pin at gun shows. I know about Valmets, Galils, FN-FALS, CEMTES, HKS, and the like. But I don't care for them. I honestly do not believe there is any way physically possible for all of the guns in this country to be confiscated due to the propensity of them so these people who buy up all the ammo and civilian semi auto versions of military rifles (ASSAULT WEAPONS) are just pawns of profiteers playing the fear and sometimes race card. The craziest story I ever heard was at a gun shop in Olathe where some old guy was claiming that the US Government was buying up all the ammo and storing the ammo at the closed Chilocco Indian School near Ark City, Kansas. I had to leave the store because I was going to belly laugh myself silly in front of this unstable person. It's telling that a comment like this professors had to be made but look at how detached and unhinged parts of this populace are. Stop making guns so freely available in a place like Virginia and tragedies like this and Virginia Tech are less likely to happen. People travel from other states to buy weapons in VA because of the easiness in doing so. That's the problem.

fu7il3 4 years, 9 months ago

The top cities for homicides in the United States have some of the strictest gun laws. Unless you fix the people, fixing the guns isn't going to do anything.

newmedia 4 years, 9 months ago

Case in point. 13 people shot at a southwest Chicago park last night. Seriously doubt the shooter was a NRA member.

gatekeeper 4 years, 9 months ago

BUT, how many of the weapons used by these criminals were bought at gun shows where no ID had to be shown and no background checks were done? If we make it harder to get guns, criminals will have a harder time getting them. It's common sense, folks. Any criminal can now walk into gun shows and buy weapons from any Joe off the street.

fu7il3 4 years, 9 months ago

Good question. How many were? Do you actually have a number or are you speculating?

stevieboy 4 years, 9 months ago

Stay classy KU...He should be fired yesterday!

Liberty275 4 years, 9 months ago

How much hatred to do you have to feel to wish people's children would die as punishment for having different beliefs? I hope for his and the sake of his students that he speaks with a therapist and can mitigate his issues.

milehighhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

Not that it makes any difference, but Dr. Guth is a pretty hard core Republican.

Matthew Herbert 4 years, 9 months ago

Imagine that...a tweet like that coming from someone who has been censured by the university previously. Good thing for him that he can hide behind tenure.

Centerville 4 years, 9 months ago

His problem is that this leads people to see his blog - which is a sad little thing.

Douglas Garst 4 years, 9 months ago

Guth, who was censured by the university in 2011 over an angry exchange with a colleague, said he was not surprised that Brill and Caboni condemned his comments publicly, though he regretted that they were drawn into the debate. And that is his only regret, he said.

One would think that the "angry exchange" probably was very severe to draw a "university censured action"...protected by privacy rights; one has to wonder - was Guth required to complete an Anger Mangement course or was he simply sent to sit in the corner of his cubicle with a Dunce Hat for the day.

Have not read where the Navy Yard shooter was connected to the NRA, but there were confirmed reports that the shooter was an avid player of violent video games, and had mental issues of hearing voices.

One has to wonder if Guth "hear voices"...

chootspa 4 years, 9 months ago

The weakened laws making it possible for a man with known mental illness and a documented history of gun violations and violence to pass a background check and buy a gun without hassle - that part most definitely is connected to the NRA.

Not agreeing that it's ok to wish someone's children dead, but the professor was angry, not insane.

dougbe50 4 years, 9 months ago

he had clearance to get into a secure navy facility and that is not connected to the NRA . Its easy to blame the NRA for everything but drugs ,gangs and the lack of mental health care has to take a lot of the blame

chootspa 4 years, 9 months ago

There's still plenty of blame to go around in a lot of places, but he walked in there with a gun he'd legally purchased after a history of mental illness and gun violence. I'm not sure where drugs and gangs come in, but sure, blame them too. Why not. And video games. Maybe even rock music.

If we throw out a few more places to blame, maybe we'll never have to address the part where what once was an organization that stood for gun safety is now a corporate large lobby group that stands for gun sales at any cost.

dougbe50 4 years, 9 months ago

he wasn't convicted of any gun violence so it wont show up on background check and patients rights to privacy . these things only come out after the fact .How can you not be sure where drugs and gangs come in to gun violence .

tomatogrower 4 years, 9 months ago

It's funny, many posters, including me, on this forum and others post anonymously, because we are afraid of the backlash either in our job or our business. So Guth, in a moment of anger, expresses his frustration using his real name, and guess what? He confirms why we must not openly express our opinions. So, we suffer under the delusion that these forums, Titter, Facebook, etc. allow us free speech, but it's not true, is it.

webmocker 4 years, 9 months ago

tomatogrower 13 hours, 14 minutes ago "So, we suffer under the delusion that these forums, Titter, Facebook, etc. allow us free speech..."

When you post a message on Titter, is it a teat?

booklover2 4 years, 9 months ago

I think that his remarks have been taken completely out of context. I think that he is saying that wait until it is the sons & daughters of NRA members who are victims of gun violence and then maybe there will be a different opinion on gun laws.

Andrea Hoag 4 years, 9 months ago

I support Professor Guth. Obviously he was adopting an overly didactic tone here, but the sentiment rings true for me. This ridiculous country can fix anything but our absurd gun-violence problem. If KU fires Guth, none of my children will attend this school. Some days I get so tired of living in a red state.

fiddleback 4 years, 9 months ago

I think we desperately need to subtract the blue vs. red, Democrat vs. Republican stuff from this incident (and anyway, posters above have suggested that Guth is a registered Republican, so the easy labels seem all the more pointless).

I also don't think it's civic-minded to be looking for the defensible sentiments in this guy's remark. Regardless of true meaning/intention, he recklessly suggested that gun violence and eternal hellfire befall a certain group--it's a flippantly hateful statement unworthy of apologist parsing.

Finally, I wouldn't think that with his openly broadcasting exceedingly poor judgment, anyone is excited that he is teaching and shaping young minds. Would you want him teaching your kids? But no, he most likely won't get fired, at least not for this.

Andrea Hoag 4 years, 9 months ago

Nicely said. All good points I'll have to think about. As far as whether I think he's an appropriate person to help form young minds? I think some of our best teachers are flawed, human. I think most Americans, no matter what their political stripes, are sincerely frustrated by the gun violence proliferating out of control. All of us want a simple answer, someone to blame. This tweet to me is just another frustrated American who probably should have thought before he tweeted...

dougbe50 4 years, 9 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Andrea Hoag 4 years, 9 months ago

Just gave this a little more thought, and it occurs to me what a great teachable moment this is for a journalism professor. He can use this whole situation to train up the next generation of journalists to be perhaps a bit more social media savvy. He should get a pass on this, but it's true people need to be careful about what they write on social media. Looks like he went off, if you'll excuse me, a bit "half-cocked."

fu7il3 4 years, 9 months ago

Given that he teaches public relations, he might be able to learn a bit from this himself.

lawslady 4 years, 9 months ago

Canaries of freedom do not always sing songs we like. First Amendment rights must be protected as strongly as possible, no matter how much we might disagree with what is being said.

chicago95 4 years, 9 months ago

Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens would disagree. Check out , a speech in which Justice Stevens stated that he would have dissented from the opinion in Snyder v. Phelps (decided after he left the bench) that protects picketing and "intentional infliction of emotional distress" at the funerals of U.S. servicemen (or, for that matter, in tornado-ravaged Joplin MO.)

chicago95 4 years, 9 months ago

Former (liberal) Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens would disagree. In a speech posted at , Justice Stevens states that he would have dissented from the opinion in Snyder v. Phelps (decided after he left the bench) that protects picketing and "intentional infliction of emotional distress" at the funerals of U.S. servicemen (or, for that matter, in tornado-ravaged Joplin MO.)

Liberty275 4 years, 9 months ago

Don't you think all of our rights should be protected equally?

Heidi Sanford 4 years, 9 months ago

Until we have a serious conversation about mental illness in this country, with the intent to find some resolution, we will continue to have tragedies such as Columbine, The Naval Yard, Virginia Tech, etc. No amount of "Gun Control" legislation will prevent an unbalanced individual from procuring a weapon and using it if that is their intent. I can not imagine that any of the individuals that were responsible for these and all the many other incidents of gun violence, and just plain violence in this country, are stable, well-adjusted, mentally balanced individuals.

There is a stigma in this country about getting help for mental illness and all too often people have a group-think mentality that someone else is responsible for the shooters actions. I.E. violent video games, Mommy didn't love him enough or loved him too much, abuse in childhood, etc. But no one has a calm, reasoned conversation about the possibility that there is mental illness at fault.

I play violent video games. I enjoy them. That doesn't make me want to go out and purchase semi-automatic weapons and recreate the video game environment for real.

While the intended message in the tweet is admirable, the delivery leaves a bit to be desired. Put yourself in another's shoes and you'll be less quick to judge. Unless of course you're mentally unhinged. :D

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

Well, at least we know why the mainstream media is the way it is, with professors like this teaching journalism.

avarom 4 years, 9 months ago

Just the rights of Freedom of Speech, yes insensitive, but demonstrates his bad judgement. Disagree fine, move on.....Obviously a Hater, and maybe even a racist. Who knows.....he still has a right to express his morbid opinion. It's like watching TV, don't like the program....Change The Channel.

avarom 4 years, 9 months ago

Well, if they can forgive Virgil Peck, they can forgive Guth! Both were out of line....and I don't recall any disciplinary action on Peck. Speaking of Disparity...Unfair treatment .....and Abuse of Power....What a bunch of Hog Wash. Get a Good Labor Attorney brother!

Nellane Laney Croan Stussie 4 years, 9 months ago

Professor of Journalism?

“Journalistic objectivity can refer to fairness, disinterestedness, factuality, and nonpartisanship, but most often encompasses all of these qualities.” ... Nope!

Advocacy journalism? “Avoid slogans, ranting, and polemics. Instead, articulate complex issues clearly and carefully." ... Nope!

Tenured liberal wack-job bent on ensuring that all whom his class come away with the same views he embraces. … Probably!

Any wonder why nobody trusts the lame-stream media?

avarom 4 years, 9 months ago

Like Michael Jackson use to say... ....."Good News Never Sells"!

Armstrong 4 years, 9 months ago

Let's hope Guth doesn't have access to firearms.

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