Archive for Monday, September 23, 2013

Professor getting death threats over NRA tweet, colleagues support his free-speech rights

September 23, 2013


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Kansas University journalism professor David W. Guth's message about the NRA on social media last week has prompted anger from gun rights supporters, rebuke from KU officials, an indefinite leave from his job and, now, death threats from some angered by his tweet.

Meanwhile, his journalism school colleagues issued a statement in support of his free-speech rights and the chancellor issued a statement saying that the decision to put Guth on leave was not related to the content of his message on Twitter.

Today Guth said he had received thousands of angry tweets, emails, phone calls and Facebook posts since last week. Among those messages have been death threats, which Guth has shared with the Lawrence Police Department so it can help him monitor the situation, he said. "I'm not taking them too seriously, but I'm not ignoring them."

Last week, Guth posted a message on Twitter in the aftermath of the shootings in the Washington, D.C., Navy Yard that left 13 dead.

"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,” Guth tweeted.

The message was met by anger and outrage from gun rights supporters and others who said that Guth was wishing death on the children of NRA members. KU officials condemned Guth's tweet, and by the end of the week he was placed on indefinite administrative leave with pay.

Support from colleagues

Several of Guth's colleagues voiced their support for him in a statement today signed by 13 professors of the KU School of Journalism: "We do not agree with our colleague David Guth’s recent comments, but we support his right to express his ideas, just as we support the rights of others to express their own opinions about his comments."

They added, "Because of the polarized nature and volume of response to Professor Guth’s comments, we support his decision and the decision of the university administration for Professor Guth to transfer his students and classes to other professors at this time."

Guth said that he had "received no indication" that his leave was disciplinary, but rather it was a measure to protect his safety as well as that of students and the public.

KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said in a statement today that the decision to put Guth on leave "was taken in order to avoid further disruption of the learning environment and not because of the nature of the professor’s comments, regardless of how controversial they may be."

To determine when it will be appropriate for Guth to return, a group will be formed to advise the provost, said Timothy Caboni, KU's vice chancellor for public affairs.

The group will not have decision-making authority. Instead, Caboni said it will advise the provost's office based on its assessment of whether or not "the conditions and concerns have changed enough to allow for (Guth's) return in a way that is not disruptive."

The group will be composed of staff members from KU's risk management, student affairs, public safety, facilities and provost's offices, as well as a senior faculty member from a school other than the journalism school.

Duration of leave is uncertain

Caboni said he did not know how long Guth's leave might last. Officials have made arrangements for Guth's classes to be taught by other faculty members for the rest of the semester. Reports surfaced that Guth had agreed to go on a planned sabbatical early, but Caboni refuted them in a statement earlier today.

The controversy around Guth's tweet could spill into other university bodies as well. Faculty Senate President Christopher Steadham said that group has been "actively monitoring the situation."

"We certainly recognize the need to have a swift formal response," he said, but declined to elaborate on what form that response would take while the senate is still gathering information and opinions from faculty members.

Meanwhile Kansas state legislators continued in their condemnation of Guth, some of them calling for his dismissal.

Legislators and others who want Guth fired are focusing on a portion of the tweet that they say calls for violence. But Guth says his tweet is being misinterpreted.

State Sen. Greg Smith, R-Overland Park, said the tweet is inexcusable because it "urges people to use guns to perpetrate violence on other people and their children." Smith, whose daughter Kelsey, 18, was a murder victim in 2007, said, "I am aghast at his conduct."

Last week, Guth said he wasn't advocating violence. He said he was trying to make gun advocates see mass shootings from the view of the victims.


JayhawkFan1985 2 years ago

I think his tweet was stupid. The stupidity was compounded by the university suspending him for tweeting something stupid and compounded farther by many private citizens grossly overreacting to the tweet by making threats. This is America, not nazi germany, not Stalinist Russia. We don't burn books here. We don't shoot people for what they think or what they say. To do so, is unamerican.

fiddleback 2 years ago

Yeah, un'Merican! Also, invoking Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia is never stupid. My congressman told me so.

I guess you missed the part about the leave being for his and students' safety given the tweet's potential to provoke retaliation...I'd say KU's response is the one piece that isn't stupid.

JayhawkFan1985 2 years ago

So he should lose his job because someone who is mad about what he said might become violent? I don't follow your point or that of KU.

jonas_opines 2 years ago

Reading their comments on this matter, it's pretty clear that their primary point is: "people shouldn't be allowed to say things if I don't like them." They're bending over backwards trying to distinguish this from other things other professors have said in the past.

fiddleback 2 years ago

So voicing an unpopular argument (i.e. Carl Burkhead's LJW editorials) and inflammatory hate speech are not at all distinct to you? The tweet is a direct, hateful, and arguably violent provocation of a certain group-- I would challenge you to find me another such example in KU's history.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 2 years ago

The tweet basically said "What if it were your family dying, you gun loving miscreants? What would you think, THEN?"

I think it's a view of the 1 or 12 or 22 percent. I think it's probably not valid. I actually think it's foolish.

I DO NOT think it is grounds for dismissal.

When people die, it makes people feel vulnerable. It makes people hate. That's the way it is.

The way it is is ALSO that people speak their minds about such mind boggling atrocities. The way it is is that people want to control things that can't be controlled. This leads to cant. Let's not let it lead to punishing emotion and belief.

Professor Guff tried to get people to feel his emotion. He tried to express his emotion in a way that his "opponents" would understand. He may have failed in that quest but the anger that came from his response is as disproportionate as his response and delving into the simple complexities of driving emotion used by his "opponents". His bullet points were not bullets. He simply spoke with the emotion that he despises. it is not a crime. It is not something which should end his career (his current life). Get one. Get a life. This is the messy world we all have created. This is the world we live in. This is not a game. This is living and dying...without the control that we should have. We have been taught to be vicious in retort to try and fix things. This JOURNALISM is what we have ALL created. Fix it and get over it.

Topple 2 years ago

Everyone is entitled to their free speech. But you are also entitled to the consequences of that free speech.

If I walk into my Jewish boss's office and say, "I wish the Nazi's won WW2 because I hate Jewish people," then I'd probably be fired. Now, what I said was protected by free speech, but that doesn't mean I get to say what I want, when I want, and my boss has no recourse. This is especially highlighted when you are an ambassador of your company to it's clients. e.g. A professor to their students. If a professor says something, many will take it as the University's position, even if it is profoundly stupid.

jafs 2 years ago

Generally agreed.

But, the 1st amendment says "Congress shall make no law..." - it doesn't say "KU can't discipline Guth".

jafs 2 years ago

Perhaps - I'd have to read the rest of it, and think about it. But, that doesn't mean KU can't discipline him, and it's not the 1st amendment at the federal level.

Also, although I find the threat to de-fund KU objectionable, I'm not sure it violates the constitution.

He freely wrote his sentiments, and nobody's trying to put him in jail. But, there may be consequences for that.

And, it's a bit complex, since a state school isn't completely government funded, but partially funded, so it's sort of a mix of public/private in nature, I think. To say that Guth works "for the government", it seems to me that would really apply best if it were completely government funded.

Charles L Bloss Jr 2 years ago

I am a life member of the NRA. This nut case was saying my children should die because of my beliefs. What would you think if it was your children that he was threatening? Right of free speech is one thing, death threats are quite another. Just like the right of free speech has restraints, you cannot yell fire in a crowded theater, those restraints should include death threats to innocent children !!

nominalize 2 years ago

I don't know if English is your native language, but that's not what he said. He said that people who value their gun lifestyle or their countrymen's lives might get their priorities straight if the lost lives were actually dear to them, and not just strangers whose deaths they could sweep under the rug. So, the next time someone shoots up a public place (not that anyone hopes it will happen, but let's be realistic), he hopes that the innocent people who die (not that he hopes they die, but he's realistic enough to know that people will) happen to be relatives of people who lobby against common sense safety regulations, so that these blockers can get a true sense of the problem.

The "outrage" from the pro-gun crowd is precisely a reaction to the fact that this tweet reminds them of their backwards priorities. When you point out someone's moral failings, they always react viciously, and interpret what people say in self-serving ways that feed their confirmation bias.

EarthaKitt 2 years ago

Do you see what you did there? You asked US to imagine how we would feel if it were OUR kids being "threatened." That's exactly what Professor Guth was doing - asking YOU to consider how you would feel if it were YOUR children that had been the victims of such a massacre. I think he chose his words poorly, but I completely understand what he was trying to say. First amendment people.

And if state legislators are so concerned about its employees urging violence, why is Margie Phelps still working for the Kansas Department of Corrections? You can't pick and choose when to stomp on free speech.

jafs 2 years ago

Why do people assume that NRA members, and "pro gun" advocates haven't lost people in violent attacks?

hedshrinker 2 years ago

It would seem that the NRA and their ilk prioritize the unlimited wide dispersal of the most heinous of weaponry above all other possible outcomes, up to and including mass shootings of completely innocent people, the unrestricted rights of felons and other dangerous people, NO MATTER the hideous consequences. I interpret Guth's outburst to be what I have now been despairingly feeling: What hellish experience is it going to take before the people who seem to have TOTAL control of guns in the US wake up and say "We have gone too, too far. This surely was not what the Founders envisioned." I thought surely the deaths of 20 children, the deaths of movie goers, the deaths of people meeting with their Congresswoman, the deaths of children in a Chicago park would arouse their disgust, but apparently there is too much money to be made selling artillery that has gone far beyond personal protection and hunting. So while i may not agree w the exact wording of Guth's tweet, I sympathize w the rage and despair he apparently feels w the out-of-control gun industry and its apologists. (And I find LaPierre's scapegoating of the mentally ill truly despicable. I don't want my clients to be indiscriminately identified and locked up any more than he wants gun owners to be inventoried and disarmed.)

jafs 2 years ago

That's fine.

But, NRA folks and pro gun advocates honestly believe that their ideas will reduce, not increase violence.

And, as I said, nobody should assume that people in those groups haven't lost people in violent attacks and/or don't care about those - it's just not true.

Also, I think your portrayal is a bit exaggerated - most pro gun folks support keeping guns out of the hands of felons and the mentally ill adjudicated dangerous folks.

patkindle 2 years ago

I am sure some professors would like to support the freedom of Speech issue, but I doubt if any of them would post under their own name some childish rant like their colleague

kuhoopsfan 2 years ago

Gee ... just when it looked like the chancellor was starting to do the right thing by beginning the termination process for Mr Guth I read her statement of today that indirectly supports Mr Guth's hate filled tweet by stating that the decision to put the professor on leave has nothing to do with what he said. Then I read that the provost is trying to determine how long Mr Guth should stay away ... reminds me of the Godfather when Vito Corleone says Michael had to leave the country after all those false charges and he now had to figure out how to bring Michael back.

Tenure does not provide complete immunity from the consequences of one's speech. There are many, many examples of words that could replace "NRA" in Mr Guth's tweet that would have resulted in his immediate termination ... muslims, blacks, gays, jews. Many who are defending him now, would have been calling for his termination if he had called for the damnation of muslims after 9/11, or the Benghazi embassy attack.

Look, I'm all for academic freedom ... but hate speech shouldn't be protected. Let Mr Guth suffer the consequences of his ignorance.

JayhawkFan1985 2 years ago

NRA members are not members of a protected class unlike the groups you point out...Muslims, blacks, Jews, etc...

fiddleback 2 years ago

That ultimately seems like a technicality, especially given our toxically polarized political climate. Do you think we won't ultimately add distinct political subgroups to this list of ethnic and religious minorities?

JayhawkFan1985 2 years ago

Members of political groups do not need to be made members of a protected class. That comment is absurd. For full disclosure, I'm a middle aged white male Christian democrat.

kuhoopsfan 2 years ago

So, if I read your comment correctly you're saying that "protected groups" have more rights than others? I thought everyone had the same rights and were equal under the law. Hate speech is hate speech regardless of the group to whom the speech is directed.

JayhawkFan1985 2 years ago

Protected classes have the same rights as everyone else, but because they have historically been the victims of discrimination, often by the government itself, they enjoy special protections to safeguard their rights which as I said are the same as everyone else's.

fiddleback 2 years ago

kuhoopsfan-- you and I agree that this is hate speech, but even that, especially outside the classroom, is unlikely to be grounds for his termination. Hate speech codes and prohibitions have not fared very well in the courts, and KU doesn't seem to have such a policy in any case. The situation does seem to warrant the administrative leave, but unless other judgment lapses or misconduct are revealed in his actual teaching, I'd expect Guth's ultimate return to the classroom by next spring.

kuhoopsfan 2 years ago

fiddleback - unfortunately you're probably going to end up being correct. And therein lies the problem. Had Mr Guth been working for a private company and done something like this he would have been without question terminated. There are many recent examples to illustrate this point. Academic freedom and tenure were never meant to protect this kind of speech.

JayhawkFan1985 2 years ago

Do you even know what you're talking about? I don't think so. I'm dismayed by the lack of understanding about basic constitutional rights in this country. Yes, you can't shout, "fire" in a crowded theatre, but that's not what he did. He also didn't make a threat or even incite others to violence. He expressed frustration, albeit very poorly, that the NRA's rabid political stance has distorted the legal structure of our society in ways that have had a profound impact on innocent people in the form of mass shootings that could EASILY have been prevented with a national gun registry and universal background checks. He should also have pointed some of the blame at the GOP in Kansas and other states who have systematically defunded mental health care services in this country for at least three decades.

Satirical 2 years ago


I am curious as to your opinion on what KU would have done the same if the hate speech were directed to a racial or minority group? Do you think in that situation it would be grounds for termination?

fiddleback 2 years ago

Satirical-- I think this page provides a good overview of the history of this issue and landmark cases:

This WSJ article from last year offers an interesting perspective from FIRE president Greg Lukianoff about speech codes at universities, more recently emerging in the form of anti-harassment policies:

FIRE keeps a database of schools' current policies; KU's page is mostly just student housing policies:

KU does have more generic policies against race/ethnicity-based harassment and sexual harassment:

But to answer your question, I'm not sure, and the policies above don't make clear what would happen to tenured faculty engaged in harassing or hateful remarks. Obviously, this hate speech suggests high potential for a hostile environment esp. whenever the professor has a student belonging to the disparaged group. However, I suspect that it would probably still require a successful discrimination claim by a student to result in termination.

nominalize 2 years ago

Honestly, I bet they put Prof. Guth on leave in the hopes that no one would come to the campus to shoot him.

jack22 2 years ago

JayhawkFan, America has a very long history of banning questionable books and assassinating political leaders. Senator Joseph McCarthy condemned books for promoting Communism and those books were pulled from library shelves and burned. And what about Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, John F Kennedy, etc., weren't they assassinated for their beliefs?

JayhawkFan1985 2 years ago

Jack, I honk McCarthy was un american too.

JayhawkFan1985 2 years ago

I love the autocorrect function on my ipad. I typed, "I think McCarthy was UnAmerican too."

Currahee 2 years ago

I wonder how the KU professors would have reacted if someone they knew in the NRA stated that they wished death upon kids of those who oppose gun laws. Would they say, "We support their exercise of free speech"? Free speech is free speech, but should it not be used responsibly? If you are in a position to educate- a position of leadership- is it responsible to make such comments? As a professional, Prof. Guth should have known where the line was. He could have made a statement that was not as offending, but he did.Very unprofessional conduct.

Shardwurm 2 years ago

The day a University employee takes responsibility for anything will be a sign of the Apocalypse. Don't you know that teachers don't make mistakes? They're all angels, desperately fighting against the demons (parents, students, legislature) who fight them every step of the way. It's a miracle any of them survive. But in no way are they responsible for anything negative that happens - only the good things.

Maggie Morrissey 2 years ago

Sooooooooo only free speech if it doesn't hurt anyones feelings or ruffle any feathers??? WHAT???

Free speech is free speech, the second piece of that life lesson is accepting and handling the consequences that may follow....

If you are in a position to educate my children please don't teach them that they only have the right to voice happy thoughts and opinions.

Currahee 2 years ago

I did not imply that; you are assuming things. If Obama said the same thing how do you think everyone else would react? Oh it's just free speech he can do whatever he wants? Do you curse at your workplace?

Ron Holzwarth 2 years ago

This might be the event that smileydog is referring to:

Richard Heckler 2 years ago

The NRA is National Right Wing Association PAC that sponsors violent rhetoric and supports individual military arsenals throughout neighborhoods.

Perhaps this is among the reasons local law enforcement feels a need to become a satellite military operation.

Richard Heckler 2 years ago

This matter is a KU situation that does not need any rhetoric from Topeka,Kansas. Topeka,Ks has been home to ALEC Right Wing spin for too many years. Let's flush it down the toilet.

Din Rosa 2 years ago

I always thought that the current KU administrators are decent, likable people, but it had been so dispiriting to rarely see them show backbone, and it had been hard for me to truly respect them. But they now finally have my heartfelt respect. I had guessed that Guth's treatment wasn't as harsh as what was publicly implied, but it still bothered me to see the power of politics over university administrators, or at least power over how KU was (embarrassingly) presenting itself. I'm relieved that they are not so beaten down or so weak after all, and they do in fact have some backbone and will stand up for what is right. Come on people, it was just a careless tweet, and the whole thing was ridiculously blown out of proportion, by people who take pleasure in blowing things out of proportion. Tweets are by design spontaneous things, not carefully thought-out statements (except of course by professional PR folks). When people are passionate and really care about something, they will mess up sometimes, and there is a cost to making such a big fuss about it, and suppressing harmless expressions of passion. I do not believe for a nanosecond that anyone with half a brain honestly believes that this prof. truly advocated violence. All the outrage is just against his political views, and for the joy of making noise. It's been interesting and even a bit fun watching this story unfold, but after a while the noise gets tiresome.

stevieboy 2 years ago

This professor thinks he was suspended for his own safety ?...he should be fired..

question4u 2 years ago

When Republican State Representative Virgil Peck advocated, on the floor of the Kansas House, the use of automatic weapons and helicopters to murder immigrants State Sen. Greg Smith, R-Overland said that Peck's speech was inexcusable because it "urges people to use guns to perpetrate violence on other people and their children.'"

Wait, no he didn't.

Smith must have said that when Republican Speaker of the House Mike O'Neal sent an email about Obama, including the first part of a biblical quote that ends "may his children be orphans and his wife a widow."

Wait, no, Smith didn't say it then either.

What's the pattern here?

FarleyM 2 years ago

"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,” Guth tweeted.

Is a wish to the world for death of children, that instigates thoughts toward that end, free speech? Absent of fire, is screaming "fire" at Liberty Hall free speech?

tomatogrower 2 years ago

Did you equally condemn Peck when he advocated killing people? Or O'Neil for praying for Obama's death? They still got and get our tax dollars. Why is Guth more important than they are? Where was your outrage then?

FarleyM 2 years ago

Not familiar with your examples. Were these people tenured College Professors teaching young adults? Regardless, if they are figures that influence teachable young minds that are looking for guidence, they are fools too.

kernal 2 years ago

You should be, FarleyM, if you live in Kansas, as they are Kansas pols. Rep Virgil Peck who advocated hunting down immigrants and "shooting them down like pigs" from helicopters and Kansas House Speaker Mike O'Neal who emailed a prayer to his fellow Kansas GOP legislators advocating the death of President Obama. Their fellow GOP cronies didn't call for their resignations, so it seems a tad ludicrous for them to ask for Guth's dismissal for his equally stupid remark.

FarleyM 2 years ago

Sorry I didn't know. Do either of these people teach young impressionable minds how to think for exorbitant sums of money?

Sorry I didn't know who these people are.

jafs 2 years ago

No, but they're in positions of power.

Keith 2 years ago

What a mealy mouthed reply. I especially like the 'exorbitant sums of money' jab. Sure you don't know who those people are.

Cheryl Nelsen 2 years ago

How about Senator Greg Smith saying he won't vote for funding for KU if Guth isn't fired, but even more importantly, he is telling his high school students with young, impressionable minds not to attend KU if Guth isn't fired. I don't think Guth's comment is nearly as much a concern as a senator making stupid comments such as these.

FarleyM 2 years ago

Young impressionable minds listen to lowly state politicians? Really? It has been a long, long time since you were young and impressionable, yearning for your Professor to guide you. True?

jonas_opines 2 years ago

"It has been a long, long time since you were young and impressionable, yearning for your Professor to guide you."

Lol, college-aged kids are 18-24, not 8-10.

Very few of them "yearn" for anything but to get done a few minutes early.

Bob_Keeshan 2 years ago

Earlier this year, Sen. Greg Smith criticized the budget he supported for underfunding the Department of Corrections and promised to do all he could to increase funding for Corrections.

Apparently he thinks Margie Phelps, who has rejoiced in the death of Americans, encouraged people to pray for the death of US soldiers, and advocated for the death penalty for gay men and women, doesn't have enough funding. Greg Smith has no concerns about funding for Corrections and their Director of Re-Entry Margie Phelps.

Clearly, this is because Sen. Greg Smith agrees with the Phelps family and Westboro Baptist Church.

Sue McDaniel 2 years ago

That tweet was so vicious and thoughtless, free speech yes, have a brain to put a filter on it, yes. Obviously he do not and I would not want him in my kids classroom showing them this kind of display. May the donations cease until he is gone.....

fiddleback 2 years ago

You do realize that KU can't fire him over this, right? They'd have to find other judgment lapses or misconduct in his actual teaching, and even then...

Keith 2 years ago

KU will be making the decision based on how much it will cost them to pay Guth off to go away versus how much it will cost them in appropriations. Not the ethical way, just the corporate way.

RibMan 2 years ago

Guth probably isn't being completely honest in his tweet. Sounds like he's really angry about the 2nd Amendment. The NRA teaches gun safety and responsibility---- members know this. My guess is he isn't a member, just a smear merchant--- which is his right. KU has a problem on their hands and there is no easy answer here. Guth put them in an uncomfortable position.

"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."

I'd love to hear his thoughts on Planned Parenthood. Some of their clinics perform illegal abortions. The Constitution protects the right to abortion and the right to bear arms.

tomatogrower 2 years ago

Why didn't the following people lose their tax payers jobs for their following remarks? These were direct threats of violence against people. All Guth said was that NRA supporters might think differently if there families were the victims.

Virgil Peck - "Looks like to me, if shooting these immigrating feral hogs works, maybe we have found a (solution) to our illegal immigration problem," he said, according to The Wichita Eagle."

Read more:

"Mike O'Neil - Let his days be few; and let another take his office May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow. May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes. May a creditor seize all he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor. May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children. O’Neal forwarded the prayer with his own message: “At last — I can honestly voice a Biblical prayer for our president! Look it up — it is word for word! Let us all bow our heads and pray. Brothers and Sisters, can I get an AMEN? AMEN!!!!!!”

Topple 2 years ago

You're sanitizing what Guth said. What these two idiots said is moronic. I never heard about either of these statements. I wouldn't want either working in government.

AnEducator 2 years ago

Topple, then why did you vote them into office? Taking a leap here, but given how polarized this debate is, I take your "sanitizing" comment as evidence that you voted Republican in the last election. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

oldvet 2 years ago

What Peck and O'Neil said was as much hate speech as what Guth said. I would have voted to remove either of the two politicians and I believe KU should remove Guth. Since I can only voice my opinion, I will be ready when KU calls asking for money, as they do every year. And as long as Guth is employed at KU, my annual contribution will go to some other organization. I will encourage my circle of friends to do the same.

bd 2 years ago

This nutjob is teaching our kids??????

jafs 2 years ago

It was a stupid and provocative thing to say.

And, it's very possible that NRA members have lost loved ones in this sort of violent attack.

Also, "pro gun" folks don't want violence, and believe that their ideas, like more armed citizens, will actually decrease it, and associated fatalities.

One can/should disagree with this idea based on logic and reason, but nobody should be wishing others' children die in violent attacks.

gl0ck0wn3r 2 years ago

Ok, I have modified my point of view regarding his suspension. Previously, I had assumed - based on a lack of clarity from the university - that he had been suspended because of the actual tweet. My contention is that anyone who is that bad at communicating shouldn't be teaching strategic communications.

However, based on the university statement, it appears he was placed on leave - at least in part - because of threats. I do not agree with this and I believe the university should have made alternate arrangements to keep both Guth and his students safe.

Unfortunately, neither side has a monopoly on anonymous people who like to send death threats to people with whom they disagree. Although I fundamentally disagree with Mr. Guth's tweet and the argument behind it, I do not believe threatening anyone is an appropriate response.

Chris Bohling 2 years ago

IMHO free speech should always be protected assuming you are haranguing a person or group based on something they chose to believe, say, or do rather than something they inherently are. You should be allowed to criticize a person's religious or political views as vehemently as you want; it should only become a hate crime if you attack something inherent to that person like their ethnicity. So in this case I would support the professor's right to free speech.

Of course I know that's not how it actually works but that's how it ought to work.

Satirical 2 years ago

Chris Bohling...

So in your opinion, would it be okay, after a terrorist attack by a Muslim, for a KU professor to say to Muslims, next time may it be YOUR sons and daughters?

Just to be clear, I am not asking if you think that person has the 1st Amendment right to make such a comment, but whether you think that comment should lead to any adverse employment effects.

optimist 2 years ago

Mr. Guth is an idiot, those threatening him are idiots and the rest of us are caught in the middle, captivated by their idiocy. That said, Mr. Guth's behavior was unbecoming someone that holds the position that he does at an institution of higher learning. For that reason I believe he reflects poorly on the University and have no opposition to his dismissal if the University of Kansas, as his employer, decides that his continued presence causes more harm to the University’s reputation than the value he brings to the organization as an instructor. It is a simple business decision. I do not however condone threatening harm or harming someone for saying something stupid. I’m sure we’ve all said or done things we regretted. Saying something stupid doesn’t warrant the death penalty. Get a grip!

Liberty275 2 years ago

Could some kind and generous soul please tell me where I can find American "hate speech" laws? I believe hate speech is protected speech.

Satirical 2 years ago


Try looking up "fighting words," in any Constitutional Law website. Some hate speech (common definition) is protected. Some hate speech (fighting words) is not. For example, Westboro Baptist Church have the right to picket with anit-gay signs.

Maggie Morrissey 2 years ago

I wish all this outrage, opinions, comments, actions, etc. be directed at the problem of violent crimes perpetrated by guns that cause loss of innocent lives. Going on and on and on, day after day about Prof Guth's words isn't helping a damn thing! It was an opinion, get over it!

If it makes you angry do something productive towards the solution to this sad, growing problem.

John Hamm 2 years ago

"problem of violent crimes perpetrated by guns" Really?! Guns perpetrate crimes?

Maggie Morrissey 2 years ago

crimanal minded or mentally disturbed gun toting individuals......does that make my point any easier for you to absorb???

yourworstnightmare 2 years ago

Did Virgil Peck receive death threats for saying that hispanics should be shot from helicopters?

jafs 2 years ago

Not that I know of.

Just as I know of no gay people who've beaten straight people to death for being straight.

Satirical 2 years ago

It is sad when someone threatens the life, or wishes for the death of a person, or their offspring.

I suppose hate begats hate.

Satirical 2 years ago


If you are implying I have twisted someone's words, could you please be more specific. I think Prof. Guth's words speak for themselves.

oldvet 2 years ago

Guth is a journalism professor... he KNOWS that words have meanings and he knew exactly the message of his words. If I posted that same wish toward him the LJW would remove my post.

Satirical 2 years ago

So, just so I am clear, those who support no action by KU, would those people also support a KU professor making anti-semitic, racist, bigoted or other hate speech?

To be clear, I am not asking your opinion on what the law does allow, I am asking your opinion on what you think would be appropriate if you were "King or Queen for a day."

Chris Bohling 2 years ago

No, I wouldn't "support" a KU professor making racist hate speech. I don't "support" this professor's tweeting either but I think he has a right to make the tweet, and if he replaced "NRA" with "Muslims" or "Christians" I would still think he has the right to make the tweet, as being a Muslim or a Christian is as much a personal choice as joining the NRA. If he replaced it with "Africans" I would consider it hate speech as being African is not a personal choice.

As to the extent to which hate speech is protected - I'm conflicted about that issue. I'm not really trying to make a point about that, I'm just trying to make a point that there is a clear line we can draw between inflammatory political or religious rhetoric and inflammatory racist rhetoric.

yourworstnightmare 2 years ago

No need to involve "what if" here. What about Virgil Peck suggesting that hispanics should be shot from helicopters. How did you react to that?

Chris Bohling 2 years ago

Of course I don't support shooting at border crossers from helicopters, that's a perversion of justice. But Peck's statement was directed at illegal immigrants specifically, not Hispanics as an ethnicity.

In any case, for Peck it's different because Peck is an elected official, not a hired employee, so in his case free speech protections don't even really apply (in the case of his job) as his employment is determined by the voters and anything he says will be taken into account at the polls whether it's questionable hate speech or not.

I wouldn't vote for him after hearing him say that - I mean I probably wouldn't have voted for him in the first place anyway. If people put together a recall vote I'd probably vote to recall him. But like I said above that ultimately isn't the same thing because he's an elected official.

Satirical 2 years ago


If you directly answer my question, I will answer yours. Since you responded to my post, I think it is only appropriate you go first.

yourworstnightmare 2 years ago

Mine is actually a real question, not a hypothetical "what if". What if monkeys flew out of Brownback's arse?

Satirical 2 years ago


It is a simple yes or no question. Do you support hate speech made by KU professors?

yourworstnightmare 2 years ago

The NRA and supporters certainly behave as if they are a "protected class". It is the new political correctness of the right.

The culture of victimhood once so decried about the left has now found itself squarely in right wing thought. Gun issues are the number one PC victimhood issue.

Satirical 2 years ago


So, it is illegal for someone to make anti-semitic comments? Are you saying the 1st Amendment doesn't allow that? Did Paula Deen break the law?

Are you sure you understand what those protected classes are protected from?

Centerville 2 years ago

If it's OK to wish for the murder of children of people you don't even know, because you don't like a club to which they belong, what kind of treatment do you throw at a student who doesn't share your love of goose-stepping? And what gives you any authority to damn people? Delusions of significance?

MarcoPogo 2 years ago

Delusions of significance? You mean like people flipping out over a Twitter post?

seebarginn 2 years ago

The best way to make it so retaliation against people like Guth--which is actually retaliation against the university, which so many in the state legislature would like to shut down or turn into a training camp for indoctrination in the gospels according to Koch and Palin--is less likely, is for people to get organized and change the personnel who dominate the state legislature. So long as Kansas is run by reactionary swine, there will be more of this.

Satirical 2 years ago

Did everyone else here also wake up this morning and think, "You know what KU needs more of...professors engaging in hate speech so KU's reputation will improve."?

Or was I the only one?

jafs 2 years ago

According to a quick search, legally "hate speech" is not protected speech, and is in fact prohibited.

Satirical 2 years ago


It depends on how you define "hate speech." For example, I think most people would agree that the picketing done by the Westboro Baptist Church is a form of hate speech, but it isn't prohibited according the SCOTUS.

jafs 2 years ago


There's a distinction between loose use of the term, and the legal definition.

In the legal definition, hate speech isn't protected speech. So speech like the Phelps' is by definition not hate speech.

It's just a little technical point.

I would say according to the legal definition, Guth's comment isn't "hate speech" - it's stupid and provocative though, and he should have known better.

guess_again 2 years ago

It is amazing how the Haters are now worried about Hate speech. Satirical is example number one.

Satirical 2 years ago


Do you have evidence to support your claim that I am a "Hater?"

Amy Heeter 2 years ago

Too much drama. Free speech is still free. KU is wrong. The NRA us wrong here. Some are worried about keeping thier guns, but the fools better be watching thier right to speak freely. Watch what you wish for because you just may get it.

Brian Conrad 2 years ago

free speech *FIRE** bomb threat , or any kind of threat is not free speech.. just wish everyone taking up for this guy knew how much of a JERK he is.. he should be fired because of who he is.. then he sit around and tweet his heart out.......

Remember David Guth Associate Professor of Journalism, engaged in unprofessional, threatening, and abusive behavior towards another faculty member in an
*October 8, 2010** incident. His conduct violated acceptable standards for professional ethics, University policies and Article V.2 and Article V.5 of the Faculty Code of Conduct. The University of Kansas censured him for these actions. Professor Guth’s continued pattern of abusive behavior, as evidenced by not only his Twitter post but his enthusiastic support of the post, which urges people to use guns to perpetrate violence on other people and their children, is not excusable. It also shows that Professor Guth is not against violence but sees it as a means to an end as long as it supports his views.

voevoda 2 years ago

Do you have any information about the October 8, 2010, incident, cooonrod? Sometimes the grounds for such findings are extraordinarily paltry, such as calling one's department chair a liar.

HutchSaltHawk 2 years ago

I had some confidence in the Chancellor until her actions, namely bowing to the wishes of a few legislators and the NRA. Time to go back to North Carolina Bernadette. You have handled this very poorly. You should be supporting your staff. Next you will only allow professors to teach what the legislature wants you to teach. Where are we on evolution?

Richard Heckler 2 years ago

Scott Rothschild & Ben Unglesbee,

" death threats from some angered by his tweet." Has the FBI been contacted regarding these death threats?

If these threats had been made against a high government official the FBI would be at someone's door step inquiring as what the hell is going on. This man is as important as any government official.

Is the FBI in the process of investigating? As a citizen I want the FBI contacted about all death threats connected to this matter and investigated. There is no doubt in my mind about the ability of the FBI being able to track down the source of online threats. If this man were the USA President I'm certain the FBI would know.

Scott Rothschild & Ben Unglesbee what can be known at this time regarding FBI involvement?

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 2 years ago

He's suspended for the rest of the semester "for his safety", goes on "sabbatical" for a year, comes back and retires. Problem solved, no law suit and legislators get their wish and don't slash the university's budget. Everybody gets something.

In_God_we_trust 2 years ago

Makes one wonder if this story is made up, in an attempt to generate sympathy for the professor to try to get him out of hot water??? It would have the effect of taking attention off of the professor and converting him into a victim.

Armored_One 2 years ago

My brain hurts after reading all of this.

Have you ever said something, just once, that makes the little guy in the back of your head with the bullhorn start shrieking at you about how totally stupid that was to say?

Has you ever swallowed so much of your pride that you start choking on it and say "Enough is enough!"?

I don't know this Guth fellow anymore than I likely know anyone else posting on here. Even if I did, I doubt I could read his mind and find out what the inner monologue to all of this truly is. I'm reasonably sure that no one else that has ever posted on the LJW forums can say it and be telling the truth.

Oh, and for the record, political lobbyists are NOT an ethnicity or religious group that has been subjected to malicious physical attacks. They have not been sold into physical slavery and no one has tried to ethnically cleanse the world of their taint. Stop saying that they should be afforded the same protections as religions, ethnic groups, so on and so forth.

I'm sick of the talk of guns, truth be told. No one can give me a good reason why an AKC-47 is a hunting rifle, so I give up. The only thing the designers intended that gun to be used to hunt walks on two legs. 30.06 will drop a deer basically every time, unless you are a poor shot. Let's just discuss that gun. What four legged creature does anyone hunt on a regular basis that would require that kind of firepower? If you need 30 shots to kill Bambi, you might want to take up another hobby because you apparently suck at hunting.

Scott Morgan 2 years ago

As with many I tire of gun talk. A couple of facts.

Most if not all guns used for target shooting and hunting have or are being used in the military. From the bird and clay pigeon shooters favorite Remington 870 shotgun (Trench Gun) to the Ruger Ranch Rifle (M1 Carbine) are still big sellers.

From Flintlocks, to the modern Black Guns younger shooters use for target and hunting were all military first. The AK-47 is used mainly for target shooting, and not well I may add. The surge of the M-16 type (Black Rifle) rifle is based on the excellent accuracy and proven winner in long distance target shooting.

Compared to a legal Browning Semi Auto in 30-06 the AK is quite a wimp.

My favorite styles were used in WWI and WW2, with of course restrictions.

Although a Black Gun in .22 Cal. maybe my next purchase.

hedshrinker 2 years ago

You're apparently not so tired of "gun talk' that you will refrain from trying to impress us with your knowledge of said guns, how many you have , what you're pining after....I don't get the fascination with something that is an instrument of death of tens of thousands of people every year in the US. Why are Americans so obsessed with guns that they will put up with the unimaginable high price we pay for the "privilege" of unfettered access? And even tho I do not wish to participate in this "hobby", I suffer the consequences of too many guns in the hands of the wrong people doing irresponsible, irrevocable things. I am SICK of having to hear the daily litany of accidents and suicides and homicides and mass murder and assasinations so arms and munitions manufacturers can make exhorbitant profits off of human misery and people with gun fetishes can be indulged.

Scott Morgan 2 years ago


I should have stated, tired of anti-gun talk. My bet is you never grew up in a hunting/fishing/hiking love the outdoors family.

Not a hunter anymore, but have no problem with those who do. You will find hunters and fisherpeople are some of the most kind and helpful individuals you will ever meet. Yes indeed, I have my eye on a gorgeous Browning .22 lever action rifle.

I'm truly sorry you feel so agitated over a tool. Total honesty, am sorry. In days gone by our ancestors used to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.

Perhaps the anger you feel in regard to guns should be directed towards our liberal interpretation of the horrid phrase brought to us by reformist Jimmy Carter, "are you a danger to yourself or others."

Jimmy by the way is/was a hunter, as Bill Clinton, but it was Jimmy who shut down the American system of dealing with the severe mentally ill.

The horrible shootings in recent history were done by individuals who should have been in an institution. No, not in our time in history, these folks end up in community based mental health programs Mr. Carter put in place.

Oh, the answer most often given by the severe mentally ill to the question, are you a danger to yourself or others, is "of course not."

Armored_One 2 years ago

So out of idle curiosity, would you support a nationwide mental health examination requirement to be added to all firearm possession laws in this nation?

Would you be willing to submit to such an evaluation to continue your legal ownership of the firearms you currently possess?

If you answers are no, I would appreciate some expounding on your reasoning. It doesn't have to be carried out on the thread, though, if you feel uncomfortable answering publically. Feel free to send me a private message and we can discuss it there, if you are willing.

estafel 2 years ago

No law protects me from having my feelings hurt. However, I think Ruth's remarks are telling of someone unfit to administer higher education. Lower set the bar, KU. I think there's another notch are two.

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