Letters to the Editor

Letter: Intimidation tactics

September 24, 2013


To the editor:

The headline of “Professor put on leave; lawmakers call for firing” on Sept. 21 did not reflect the most important part of this story. I am not supporting what Guth said, but I do support free speech. I don’t always like what some people say, but that is the price we pay for this most important freedom.

The real story is the comment made by State Sen. Greg Smith. He stated that unless Guth leaves Kansas University, he will not recommend KU to future students or support any budget proposals regarding KU. So here we have an elected official willing to weaken the educational future of our children and intimidate KU because one of its employees exercised his right of free speech. Smith is trying to use the power of his elected position to influence KU because he doesn’t like what someone said!

Smith is certainly entitled to the same freedoms as Guth, but if a private citizen tried to intimidate an elected official it could be considered illegal. I find Smith’s comments reprehensible and a sad reflection on much of what is currently going on in our political landscape. Many of those in the U.S. Senate and House are doing the same thing by threatening our country with insolvency unless the Affordable Health Care act is repealed. This type of behavior hurts our country more than any of the issues used to falsely justify it.  By the way, shame on KU for taking any action against Guth at all.


snitty 4 years, 9 months ago

An excellent letter. It's time to stand up to the gun-toting bullies and their corrupt right-wing shills in the legislature.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 4 years, 9 months ago

Free speech is one thing, death threats are quite another. Free speech has restraints, you cannot yell fire in a crowded theater.

asixbury 4 years, 9 months ago

He never made death threats. You, like so many others, completely misunderstood his statement.

Cheryl Nelsen 4 years, 9 months ago

Excellent letter! And finally someone is on target with a huge problem--Greg Smith. He is such a self-serving . . . OK, no name calling. Wonder if he realizes that he has done the same thing as Guth? He expressed his opinion, which is allowed by the First Amendment, and he is threatening the University of Kansas by saying he will not support funding for the university unless Guth is fired. In addition to that he threatens to force his own opinion on his students to steer them away from KU. If I were to follow Smith's reasoning about Guth, then I would ask for his removal from the Kansas Senate.

Greg DiVilbiss 4 years, 9 months ago

Though I disagree with Greg Smith on the is stance on Guth...He is not self serving and in fact is an educator himself...He has taken personal tragedy and come out strong on behalf of victims of violent crime. When someone is expressing their desire that someone else be harmed, it is no wonder that he reacted the way he did....Guth's choice of words was amazingly poor, especially as a j-school professor.

Since Kelsey’s murder, Missey and Greg, as well as the entire family have worked tirelessly to advocate on behalf of victim’s rights. The Kelsey Smith Act was passed in Kansas in 2009. This landmark legislation sponsored by Rep. Rob Olson allows law enforcement to quickly utilize cell phone locate information to try and find a person in danger of serious bodily harm or death. Greg advocated and lobbied for broader use of the grand jury in Kansas, supporting HB 2226, sponsored by Rep. Lance Kinzer. This legislation eventually was passed in 2011, sponsored by Greg, carried on the floor of the House by Greg, and signed into law by Gov. Brownback. Additionally, Missey and Greg started the Kelsey Smith Foundation® which provides education in safety awareness and victim’s rights, as well as informing the general public on violent crime issues. Greg conducts training at high schools, colleges, businesses and churches throughout the United States and is frequently asked to speak on the issues of violent crime, missing persons and cell phone issues.

In addition to his duties as Executive Director for the Kelsey Smith Foundation®, he is a high school social studies teacher in the Shawnee Mission School District. His passion as a teacher is to educate our next generation in American history and politics so they can be responsible and productive citizens.

BigDog 4 years, 9 months ago

Mr. Klein ..... You say that you support Professor Guth's right to freedom of speech though you don't agree with it ..... then go after Rep. Smith's statement. Does he not have the right to also express his opinion freely?

tomatogrower 4 years, 9 months ago

He is a teacher too. If he thinks Guth is influencing his students, isn't he? Isn't it hypocritical to call for Guth's firing, but not calling for his own? Personally I don't know that many students who are influenced by a teacher over their college choice. And I don't know too many who are influenced politically. Parents and friends seem to have a lot more influence.

BigDog 4 years, 9 months ago

So Greg Smith should call for his own firing because he said he wouldn't recommend kids go to KU or support funding for them because a professor there openly wishes violence/death upon people's children? When his own child was murdered

Satirical 4 years, 9 months ago

Whether you agree with the hateful comments by Prof Guth or not, this whole situation is making KU look bad.

Sen Greg Smith is fully within his rights to vote according to his conscience, and not fund a University which condones professors engaging publicly in hate speech. The educational future of our children will be weakened by allowing someone who engages in such hateful speech to continue teaching them.

My guess is that the LTE would feel differently if a comment similar to Prof Guth's was made about Muslims after a terrorist attack. Hate speech in any form shouldn't be tolerated at KU.

Catalano 4 years, 9 months ago

Sad to see KU playing politics with the First Amendment. And shouldn't Sen Smith vote as his constituents ask him to, whether or not his conscience concurs?

Satirical 4 years, 9 months ago

Catalano... "Sad to see KU playing politics with the First Amendment."

Agreed. Hate speech directed at the Right of the Left shouldn't be tolerated.

Sen Smith, like President Obama, has no obligation to vote as his constituents ask. If they don't like how he votes, they can choose to not retain him.

jafs 4 years, 9 months ago

You're using the loose, not legal definition of hate speech, I guess.

By the legal definition, Guth's comment wasn't hate speech, which requires being directed towards certain defined groups.

Are you suggesting we widen the legal definition to include this, and many other examples?

Commenting has been disabled for this item.