Anthropology Department opposes leave for Guth

The Anthropology Department at Kansas University issued a statement on Friday criticizing school officials for putting professor David W. Guth on leave after he posted a controversial tweet following the Navy Yard shooting in Washington, D.C., last week that left 13 dead.

Chairwoman Jane Gibson and 14 more professors signed the statement that said: “Administrative leave imposed by the University of Kansas violates Dr. Guth’s rights and has a chilling effect on academic freedom.”

The statement went on: “While we take no position on the content of what he said, David Guth spoke as a private person and exercised his right to free speech that is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Faculty Code of Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct.”

Guth, a journalism professor, posted a message on the social media site Twitter after the Navy Yard shooting saying that “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.”

Many 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.

Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little has said that Guth was placed on indefinite leave last week 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.”

Some legislative leaders have called on Gray-Little to fire Guth and some have said if he isn’t fired then they will not support funding of KU.

Earlier, most of the tenured faculty of the KU school of journalism school also issued a statement supporting Guth’s First Amendment rights to free speech, even though they said they disagreed with his comment.