KU journalism professor condemned by administrators for tweet about NRA

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, bearingarms.com, 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.”