Guth’s tweet puts him in middle of political firestorm

A tweet by David Guth has propelled the longtime Kansas University journalism professor into a political firestorm.

On Monday, following the shootings that left 13 dead at the Navy Yard in Washington D.C., Guth wrote on Twitter: “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.”

By Friday, Guth was placed on paid administrative leave by KU officials who had sharply criticized his comment. Powerful legislators were calling for his firing, and KU was in the crosshairs of a political battle.

Guth responded to some questions from the Lawrence Journal-World in a short email. But aside from that, he was unavailable for interviews. He said he was not advocating violence and that his comments have been deliberately distorted.

On Twitter, Guth, originally from Maryland, described himself as “An Eastern Shoreman turned professor and historian. A devoted husband, father and dog owner. Most important: an independent thinker.”

Guth has been teaching at KU since 1991, instructing in a wide range of courses including the media and politics, strategic communication, message development, and ethics and the media.

Before coming to KU, he worked in various government positions in North Carolina. In the 1970s and 1980s, he worked for a number of television and radio stations, according to his resume.

He writes a blog called Snapping Turtle that covers daily news events. “I am a content guy. Whatever this blog may lack in flash will be more than made up for in substance,” he wrote.

In his blog, Guth criticizes Democrats and Republicans. In one, he says he feels that President Barack Obama’s handling of the crisis in Syria shows Obama “just isn’t up to the job.” In another, Guth blasts Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, for Merrick’s comments criticizing KU and higher education.

The Navy Yard shootings produced a blog entry calling for gun restrictions.

“The time has passed for niceties and tact. The blood spilled today is on the hands of the National Rifle Association. I don’t care how the NRA tries to spin this. One fact is undeniable: The NRA has championed a gun culture that is shredding our nation’s moral authority like armor-plated bullets ripping through flesh,” he wrote.

In 2010, Guth was censured for engaging “in unprofessional, threatening, and abusive behavior towards another faculty member,” according to KU, although the school did not divulge the details of the incident.

Censure is the third-most severe punishment a faculty member can receive, behind suspension and dismissal, and requires approval by the university chancellor as outlined in the university’s faculty rights code.