Kansas professor placed on administrative leave after controversial tweet

Posted on: 3:39 pm, September 19, 2013, by and , updated on: 05:42pm, September 20, 2013

LAWRENCE, Kan. — A University of Kansas journalism professor has been placed on administrative leave following a controversial comment he posted on Twitter.

Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little on Friday issued a statement regarding Associate Professor of Journalism David Guth.

“In order to prevent disruptions to the learning environment for students, the School of Journalism and the university, I have directed Provost Jeffrey Vitter to place Associate Professor Guth on indefinite administrative leave pending a review of the entire situation. Professor Guth’s classes will be taught by other faculty members,” Gray-Little said in the statement.

Kansas State Senator Greg Smith is calling for Guth’s ouster. He said distancing itself from Guth’s comments is not enough. He said as long as Guth remains at Kansas University, he won’t support any budget proposals or recommendations for the university.

The controversy surrounding Guth started after he turned to Twitter to voice his opinions about gun violence following the Navy Yard shooting that killed 12 and injured eight others. David Guth is a journalism professor who essentially said it should be the children of NRA members who are gunned down next time someone open fires in a public place. David Guth tweetEven under fire, Guth stands by his tweet. In an interview with Campus Reform, Guth said, “Hell no, hell no, I do not regret that tweet. I don’t take it back one bit.”

In an interview with FOX 4′s Mary Pulley, Guth said he will not apologize.

“I don’t apologize for it because I’m not saying in the tweet that I want anybody harmed, and I expanded on it in my blog,” he said. Guth said he was tweeting as a private citizen, not as a professor. “I defend the NRA’s rights first and second amendments and I hope they respect mine,” he said.

The Kansas State Rifle Association has called for Guth’s immediate dismissal.

“The KSRA will do everything possible to see to the removal of this man,” said Kansas State Rifle Association President Patricia Stoneking. “He should be fired immediately. His statements are outrageous!” She went on to say, “Is this who you want teaching your children? I certainly do not want him teaching mine.”

While Guth refuses to apologize for his tweet, he does defend it.

‘If you look at how I structured the statement, I didn’t really bring [the NRA’s) children into it,” he said. “I carefully structured the statement to make it conditional, but apparently it was too much of a nuance for some people.” Guth went on to say, “I don’t want anybody harmed. If somebody’s going to be harmed, maybe it ought to be the people who believe that guns are so precious that it’s worth spilling blood over.”

Stoneking maintains she will fight to have Guth removed from the classroom.

“Having such a terrible vitriolic violence contemptuous attitude is not what we want in the classroom with our kids with their young impressionable minds,” she told FOX 4′s Mary Pulley. “He owes the public at large an apology. I’m receiving hundreds of emails and phone calls from people who are extraordinarily upset and fearful for their children because of this man.”

The University of Kansas issued the following statements in response.
Ann Brill, dean of the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications wrote, “While the First Amendment allows anyone to express an opinion, that privilege is not absolute and must be balanced with the rights of others. That’s vital to civil discourse. Professor Guth’s views do not represent our school and we do not advocate violence directed against any group or individuals.”
Timothy C. Caboni, vice chancellor for public affairs wrote, “The contents of Professor Guth’s tweet were repugnant and in no way represent the views or opinions of the University of Kansas. 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. We expect all members of the university community to engage in civil discourse and not make inflammatory and offensive comments.”

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