University of Kansas journalism associate professor David Guth was placed on “indefinite administrative leave” after a controversy surrounding his tweet about this month’s Navy Yard shootings in Washington, D.C.
Guth tweeted the day of the shootings: “#NavyYardShooting blood is on the hands of the #NRA. Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters. Shame on you. May God damn you.”
In a Sept. 20 news alert published on the university’s website, the university’s chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said the leave was “pending a review.” She is quoted as saying:
“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.”
Guth told the Huffington Post that his leave is “with pay.” Jack Martin from the university’s Office of Public Affairs confirmed this with iMediaEthics by email: “The leave is indefinite pending a review of the entire situation surrounding this issue,” Martin wrote. “The leave is with pay.”
Guth has apparently deleted his Twitter account. It wasn’t live when iMediaEthics looked Sept. 22. iMediaEthics has asked him for confirmation and an explanation.
The university quickly distanced itself from the comments. Journalism school dean Ann Brill 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. That’s vital to civil discourse.” She added that his “views do not represent our school.”
Similarly, the university’s vice chancellor for public affairs Timothy C. Caboni said in a statement that his remarks were “repugnant,” and don’t “represent the views or opinions” of the school.
“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,” Caboni said.
And The National Rifle Association called his comment “hate speech” that is “disgusting and deplorable,” the Associated Press reported. The Kansas State Rifle Association added that it wants him “fired immediately,” Fox 4 reported.
“It is in the best interests and peace of mind of our students that I remove myself from the situation and let cooler heads prevail. I know what I meant. Unfortunately, this is a topic that generates more heat than light.”
The Kansas City Star said that Guth has since declined to comment at the request of the university, and pointed to his blog. On his blog, he wrote Sept. 16 that he is “angry, frustrated, sad and determined.” He repeated his sentiments regarding the NRA:
“The news of the senseless slaughter today at Washington’s Navy Yard has me again questioning how we can let this madness continue. Frankly, I don’t care if I am criticized for being too quick to judge, too harsh in my criticism or too strident in my tone. 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. “