A professor’s posters that call for fighting fair and warn of fascism aren’t protected by free-speech rights, claims the chancellor of University of Wisconsin-Stout (UWS).
James Miller, a theater professor, started with a poster featuring a line from the TV series Firefly. The sci-fi space pilot played by Nathan Fillion says: “You don’t know me, son, so let me explain this to you once: If I ever kill you, you’ll be awake. You’ll be facing me. And you’ll be armed.”
A literate person would read the message: I fight fair.
Campus police removed the poster because it “refer[s] to killing” and “can be interpreted as a threat,” reports Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). When Miller asked for respect for his First Amendment rights, the police chief responded: “If you choose to repost the article or something similar to it, it will be removed and you could face charges of disorderly conduct.”
Miller put up a “Warning: Fascism” poster. “Fascism can cause blunt head trauma and/or violent death. Keep fascism away from children and pets.”
A literate person would read the message: Fascism is bad because it leads to violence, which is bad.
Campus police removed it because it “depicts violence and mentions violence and death” and could “be constituted as a threat,” according to the university’s “threat assessment team.”
Despite FIRE’s publicity campaign, which lead to a wave of ridicule, Chancellor Charles Sorensen, Provost Julie Furst-Bowe and Vice Chancellor Ed Nieskes defended censorship in an e-mail to faculty and staff, claiming the posters “constituted an implied threat of violence.”
This was not an act of censorship. This was an act of sensitivity to and care for our shared community, and was intended to maintain a campus climate in which everyone can feel welcome, safe and secure.
Everyone can feel welcome, safe and secure except for people who like to express their opinions.
The university administration’s idiocy boggles the mind.