After threatening a professor with disorderly conduct charges for Firefly and anti-fascism posters on his office door, administrators at the University of Wisconsin at Stout have backed down, reports FIRE. Free speech is an important value, said the administrators in an e-mail.
It is important to note that the posters were not removed to censor the professor in question. Rather, they were removed out of legitimate concern for the violent messages contained in each poster and the belief that the posters ran counter to our primary mission to provide a campus that is welcoming, safe and secure.
In retrospect, however, it is clear that the removal of the posters – although done with the best intent – did have the effect of casting doubt on UW-Stout’s dedication to the principles embodied in the First Amendment, especially the ability to express oneself freely.
UW-Stout will let Professor James Miller display his posters and will review procedures for “handling these kinds of cases.”
Among those protesting the decision was actor Adam Baldwin, one of the stars of Firefly, who’d asked Miller if he knew of other “violent” posters on campus. UW-Stout tolerated numerous “Kill the Bill” posters — a take-off on the movie Kill Bill — as part of a campus-wide protest held in February against Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s budget bill.