University of Kansas Professor David Guth Suspended For Repulsive Anti-NRA Tweet

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203 Responses

  1. Brian says:

    Could KU argue that Guth's statements make him less able to perform the job for which he is paid (because students will avoid him or not take him seriously) and then ground the firing in failure to do what we pay you to do at the level we expect rather than the content of your speech?

    If so, could that determination be prospective or would it require KU be able to point to a semester of low attendance/poor reviews?

  2. Shane says:

    Joke is on this fucktard, he works in a gun free zone.

  3. Ken White says:

    @Brian: They'd have to show a factual basis. If they can do it based on speculation that it might happen in the future, it's the exception that swallows the rule.

    If nobody ever wants to take a professor's class, I don't have a problem with the school not retaining the prof.

  4. pillsy says:

    One thing I've noticed about free speech advocacy is that it seems to require one to spend a lot of time saying, "Yes, this guy is a real dickhead, but…."

  5. xbradtc says:

    I thought it was in crude taste, but by no means was it worthy of being placed on leave.

    Worse, my understanding is that his admin leave continues pay and benefits. Which, in my day we called that a vacation.

  6. Greg Sloop says:

    I'll get in early and say that I don't believe he's really wishing their sons and daughters would die – I'd view what he's doing as a rhetorical device: If someone *ought* to die [and I'd guess he believes no-one ought to die- but if someone must] then it really ought to be the ones who relentlessly promote guns and oppose any limits on them – even what the author believes are sane limits. [But clearly I infer a lot in my read of that tweet too.]

    So, I guess I'd argue the quick shift to paint this speech as endorsing or threatening some particular group of people is facile.

    A bigger point, IMO is this: Tweets are tiny snippets of thought.
    TINY!

    Trying to express nuance or thought experiments is incredibly hard – and you do so at your peril.

    If there's one take away [or example] – read Glenn Greenwald – in very long posts while explicitly taking away multiple points his detractors will *claim* he's making – and *explicitly* making clear he's NOT making those very points – even doing all that? …His detractors still claim he's arguing the very points he explicitly says and shows he isn't.

    If, in *long form*, people will take what you've said and twist it that badly imagine what people will do with a tweet.

  7. Chris says:

    Ken,
    I understand your stance WRT a curb on government power to fire people, and I did not adequately understand it the first time this kind of thing came up. I am still struck with the idea of it being "special rights" for government employees. And my take on it remains, working for the government is something that deserves social consequences in itself. And if someone is dumb enough to take the king's shilling they necessarily should lose some protections that productive, income generating, non leaches have.

  8. Shane says:

    Two things:
    1) Could it be construed that this professor speaks for the university, for the state of Kansas, for the United States. What does it mean when an employee at any level of the government states that they don't agree with the constitution of the U.S. or their state constitution? Are they speaking on behalf of the government that they allegedly represent?

    2)People will always the right to free association whether it is granted them or not. The student body boycotting the class seemed to be a good way to get this guys attention.

  9. Ken White says:

    @Chris:

    I fully understand the need for vigilance about special rights for government employees. For instance, I write a lot about the privilege cops have to murder people (and their dogs) with impunity, or the privilege of prosecutors to break the law and lie to courts with impunity.

    However, we're faced with a balance between (1) the state using its employment power to limit public employment to people who accept and advocate its ideas, with the inevitable substantial increase in state power, vs. (2) state employees getting a privilege to be a douche in a way that private employees don't.

    I think that balances towards tolerating (2). The remedy may be a much more vigorous use of more-speech against government employees.

  10. Shane says:

    @Chris

    If, in *long form*, people will take what you've said and twist it that badly imagine what people will do with a tweet.

    And he didn't know what was going to happen if he *short formed* this?

  11. Renee Marie Jones says:

    That tweet is nothing compared to the Tea Party hatred and anger that I have to listen to every day at work.

  12. Xenocles says:

    @Ken-

    If I interpret my training correctly, an entering argument for sexual harassment complaints is that if one person says a particular conduct is sexual harassment, it's enough to be considered sexual harassment. Couldn't the university take a similar stance with speech like this? Why shouldn't a single complaint about things like this tweet, or the opening day speech of that other professor, be grounds for discipline on the basis of creating a hostile work environment or disrupting school operations.

    I understand the implications of such a doctrine, but I don't think it's right to appeal to consequences in arguments like this. "We've" already decided to punish certain classes of speech in the workplace. What's the principle that protects unprofessional, off-topic political rants but not catcalling?

  13. Jacob Henner says:

    In your footnote, you said something that struck me:

    "However, I support "more speech" in the form of condemnation, ridicule, and boycotts of either employer"

    ("Either employer meaning both Pax's, and presumably, KU)

    This strikes me as somewhat unfair – a boycott on KU, when they can't, and shouldn't, have the power to discipline the professor? That would be a boycott to protest something they have no control over (unless it would be to simply punish the university for a poor hiring decision…?)

  14. pillsy says:

    @Greg Sloop:

    Also, if you're going to get angry and lash out, don't for the love of Dobbs do it in a way that will be broadcast to whole world.

  15. Chris says:

    I know you do Ken. My point was more towards society should take such a dim view of government employment that no one would do it. No employees, no government.

  16. Ryan says:

    @Chris

    And if someone is dumb enough to take the king's shilling they necessarily should lose some protections that productive, income generating, non leaches have.

    I take it you don't drive. Or use transit. You must generate your own power. I assume you pump your own water to your house, and your sewer uses a septic system. I guess you are also a member of your local volunteer fire brigade? Ah, yes, and you always have a transporter or handy wizard to whisk you to a private hospital if you need emergency medical care (seeing as you don't use public roads or have EMS services).

    It's all well and good to point out that some government-paid positions are excessively staffed or compensated, but to imply that all government positions are staff by unproductive leeches is pretty much beyond reasonable hyperbole.

    Of course, it is exactly that line of thinking which permits government-as-entity to punish government-employees-as-persons for their speech, despite the fact that it is expressly forbidden under various constitutional documents in a number of countries. You may think you're cheering the anti-government side here, but if you support allowing governments to fire employees, particularly employees at universities, for their ideas and expressions (when they do not constitute harm or liability) then you are very much on side with supporting the illegal actions that many governments, particularly the US government in this example, are known to take.

  17. Grandy says:

    @Renee Marie Jones, whenever a discussion like this comes up you always seem eager to put in a word that isn't necessarily relevant to the immediate discussion, but which is designed to kick off a discussion that intersects.

    You might consider starting your own blog, where the topics are always whatever you want them to be, and not the creation of factors beyond your control.

  18. Chris says:

    @ryan,
    1.Do you genuinely think all roads in the history of time were always government made? Do you not understand firstly that governments don't build roads they hire companies via bidding to build them?
    2.You might find this shocking (ha!) but my electricity is actually made by a publicly traded company and not the state.
    Whenever statists like yourself immediately fall back on roads I know I've won. I'll grant you roads (and I don't think that's necessarily true, but I'm willing to say it is) if you grant me everything past roads as outside of the scope of governance.

  19. Frank says:

    @Ken

    Please tell me that I am misconstruing you…

    On one hand you say that that it is OK for someone that is employed in the private sector to be terminated because of something that they say on their own time in their own forum, but it is *NOT* OK for someone that is employed by the government to be terminated for the same offense.

    That's what it sounds like you are saying. And *IF* you are saying that, *WHY* are you saying that? You're affording protections to government workers that private employees don't have.

  20. Ken White says:

    If I interpret my training correctly, an entering argument for sexual harassment complaints is that if one person says a particular conduct is sexual harassment, it's enough to be considered sexual harassment.

    Were you trained by talk radio? No.

    Why shouldn't a single complaint about things like this tweet, or the opening day speech of that other professor, be grounds for discipline on the basis of creating a hostile work environment or disrupting school operations.

    Because that's not the law. It's premised on a Limbaughesque caricature of harassment law.

  21. Ken White says:

    @Frank:

    A substantial part of the post is about that, and it's not clear to me if you read it.

  22. Mike says:

    I honestly feel that, with the possible exception of PAX opening up his company to legal trouble… we shouldn't particularly rejoice at or encourage people to be fired over what they say in a non-official context. Period. I say all sorts of things online that are very libertarian… I don't think I have more of a right to be a libertarian than PAX or Jones have to be an asshole.

    That said… at what point *should* a public university/government office be allowed to fire someone for public unbecoming of their position? It's a real problem with the extension of government power into so many employer roles…

  23. Lizard says:

    re:Footnote 1. What odds to you want that someone will raise a point you addressed there within the first 50 comments?

    (Though I do have a question: If the University of Kansas pretty much *can't* fire Guth, due to civil liability as you note, then, what does boycotting them do? Boycotts usually are intended to force a change in policy. What policy change could the university perform that would satisfy boycotters and the law? I do consider that you can change how Guth is treated by entities OTHER than his employer, of course — see below.)

    Otherwise, meh… if being a left wing asshole disqualified you from being a college professor, there'd be even MORE pompous gits with useless degrees[1] getting my order wrong at Starbucks, if I went to Starbucks, which I don't, because their coffee tastes like battery acid that's been passed through a diseased orangutang's bladder.

    So, yeah. He should not be being fired or "disciplined" or whatever. The principles that say Modesto Junior College does not have the same control over speech as the local Wal-Mart also say that a public college has less moral and legal authority to fire a professor for his speech than a private company does. Now, if publishers decide not to publish his books, or academic journals don't accept his papers, or invitations to speak at events suddenly vanish… that's all fine. Those are the social consequences for someone in his position. Those who believe he should suffer such consequences should direct their protests at those who can inflict them without entangling the government.

    Looking forward to those who favor "hate speech" restrictions explaining why "this isn't hate speech".

    Looking forward to those decrying "mob rule" and "shaming" on general principle explaining why it's fine here. Bonus doublethink points for anyone who said "No one should ever be fired for their speech" showing up to say "Except this guy!"

    Popcorn ready!

    [1]Says the English Writing major. I can mock liberal arts graduates freely, without being declared anti-intellectual, because I am one. In-group privilege FTW!

  24. Lizard says:

    One thing I've noticed about free speech advocacy is that it seems to require one to spend a lot of time saying, "Yes, this guy is a real dickhead, but…."

    Yes, it does. Speech which is broadly popular doesn't need defenders.

    Also @Renee: I'd like to say that, as a fellow member of the non-sequiter society of America, red octopi swim through frozen turnips. Thank you.

  25. Mike says:

    ^^^ the above should read "for conduct unbecoming of their position"

  26. pillsy says:

    Speech which is broadly popular doesn't need defenders.

    The Modesto Junior College story was almost a refreshing change, because the kid was getting dinged for handing out something that was completely unobjectionable.

  27. Ryan says:

    @Chris

    In a number of places, all public infrastructure is built by public employees. In other places – such as your apparent area – that is not the case.

    The subpoint is that there are a great many services that are provided by government employees who are quite productive and contributing members of society – services which governments (be it in their historical or modern forms) are actually better at reliably providing.

    For every claim of "the government hasn't always done this" there is a counter claim of "there is a reason why people want the government to start."

    The greater point is that you, through your willing marginalization of government employees, appear to have/be tacitly supported/ing government thuggery, which is why I'm guessing you have such disdain for public-sector employees in the first place. The irony is not lost.

  28. ketchup says:

    Guth was not "suspended". He was "placed on administrative leave". The distinction is important, because suspended usually means without pay, while administrative leave usually means with pay. It seems to me that KU is saying "we are going to take this guy out of the classroom while we investigate and let the situation calm down". It is quite possible that they will conclude he did not do anything worthy of suspension, firing, etc. I think Ken is jumping the gun here (no pun intended). Guth has NOT been suspended yet, and may never be.

  29. Chris says:

    @Ryan,
    No I disagree. Government gets involved by creating a frenzy/hysteria with regards to a usually small scale brief failing of the free market that they likely created themselves via onerous regulation, and then inserts themselves (always wrongly) as the only entity that can do it.

    As to your second point, perhaps I'm being obtuse but I don't even understand what you are saying, let alone recognize any irony.

  30. Kinsey says:

    Someone, somewhere, on the Interwebz recently, while ruminating on the Pax dustup, pointed out something I'd never really considered — some people don't seem to understand that Twitter is the real world. Maybe because tweets are so short, so instant, and so (seemingly, but not really) ephemeral. I think people tweet stupid shit in the heat of the moment that they'd never post to FB or their blogs, and then they're flabbergasted by the immediate reaction. There are a lot of real people on Twitter, and when you tweet about the grisly fate deserved by your ideological adversaries, or worse yet, their innocent children, that tweet will go around the world before your better judgment has time to put its boots on.

    No, he shouldn't get fired, but I'm certain he won't and in the meantime I hope he's regretting sending that tweet – though I bet he doesn't regret the thought and probably considers himself a virtuous and peaceful man.

    Vile, smug, hateful, punchable fucking moron.

  31. RKN says:

    Hard for me to understand how the University officials, or anybody else really, could construe a statement — "You cannot possibly understand X until X happens to you personally, so let it be that it does" — as advocating violence against others.

  32. Ken White says:

    Good point, ketchup.

  33. Lizard says:

    The Modesto Junior College story was almost a refreshing change, because the kid was getting dinged for handing out something that was completely unobjectionable.

    Which was nicely tactical. If the college showed any discretion based on what he wanted to distribute, their policy would be shown to be biased and arbitrary. Since they chose not to show such discretion, he can say "Look! They're banning the CONSTITUTION!" and get more media attention than if, say, he'd been trying to pass out NAMBLA[1] fliers. Well, more media attention directed at the college for banning it, rather than at him for passing them out.

    [1]North American Marlon Brando Lookalike Association. What were YOU thinking it stood for?

  34. QHS says:

    This being Kansas, it's a good bet there are a number of students who are NRA members or have parents who are NRA members.

  35. JT says:

    But think of the [college-aged] children!

  36. Shane says:

    @Lizard

    … battery acid that's been passed through a diseased orangutang's bladder.

    Classy :)

  37. Astra says:

    Given the Associate Professor title, I assume he is tenured, so he will not be fired or suspended without pay without a whole lot of effort. I suppose they could suspend his pay if they say he is not meeting his teaching duties, but since that was imposed by them, they won't get far.

  38. Xenocles says:

    @Ken-

    That strikes me as unnecessarily dismissive unless you've been sitting in on my annual training. I'll defer to you on the law but you don't have to be a dick about it.

  39. Steve says:

    I'm still amazed how few people notices that this perp, in all likelyhood all school shooters, including Lennon's, Pres Reagan's, shooter and even Hitler himself, were on anti depressants or some versions thereof.

    We all notices the symptoms of people getting shot but very little is said about why they shoot people. When you start a bit of research you discover, as in this case, that the shooter was on anti depressants.

    Some are noticing the "coincidents" but far too many concentrate on the guns used. Which really does not matter as anything that can be used would be used when you set out to do others in. Symptoms are just that, you want to go after the why behind it. Yeah, most simply have a knee yerk reaction to these things.

    The anti depressants also happens to be very dangerous, even if you don't turn homocidal, to your own health. As is very easily observable in people taking it. They change to the worse very quickly.

  40. Shane says:

    What if it is true and what you say lives on in the interwebz forever, and this guy gets a perpetual boycott. Now the University of Kansas has an obviously useless teacher with tenure that has no students … hmmmm wonder how they would deal with that?

  41. Ken White says:

    @Xenocles:

    I apologize. It's just that it so closely mirrors the talk-radio-level "SEXUAL HARASSMENT IS ANYTHING TEH WIMMENS SAYS THESE DAYS" narrative. I have to spend a substantial portion of any sexual harassment training deprogramming people from the crap they hear from the media. If that is the training you are getting, you are being badly served by someone misstating the law.

  42. Xenocles says:

    @Ken-

    No harm done. I appreciate correction. But I think we're avoiding the broader issue – if a government employee complained about a sex joke the government employer would take action, right? Not necessarily firing, but they would do something even if that just means evaluating it. So I guess my question is that if speech of a sexual nature that creates a hostile work environment can be prohibited (and I think I have that right), what's the real difference between that and political speech that creates a hostile work environment? Or are both already subject to discipline?

  43. Lizard says:

    @Steve: And isn't it amazing how many people who are undergoing chemotherapy die of cancer?

    Why, you'd almost come to some totally wacko conclusion like "People who suffer from an illness take medication for it, but this medication doesn't always work, and the illness still affects them."

    Yeah, that's nutty. Chemotherapy causes cancer, and anti-psychotics cause psychosis. That's the *sane* conclusion[1]. I mean, you never see a mass media story about how this guy who was on anti-psychotic or anti-depressant medications *didn't* kill anyone. That proves it! (I'm not sure what it proves, but dammit, it proves something!)

    [1]For the spectacularly dim among you, that was "sarcasm".

  44. ChicagoTom says:

    While I thin this professor's comments are in completely poor taste and not well expressed…

    Is there something inherently wrong with hoping that the advocates and their loved ones of a certain position face the consequences of the positions they advocate?

    If I believe that socialized medicine is evil and can only provide crappy rationed care that will lead to unnecessary deaths, am I not allowed to hope that the proponents of socialized medicine(or their loved ones) get sick and have to face substandard care or death at the hands of government controlled health-care?

    Because other than the phrasing, his whole message seemed to be — people who advocate X should reap what they sow.

    I don't see him as advocating violence, rather than hoping that when gun violence does occur, hopefully the victims are gun advocates.

    I guess I don't see why this is so controversial — is it because he specifically mentioned their children rather than the gun advocates themselves?

  45. Lizard says:

    @Shane: I always aspire to raise the tenor of the conversation. Possibly the soprano, too. Not sure.

  46. Sinij says:

    Very interesting to see how the tone of this conservative (and I assume pro-gun) site's comment section changes when speech in question is something they disagree with.

    Statements from KU that can be summed to "Guth is an because REASONS" is fine. Any kind of administrative action is not. No matter what Guth was advocating, as long it is speech, with no limitation to what said whatsoever.

  47. Uppercase Matt says:

    I find it interesting that KU characterizes it as "advocating violence." I think that whatever they do here will also set a precedent for when they want to suspend or expel a student for "advocating violence."

  48. ChicagoTom says:

    Yeah, that's nutty. Chemotherapy causes cancer, and anti-psychotics cause psychosis. That's the *sane* conclusion[1]

    Studies have shown that anti-depressants increase the risk of suicidal behavior in young adults who take them.

    Does that prove anything?

    Not necessarily, but it isn't asinine to examine what affect the drugs a shooter was on (if they were on any) had on their behavior and their decisions. Also if you see a correlation between mass murderers and the meds they are on, it would probably be a good idea to study those meds a bit more to see if there was a cause and effect.

  49. John Kindley says:

    Man, I've never thought about it like this before, but the extra special protection public school teachers get for their speech relative to private employees makes me think (1) I should have been a public school teacher and (2) this is a good argument against public schools.

  50. ChicagoTom says:

    I find it interesting that KU characterizes it as "advocating violence." I think that whatever they do here will also set a precedent for when they want to suspend or expel a student for "advocating violence."

    I think this is a very good point. People throw around 'advocating violence' quite liberally and use that as a rationale to punish others. Personally I think the bar for what is advocating violence should be much higher

  51. Sinij says:

    @Lizzard
    >>>If the University of Kansas pretty much *can't* fire Guth, due to civil liability as you note, then, what does boycotting them do? Boycotts usually are intended to force a change in policy. What policy change could the university perform that would satisfy boycotters and the law?

    None, and that is the point. Boycotting KU in this case is 100% pointless.

    We should also find a way to bring PRIVATE corporations on the same level instead of decrying that government employees have a privilege.

    _Everyone_ should have a right to be a fucktard, as long as it is limited to speech.

  52. ChicagoTom says:

    but the extra special protection public school teachers get for their speech relative to private employees makes me think (1) I should have been a public school teacher and (2) this is a good argument against public schools.

    I suppose it needs to be said one more time for the people that seem to be willfully not getting it.

    Public school teachers (or any public employees) don't get special privileges. Their employer is limited by the first amendment from punishing speech it doesn't like.

    Look at the case where a sheriff's deputy was fired for liking the page of the guy running for sheriff against the current sheriff. The deputy isn't getting a special privilege. The sheriff (government employer) is the one who has less privileges to hire and fire than a private employer because they are a government agent and can't punish people (any people — even their employees) for their political beliefs

  53. ChicagoTom says:

    Wanted to add to my above post. The Federal appeals court ruled the firing was improper and that LIKING on FB was protected speech. The equivalent of putting up a lawn sign.

  54. John Kindley says:

    ChicagoTom: Um, I get that, dooood

  55. Sinij says:

    >>>this is a good argument against public schools.

    I don't understand "crab in the bucket" school of thought, fairness is not a good justification to drag everyone down into misery. In case of speech, when one's right to free speech is not based on infringing on others, having some people with it is always better than having none.

  56. ChicagoTom says:

    but the extra special protection public school teachers get for their speech relative to private employees makes me think

    I don't think you get it. because what you posted is pretty much indicates you don't get it. Public school teachers don't have extra special protection at all.

  57. ChicagoTom says:

    Blockquote Fail! Sorry

  58. Zazlo says:

    @ Xenocles

    I think a good part of it is that being female is not a choice; having political opinions is. In general, we've decided that there are certain things, like one's sex or skin color, are not things one chooses, so are more protected than, say, a viewpoint, which is chosen, as opposed to being born with.

    There's many more details, but it's a point worth remembering.

    @ Lizard

    There's a Non-Sequitur Society of America? How do I join up? I'm sorry, let me re-phrase that: how do I antler nullify the dingo king?

  59. JTM says:

    Flood of KU professors tweeting offensive things so they'll be free from teaching duties coming in 3…2…

  60. AlphaCentauri says:

    O/T:

    ChicagoTom — the highest risk period for suicide in depression is the earliest stages of improvement. People's ability to take initiative is improving, but they're still wishing they were dead. It's hard to design a study that really determines the effect of SSRI's because in real-life, they're otherwise so safe that their managed care psychiatrists write them a script for a month's worth instead of giving them a week at a time and seeing them more frequently. The older antidepressants are excellent poisons when used in overdose, so they are only dispensed in small quantities to severely depressed people.

    Back on topic: His tweet was repugnant. But if your kid is killed in crossfire because the gun laws make it impossible to track sales of guns to straw buyers, someone saying, "I think things should stay exactly the way they are," sounds like advocating violence, too.

  61. Craig Mazin says:

    Not sure I follow you on this one, Ken. The professor's freedom of speech is secure. He wasn't arrested, detained, fined, imprisoned or otherwise subject to the law because of what he said.

    Nor was he deprived of any *right*, as far as I can tell.

    Unless "right to be employed by the government" is a new thing.

    He's an employee of the state. Why can't he be fired for publicly saying things that the employer doesn't like? Note: I'm not saying he *should* be. I saying he *can* be.

    Happy to be wrong, but I'm confused on this one.

  62. Xenocles says:

    @Zazlo-

    But "female" is not a protected class under those laws. A man could object to his boss's sex joke and it would carry as much weight as a woman's complaint. (And you could argue that feeling harassed by anything is a choice. Being a member of a target group certainly makes it more likely that you will be, but it need not guarantee it.)

  63. Cafe Con Miel says:

    If the KU student chapter of the NRA pickets outside the journalism building, preventing gluth from effectively teaching, could/should the administration punish them?

  64. Craig Mazin says:

    I should add that I read the Pickering-Connick post you wrote… I think the dude fails it. Consider that the examples you list seem to revolve around employees criticizing the employer or their policies. That seems like speech worthy of protection from retaliation by an employer.

    Mouthing off crazycrap on Twitter about killing kids because your panties are all bunched up? Not so much. If P-C doesn't cover this, I'm curious what it *does* cover that isn't also covered by criminal law, e.g. direct threats to individuals.

  65. ZarroTsu says:

    We expect all members of the university community to engage in civil discourse and not make inflammatory and offensive comments.

    When did "See me after class" suddenly become comparable to a hate crime? Would the student reading it not feel worry? Is it not within their power to hyperbole their worry into feeling offended?

  66. Anonymouse says:

    @ Craig

    He was subject to adverse action because of his speech by a governmental body. I would be pretty cheesed if a governmental body pressured my private employer into taking adverse action against me for my speech. In this case, the middle man is removed.

  67. Kinsey says:

    is it because he specifically mentioned their children rather than the gun advocates themselves?

    In my case, yes, that's what what made me want to reach through my computer screen and knock the douchewad's teeth out. Who the fuck goes there?

    I am not a member of the NRA and don't plan to join–but I'm a Texan and my husband, a competitive shooter and lapsed hunter, owns a shit ton of guns, and when cocksockers like this guy — or Piers Morgan or Bill Maher or any other sanctimonious twit enamoured of the scent of their own intestines — starts crowing about how the NRA's collective hands are sticky with the blood of innocents, and all NRA members should be locked up or shot or see their children locked up or shot, I have an immediate visceral reaction stemming from years of listening to idiots in the media and in other states who don't know shit about guns and frequently have never even been in the home of anyone who's ever touched a gun, yet think they know enough about guns and gun owners to pass laws restricting the rights of law abiding citizens. Makes me want to whip out my checkbook and make a donation to the NRA in the name of whatever asshat set me off that time.

  68. ChicagoTom says:

    the highest risk period for suicide in depression is the earliest stages of improvement. People's ability to take initiative is improving, but they're still wishing they were dead. It's hard to design a study that really determines the effect of SSRI's because in real-life, they're otherwise so safe that their managed care psychiatrists write them a script for a month's worth instead of giving them a week at a time and seeing them more frequently. The older antidepressants are excellent poisons when used in overdose, so they are only dispensed in small quantities to severely depressed people

    AlphaCentauri, I found this comment very interesting and informative. Thanks for sharing!

  69. ChicagoTom says:

    Who the fuck goes there?

    People who are sick and tired of gun fetishists and their lobbies preventing even common sense gun regulations that put society at risk??

    I don't think that it's unfair to hold the position that everyone whose reaction to senseless gun violence is to advocate for more guns, easier access to guns and arming everyone so that every member of society is a potential vigilante is partially complicit in the gun violence that occurs.

    You may not agree with it, but it is not an absurd or invalid belief

  70. James says:

    Regarding sexual harassment in education, the faculty at the school where I work were recently trained on the new standard from the DOE:

    "In provisions that it says will "serve as a blueprint for colleges and universities throughout the country," the Education Department declares that "sexual harassment should be more broadly defined as 'any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature,'" including "verbal conduct," even if it is not "objectively offensive" or severe enough to create a hostile environment."

    http://chronicle.com/article/Dark-Cloud-Over-Academic/139463/

  71. Anthea Brainhooke says:

    I find it interesting that when a publicly-funded university disciplines an employee in America everybody's all "BUT GOVERNMENT!"

    When a publicly-funded university in New Zealand (which is all eight of them) disciplines an employee everybody's all "But hold on, let's take a look at the merits of the case… "

  72. Alec says:

    Well that was a quick turnaround. I'm a KU grad and still live in the area. Just this morning it was being reported on the radio that KU was going to do nothing, since the comment was on his personal social media account. "Right on" I thought, and even debated shooting off an email to Popehat showing a university doing it right.

    Apparently they bowed to public pressure in the several hours since then.

    Actually this makes me think it is entirely an act to get the mob to stop yelling about the guy, he'll probably quietly return to teaching in a couple weeks with no more mention of it.

  73. Tarrou says:

    IIRC (and I might not), didn't Ken opine that Pax Dickson (sp?) was rightly fired because his opinion that women were extraordinarily rare in his field was cause to think he would discriminate in his hiring practices?

    By that logic, wouldn't this sort of vitriol be cause to think the professor might discriminate against students who might be NRA members?

    It seems to me that logical consistency would demand that either people keep their jobs despite their opinions, or any damaging opinion is grounds for firing. Government employees should have less protection for political speech than private citizens, not more.

  74. Matthew Cline says:

    @Lizard:

    Yes, it does. Speech which is broadly popular doesn't need defenders.

    The commenter's point was that if you defend someone's First Amendment rights, people will assume you agree with the content of the person's speech unless you put up a disclaimer.

  75. Ken White says:

    IIRC (and I might not), didn't Ken opine that Pax Dickson (sp?) was rightly fired because his opinion that women were extraordinarily rare in his field was cause to think he would discriminate in his hiring practices?

    You don't recall incorrectly. You're just a dishonest asshole who keeps coming back after being told he's unwelcome.

  76. Ken White says:

    Not sure I follow you on this one, Ken. The professor's freedom of speech is secure. He wasn't arrested, detained, fined, imprisoned or otherwise subject to the law because of what he said.

    @Craig:

    It's fairly well established, in multiple contexts, that a government firing a government employee is state action for constitutional purposes. So the government firing an employee for speech raises First Amendment issues, though not necessarily in the same way as the government jailing someone for it. You might disagree with it, but it is very clearly the law.

    (FWIW another related example: the police department telling a cop "answer these questions or you are fired" is compelled speech for Fifth Amendment purposes. Watch on a post discussing that next week.)

    The government can impose unconstitutional burdens on speech by actions other than prosecuting or jailing you. For instance, if your city passes a law saying "we won't give building permits for house modifications to libertarians," that's a First Amendment violation even though they aren't jailing anyone.

    Since you seem surprised by this result, let's put it another way. Do you think a state employer should be able to say "we will not hire anyone who has ever advocated for the positions held by the NRA"?

    Nor was he deprived of any *right*, as far as I can tell.

    Unless "right to be employed by the government" is a new thing.

    The right is not the right to be employed by the government — it's closer to a right to be free of the government handing out benefits in a way that discriminates against protected speech. Example: you have no constitutional right to government subsidy, but the government can't withhold subsidies on the basis of protected speech. The government can't say "we're going to restrict Pell Grants to registered Democrats."

    I should add that I read the Pickering-Connick post you wrote… I think the dude fails it. Consider that the examples you list seem to revolve around employees criticizing the employer or their policies. That seems like speech worthy of protection from retaliation by an employer.

    There's no such limiting principle. The test protects speech in general. For instance it protects a college professor from being fired for opposing bombing Syria.

    Mouthing off crazycrap on Twitter about killing kids because your panties are all bunched up? Not so much. If P-C doesn't cover this, I'm curious what it *does* cover that isn't also covered by criminal law, e.g. direct threats to individuals.

    The guy's crazy Tweet isn't anywhere near a true threat. True threats would not be protected whether he's a state employee or not.

  77. tom says:

    Joke is on this fucktard, he works in a gun free zone.

    No he doesn't. That would imply that no guns are allowed or exist in the zone. If a swat team shows up to arrest students at a protest, you bet your ass they'll have guns. He works in a 2nd amendment free zone, where only government thugs are allowed guns.

  78. bubba cool says:

    I'm in the executive branch and the Hatch Act for tamps down the expressions of fellow employees at the office. Liberals like me were hired by conservatives, and conservative religious people worked well with my lesbian biker friend. Working for the government means I have the moral responsibility to represent everyone regardless of political viewpoint, and I and most of my colleagues feel the same way.

  79. Marconi Darwin says:

    @Tarrou

    Government employees should have less protection for political speech than private citizens, not more.

    Why should anyone have less protection?

  80. Dan Weber says:

    As someone who was kinda-vaguely in Pax's camp (I was okay with his specific firing but disliked many of the arguments for it because they didn't pertain to his specifics), I totally agree with Ken here. If there's any reason to discipline this guy, the school hasn't demonstrated one yet.

  81. Steven H. says:

    @ChicagoTom:

    "I don't see him as advocating violence, rather than hoping that when gun violence does occur, hopefully the victims are gun advocates. "

    Alas, there's a reason why most of these sorts of things happen in places where carrying a gun is already banned (or severely limited).

    Note that bringing a gun into the Washington Navy Yard is a crime, in and of itself. Ditto most schools.

    All of which is irrelevant to the question at hand: should this guy have been suspended for making his comment? No.

    On the other hand, he wasn't suspended, he was just given a paid vacation.

  82. Xenocles says:

    "Why should anyone have less protection?"

    One argument goes (and while I'm sympathetic to it, I'm not sure I fully agree) that government employees need to appear totally clean of any conflicts of interest or cronyism. We are employed for the good of every single citizen, not just members of whatever party or associations we belong to. There is perhaps a sacred trust that the government, extracting some of the citizenry's money at gunpoint, will use it for the citizens' benefit. Civil servants must therefore avoid leaving any impression that this is not the case. Professors, in their role as instructors, are no different. They are employed for their students' benefit and must refrain from leaving the impression that they will not treat the students fairly.

    (Does this one tweet require attention? I don't know. But it's the sort of thing that, if repeated frequently, could endanger that public trust.)

    In fact, I'm not even sure I would call this idea "less protection" than private employees enjoy. Employers manage their workplaces to promote efficiency and productivity; this can include managing the way employees affect brand image. I'm not sure why government-as-employer should be any different.

  83. Tarrou says:

    @ Marconi,

    "Why should anyone have less protection?"

    Because government employees need to be able to apply themselves to their work without political bias, or the entire system of civil service is compromised. Having the power of the government behind one and one's opinions is a massive power differential. We don't let government employees campaign on behalf of specific parties or candidates, especially not AS government employees. For instance, I am free to go down, volunteer, give money to candidates, etc. What I can't do is go to a rally in my military uniform. To do so is improper and against the UCMJ. I probably wouldn't be arrested, but it would be wrong.

    There is a bright line between private citizens and the rights they have and public servants who lose some of those rights in order to administrate and defend those rights. The power inherent in the position is too dangerous to be allowed too free a hand.

  84. Lizard says:

    @ChicagoTom: Virtually every woman I've had a long term relationship with has suffered from clinical depression at some point in their life. That's not a joke or a setup, though I know it sounds like one. In some cases, they and I knew about it while we were involved; in other cases, it happened either before or after we were together. This has given me a lot of direct, personal, experience with depression and the medications for it.

    The drugs work. PERIOD.

    Not perfectly. Not evenly. Not every drug works for every person, all the time. But I know that at least some of the women I've loved in my life would very likely be dead now without them — and no one I know has died because of them.

    Forget the commercials that imply there's a magic, perfect, instant cure and then everything's better forever. That's bullshit. Dismissing anti-depressants because of what you read on whackdoodleconspiracyallnaturalinfotruth.com? That's triple-plus bullshit with a side of ice cream.

    Alpha: My wife is on one of those older pills, Nardil, because it's the only thing that's kept her semi-stable for a protracted period of time. Everything else simply stopped working in about 3-9 months. We keep dreading having to go back to medication roulette, with constant inpatient periods when things get really bad, and that dread itself, if allowed to fester, can trigger a downward spiral. It's really not that hard to manage on nardil if you're not also an alcoholic or otherwise have self-control issues. (Many depressives DO have such issues; my wife, fortunately, isn't one of them.) The diet isn't that restrictive in terms of foods you can't have, but even small amounts of some of the restricted foods can have severe consequences. Many health warnings are pure CYA, so people forget that some of them are really needed.

    (One of the classic problems with recovering from depression is "Hey! I feel great now, so I'll stop taking the drugs, I don't need them!" This creates a particularly unbalanced state. Another danger, as Alpha noted, is that for many people with severe depression, the only thing keeping them from committing suicide is that it's too much bother. So when the drugs begin to work, they have just enough motivation to finally act on their impulses.)

  85. Lizard says:

    Quick note: Wishing for ill to fall on your enemies, or their children, is only a "threat" if you believe the world is filled with magical pixies who hear your wishes and carry them out. If you believe that, well, I suppose you're allowed to believe it, but another part of the First Amendment mandates that the government can't believe it or make laws as if it were true.

  86. Bret says:

    I'm a '94 grad of KU. This professor was apparently censured in 2010 for 'threatening' and 'abusive' behavior toward a colleague.

  87. Dion starfire says:

    One thing I've noticed about free speech advocacy is that it seems to require one to spend a lot of time saying, "Yes, this guy is a real dickhead, but…."

    Yes, that is definitely true. and, thanks to free speech, when you call your friend to apologize for acting like a dickhead*, you'll get to do it from your home rather than a jail cell (gov suppressing your speech) or hospital bed (neighbors suppressing your speech).

    *You may think this will never happen, but unless you're a robot or a total recluse, it's almost certain to happen at least once in your life (if not multiple times).

  88. Bartlett says:

    ChicagoTom,

    I don't think that it's unfair to hold the position that everyone whose reaction to senseless gun violence is to advocate for more guns, easier access to guns and arming everyone so that every member of society is a potential vigilante is partially complicit in the gun violence that occurs.

    You may not agree with it, but it is not an absurd or invalid belief

    If you truly know people who explicitly believe in "arming everyone so that every member of society is a potential vigilante", those people would be crazy, but it's hard to draw the conclusion that raving madmen are complicit in anything they don't do personally.

    I don't personally know any such people, I have never read any public writings from gun rights advocates phrased that way, and I doubt personally that this is anything more than an anti-gun straw man.

    "Unfair", "absurd" and "invalid" are in the eye of the beholder and I suspect we may disagree here.

  89. Brad Hutchings (@BradHutchings) says:

    The first employer (public or private) who reacts to one of these incidents by saying, "Guys, it's Twitter, he's entitled to his strong personal opinion" wins. No disclaimer about not representing the views of such and such organization. No "we all know he's a douche, but free speech is important". Just "so what, you boring little c-word".

  90. 205guy says:

    There's something I've been ruminating in all these free-speech-consequences thread. Regardless of everyone's position on further consequences (such as employment or enrollment), all seem to agree that "shunning, ridicule, contempt" are justified. I'd like to revisit that assumption and ask "are they really?"

    Note that I left out "condemnation, … loss of reputation and credibility." Those seem more "neutral" in that they target the speech of the person, not the person themselves. What, exactly, is gained for society by calling someone a "douchecanoe" (an aweful word, if there ever was one)? Isn't that just modeling bullying behavior for our children to copy?

    What would it look like if responders took the high road and, for example, replied that such speech is inappropriate, then click unfollow. Are shrill, profane, and catchy name-calling behaviors always going to drown out the non-passionate level-headed speech? Seems like it took the Hatch Act to make that happen in government.

    And yes, I do see the mild irony of a left-leaning voter advocating for a "kinder and gentler nation."


    Unwelcome Tarrou wrote: "By that logic, wouldn't this sort of vitriol be cause to think the professor might discriminate against students who might be NRA members?"

    The flaw in your logic is that being a woman is not concealable in a hiring situation, whereas the prof has no a priori way of knowing which students are NRA members (and to ask would be suspicious).

  91. Xenocles says:

    "The flaw in your logic is that being a woman is not concealable in a hiring situation, whereas the prof has no a priori way of knowing which students are NRA members (and to ask would be suspicious)."

    It seems to me that if a professor makes a statement to the effect of "I hate NRA members and everything they stand for" that could be construed as a chilling suppression of the speech of his students, especially as he holds a position of authority over them. It would be a signal to them that he might not know who they are, but if he were to find out it would be bad for them. Where does the academic freedom of the students come in?

  92. Cusster says:

    So, Lizard bangs broken bitches. Nice.

  93. Brad Hutchings (@BradHutchings) says:

    @205guy, I'm with you. I consistently hear worse sentiments than this going out to dinner with people who are all attached to their R/D party. It's just normal everyday conversation.

    I think what happens in this case or the Pax Dickinson's case is that the offender wanders slightly off the reservation and then the condemnation crowd kicks into high gear. Conform or be cast out, in the words of the great Canadian export, Rush. It's not healthy. Forget the legal and Constitutional angle for a moment. Reasonable, civil discussion on the Internet needs to accommodate the expressions of both Guth and Dickinson. Why? Because it does in meatspace.

  94. Jacob Schmidt says:

    What would it look like if responders took the high road and, for example, replied that such speech is inappropriate, then click unfollow.

    Uhh… that is shunning, which you seem to be trying to argue as a bad thing.

    Are shrill, profane, and catchy name-calling behaviors always going to drown out the non-passionate level-headed speech?

    You're problem seems to be that you've equated contempt, shunning, and ridicule with passionate, shrill profanity.*

    What, exactly, is gained for society by calling someone a "douchecanoe" (an aweful word, if there ever was one)?

    Really? Douchecanoe is the word you use as iconic of bad words? That's one of the most pg-13 insults out there, right there alongside "ass-butt".

    *I actually have no problem with profanity, and I think "shrill" (seeing as it describes pitch, something non-existent in online debate) is nothing but an excuse to avoid dealing with the substance. I think shunning should be reserved for more severe cases.

  95. Kevin says:

    What, exactly, is gained for society by calling someone a "douchecanoe" (an aweful word, if there ever was one)?

    Typo correction: I think you meant to say "awesome", not "aweful". FTFY

  96. Jacob Schmidt says:

    It's just normal everyday conversation.

    Isn't that kind of the problem? I don't like that "I hope you're children are killed" are part of everyday conversation. I'd like that to stop.

    Reasonable, civil discussion on the Internet needs to accommodate the expressions of both Guth and Dickinson. Why? Because it does in meatspace.

    That strikes me as one giant non-sequitur. Lots of shitty things exist in meat space, including the various types of assault. That something exists elsewhere is no reason for it to exist here; if it's to be defended, it should be defended on it's own merits.

  97. Lizard says:

    What would it look like if responders took the high road and, for example, replied that such speech is inappropriate, then click unfollow.

    It would not look like the behavior of human beings, for reasons so hard-wired into our little chimp brains that it's kind of pointless to consider it as a viable solution.

    It also ignores that such speech primarily serves as a signaling/identification mechanism, and a request for support/affirmation — but not from the targets of it. The speaker loses nothing if people they don't want to be associated with refuse to associate with them. Further, it does nothing to discourage imitative behavior. If you think such speech is "inappropriate", then you need to make those who might consider engaging in it think twice — or, rather, NOT think, because this isn't something that involves a rational decision. It's something that is an instinctive response.

    If you calmly lay out all the reasons why it's socially unacceptable for your dog to jump on the table and steal your food, the dog will woof, lick your face, and make off with the pork chop. If you yell "NO! BAD DOG!" every time the dog jumps on the table, it eventually associates the action with the negative response. It doesn't need to understand why. This also works for humans, who, for the most part, do not need to understand why.It does not work for cats. (OTOH, my cats have learned that if they keep jumping on my keyboard and biting at my monitor cord, I will get up and feed them. I am well-conditioned in my responses.)

    The simple truth is, people who are rational enough to be swayed by logic and reason aren't the kind of people who go around saying that Miss America is a Taliban Muslim in the first place. The more offensively moronic the speech in question, the more simplistic and primal the response required to get the speaker to internalize that he's being a bad monkey and will be left to be eaten by the tigers if he doesn't cut it out. Mr. Guth's comments do not indicate any great susceptibility to rational discourse on the issue of guns. I don't know what he may be like on other issues, but on this one, it does not seem any "meeting of the minds" is possible. He has howled, gibbered, and made threatening gestures at the other monkeys. They now howl and gibber back. We'll see what happens.

    (It is also worth noting that concepts like "civility" and "politeness" and "taking the high road" have often been used to dismiss speech that questioned key elements of the social structure like "owning people" or "not letting women vote, or own property, or anything else that might stress their delicate little minds". Suggesting such things might be wrong was the very *height* of rudeness, and no proper, civilized, person would do so. Egad! Ods bodkins! Likewise, protest that violates norms is often needed to slip past our mental shields that filter out much of the noise of everyday life. "Excuse me, sir, but if it's not any bother, could you perhaps refrain from such conduct in the future?" is much easier to ignore than "SHUT UP YOU BLATHERING IDIOT!") (Of course, this depends on the person. I tend to respond to the former more than the latter, but I have many weird habits.)

  98. Brad Hutchings (@BradHutchings) says:

    Isn't that kind of the problem? I don't like that "I hope you're children are killed" are part of everyday conversation. I'd like that to stop.

    It really doesn't bother me. I don't want it to stop. I'd miss the spicy accent in a world that resembled a Barney set. How shall we resolve this?

    Please don't take offense, but people who are bothered by that bother me much more. If the discussion bothers you, you are free to leave. Even in a place of employment, with all the 3rd grade Feminist theory about power structures and all that, you're more than likely free to leave the discussion and not suffer any consequences of not having equal access to the Big Swinging D—s.

    I'm sure this Guth guy already a retaliatory nuclear arsenal of tweets by his colleagues printed out and ready to destroy their careers too. I would. Not like it would be difficult.

  99. Robert says:

    It's an interesting case. One thing for sure, this professor is an idiot. Certainly he could have made his point without threatening anyone. For example he could have said "Imagine if this were your own son and daughters." And there's no excuse for an "educated" professor to transgress like this.

  100. bob says:

    Strange, did the left wingers wake up on the wrong side of the world today decide to hate kids?
    Dems hate kids

  101. Matthew Cline says:

    @Tarrou:

    Because government employees need to be able to apply themselves to their work without political bias, or the entire system of civil service is compromised.

    There is a bright line between private citizens and the rights they have and public servants who lose some of those rights in order to administrate and defend those rights.

    So government employees shouldn't be able to express any political opinions while off the job? Or just certain types of government employees?

  102. 205guy says:

    So, we are chimps, or maybe dogs to be trained, and there's no way to use our large frontal cortex for anything? Pretty sad conclusion.

    Plus, I think that flies in the face of accepted research in child reward/punishment for bad behavior. What I've read (sorry no link) is that it is much more effective (long term) and healthy to ignore attention-seeking bad behavior than to punish it (even non-corporally). I suppose that is going to be endlessly debated and debunked, but the progressive parent in me wants to believe. Though I do recognize that all children are different and may respond differently.

    I don't see how unfollowing is a form of shunning. Shunning happens in a forum where you are obligated to participate (church at one time, the local village market, contemporary school), not in a voluntary forum where you go to seek fame and recognition. Denying recognition to those who seek it through bad ideas seems like the ideal marketplace action.

    But yes, I'm essentially saying "why are humans mean to each other?" and I suppose it is rather pointless to expect or hope otherwise. Or maybe I should change my thinking and accept or embrace that as part of the human condition, namely the ability to dish out and accept some personal (verbal) attacks.

    As for the adoration and promotion of profanity, I rather see it like the fascination with death and violence. You see children's clothes with gang-like skull decorations. Halloween is not a time to be scared, it is a time to be grossed out with the image chainsaws ripping through living, screaming flesh. Nothing wrong with a healthy acceptance of death, but to promote it so gratuitously and lustfully? Similarly, nothing wrong with a good f-bomb (and I love the fact that English is one of the rare profanity infix language with constructs such as un-fucking-believable), but again, when it's aimed toward the people, why isn't it an ad hominem?

    Just look at the latest chapter in the Carreon saga (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/09/charles-carreon-withdraws-final-appeal-says-entire-affair-was-a-dumb-thing/), where he isn't even sorry, doesn't pay up, and doesn't give in. Yet after all the early name-calling, even the commenters here on popehat were starting to feel sorry for him in his continued bad behavior in public, and the fact that this blog pretty much stopped reporting about him may be the best response after all.

  103. Jacob Schmidt says:

    Brad Hutchings

    Please don't take offense, but people who are bothered by that bother me much more. If the discussion bothers you, you are free to leave.

    I note that you're doing more than leaving when something bothers you. Perhaps that because you like oppose the things that bother you, rather than allowing them free reign?

    205guy

    Shunning happens in a forum where you are obligated to participate (church at one time, the local village market, contemporary school), not in a voluntary forum where you go to seek fame and recognition.

    No, shunning applies to all contexts where someone is being ignored or avoided. It's not as powerful in all contexts, though. You're right in that shunning in a obligatory forum is more harmful than in an optional forum.

    As for the adoration and promotion of profanity, I rather see it like the fascination with death and violence.

    Uhh… death and violence can rip families apart. "Fuck you" has no such power. They aren't even remotely comparable.

    Similarly, nothing wrong with a good f-bomb (and I love the fact that English is one of the rare profanity infix language with constructs such as un-fucking-believable), but again, when it's aimed toward the people, why isn't it an ad hominem?

    Because a fallacy such as ad hominem is a fallacy. "You're an idiot" is an insult. "You're wrong because you're an idiot" is an insulting ad hominem.

  104. Jeremy says:

    Technically, all gun control laws are in violation of the text of the 2nd amendment. The amendment says "shall not be infringed." It doesn't say "shall not be banned." It does not say, "shall not be removed." It does not say, "shall not be over-regulated."

    It says INFRINGED. Well, all gun control laws actually infringe on the rights of the people to bear arms. You can quibble about whether or not people need auto-loading barrel-magazine-fed dual-50-caliber truck-mounted AA guns, and your case is solid that there's almost no reason for any sane person to own such a weapon. But telling people they can't have semi-automatic rifles? That's an infringement that I have to believe the founders intended on preventing.

    I happen to agree with their assessment that commonly used weapons should be commonly available to both possess and bear (carry) for the law abiding citizen.

  105. Brad Hutchings (@BradHutchings) says:

    Jacob Schmidt wrotes:

    I note that you're doing more than leaving when something bothers you. Perhaps that because you like oppose the things that bother you, rather than allowing them free reign?

    Here's what bothers me. Again, set aside the legal and Constitutional issues. There is not an honest attempt to counter "offensive" speech with more speech. The attempt is to blatantly quell it. The tactic is to go after the speaker's livelihood. Dickinson and Guth are both examples of that. Getting a scalp might be a satisfying outcome for the mob, especially when it can execute so quickly and unexpectedly.

    I think ultimately what the crowds are depending on with the "scap them" tactic is that there won't be a counterstrike. Perhaps not immediately, and perhaps if you're one of thousands piling on anonymously, there is little personal risk. But someone who loses his livelihood over the Internet's condemnation machine might have a little time and real motivation to dig and kick back. Most of us live in glassy enough houses that we wouldn't welcome that.

  106. Tarrou says:

    @ 205guy,

    "The flaw in your logic is that being a woman is not concealable in a hiring situation, whereas the prof has no a priori way of knowing which students are NRA members "

    I don't think discrimination law is contingent on whether or not ones group is easily ascertainable. And the man is a journalism professor, presumably his students have to write about a wide range of current topics, it would be hard to avoid firearms forever. If you like, the true difference between women and NRA members is that one is a political opinion group, and the other is a sex. One cannot chose ones sex. So there are differences morally with discrimination between the two, however I don't think that is particularly relevant. The same distinction holds for discrimination against religious belief. The legality of discrimination by government actors is not contingent on the inherent nature of the target group.

    @ Matthew Cline,

    I clearly didn't say that, in fact I gave an example of the sorts of political activity a government employee might be able to do, and the sorts they might not. It really depends on the job. An election worker is probably more restricted than a dog catcher. Some jobs must inherently be less political, and hence less politically free. By taking the government's shilling, you do accept some level of control over your political speech. What level that takes is contingent on what level of government you work for, and which job you have. It is, however, a very old distinction. Private citizens and public servants do not have equal political speech rights. This is both correct and reasonable.

  107. AWM says:

    For me (and irrespective of the status of this university, private or state) it is about the right of employers to discipline employees who harm their reputation in the marketplace. Don't like it? Work somewhere else.

    Of course he is free to say what he likes but this is one of the other consequencies of doing so.

  108. C. S. P. Schofield says:

    If I were the University of Kansas administrator stuck with this problem, I would have put out a press release saying the Professor had been put on leave for ostentatious stupidity.

  109. JT says:

    @bob

    Yes, two anecdotes show that all left wingers and dems hate kids. I got the kid-hating memo in my secret email account at ObamaMarx@antiAmerica.gay this morning.

  110. Matthew says:

    I'm surprised you didn't point the school's vapid use of the Tinker language.

  111. Docrailgun says:

    I can't agree with the professor here. The recent shootings we've heard so much about lately didn't include pistols or concealed carry permits, so of course the NRA is not involved. After all, the NRA has abandoned any pretense of being anything but a shill for the handgun manufacturing industry while wrapping their pistol marketing efforts in a disingenuous "Second Amendment" argument. If they actually seemed to care about the entire Second Amendment (especially that pesky 'militia' part… which is of course the whole point of the right) instead of just the 'right to keep and bear arms' part, I might think otherwise. But, you know, just because a pistol isn't a useful military weapon and won't help much with protecting one against a tyrannical government isn't a reason not to claim that it will to sell more Glocks or .40 S&W rounds!
    Calling for the death of children probably wasn't the best idea the professor had either.

  112. Tarrou says:

    @ Doc,

    Funny you say that, since there have been few recent handgun control efforts, and hence the NRA has been largely focusing on defending against silly cosmetic "assault weapon" laws. As with anytime I deal with hoplophobes, I am rather insulted by the lack of seriousness they bring to the table. The NRA is a "shill" for its five million members. If you can't accept that there are people who have political disagreements with you without being paid off in some way, you are not engaging in good faith.

  113. Anglave says:

    @Lizard

    "If you calmly lay out all the reasons why it's socially unacceptable for your dog to jump on the table and steal your food, the dog will woof, lick your face, and make off with the pork chop. If you yell "NO! BAD DOG!" every time the dog jumps on the table, it eventually associates the action with the negative response."

    "The simple truth is, people who are rational enough to be swayed by logic and reason aren't the kind of people who go around saying that Miss America is a Taliban Muslim in the first place. The more offensively moronic the speech in question, the more simplistic and primal the response required to get the speaker to internalize that he's being a bad monkey and will be left to be eaten by the tigers if he doesn't cut it out."

    This is the most clearly formed statement of what Ken listed as Pro Shaming point #5 I've seen recently. Since I personally find it to be my strongest motivation for public shaming, I appreciate your putting it so well.

  114. Malc. says:

    @Jeremy The problem with any supposedly "technical" analysis of the second amendment is that the whole amendment is liable to analysis, not just a part of it.

    For instance, your comment discusses what "infringement" means, and is reasonable. But you omit to discuss what "arms", whose right to bear shall not be infringed, might mean.

    And that's the loophole: no one is infringing your right to bear arms, they are defining what the word "arms" means in the context and intent of the amendment. Some argue that it means "anything that is designed for use as a weapon", thereby including personal thermonuclear warheads, while others think it means something more like "things that would represent the personal weapons of members of a militia", using the section of the amendment that would otherwise be pointless as a guide.

    @bob (and others) please note that "children" does not mean the same thing as "kids", and neither actually necessarily implies anything about the age of the "children"/"kids".

    It all seems extremely dishonest to infer that the tweet was somehow a reference to children in the sense of minors (people under the age of 18) as opposed to simply the familial relationship. The reason why I assert this dishonesty is that the Washington Navy Yard is NOT a school, and the victims were "children" only in the familial sense, not the adult/minor sense: the youngest was 46.

    For the record, I oppose almost all efforts at gun control, in large part because the genie is already out of the bottle. But I also abhor the NRA, and find their actions despicable, notably actions such as the prohibition on the ATF being able to computerize the records of gun sales (on a specious "slippery slope" argument, that seems to go "if they know who owns guns, then when the revolution comes, they'll know who to take them from froth gibber blurble").

  115. Brad Hutchings (@BradHutchings) says:

    So all of you who are "pro-shaming", what do you do when the mob of shamers so clearly misconstrue someone's comments and turn him into a racist? This happened yesterday with a Phoenix-based sportwriter commenting on the Dodgers (Yasiel Puig in particular) taking a bath in the D-Backs' outfield pool after clinching the division.

    Here's your context story, a fascinating tale from just 18 months ago of Puig trying to defect from cuba. Please read this story first! It's a widely linked story that every serious Dodger fan I know is familiar with.

    And here is LA idiot reporter taking said reporter to task for "racist" tweets.

    Boom!

  116. Anglave says:

    @Tarrou and several others

    Government employees should have less protection for political speech than private citizens, not more.

    What several commenters seem to be missing is that this isn't an issue of special protection for a government employee's speech.

    It is instead a restriction on the government's legal authority to impose consequences for First Amendment protected speech.

    I'm pleased to see the marketplace of ideas responding to the professor's speech, but if we empower the government-as-employer to discriminate against or dismiss its employees for protected speech, we are setting up a system in which only goodthinkers get government jobs, and anyone with a tendency toward crimethink gets replaced.

    In short, except in a few limited and well-defined cases (such as true threats), it's not the government's privilege to judge an individual's speech. This means it can't fire its employees over protected speech, true; but this is a much healthier outcome than the alternative.

  117. Anglave says:

    @Lizard

    "If you yell "NO! BAD DOG!" every time the dog jumps on the table, it eventually associates the action with the negative response. The more offensively moronic the speech in question, the more simplistic and primal the response required…"

    While I agree with this in a visceral way, I'm also concerned by Clark's observation that

    "We've got the social process wired into our heads, and it works well when we're in small groups, but it can be destructive when we're in larger groups."

    Enforcing negative consequences for undesirable behavior is a powerful social tool, but if we shoot the dog dead when it first jumps up on the table, our purpose has been somewhat undermined.

  118. MattT says:

    "I HOPE YOUR KIDS DIE BECAUSE YOU SUPPORT THE SECOND AMENDMENT"

    That's not what Guth tweeted. Neither did he "hope for the murder of NRA members' children," as claimed in the first trackback to this post.

    Guth feels that the NRA is largely responsible for the continuing tragedy of mass shootings in the US, and….let him speak for himself:

    “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.”

    That's from Guth's blog, where he posts prominently a notice that his comments there are personal and do not represent the views of his employer – unlike Pax.

  119. Lizard says:

    "We've got the social process wired into our heads, and it works well when we're in small groups, but it can be destructive when we're in larger groups."

    Here's the catch: For most of human history, speech was very local, unless exceptional effort was made to spread it. Even into the late 20th century, national or global reach was only possible for a few, and they used such reach rarely.

    In less than a generation, the default is that speech is global, not local. This post is public. Within minutes of my submitting it, will be archived in computers all around the world, and will show up in all sorts of keyword searches. It takes an effort to make speech *local* now — to set up a private mailing list or FB page or closed forum, and, even then (as I've gone about before) it's as secure as the least-trustworthy person in the group, and as soon as the group grows past a sufficiently small number of people that all of them are in each other's monkeyspheres, the odds of one feeling sufficiently different from the others that the harm he might do them by revealing speech imposes less guilt/shame than the harm he might think would occur by NOT revealing it, that's that.

    We, as a species, can and will adapt. We will create social systems and technological protections and, at the extreme, laws and regulations. These conversations are a part of that process.

  120. Tarrou says:

    @ Anglave,

    I'm not saying the university should dismiss the professor. In fact, it's a thorny issue, and I don't know what I think. What I said was that there are, and should be, certain restrictions on the political speech of some government employees, and that these should be more onerous than the ones on private citizens. That just goes with the government territory.

    And, as I pointed out earlier, some defenders of the professor were all too happy to see Pax Dickson fired from a private firm. I've not heard a good argument synthesizing this discrepancy. Your point is taken that government can be both employer and employee, and restriction of who can be fired on the private side affects private citizens doing the firing.

    What we have is a situation where a government employee cannot be fired, and in fact would probably have a good lawsuit, while a private citizen can be fired at will for any expression as long as it pisses enough people off that the company thinks it isn't worth the trouble. Whose freedom are we talking about? The freedom of speech, or the freedom of association, and to terminate it? The two can be brought against each other here.

    Lizard has talked a lot about the "whose ox" aspect of all of this, no need for me to reiterate. But it is important. 2A is my hobby horse. I start out biased against the good professor, because he just wished for my imaginary kids to get shot, and he clearly hates me and everyone like me. And I am not calling for him to be fired. I would like for a host of unpleasant things to happen to him, but that is pique, not principle.

    For those whose hobbyhorse might be different, do consider the possibility that hounding people from their jobs is not the most productive method of extolling free speech.

    And Ken, asshole I may be, but disagreement is not dishonesty. I figure it's only a matter of time before your dislike of me gets the better of you, but we shall see. It's interesting, I think, to find the subject on which a free-speech advocate suddenly finds loopholes with which to justify punishing others for their speech. I suppose we all have those subjects. You were not so sanguine about Kimberlin and his cronies costing fellow legal bloggers (or was it someone's wife?) their jobs last year.

  121. Lizard says:

    @Brad: You seem to be thinking there's some sort of magic "shame ball", and whoever grabs it first gets to use it, and everyone else just sits there and looks ashamed.

    Doesn't work that way. If you think the mob is acting like, well, a mob — you shout back. You call them ignorant, bloodthirsty, ravenous, destructive, shallow, judgmental, I've got a zillion more adjectives. You make sure people know what's going on you. You spread your side of the story.

    Reading both articles you linked, it seems the sports reporter made an assumption about how widespread knowledge of Puig's personal history was, and that people would know it. He forgot his audience isn't just sports fans who know the backstory and the context. To anyone not a sports fan, it looks like a generic "wetback" joke, esp. when combined with the "drug cartel" reference, given things like Steve King's mythical cantaloupe-calved marijuana smugglers.

    Bob Young's best defense is a history of lack of offense, again a point I've made before. "You're misunderstanding me" has a lot more strength when no one can show a pattern of similar behavior. If this is the tenth time you've had to "explain" your humor, on the other hand, perhaps the issue isn't the mob. (I have no interest in sports, and no knowledge, prior to this, of either Bob Young or Yasiel Puig. This will probably fade quickly from public attention, unless Mr. Young does something really stupid, such as getting advice from Charles Carreon on how to handle unwelcome Internet attention.)

  122. Ahkbar says:

    @Tarrou

    What we have is a situation where a government employee cannot be fired, and in fact would probably have a good lawsuit, while a private citizen can be fired at will for any expression as long as it pisses enough people off that the company thinks it isn't worth the trouble. Whose freedom are we talking about? The freedom of speech, or the freedom of association, and to terminate it? The two can be brought against each other here.

    I don't see how there is a conflict of speech vs association freedom here. In Pax's case he was free to speak as he wanted, and his company was free to disassociate as it wanted. In this case the professor was free to speak as he wanted, and unless I am missing something, the government does not have freedom of association.

    And Ken, asshole I may be, but disagreement is not dishonesty. I figure it's only a matter of time before your dislike of me gets the better of you, but we shall see. It's interesting, I think, to find the subject on which a free-speech advocate suddenly finds loopholes with which to justify punishing others for their speech. I suppose we all have those subjects. You were not so sanguine about Kimberlin and his cronies costing fellow legal bloggers (or was it someone's wife?) their jobs last year.

    Again, might be missing something here, but in the Kimberlin case the bloggers were being sued for exercising their free speech rights. I don't see how you are being fair in this comparison. In my opinion Ken has been consistent in his approach.

  123. Ken White says:

    And Ken, asshole I may be, but disagreement is not dishonesty. I figure it's only a matter of time before your dislike of me gets the better of you, but we shall see. It's interesting, I think, to find the subject on which a free-speech advocate suddenly finds loopholes with which to justify punishing others for their speech. I suppose we all have those subjects. You were not so sanguine about Kimberlin and his cronies costing fellow legal bloggers (or was it someone's wife?) their jobs last year.

    You're dishonest for deliberately misrepresenting my position. You're an asshole for staying in somebody's living room after they've told you you're unwelcome.

    As for the "loopholes" comment, I can't tell if you're being dishonest and misrepresenting my position again, if you're not capable of understanding the distinction between public and private, or if you don't care about the distinction. Frankly, since you're a dishonest asshole who's still hyuck-hyuck-hyucking around somebody's living room after being told he's unwelcome, I don't care.

  124. Ken White says:

    Guth feels that the NRA is largely responsible for the continuing tragedy of mass shootings in the US, and….let him speak for himself:

    “I don’t want anybody harmed. Guth feels that the NRA is largely responsible for the continuing tragedy of mass shootings in the US, and….let him speak for himself:

    “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.”

    That's from Guth's blog, where he posts prominently a notice that his comments there are personal and do not represent the views of his employer – unlike Pax.”
    .

    Except that's not what he said. That's how he's trying to spin it after.

    What he said is not analogous to "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.” What he said is analogous to "If somebody’s going to be harmed, maybe it ought to be the children of the people who believe that guns are so precious that it’s worth spilling blood over.”

  125. AlphaCentauri says:

    Given that this was a navy yard and that people with defense IDs were automatically admitted, has anyone checked to see how many of the victims were the children of NRA members?

  126. Brad Hutchings (@BradHutchings) says:

    @Brad: You seem to be thinking there's some sort of magic "shame ball", and whoever grabs it first gets to use it, and everyone else just sits there and looks ashamed.

    Not at all. Lately, I've observed that these quickly degenerate into whose engaged mob is bigger and more bloodthirtsy rather than any retain any semblance of truth, context, or proportion.

    Ken's input on Dickinson and Guth is quite valuable in understanding the bounds of the law, but when we're dealing with either of these situations where the bounds of the law even come into question, we've failed. In both cases, there are a whole lot of people pretending to be offended orders or magnitude beyond how such comments would offend them in meatspace. Or, in the case of Bob Young's Puig tweet, co-opting the speech by applying it to a completely unrelated point to air some other hot button grievance.

    There are two predictable results. The online world will just get a whole lot less interesting. There will be retaliation, because once damage is done, it's easier and more satisfying to wreck someone else's world than try to recover what one has had taken away.

  127. Brad Hutchings (@BradHutchings) says:

    Ken wrote:

    What he said is analogous to "If somebody’s going to be harmed, maybe it ought to be the children of the people who believe that guns are so precious that it’s worth spilling blood over.”

    I disagree with his point. I don't find it atypical enough for it to even knock the needle on my distasteful meter. There is a lot of manufactured outrage on this. The mindset is, "if I act like he just shot my dog, someone will have to punish him." It's pure chicken guano. The same mindset from the opposite side of the aisle gives cover to people who see criticisms of Obama's policies and tell racism. Oh yeah, and we're all left dissecting sentences that have been artificially crafted to fit in the confines of Twitter's 140 characters, digging for any obscure or unintended gem of meaning.

    The ultimate helpful opinion on these things would be something like, "legally, particular employer can/can't take action against particular employee, but it's beyond stupidly out of proportion that that's even a question."

    And for the record, I'm off the charts pro-gun.

  128. Steven H. says:

    @Malc:

    "notably actions such as the prohibition on the ATF being able to computerize the records of gun sales (on a specious "slippery slope" argument, that seems to go "if they know who owns guns, then when the revolution comes, they'll know who to take them from froth gibber blurble")."

    Last I heard, BATF isn't legally allowed to even RETAIN firearms sales records.
    Pretty hard to justify computerizing records you're not even legally allowed to have.

  129. Marconi Darwin says:

    @Tarroou

    Because government employees need to be able to apply themselves to their work without political bias, or the entire system of civil service is compromised. Having the power of the government behind one and one's opinions is a massive power differential.

    So how will less protection achieve that? Further, would government then not become even more powerful, a civil service employee works for the government?

    If someone were to denounce the politics of Israeli-Palestine conflict, would that be subject to government sanctions against that employee? How about if it was an Iran-Israeli war?

  130. Lizard says:

    @Brad: Outside the law, there's only social pressure to correct behavior seen as rude, unethical, bullying, etc. Or, in other words, you can pass laws (yeah, that'll work), or you can work towards a social consensus that trying to shame people for their speech is wrong… but that can only be achieved by making those who attempt such shaming into social papayas (to quote the Pride & Prejudice & Zombies prequel) themselves.

    Both I and the dead horse I'm beating are getting tired of it. No society lacks taboos and boundaries. It's how societies are *defined*. There is, really, no argument over shaming/shunning behaviors as a principle, because you can't have a society without them, no matter what your society is. (OWS, for example, had to create ever more complex and intricate rules to enforce their idea of a social order without complex and intricate rules (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_stack).)

    The argument is *always* about what behaviors should be shamed, and what is an "appropriate" degree of social blowback for inappropriate behavior. No one can honestly state there is no opinion or idea that is so beyond the pale that those expressing it should not be treated differently from those who do not. The line between "idea" and "person" is not nearly so clear as some would like to claim (nor as nonexistent, for that matter) — again, I've gone into this at length elsewhere on this site. Opposition to the social order being shaped by majority consensus nearly always comes from those who are, or fear to be, in the minority — however that's defined. (And this is perfectly understandable. No one wants to be on the bottom of the heap. No one wants others to wield unjust power over them. This is one reason that advanced societies limit the degree to which someone can be excluded. No matter what your ideas, you are at least theoretically equal under the law and cannot be the subject of violence by either the government or the people. How well that works in practice, well, that's another topic.)

    What we see in many of these cases is people who don't *think* of their behavior as "deviant" or "abnormal" being targeted just as outsiders always have been — and saying they're being bullied. Well, to some extent, they are — they're being excluded, told they're inferior/immoral, etc. What a lot of them don't seem to get is that this isn't some sort of plot to replace "real" social boundaries with "invented" ones. ALL social boundaries are invented. What one person perceives as normal, another perceives as deviant. If the general consensus has shifted, this is because people accepted a lot of bullying and shaming and exclusion for constantly standing up against the mob and saying "No, this is NOT RIGHT. It is YOU who are acting wrongly!", and, over decades, shifted the boundaries. If people want to shift them back, they must either endure the same opprobrium, or learn to live with the world as it is at the moment.

    If it's not right that people can suffer what you think is a disproportionate response to a single tweet, then it's your job to stand up and say, "NO, this is NOT RIGHT!". Doing so here is part of this — it contributes to the consensus and helps direct the conversation the way you want. When it's done in many different places, especially in places where your voice is not welcome, that's even more important. Social change occurs when someone states "Well, everyone agrees that…" and someone else stands up and says "No, I don't.", and accepts the consequences of that. (Ken has documented many cases of people who find that any kind of disagreement with their "everyone knows" sentiments sends them into fits of apoplexy, screaming they're being "bullied" or "censored" because they can't get uniform "Harrumphs!" of agreement from their listeners.)

  131. Lizard says:

    Pretty hard to justify computerizing records you're not even legally allowed to have.

    /me looks at a couple of gigabytes of NSA revelations the government isn't even trying to deny.

    /me looks at Steven H.

    /me raises eyebrow quizzically.

  132. En Passant says:

    Ken White wrote Sep 21, 2013 @11:17 am:

    Except that's not what he said. That's how he's trying to spin it after.

    What he said is not analogous to "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.” What he said is analogous to "If somebody’s going to be harmed, maybe it ought to be the children of the people who believe that guns are so precious that it’s worth spilling blood over.”

    Exactly. He is rapidly backpedaling. Which point raises another question about Mr.[1] Guth's intent for his communication.

    If one follows the link you posted to Mr. Guth's faculty webpage, one finds links to his bio and CV.

    His bio and CV provide some basis in the informal court of public opinion for shifting the burden of proof of his intent for making the statements in his tweets.

    TL;DR: Both Mr. Guth's CV and bio are laden to the gunwales with two phrases.

    One phrase is "public relations". He's taught public relations. He's been in charge of public relations for organizations. He's an expert at public relations.

    The other phrase is "strategic communications". Again, he's taught strategic communications. He's been in charge of strategic communications for organizations. He's an expert at strategic communications.

    Both "public relations" and "strategic communications" are communications made in order to obtain some desired result.

    Those background facts, though not entirely dispositive of Mr. Guth's purpose, do provide some support for the conclusion that Mr. Guth's speech may not be as "unserious" or unthinking "emotional" as might appear on the surface. There is some reason to believe on the basis of his claimed expertise that he expects his speech to cause the result that he calls for.

    Let Mr. Guth show evidence besides his mere personal declaration that his speech was not intended to cause, and could not to some degree be expected to cause that horrific result, based upon his claimed expertise in "public relations" and "strategic communications".

    Was he mistaken or lying about his claimed expertise? Or was he lying about his purpose in making the statement "Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters"?

    FN 1: "Mr. Guth", because he doesn't claim to hold a PhD, so cannot credibly whine about not being addressed as "Dr. Guth".

  133. Malc. says:

    @Steven H. Not really. The (1986) law (that the scumbag NRA promoted) reads:

    No such rule or regulation prescribed after the date of the enactment of the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act may require that records required to be maintained under this chapter or any portion of the contents of such records, be recorded at or transferred to a facility owned, managed, or controlled by the United States or any State or any political subdivision thereof, nor that any system of registration of firearms, firearms owners, or firearms transactions or dispositions be established.

    On it's face, that states that no new rules may be promulgated, but it says nothing about the (pre-1986) rules, which clearly may still be enforced.

    The other "leg" of the scumaggery lies in budget appropriations, which prohibit the use of funds to establish central registries.

    @Ken while you obviously believe the explanation on Professor[1] Guths's blog is "spin", it matches pretty much exactly my interpretation of the tweet when first I saw it, which predated your post. So you may, or may not, be correct in your belief that the explanation is manufactured after the fuss, but as a data point, it was my initial and unforced interpretation.

    Thus I submit that, based on my own reaction, that there is at least a credible basis for believing the website interpretation is true and has always been true.

    Malc.

    FN 1: "Professor Guth", because he is one, and so could credibly whine about not being addressed as Professor Guth.

  134. Matthew Cline says:

    @Tarrou:

    So far as I can tell, you think that there should have been some rule that would disallow the tweet the professor made. Is that correct? If so, is it that professors should be required to talk about politics civilly? That professors shouldn't be allowed to discuss politics at all? Something else?

  135. Steven H. says:

    @Malc:

    "On it's face, that states that no new rules may be promulgated, but it says nothing about the (pre-1986) rules, which clearly may still be enforced."

    So, which pre-1986 rule allowed the creation of a database of gun owners?

  136. Malc. says:

    @Steve H. Welcome to the point. My assertion was that the NRA asshats that promoted that law blocked the creation of a database.

    However, I'd remind you that your last position was that the BATF were forbidden from retaining registration records, which is flatly incorrect: the rules requiring that certain records from gun dealers be submitted to the BATF (e.g. those of "out of business" gun shops) are in force, but due to the scumminess of the NRA the BATF may not spend any money to make those records searchable.

  137. Andara says:

    I do believe the shool has suspended him, not for the appalling content of his tweet, but rather because the reaction to his tweet includes death threats (even more appalling) and they are removing him from teaching as a protective measure for all involved.

  138. Eli Rabett says:

    Basically Eli awaits social consequences, which will include widespread condemnation, shunning, ridicule, and contempt for Kevin Swanson

    The real problem is that, as Renee pointed out, right wing spew has become background noise, everyone is so used to it that there is shock and horror when some gets spit back.

  139. Sami says:

    Why take it out on the children? Why not just wish death on the NRA advocates themselves?

    Dude's comment is kinda stupid and in reasonably bad taste, I don't see it as grounds for disciplinary action of any kind regardless of *who* he works for.

  140. Elizabeth says:

    Ummmm – it would appear Professor Guth is no longer on Twitter. Maybe because he used his University account to send his Tweets? Not announced, but the juxtaposition is interesting. Of course, it could be because he was innundated with tweets from NRA members and other 2nd Amendment rights organizations.

  141. Malc. says:

    @Sami my take is to highlight the reality that those who advocate unfettered access to any and all weapons are perceived to not bear the terrible cost _to the survivors_ when the weapons are used in crimes such as this. One certainly could argue that the advocates _should_ bear the consequences of their advocacy, but if they were dead (by virtue of being shot) then the ability to engage them in meaningful dialog is somewhat reduced (ouija boards being what they are, etc.).

    One thing that struck me as remarkable (in a very good way) was the courage of the Navy Yard perpetrator's mother in making her statement. She also lost a child in that event.

    An earlier commentator noted that mental health treatment is a factor in several of these horrible events. Oddly, I don't hear much advocacy for more of that from the NRA or right wingers, presumably because mental healthcare is seen as some relation of Obamacare (or perhaps because Saint Ronald Reagan was to blame for a particularly viciously mean and destructive policy called "care in the community", which was implemented as "no care in the community".)

  142. Jacob Schmidt says:

    http://www.bussjaeger.org/twit-warning-sm.jpg

    So implied death threats are the solution to implied death threats?

    Honestly, that just comes off as indignation at other's daring to do what they're happy doing: "Don't make death threats; that's our job!".

  143. Tarrou says:

    @ Matthew Cline,

    I have specifically said I don't want the guy fired, and that is a level of response short of any rules which might prohibit his speech.

    Your assertion about my desires is not correct, and has no basis in my previous statements.

    I have said that SOME government employees have more stringent restrictions than civilians (myself included in this). This is, I think, uncontroversial. And government employees do not have the same blanket protections civilians do in all instances. Therefore, defending a government employee under freedom of speech may or may not be appropriate, given their position and the restrictions inherent in it.

    Government is inherently different when one speaks about free speech than civilians.

    As to the professor, his tweet is offensive and vile, but I think it should be publicized. I don't think he should be fired, and I think he should be forced to live this down every day until he retires. I think his students (if they are so inclined) should write pro-gun articles and haul him in front of the dean if he marks them down for it. I think he is on thin ice when it comes to discrimination, but unlike some, I don't think one statement on social media is enough to toss a guy out of employment.

  144. Bobby says:

    Public officials (I.e. Government employees) are supposed to serve the public. As such (while this is not in any way a law as far as I know) it seems right and proper to me that none of them should hold forth with anything that reflects anything like a personality, a personal opinion or anything that is not in line with the eternal nullity that is the political correctness of all things governmental. There should be a price to pay for being part of the parasitic entity that is government.

  145. wgering says:

    Enforcing negative consequences for undesirable behavior is a powerful social tool, but if we shoot the dog dead when it first jumps up on the table, our purpose has been somewhat undermined.

    What do you think I am, a police officer?

  146. Anony Mouse says:

    That tweet is nothing compared to the Tea Party hatred and anger that I have to listen to every day at work.

    Personally, I just want to know where the hell Renee works that she hears people wishing death upon children every day. Don't they have an HR department?

  147. Black Betty says:

    Ok, here's an honest question:

    What about the right of tax payers to have a voice in a public university system that they fund?

    It may very well be a government system, but the money doesn't come from the government. It comes from the people. And it doesn't belong to the government. It belongs to the people. At least in theory. So should there not be consequences for unacceptable behavior that reflects poorly on those who fund that university?

    I agree with your premise that government should not be able to wield a hammer on speech. But universities are not the government. And generally they are funded by a combination of government subsidies, athletic revenues, grants, investment portfolios, tuition and private donations. Unless employees are getting paychecks directly from the state, they are a quasi entity at best. And in some cases, more private than public.

  148. HandOfGod137 says:

    @ Black Betty

    What about the right of tax payers to have a voice in a public university system that they fund?

    As an observer from a distant land, I'd guess academic freedom. Because once you get rid of that, you're on the road to evolution-denying anti-science partisan nonsense. Better to have the odd professor go off the rails than an education system based on who shouts loudest.

  149. Tarrou says:

    @ Black Betty,

    I think there is some public interest in being able to affect the behavior of universities, but this is largely about outcomes, which are pathetic rather than strident and stupid professors. In broad strokes, I'm less concerned with this guy than with the fact that there is a "Journalism" school in the first place.

    There's much whinging about "academic freedom", but I'm more sanguine than some about it. Being able to fire underperforming teachers or professors won't mean creationism is taught everywhere. In fact, in every state where creationism has gone to a public vote over whether or not to teach it in schools, it has lost. Even Texas. The constant worry about it is pathological, not real. Much like the outlawing of abortion. It's just not going to happen.

    I would say I think it is the job of professors to be controversial at times. But controversial in the scientific sense rather than "kill NRA babies". Professors at private schools, of course, have full and unassailable free speech rights as citizens. Oddly, professors with heterodox scientific theories often stand a better chance of losing their jobs than those who fulminate offensively on political topics.

  150. Bear says:

    @ Jacob Schmidt • Sep 21, 2013 @6:30 pm: "So implied death threats are the solution to implied death threats?"

    "I will kill innocent children" is a threat. "I will defend my children, killing you if necessary" is fair warning.

  151. JTM says:

    @Tarrou: "In fact, in every state where creationism has gone to a public vote over whether or not to teach it in schools, it has lost. Even Texas. The constant worry about it is pathological, not real. Much like the outlawing of abortion. It's just not going to happen."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creation_and_evolution_in_public_education_in_the_United_States

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitzmiller_v._Dover_Area_School_District

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kansas_evolution_hearings

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academic_Freedom_bills

  152. HandOfGod137 says:

    @Tarrou

    Oddly, professors with heterodox scientific theories often stand a better chance of losing their jobs than those who fulminate offensively on political topics.

    If by "heterodox" you mean "clearly and demonstrably wrong" (as opposed to against consensus, but possibly Nobel winning if the evidence is there), then good. Politics is about opinion, discussion and argument, and being offensive is part of the game. Science is about understanding the system of the world. Once you're off with the fairies to ID land, you're not teaching your students the facts.

  153. Lizard says:

    As regards "But why can't the taxpayers control speech at publicly funded universities?" the answer is that the Bill of Rights, being a limit on government action, is a limit on what the citizens can demand the government do in their name. It was not put in place out of fear of undemocratic tyranny, at least not wholly so — it was put in place, also, out of fear of the mob. This is why, for example, the government cannot fund religious displays, even if the majority wants them to. The same argument, after all, goes down to the public schools in general: Why can't the taxpayers demand that creationism be taught in schools? Or religion in general — why can't the taxpayers demand that religious exemptions to zoning laws only be given to "real" religion, like Christianity, and not "fake" religions, like Islam?

    The Bill of Rights is fundamentally undemocratic, and that's by design.

  154. Peter B says:

    A: Good effects of policy Guth hates C: Bad effects of policy he hates
    B: Good effects of policy Guth wants D: Bad effects of policy he wants

    Guth's argument ignores A and D. He may have had a free speech right to say what he did, but he demonstrated an incompetence that is all too common not only in journalists but in policy makers. Too bad he can't be fired for THAT.

    And on the free speech side, consider the following hypothetical: What if Guth had said: "Your abortion law kills babies. Next time I hope it's your children?"

    What would the University's response have been?

  155. Steven H. says:

    @Malc:

    So, which pre-1986 rule allowed the creation of a database of gun-owners?

  156. AliceH says:

    I thought the primary purpose of tenure was to safeguard Professors' speech/views. I assume Public Universities grant tenure. Is that redundant? While it's been mentioned, I'd be interested in some more discussion along these lines. Thanks.

  157. Tarrou says:

    @ JTM, none of those links contradicted what I said, so thank you for underlining my point.

    @ Handofgod, I don't know what you are talking about, I was speaking in general terms. You seem to have something specific in mind, and are quite upset about it. I wasn't talking about ID, you know there are more topics than biology, right? But since you bring it up, here you go: Any biology professor who wants to teach that is off the table in my book. But a philosophy prof having it as a personal opinion? Different ballgame. There is more nuance than you seem to admit, but we are gettign off topic.

  158. HandOfGod137 says:

    @ Tarrou

    Er, no. Not upset in the slightest. Was just trying to illustrate my point that some subjects are based in observable reality, but others are more concerned with the mechanics of society. Like saying a mathematics teacher shouldn't teach pi = 4 on the Euclidean plane, but such strictures on respecting the observable universe don't exist in other subjects. And although I raised evolution in my original post, you carried on with the subject in your response, so I don't get the "more topics than biology" bit when I stuck with the example.

    Not to worry, though. What examples of heterodox science were you thinking of?

  159. felix says:

    @Steve H
    I think Malc was responding more to your statement about BATF not being allowed to retain records rather than them creating databases. He mentioned out-of-business gun shops so probably referring to the out-of-business records center. You can get a short description from http://www.atf.gov/files/publications/download/p/atf-p-3312-10.pdf.

    While they are not allowed to put these in a searchable database, if you believe that is stopping them I have this Nigerian widow with a business opportunity that I'd like to introduce to you.

  160. felix says:

    @Malc
    I want to make sure I understand what you are saying that Professor Guth meant. When he tweeted "…Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters…", he did not actually mean, "I hope your sons and daughter get killed by the next deranged shooter so you feel the pain caused by your support for people being allowed to own evil guns". What he actually meant was "I hope you get killed by the next deranged shooter because of your support for people being allowed to own evil guns, but then you won't be around to feel the pain so it probably should be your sons and daughter who get killed, not that I'm advocating anybody actually get killed or anything."

    Is that about right?

  161. Resolute says:

    It says a great deal about how successful the NRA's lobbying has been that even Ken seems to equate an anti-NRA comment as being anti-Second Amendment. One can oppose the former without opposing the latter. Though frankly, as an outsider, I think America would do well to take a long, serious look at whether there is actual value in either anymore.

  162. En Passant says:

    HandOfGod137 wrote Sep 22, 2013 @11:37 am:

    Not to worry, though. What examples of heterodox science were you thinking of?

    I'm not Tarrou. I don't know what heterodox science he had in mind.

    But certainly heterodox science exists besides creationism or intelligent design and its brethren. One fairly well known, and unproved, body of theory is hidden variable theory in quantum mechanics. Long story short, it renders quantum mechanics deterministic.

    I think it's simply not so, but I'm not a theoretical physicist. Some surprising great physicists have worked to develop it over the past century or so.

  163. Erbo says:

    There is a fundamental question of "rights" here. Specifically, the rights of Kansas taxpayers.

    Why should they be forced, at government gunpoint, to pay the salary of a man who goes on to advocate the murder of their children in response to an incident which didn't even take place in their state?

    Yes, freedom of speech and academic freedom. But some things are, or should be, beyond the pale. This asshole is biting the hand that feeds him, and, in fact, is forced to feed him through their taxes.

    Yes, he used his private Twitter account. But was he "on the clock" at KU at the time he made the tweet? Did he use KU's Internet connection to send it? These questions have yet to be answered, and might provide more legitimate grounds for dismissal if either of them prove true.

    Ultimately, though, people sent complaints to the University because that was pretty much their only recourse, since it would no longer be considered acceptable to find him on campus and give him the beatdown he so richly deserves.

  164. Zack says:

    IMHO, government employees should enjoy equal or greater protections for speech not made on the clock, but less protection for speech made on the clock- on the clock they are both on the government dime, and acting with its power, so they should (again, IMHO) be held to standards similar to or identical to the standards that government is held to during that time. They are and should be free to say/do what they want in their private time- but a professor in a classroom of a public university or an officer in uniform in a patrol car is acting with the sanction of the state, and needs to be held to a higher standard.

  165. Ken White says:

    It says a great deal about how successful the NRA's lobbying has been that even Ken seems to equate an anti-NRA comment as being anti-Second Amendment. One can oppose the former without opposing the latter. Though frankly, as an outsider, I think America would do well to take a long, serious look at whether there is actual value in either anymore.

    Well, actually, I am pro-Second-Amendment but have a low opinion of the NRA, so I'm not sure how effective it really was.

  166. felix says:

    …even Ken seems to equate an anti-NRA comment as being anti-Second Amendment…

    Actually I think he just said that the comment was made against the NRA because they supported the Second Amendment. Not that the comment was anti-Second Amendment.

    One can oppose the former without opposing the latter.

    Absolutely, gun rights supporters criticize and even oppose the NRA all the time on other than the Second Amendment. Guth does not appear to be one of them.

    I think America would do well to take a long, serious look at whether there is actual value in either anymore.

    As far as the NRA, America does not get to take a look at whether it has actual value anymore. That is up to its members. If its members think it no longer has value, then it will go away. Or did you think the government gets to disband it? Or maybe non-members get a vote to make it go away?

    As far as the Second Amendment, America takes a serious look at its value, every day. It can be removed from the constitution in the same way the First Amendment (or any of the other enumerated rights) can be removed. By amending the constitution. The day that enough Americans think it no longer belongs in the constitution, it will be removed. Until then, the fact that it is there indicates that the verdict is it has value.

  167. Don Kenner says:

    Chicago Tom wrote: "I don't think that it's unfair to hold the position that everyone whose reaction to senseless gun violence is to advocate for more guns, easier access to guns and arming everyone so that every member of society is a potential vigilante is partially complicit in the gun violence that occurs."

    Hey Chicago Tom, you live in the windy city? Toughest gun laws in the country. How's that working out for you guys? Idiot.

  168. HandOfGod137 says:

    @En Passant

    One fairly well known, and unproved, body of theory is hidden variable theory in quantum mechanics. Long story short, it renders quantum mechanics deterministic.

    That would actually be one of the examples of unproven-yet-actively-pursued science I would cite. Like M Theory and Quantum Loop Gravity: these are all speculative hypotheses that are still based in logic and (in principle) are falsifiable. ID is often mentioned in these circumstances as being an example of a belief that has actually led to academics not being offered jobs, but not, I contend, because it is "heterodox science", but rather because it is not science at all.

    My point goes back to Tarrou's argument that science professors are more likely to lose their jobs over non-standard beliefs, which I am arguing is, in the most polite way, bollocks. Scientists can lose academic jobs for non-scientific beliefs (ID, the moon is made of custard etc), but as long as it's based on empirical evidence and logical extrapolation, it's not a problem, q.v. Judith Curry. Science doesn't have to agree at the hypothesis stage, it just has to be science.

  169. En Passant says:

    HandOfGod137 wrote Sep 23, 2013 @1:34 am:

    … these are all speculative hypotheses that are still based in logic and (in principle) are falsifiable. ID is often mentioned in these circumstances as being an example of a belief that has actually led to academics not being offered jobs, but not, I contend, because it is "heterodox science", but rather because it is not science at all.

    Agreed that ID and other flavors of creationism are not falsifiable even according to their proponents, so are not science. I should have made the distinction clear, but I was thinking of actual science that is also heterodox. HV theory is both heterodox and considered falsifiable by those who investigate the hypothesis. It's a speculative itch that theoreticians do occasionally scratch.

    … Scientists can lose academic jobs for non-scientific beliefs (ID, the moon is made of custard etc), but as long as it's based on empirical evidence and logical extrapolation, it's not a problem, q.v. Judith Curry. Science doesn't have to agree at the hypothesis stage, it just has to be science.

    Agree there too. Wasn't quite sure what point Tarrou was trying to make. My only point was that heterodox science qua science actually does exist.

    I don't think Bohm was ever academically penalized for resurrecting de Broglie's abandoned HV theory in the 1950s, although he was treated terribly by the U.S. government during WWII for entirely unrelated very bad and very stupid reasons.

    I'm partial to the moon custard theory though, because custard is tastier than green cheese. That's probably why I wasn't appointed head of NASA. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

  170. Tarrou says:

    @ Handofgod,

    I wasn't thinking of anything specific when I said it, but I think we agree on the "scientific" issue. I had a biology prof who "wasn't entirely convinced" that HIV causes AIDS. Some stuff I didn't understand fully about flaws in the research process. He wasn't fired, but some people tried because they claimed it was insensitive. Larry Summers (not a prof at the time) got tossed for saying the scientific consensus on intelligence metrics. There are whole fields which are either too mushy (philosophy) or too complicated (economics) to really "falsify" anything. Comparative anything?

  171. Anonymouse says:

    @Don Kenner
    You know why it isn't working? Chicago is next to Indiana. A large portion of the guns used by Chicago's gangs come from Indiana, and a lot of those come from private sales. You might not like Chicago gun laws, but at least be intellectually honest and acknowledge that the prevalence of guns in Chicago is due in large part of Indiana's gun laws.

  172. Steven H. says:

    @Anonymouse:

    "You know why it isn't working? Chicago is next to Indiana. A large portion of the guns used by Chicago's gangs come from Indiana, and a lot of those come from private sales. You might not like Chicago gun laws, but at least be intellectually honest and acknowledge that the prevalence of guns in Chicago is due in large part of Indiana's gun laws."

    So, why don't Indiana's gun laws produce comparable levels of gun violence in INDIANA??

  173. Anonymouse says:

    @Steven H.
    I didn't say Chicago's violence is due to guns. Chicago has a violence problem and easy access to guns from Indiana exacerbates that problem.

    We basically have two groups of people: violent people who want guns and law-abiding citizens that safely own guns. I don't care about the latter. Maybe stricter gun laws won't do anything to reduce access to the former. You can't dismiss how fed up people in these gun violent areas are. I think most gun control measures are political window dressing meant to satisfy in the short run. However, short of declaring a constitution free zone in Chicago, what can you do (beside economical and educational development that no one wants to pay for)?

  174. AliceH says:

    "We basically have two groups of people: violent people who want guns and law-abiding citizens that safely own guns."

    Make that three groups. You missed "law-abiding citizens that are prevented from owning guns".

  175. mcinsand says:

    One of the problems with the NRA/firearms topic is that there are really three imperfectly comingled issues involved, and all three involve emotional hotbuttons.

    The first issue is firearms and the second amendment to the constitution. If we are to keep this amendment, I really wish that congress would strip it of its ambiguity, but I firmly believe that both sides of the political aisle would actually unite to fight such an effort. After all, both the left and the right benefit greatly from using this issue to excite their bases. As far as I can tell, the right opposes more restrictions simply because the left is pushing for them, and the left is pushing for more restrictions simply because the right is opposing them.

    Then, there is the issue of violence. We have violence and we have firearm violence, and then we have too many people that don't understand the difference… or maybe they conveniently forget the difference. If I remember correctly, Chicago's mayor was looking at requiring baseball bat registration in the 1990's, when that was the gangs' weapon of choice. Also, after a comment from some UK national former in-laws, regarding violence in the UK, I looked up international crime statistics. While firearm violence is understandably lower in the UK, violent crime is not. We have a sick culture, both in the US and the UK, and anyone that thinks that banning firearms will address that problem is living in a fantasy world.

    Finally, there is the issue of senseless loss of life. This is also where our attention is most misdirected. Make no mistake, the recent shootings are a tragedy, but so are the daily losses on our highways. We still pay attention to one, but we have become numbly accepting to the automobile dangers that are far, far more to take the life of someone that we care about. To some extent, this is a cost of having so much more elbow room in the US; public transportation becomes more difficult to sustain, if it is sustainable at all. However, most of our states hand out drivers licenses like Halloween candy. As far as groups responsible for deaths, the attention that the NRA gets over the AARP is positively disgusting. Any time a legislative group discloses plans to tighten driving restrictions that might affect older (and better funded) citizens, the AARP opens the lobbying money gates in ways that the NRA could never afford. If we really wanted to save lives… to save family members and friends… guns wouldn't get the attention; we in the US would start looking at our requirements for allowing a person to drive over a ton of steel at 70 mph.

    Regards,
    mc

  176. Malc. says:

    @AliceH And how about "law-abiding citizens who don't care", "law-abiding citizens who have good reason to not want guns around", "non-citizens that fit in any other the above categories", etc.

    @Stephen H Hasn't it dawned on you yet that I don't care about your particular hobby horse, and am not going to play your game? I made a statement, and your desire to perturb it to your agenda is entirely your own business!

    @felix Go read what Guth wrote on his website, rather than try and fabricate a position for me to hold that represents my views on what he said.

    I do not believe there is anything remotely controversial in the opinion that wishing that a body that lobbies for position X bear the brunt of any negative consequences of position X. In fact, I'd assert that it is morally the entirely correct capitalist way: if you want X, you pay the financial, emotional, and social cost of X.

    My view? Tax the fuck out of guns and ammunition. They impose a cost to society, so let those want the things pay the cost. And they can remain happy that their right to the things is not being infringed.

  177. ChicagoTom says:

    Hey Chicago Tom, you live in the windy city? Toughest gun laws in the country. How's that working out for you guys? Idiot.

    I fucking love it here. Born and raised here. Wouldn't trade it for anywhere in the world.

    And since you're so intellectually strong that you had to resort to name calling let me respond in the only way you will understand:
    What does paste taste like, you vile piece of shit??

  178. Zack says:

    @Malc: Great. So let's apply the same philosophy to abortion clinics.
    EPA estimates human life to be worth ~9.1 million per life. Average US lifespan, I don't have data so let's estimate it at 80 years or 4160 weeks. So let's tax abortions at X/4160*$9,100,000 per abortion where X is number of weeks along the fetus is. That works out to a tax of $20,000 for a one-week fetus, or $400,000 for a 20-week fetus.

    They impose a cost to society- the elimination of potential human lives- so let those that want the things pay the cost. And they can be happy that their right to the things is not being infringed.

    Because after all, it's not like taxes increase prices and ergo impose a de-facto restriction on access, right? It's not like taxing something is just another way of pushing people away from something or trying to eliminate something, right? SO both taxes would be equally constitutional.

  179. Zack says:

    My bad. My numbers were off by a factor of 10- so it'd be roughly $2,000 for a 1-week fetus, or $44,000 for a 20-week fetus.

  180. Lizard says:

    Or, we could look at the costs unwanted children impose on society (loss of income for the mother (and the loss of the potential for her own advancement, sunk into having to expend time and resources on a child she didn't want or plan to have), costs for healthcare, costs for education, higher odds of becoming a criminal, with all the costs that imposes, etc., and hand out a large cash payment to anyone who choose to have an abortion.

    Or, we could agree that arguing over the rightness or wrongness of Guth's views is irrelevant from a free speech perspective, which is what this article is focused on, and get back to whether a government institution, particularly a university, has the right to fire a professor who expresses unpopular views. The person who actually knows the law, namely Ken, says "No". I haven't seen (maybe I've missed it, it's a long thread) an equally qualified lawyer say, "No, Ken's interpretation *of the the law as it stands* is wrong, and here's why:". Has anyone said this? Links, if so, please. I'd like to read the counterpoint on the law-as-it-is, not the law as it should be or could be.

  181. Jacob Schmidt says:

    They impose a cost to society- the elimination of potential human lives- so let those that want the things pay the cost.

    Unless you want to argue that society owns people, your reasoning fails.

  182. wolfefan says:

    @alice and @anonymouse –

    Four groups. Law abiding citizens who don't want guns.

  183. azazel1024 says:

    @tenlion

    One thing to consider is (I didn't check the link to see if they go in to it), he was originally placed on admin leave and then fired because

    A) He was supposedly doing a lot of the ranting during work hours
    B) He also supposedly used quite a bit of township ammo in the production of some of his rant videos

    At least in theory the Town council claims they are pro gun and support his postion, but "Ya can't just go around using township property to make your personal videos and do it on township time" I believe is their rationalization.

    Whether it is true on the views of the town council, they certainly seem to have a pretty good basis for firing him.

    This would be as if Prof Guth decided to print 1,000 pages of anti-NRA disgusting rants, laminate them using university laminators and then distribute them while he should be teaching a class.

    Me thinks the later would not be protected one iota, just like the Sheriff's actions likely wouldn't be protected if he tried to file suit over the filing.

    The important part of government employees "extra" protection in free speech is that they have to do it on their own time and not use gov't resources when doing it (the essence of the Hatch act, at least in regards to political speech).

  184. CJK Fossman says:

    @mcinsand

    Good points all.

    I would propose there is one difference between violence in the UK and violence in the US. I doubt there are few young children killed by stabbings or bludgeons that miss their mark, while here in the US we have a number of children killed by misdirected bullets.

    I think it would also be interesting to see how many young children accidentally kill a sibling or playmate while playing with a knife or baseball bat.

  185. BradnSA says:

    All of that gun control didn't help those kids in Norway, and also, what is left out of the conversation is all of the mass shootings that don't happen because the potential gunman is confronted before they can start.

    The professor made a comment he was probably holding in abeyance for the next big shooting, and not bothering to wait for the details to emerge.

    He should lose his job for not being a very effective communicator while being employed as a person that teaches it.

  186. Craig Mazin says:

    &Ken … Thanks. I guess, once again, the only way for me to get what I want is to become Emperor.

    And then I'll show you all!

  187. felix says:

    malc:
    Go read what Guth wrote on his website, rather than try and fabricate a position for me to hold that represents my views on what he said.

    I do not believe there is anything remotely controversial in the opinion that wishing that a body that lobbies for position X bear the brunt of any negative consequences of position X. In fact, I'd assert that it is morally the entirely correct capitalist way: if you want X, you pay the financial, emotional, and social cost of X.

    Been there, read it, not impressed. What he wrote there is not the same thing as the tweet. His other reported statements also smacks of intellectual dishonesty which is why my comment was a bit snarky. I thought you were saying the same thing as he was. Your explanation though does translate to the tweet. I still think that you are dancing around the fact that the emotional cost part only makes sense if it is the children of the NRA members who become the victims but it is logical.

    If Guth had said "The blood is on the hands of the NRA, I hope you learn the cost the victims and their families paid." then it probably would not have been controversial but he brought "sons and daughters" into the discussion so he gets to deal with the controversy.

  188. Steven H. says:

    @Malc:

    "My view? Tax the fuck out of guns and ammunition."

    Can't.
    Supreme Court case way back when the Government decided to tax printers' ink – it was ruled that taxing something excessively (in context, that meant more than other things were taxed) required by a Constitutional Right was, itself, an unconstitutional infringement on that Right.

  189. Demosthenes says:

    If I lived in Kansas, the state taxes I paid would go in part toward paying Guth's salary. Any private employer would be well within his rights to deprive an employee of his salary and position if he said something like this. So why should the public in Kansas not be free to demand Guth's termination, and get it?

    A good rebuttal to that perspective, which I support in part: Universities are expected to discuss controversial issues and pursue lines of reasoning wherever they lead, because their highest duty is to truth. Therefore, they must to be safe spaces for free speech — even for the most unpopular views. Their ability to fulfill their mission would be seriously curtailed if employees were able to be fired for expressing unpopular viewpoints.

    But, my rebuttal: surely we can make a distinction between commentary and abuse. Had Guth tweeted, "It is regrettable that we feel we must pay such a high price for a silly freedom" (a position which I find ridiculous), he's clearly discussing the topic even as he's offering commentary. There's nothing of substance to be garnered from his actual tweet. It's simply gratuitous, and offensive, and immature, and in a just world the citizens of Kansas would be relieved of the necessity of subsidizing his gratuitous and offensive immaturity.

    And I say this as someone who has taught in college classrooms, and who never let my politics into the discussion even once.

  190. Resolute says:

    @felix – I think it is a tad disingenuous to state that America "takes a serious look at [the second amendment's] value, every day". Allowing inertia to rule isn't really taking a serious look, and it appears that a serious national discussion is not forthcoming. That is, of course, your collective right, even if it dooms America to near-daily mass murders as a result of the intent of the second amendment being perverted into an excuse to justify a culture that enables and encourages senseless violence.

  191. Demosthenes says:

    "That is, of course, your collective right, even if it dooms America to near-daily mass murders…"

    Citation needed.

  192. felix says:

    @resolute
    You can call it inertia
    http://thequietscholar.com/2012/12/20/does-america-have-the-safety-on/concealed-carry-in-the-united-states/
    I call it the pro-2nd-amendment side winning the discussion. Every day, people are having this discussion, you might just not notice it because Americans are not having it with the world or with the media. The discussion is happening between Americans and their representatives because that is how laws actually get changed. That is how the laws in DC and in Illinois are slowly getting changed. Ok, the courts get their say too.

    As far as near-daily mass murders unfortunately the government still won't give up the war on drugs so what can you do? Eventually there will be enough support to change it, just have to keep the discussion going.

  193. Resolute says:

    @Demosthenes – Jon Stewart had a fantastic stat a couple days ago in his criticism of CNN's coverage of the Navy Yard shooting. There have been 250 incidents where 4+ people have been murdered in the first 260 days of this year.

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/09/19/jon-stewart-hammers-republicans-for-their-double-standard-on-guns-and-nsa-spying/

    @felix – Of course the discussion tends not to be national (read: "in the media") in scope. In large part because of hard lobbying by groups like the NRA to try and prevent such. Like I said though, it is your right to not have that discussion if you don't want to. It makes me sad, but it is your right.

  194. Demosthenes says:

    Of course, a citation to a source containing an actual summary of each of those events is preferable to a citation to someone else that says the same thing you do. You can nearly always find someone else to back up any line. However, I do admire you for responding to a terse comment at all, so I'll proceed from what you've given me. Let's start by discussing the following — without raw data, it's impossible to have a serious conversation at all.

    Arturo Garcia, you see, is not actually writing about the number of mass murders in the United States. He is writing about Jon Stewart doing a pointed comedy bit. Therefore, his main source, suitably enough, is Jon Stewart. But is there any investigation of Stewart's sources? No. There's just a summary article quoting many of what were likely his best lines, without any attempt to place them in further context beyond the confines of his comedy rant.

    Example: "Our mass shooting average is 96 percent." What does that even mean? That there have been almost as many mass murders as there have been days in the year, obviously. (Side question: how was the definition of 4+ people murdered in a single location chosen to describe the term "mass murder"? I'm not nitpicking, I'm just curious.) So the comparison with science and math scores is solely to get a laugh, since they're obviously not measured in the same way. And yet you want to have a serious conversation about gun crime in America, based off that?

    A more interesting and relevant point might be that these 250-odd incidents represent a vanishingly small fraction of the gun owners in America, and involve an even smaller fraction of the guns in America. What is 250 or so into 270 million, anyway? (http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/fileadmin/docs/A-Yearbook/2007/en/Small-Arms-Survey-2007-Chapter-02-annexe-4-EN.pdf) The way Stewart phrases it, and the way you seem to regard it, any time one person with one gun does something massively bad, anywhere in a country that has 300 million people and 270 million guns, only one of those categories means anything. By that logic, we should heavily restrict cars because of all the drunk-driving accidents in America.

    That is somewhat beside the point, though, so let's zero in on what really matters here. Taking these 250-odd incidents as a group, and examining them, do we notice any statistically significant factors? Are they spread equally across the country, or do they seem concentrated in one region or one particular type of environment? Are the shooters demographically representative of the population, or do they cluster around a particular characteristic or set of characteristics (age, race, socioeconomic class)? And of course, we would need to correct for gun ownership rates and factor in the strictness of gun control in the area. Those are just the questions I thought of quickly.

    Now I agree…that would be an interesting conversation to have. But you're not interested in having it. You're more interested in concern-trolling gun rights advocates based on a contextless statistic sourced to a throwaway line in the self-righteous monologue of a second-rate partisan hack disguised as a comedian. I realize that you're not American yourself, but if you want there to be a serious conversation, it might behoove you to act like it and contribute something of substance…rather than sadly clucking your tongue and invoking a number as proof that people who disagree with you aren't as serious as people who get their news from the Daily Show.

  195. Demosthenes says:

    Ten days have passed. Resolute has yet to begin that discussion he wanted. I will take that as confirmation that one of the following three sentences is true:

    1) He was cowed by my wit and chose not to respond.
    2) He thought I was too rude to deserve a response.
    3) He got bored and wandered off somewhere.

    In any case, a clear win for me, by the rules of the Internet.

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