Recent news reports have noted al Qaeda's calls for attacks inside the United States and on U.S. ambassadors around the world. The calls for attacks are justified--according to an al Qaeda spokesman--because these diplomats are "representative of the empire of evil and corruption, America."
Most Americans can only shudder at such outrageous public comments. The blind, unthinking hatred that underlies them is a sobering reminder of evil and the ever-present potential for violence that continues to promote conflict around the world. To label such comments as political speech or claim they have a rational place in public debate would surely be considered far-fetched, especially given al Qaeda's record of giving action to this sort of rhetoric.
But in the case of one University of Kansas professor, indulging in arguably even stronger rhetoric--publicly calling for the deaths of innocent children--is apparently his way of expressing himself as "an independent thinker."
In the wake of Monday's atrocity at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., University of Kansas journalism professor David Guth singled out the NRA as the cause of the violence and offered what he considered just recompense. "The blood is on the hands of the NRA," he wrote in a tweet on his personal account. "Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters. Shame on you. May God damn you."
Emotions, of course, were running high on that terrible day, and the website Campus Reform contacted Guth days later to confirm that he was, in fact, the author of the tweet. It also gave him opportunity for further comment or perhaps to offer a retraction or some context for apparently wishing death on the children of those associated with the NRA.
Guth's response, according to the site: "Hell no, hell no, I do not regret that Tweet," he said. "I don't take it back one bit." "God's justice takes many forms," he added in another tweet.
Fortunately, it has recently been reported that the University of Kansas suspended Guth for his depraved comments.
According to a follow-up Campus Reform article, KU's chancellor, Bernadette Gray-Little, announced the suspension Friday morning.
"In order to prevent disruptions to the learning environment for students, the School of Journalism and the university, I have directed Provost Jeffrey Vitter to place Associate Professor Guth on indefinite administrative leave pending a review of the entire situation."
The article further notes that the university released an additional statement condemning Guth's tweet (when initially confronted with the situation, a university spokesperson had simply noted that statements on faculty members' private social media accounts do not represent the views of the university).
"The contents of Professor Guth's tweet were repugnant and in no way represent the views or opinions of the University of Kansas. [I]t is truly disgraceful that these views were expressed in such a callous and uncaring way. We expect all members of the university community to engage in civil discourse and not make inflammatory and offensive comment."
In reaction to Monday's attack at the Navy Yard by a person who, reports suggest, suffered from serious mental illness, some are calling for a renewed focus on early warning signs of aggression and expressions of mental instability. We are relieved that the University of Kansas seems to be addressing those issues as they concern professor Guth.