URI leader defends prof's NRA remark as protected speech | First Amendment Center – news, commentary, analysis on free speech, press, religion, assembly, petition:
The president of the University of Rhode Island has issued a statement supporting the right of a professor to express his views after he called for the National Rifle Association CEO’s “head on a stick.”
President David Dooley’s comments on Dec. 23 came after a statement last week in which Dooley distanced the university from a posting on Twitter by history professor Erik Loomis. Loomis wrote the post on Dec. 14, the day 20 children and six adults were killed by a gunman using a semi-automatic weapon inside a Newtown, Conn., elementary school.
“I was heartbroken in the first 20 mass murders. Now I want Wayne LaPierre’s head on a stick,” Loomis wrote. LaPierre is the chief executive of the NRA, the nation’s largest gun-rights lobby.
This professor doesn't have tenure. Gun nuts tried to get him fired after he made the "head on a stick" comment on Twitter. As with the Michael Mann lawsuit against National Review Online (see below), this situation raises some interesting issues about how freedom of expression and academic freedom operate with highly-charged political issues that play out across the internet. The editorial function is either absent or involves less time for deliberation, so things are often "published" that in years past might have been edited out. And now instead of a daily news cycle, we have instant reverberations across social media platforms.