Thursday, April 17, 2014

N.J. Professor Suspended Over "Threatening" Game Of Thrones T-Shirt Photo

Francis Schmidt, a professor at a community college in Bergen, New Jersey, was recently suspended soon after he posted a photo on Google+ that some (including a dean at the college) felt was a "veiled threat."  The art and animation professor posted a pic of his young daughter in a t-shirt with the tagline from the TV show Game of Thrones:

"I will take what is mine with fire and blood."
Why would people find anything threatening about the post? Apparently Schmidt had been denied a sabbatical and had filed a grievance with his union. The union itself is also having trouble with the administration regarding tenure and promotions.

After the post on Google+, Schmidt was immediately called in to meet with administrators.

At the meeting, Schmidt explained the shirt in the context of Game of Thrones and showed Miller that the "fire and blood" tagline has 4 million results on Google. The professor asked why his photo had caused such a reaction, and was told that "fire" could be a metaphor for "AK-47s."
Schmidt was placed on administrative leave without pay later that week, and told he would have to pass a psychiatric evaluation before he could return. He says he passed that same evaluation in 2007 after being diagnosed with depression.
Sounds pretty crazy to suspend someone for a photo of his child in a Game of Throne t-shirt?  Right? But Bergen Community College admin issued this statement:

"The referenced incident refers to a private personnel matter at Bergen Community College. Since January 1, 2014, 34 incidents of school shootings have occurred in the United States. In following its safety and security procedures, the college investigates all situations where a member of its community – students, faculty, staff or local residents – expresses a safety or security concern."

Almost every mass shooting incident has been the result of some mentally ill individual going off the deep end, and yes depression is a mental illness. Are people with depression dangerous, the majority are not, but some are. Was the college justified in suspending him out of fear?  Suspension certainly wouldn't prevent Schmidt from going postal, if that's what they feared. But they are obviously operating on a 'better safe than sorry' mode.

I'm not sure what I think.

Source: Gawker

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