UPDATED: Former Student Responds; Guth Suspended | KU Journalism Prof Defends Death-wish Tweets Directed at NRA Members' Kids

September 19th, 2013 4:30 PM

Update #2 (Sept. 20; 5:43 p.m. EDT): A former student of Prof. Guth's, who says he's a conservative and NRA member, emailed me to object to my characterization of his former instructor. See below the page break for his email, which he assented for me to publish, with his name redacted.

Update #1 (Sept. 20; 12:55 p.m. EDT): Kansas University has put Guth on administrative leave. Read Kat Timpf's story at Campus Reform here. |

An unrepentant David Guth doubled down on his hateful tweets wishing death and damnation on NRA members and their children, Katherine Timpf of Campus Reform reported this afternoon.*  "#NavyYardShooting The blood is on the hands of the #NRA. Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters. Shame on you. May God damn you," the Kansas University journalism professor tweeted on Monday afternoon.

Responding to Campus Reform, Guth refused to recant. "Hell no, hell no, I do not regret that Tweet.... I don't take it back one bit," Timpf quoted him as saying. For now, at least, Kansas University is standing by Guth (Twitter handle: @DWGuth):

KU on Wednesday told Campus Reform that they stand by the professor's right to make such statements.

“Faculty have their own social media accounts and use those to express personal opinions, but those opinions do not represent the university,” spokesman Jack Martin wrote in an email statement to Campus Reform on Wednesday.

While Guth’s Twitter account is personal, his biography includes a link that directs to the school’s website.

“An Eastern Shoreman turned professor and historian,” reads his description. “A devoted husband, father and dog owner. Most important: an independent thinker.”

Official school policy demands all in the community adhere to a standard of “inclusive learning and working environment at the University of Kansas.”

Guth made his comments the same day as the massacre at the Navy Yard in Washington, DC which left 13 people dead including the shooter.

Guth also served as the associate dean of the journalism school from July 2004 to July 2009.

A review of Guth's personal blog, Snapping Turtle, shows that has a pre-existing beef with the fact that handgun ownership by civilians is constitutional. From a July 15 blog post about the George Zimmerman not-guilty verdict:

if you want to be outraged, focus on the guns. Zimmerman probably wouldn't have gone anywhere near Martin if he hadn't been packing heat. Instead, we had two alpha males squaring off and an ensuing tragedy. As long was we treat handguns as if they are constitutionally sacrosanct, this sickening drama will continued to be replayed on the streets of every American town. If you want to be angry, be angry at a gun culture that made this tragedy possible.

That's just one of many blog posts in which Guth (pictured at right) rails against the NRA and gun "nuts," etc.

KU may stand by Guth's right to make an ass of himself on social media -- and his blog -- but Guth's virulent hatred of gun rights advocates would give any pro-gun rights student of his pause. It's not inconceivable that students of Guth's who are pro-Second Amendment may feel intimidated about letting known their personal views on the Second Amendment and gun rights.

It's best not to tick off the vein-popping nutjob who grades your papers, after all.

*I initially reported Timpf wrote her article early in the morning. I misread the timestamp at the Campus Reform blog, which said 03:29 p.m. I was thrown off and thought the hour was 3 a.m. My apologies for the error.

UPDATE #2: I had the pleasure of some email correspondence with a former student of Guth's who complained about my characterization of the KU journalism professor. He described himself as a conservative and an NRA member and said he never experienced any disrespect nor angry outbursts from Guth at any time when he was studying under him. I asked for his permission to publish his correspondence. Below if his initial email, sent prior to KU announcing they were putting the instructor on administrative leave (emphasis mine):

Dear Mr. Shepherd,

I am a graduate of the University of Kansas' William Allen White School of Journalism. I completed my master's degree in 2012. As a gun-owning, pro-gun, pro-NRA conservative, I would like to counter your comments at the end of your article here: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/ken-shepherd/2013/09/19/ku-journalism-prof-defends-death-wish-tweets-directed-nra-members-ki-0 with a little first-hand knowledge. Your statement that Prof. Guth's students may feel intimidated by his Second Amendment views is neither accurate nor informed.

I had the distinct pleasure of having Prof. Guth as my professor for the KU strategic communications track capstone course, called "Campaigns." Throughout the extremely demanding course, Prof. Guth maintained an even-handed, fair and friendly demeanor toward all students. My time with him included traveling for a couple of days across Kansas along with a diverse group of KU journalism students while conducting interviews and focus groups in small towns. Prof. Guth always treated everyone well.

I never once witnessed Prof. Guth behave in a "vein-popping nut job" way that you describe. Despite our political differences, I found Prof. Guth to be very open to discussion of various political topics and willing to consider differing opinions. In fact, I felt so comfortable with Prof. Guth's treatment of me that I invited him to be on my thesis defense committee specifically because he is a knowledgeable, informed and capable scholar who doesn't act in an overbearing or negative manner at all.

Lest you think that I am feeding you a line, I hold a master's degree from the University of Colorado in multimedia and history as well as a master's degree from the University of Kansas. I have had a sum total of five self-identifying conservative professors throughout my academic experience -- roughly about 10 years.

I am very aware of professorial bias and the hazards of crossing a liberal professor. I ran into anti-conservative sentiment very rarely among the professors at KU. On one occasion I did feel targeted for my views by a another professor (not Guth) but even that professor (for whom I hold much disdain) was an excellent instructor who taught me a great deal.

I cannot defend Prof. Guth's statements. I don't agree with Prof. Guth choice of words. However, I respect his right to speak his thoughts and you should too. Your assertion that he is a "vein-popping nut job" and that he has a "virulent hatred of gun rights advocates" is simply inaccurate and borders on libel. Frankly, the same First Amendment that protects him also protects you and me.

The simple truth is that Prof. Guth often sees the world differently than you or I do, but he does care about his students and his community deeply. I have personally seen evidence of this on repeated occasions. I was a mere grad student but Prof. Guth always treated me extremely well. I never saw him treat any student poorly, ever. I have the utmost respect for him. I am grateful for his fair and even-handed treatment of me and for his friendship.

You owe Prof. Guth an apology and you owe yourself a few more minutes to do some additional research before making unfortunate and harmful editorial statements that do not stand up under scrutiny.

Respectfully yours,

In subsequent correspondence, after I had said I would not apologize to Guth but that I would update this post to give his perspective, this gentleman noted (emphasis mine):

I've learned over the years, most vividly in academia but also in the private sector, that many liberals treat conservatives incredibly poorly and the back-stabbing never ends. (Another is that conservatives have a habit of eating their own when someone says, "Hey, wait a minute. That's not ethical.")

This is why I contacted you privately. I appreciate your candor and willingness to hear me out. I understand your unwillingness to apologize. I completely agree that Prof. Guth's comments were beyond the pale.

That said, there needs to be room to agree to disagree -- to say that something someone says is distasteful and vile, yet have the restraint to not call that person names or attack their character or profession. I see liberals attack people personally daily and not the content of their speech. We do not need to emulate that practice.

As a KU professor, Guth is held to a high standard. As conservatives, the truth is that we are held to a higher one, whether we want to be or not. You, as an editor for a respected conservative online news source, represent the rest of us. I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this.

Right now, everyone in the conservative press is piling on to Prof. Guth. The mainstream picked it up last night. KU has suspended him. It is sad to see as he is a particularly thoughtful and good man, not an evil one. I can list vastly more liberal and biased (and evil!) professors who deserve this treatment on both hands.

Towards the end of his second email, he also asked:

Please give my regards to Mr. Bozell. I really enjoy his segments on O'Reilly and Hannity. He is right on with his research on bias.

I can understand and appreciate this fellow's position. Most of my professors in college were thoroughly liberal yet always respectful and fair towards me, even my women's studies prof. [Yes, I took that class to meet girls and no, it was not a good idea. Live and learn.] I can only imagine my conflicted thoughts if one of those profs popped off on Twitter and made national news. I think perhaps I'd react like this gentleman.

At any rate, I thank him for writing me with his thoughts and for his kind words for NewsBusters and the Media Research Center.