On Thursday, Ken Shepherd at NewsBusters noted that Kansas University journalism professor David Guth, in the wake of Monday's Navy Yard murders, tweeted, "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." In an update which now also includes a defense of Guth by a former student, Ken noted that he has placed on administrative leave. Yesterday, I noted that the headline at the Associated Press's national site after Guth's suspension ("KU Professor Takes Heat Over Twitter Comment") avoided mentioning KU's discliplinary action against him. Perhaps in response to my post yesterday, the AP has changed the headline in stories with later time stamps to "KU Professor on Leave After Tweet Directed at NRA." But AP's updates still relay information about certain Kansas legislators' campaign contributions from gun rights groups — as if they're at all relevant.
In the wake of his placement on leave, Guth told AP, in the wire service's words, that "gun rights advocates had orchestrated a social media campaign against him," while asserting in his own words that "my plan is to be the calm in the center of the storm." Part of that "calm" apparently involves keeping others from digging into his Twitter history, because it's gone:
Twitter's grounds for proactively deleting accounts on its own appear to require an outside complaint from another person about "posting my private information," "being abusive," or "sending me violent threats." So the default assumption has to be that Guth has deleted his entire account on his own, perhaps as a precondition to returning to KU's good graces.
If his "Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters" tweet were truly an aberration, it seems that Guth could have arranged to delete only that entry and then block all Twitter messaging.
Guth, who told the AP on Thursday that his tweet "got a conversation going — that was exactly what I wanted to do," is now acting as if his placement on leave is because of the arrival of "abusive email threats" from others, and not what he originally did:
Kansas First News contacted University of Kansas professor David Guth Friday morning for comment after the university placed him on administrative leave. The following is Guth’s reply:
“I have had conversations with the university and have agreed to this action in light of the abusive email threats I and others have received. It is in it the best interests and peace of mind of our students that I remove myself from the situation and let cooler heads prevail. It is unfortunate that my comments have been deliberately distorted. I know what I meant. Unfortunately, this is a topic that generates more heat than light.”
... Guth says he wasn’t advocating violence, but was trying to make gun advocates see shootings from the point of view of the victims and their families.
Obviously, the email threats, to the extent they exist, are reprehensible and completely out of bounds.
As to his the journalism prof's claim that he "wasn't advocating violence": Sure, David. It only reads that way.
The AP's Hegeman apparently continues to believe that readers really care that some of those expressing outrage are (gasp!) getting campaign contributions from Second Amendment-supporting groups:
Rep. Brett Hildabrand, a Shawnee Republican, urged via Twitter that the university to take "appropriate action" against Guth.
Bruce has received $2,500 in campaign contributions from the NRA since 2004, including $750 in 2012, according to the online database maintained by the state Governmental Ethics Commission. Hildabrand received a $500 contribution last year from the Kansas State Rifle Association.
Hegeman appears to be implying that Bruce and Hildabrand are only unhappy because of their relatively insignificant "gun lobby" contributions. Otherwise, why bring them up at all?
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.