Skip to comments."Firefly' and Anti-Fascism Posters Get Professor Threatened with Criminal Charges (U of Wisconsin)
Posted on 09/30/2011 5:04:04 AM PDT by tlb
MINNEAPOLIS, Sept. 26, 2011A professor has been censored twice, reported to the "threat assessment team," and threatened with criminal charges because of satirical postings on his office door.
Campus police at the University of WisconsinStout (UWS) censored theater professor James Miller's poster depicting a quotation from actor Nathan Fillion's character in the television series Firefly, and the police chief threatened Miller with criminal charges for disorderly conduct. After UWS censored his second poster, which stated, "Warning: Fascism," Miller came to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help.
"Colleges and universities are supposed to foster brave and bold environments of freewheeling intellectual inquiry and expression. If a quote from a network science fiction show is a bridge too far, something has gone seriously wrong," FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. "As both president of FIRE and a huge Firefly fan, I call on the chancellor of UWStout to rein in his overreaching administration and to restore both free speech and basic common sense."
On September 12, 2011, Professor Miller posted on his office door an image of Nathan Fillion in Firefly and a line from an episode: "You don't know me, son, so let me explain this to you once: If I ever kill you, you'll be awake. You'll be facing me. And you'll be armed." On September 16, UWS Chief of Police Lisa A. Walter emailed Miller, notifying him that she had removed the poster and that "it is unacceptable to have postings such as this that refer to killing."
Amazed that UWS could be so shockingly heavy-handed, Miller replied by email, "Respect liberty and respect my first amendment rights."
Walter responded that "the poster can be interpreted as a threat by others and/or could cause those that view it to believe that you are willing/able to carry out actions similar to what is listed."
Walter also threatened Miller with criminal charges: "If you choose to repost the article or something similar to it, it will be removed and you could face charges of disorderly conduct."
Later on September 16, Miller placed a new poster on his office door in response to Walter's censorship. The poster read "Warning: Fascism" and included a cartoon image of a silhouetted police officer striking a civilian. The poster mocked, "Fascism can cause blunt head trauma and/or violent death. Keep fascism away from children and pets."
Astoundingly, Walter escalated the absurdity. On September 20, Walter emailed Miller again, stating that her office had removed the poster because it "depicts violence and mentions violence and death."
She added that UWS's "threat assessment team," in consultation with the university general counsel's office, had decided to have the poster removed, and that this poster was reasonably expected to "cause a material and/or substantial disruption of school activities and/or be constituted as a threat." College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Interim Dean Raymond Hayes has scheduled a meeting with Miller about "the concerns raised by the campus threat assessment team" for this Friday.
Miller came to FIRE for help. On September 21, FIRE wrote UWS Chancellor Charles W. Sorensen, explaining that the posters are not a threat, nor would any reasonable person expect them to cause a substantial disruption. In Virginia v. Black in 2003, the Supreme Court defined true threats as only "those statements where the speaker means to communicate a serious expression of an intent to commit an act of unlawful violence to a particular individual or group of individuals."
FIRE asked that Sorensen immediately end the university's censorship of Miller's peaceful speech, apologize to Miller for threatening criminal charges against him, and rescind its request for a meeting about the threat assessment team's inexplicable concerns. Sorensen has not responded.
"It is both shameful and absurd for UWS to suggest that campus community members are so impressionable and unreasonable that merely seeing a reference to violence on a poster will lead them to commit either actual violence or a substantial disruption of the campus," FIRE Vice President of Programs Adam Kissel said. "The police and the threat assessment team are the true threats to freedom at UWStout."
FIRE is a nonprofit educational foundation that unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals from across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of individual rights, freedom of expression, academic freedom, due process, and rights of conscience at our nation's colleges and universities. FIRE's efforts to preserve liberty on campuses across America are described at thefire.org.
The offending poster
The second poster.
Firefly just can't stop causing trouble.
Hooray for Firefly!
I remember the line, but not the specifics. Does anybody remember who the captain was addressing?
Now, regarding Firefly, I keep watching re-runs just to check out Jewel Staite. What a honey.
I’d quip “political correctness gone mad”, but it went mad a long time ago. And the only way to crush it is to crush liberalism.
... On September 20, Walter emailed Miller again, stating that her office had removed the poster because it "depicts violence and mentions violence and death."...
So they are banning television, movies, children's mystery novels like "Hardy Boys" and "Nancy Drew".
There are also plenty of medications and household cleaning products and appliances like hair-dryers that mentions "death" in their warning labels. Better get rid of those offending items too.
Meanwhile, at a university somewhere, they are scheduling yet another speech by the president of Iran.
It's bad enough to see the abuse of power by these twits at a university. Imagine what they would do with real power.
"I aim to misbehave"
Simon Tam (”How do I know you won’t kill me in my sleep?”)
He was addressing the doctor, who was concerned that Mal might do something to him and his sister over the danger they might pose due to their being wanted by the Alliance.
Firefly....one of the best shows ever.
Serenity was full of great lines.
Dr. Simon Tam: In all that time on the ship... I’ve always regretted... not being with you.
Kaylee Frye: With me? You mean to say... as in sex?
Dr. Simon Tam: I mean to say.
Kaylee Frye: To Hell with this. I’m gonna live!
See my post #12
‘trust me, when I start fighting a war, you’ll see something new’
I'll be in my bunk.
I shaved my beard off for you DEVIL WOMAN!!!
I wonder if this Walter creature ever realizes her actions are dripping with irony in forcibly removing a poster decrying fascism...
That twerp didnt deserve her!
Funniest Kaylee quote: “They have man-whores! How thoughtful!”
In Star Trek II, Kirk tells Saavik, as he’s punching in Reliant’s prefix code, that she has to learn why things work on a starship. Seeing Kaylee Frye, we learn why Scotty works on Kirk’s starship.
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