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KU puts professor on administrative leave for tweet sent after Navy Yard massacre

Updated: 2013-09-22T00:06:20Z

By BRIAN BURNES and MARÁ ROSE WILLIAMS

The Kansas City Star

The University of Kansas journalism professor who sent a tweet wishing violence on children of National Rifle Association members has been put on administrative leave.

David Guth’s remarks, which had led NRA leaders to calls for his firing, were in response to Monday’s shootings at the Washington Navy Yard that left 13 people dead.

University officials called his words “repugnant,” and on Friday Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said Guth would be put on leave.

“In order to prevent disruptions to the learning environment for students, the School of Journalism and the university, I have directed Provost Jeffrey Vitter to place Associate Professor Guth on indefinite administrative leave pending a review of the entire situation,” Gray-Little said in a statement.

Guth’s classes will be taught by other faculty members.

The professor tweeted Monday that “blood is on the hands” of the National Rifle Association.

“Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters,” the tweet read. “Shame on you. May God damn you.”

On Thursday, Ann Brill, dean of the university’s journalism school, said Guth’s views “do not represent our school, and we do not advocate violence directed against any group or individuals.”

While the First Amendment allows anyone to express an opinion, Brill said, “that privilege is not absolute and must be balanced with the rights of others.”

Timothy C. Caboni, university vice chancellor for public affairs, called Guth’s tweet “repugnant,” adding that it was “truly disgraceful that these views were expressed in such a callous and uncaring way.”

“We expect all members of the university community to engage in civil discourse and not make inflammatory and offensive comments,” he said.

In an email Thursday, Guth said the university had asked him not to do any more interviews and referred The Star to his personal blog. He wrote on the blog Monday that “I am angry, frustrated, sad and determined. The news of the senseless slaughter today at Washington’s Navy Yard has me again questioning how we can let this madness continue.

“Frankly, I don’t care if I am criticized for being too quick to judge, too harsh in my criticism or too strident in my tone.”

Various online sites picked up Guth’s remarks, and the president of the Kansas State Rifle Association said Guth should be fired.

To reach Brian Burnes, call 816-234-4120 or send email to bburnes@kcstar.com.

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