FIRE knew yesterday’s announcement of the University of Wisconsin–Stout’s (UWS’s) intimidation and bullying of theater professor James Miller would make a big splash, given its outrageous facts. Nonetheless, the response has been overwhelming, in the best of ways. Joanna noted yesterday the widespread attention the case has received in the media, which since then has only grown; today saw writeups of Miller’s shocking treatment in Gawker and the Onion-affiliated pop culture site The A.V. Club.
Most incredible, however, has been the outpouring of support for Miller from free speech supporters (and more than a few Firefly devotees, spurred to action by actor Nathan Fillion’s three tweets on the case) all over the country. In just over 24 hours, over 500 people have written to UWS Chancellor Charles Sorensen, demanding that he rectify the injustices done by UWS’s investigation of Miller’s protected satirical expression. We’re humbled by the unprecedented number of the responses, which keep coming in even as I write this.
What has the outpouring of support yielded? Well, Professor Miller informs FIRE that UWS dean Raymond Hayes has decided to cancel a meeting scheduled for Friday, where they had been set to discuss Miller’s protected postings. It’s a start, but UWS has a long way to go to make up for its handling of the case—starting with a promise that the investigation is over and that Miller will not be punished. UWS also needs to reassure the university community that their protected speech, whether in the form of posters or other means of communication, will be protected at UWS. Until then, supporters are encouraged to contact Chancellor Sorensen here and make themselves heard.