Category: Free Speech
In August 2019, President Trump tweeted that he was considering designating “ANTIFA, the gutless Radical Left Wack Jobs who go around hitting (only non-fighters) people over the heads with baseball bats, a major Organization of Terror.” Jeff Klinzman, then an adjunct English professor at Iowa’s Kirkwood Community College, posted a response on an “Iowa Antifa” Facebook page, using his personal Facebook account: “Yeah, I know who I’d clock with a bat…” When a local news outlet — which had also found a 2012 Facebook post in which Klinzman invoked an anti-Nazi’s exhortation to “kill them all, and bury them deep in the ground” to describe his opposition to evangelical Christian political and religious views — spoke to Klinzman, he responded: “I affirm that I am ‘antifa’.” After the story prompted national media attention, Kirkwood removed Klinzman from his class, placed him on leave, and asked him to resign, issuing a statement citing the need to protect student safety. On August 27, FIRE wrote to Kirkwood to explain why Klinzman’s comments were protected speech and the college’s response retaliatory.
In April 2020, Kirkwood Community College avoided a First Amendment lawsuit by agreeing to pay $25,000, approximately the amount it would have paid Klinzman to continue teaching for over three and a half years. Klinzman was represented by FIRE attorneys Greg Harold Greubel and Marieke Tuthill Beck-Coon.