On May 17, 2021, Dan Johnson, an associate professor at UNC Wilmington, posted “Blow up Republicans” on his personal Facebook account. Johnson later deleted the post. The university’s administration correctly deemed the post protected expression, but a university trustee called on the university to conduct an investigation and argued that the professor should be “held accountable” in order to uphold “one standard” in light of previous responses to conservative speech. On June 28, FIRE wrote to the Board of Trustees, explaining that there is one standard for expressive rights: the First Amendment, which protects Johnson’s extramural expression and is binding on public institutions like UNC Wilmington. The trustee ultimately resigned in protest.
FIRE Case Files