University of Rhode Island: Professor’s Anti-Gun Tweets Deemed Threatening

Category: Free Speech
Schools: University of Rhode Island

Following the December 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, University of Rhode Island Associate Professor Erik Loomis posted criticism of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and its Chief Executive Officer, Wayne LaPierre, to his Twitter account, including a tweet calling for LaPierre’s “head on a stick.” In response to the public controversy generated by these comments, URI President David Dooley issued a statement on December 18 stating that URI “does not condone acts or threats of violence.” FIRE wrote to Dooley on December 21 to make clear that Loomis’ statements did not qualify as true threats and were fully protected by the First Amendment. On December 28, Dooley issued a second statement, acknowledging that Loomis’ statements, however controversial, were constitutionally protected.