Greg Reports the Latest on ‘Firefly’ Case in ‘The Huffington Post’

September 29, 2011

In his latest piece for The Huffington Post, Greg reports on FIRE’s outrageous case at the University of WisconsinStout (UWS). As he writes, despite FIRE’s wide-reaching publicity campaign, Chancellor Charles W. Sorensen released a statement earlier this week standing by the school’s decision to censor Professor James Miller.

The case began when campus police removed a poster quoting a character from the sci-fi series Firefly from outside Miller’s office door, threatening to bring disorderly conduct charges against him should he post any other "threatening" images. When Miller posted a flyer mocking the school entitled "Warning: Facism," he was reported to a campus "threat assessment team" and called to a meeting with College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Interim Dean Raymond Hayes to discuss the school’s concerns. Under the national spotlight, Hayes canceled the meeting, but UWS has gone a step further by notifying all faculty and staff that the censorship of both posters was justified, chilling expression across the campus.

Rather than recognize the absurdity of all of this, the school’s statement claimed that what almost everyone sees as a wild overreaction was just an action to make the school community feel "welcome, safe and secure." But as Greg points out:

Tearing down harmless posters and threatening the professor who put them up with criminal punishment is the very essence of censorship. Again, the reaction to the first poster was unreasonable as no reasonable person would have felt threatened by it. The reaction to the second poster was utterly disingenuous, as the school pretended a criticism of the heavy-handedness of the administration was actually some kind of threat in a transparent attempt to punish a critical professor. 

In his piece, Greg calls on Chancellor Sorensen to reverse his bizarre defense of censorship and to restore respect for the First Amendment on the UWS campus:

If you really care about making the campus "welcome, safe and secure," you might want to start by letting your students and faculty members know that they don’t risk criminal charges the next time they quote a beloved line from a Joss Whedon show.

I encourage you to read Greg’s entire piece at The Huffington Post.

Schools:  University of Wisconsin – Stout

Cases:  University of Wisconsin – Stout: Censorship, Referral to Threat Assessment Team, and Threat of Criminal Charges after Professor Puts Posters Outside Office Door