Life After Controversy

July 31, 2005

Saint Xavier University history professor Peter Kirstein admits sending the e-mail wasn't his finest moment.

You may remember his Halloween 2002 missive, the one in which the professor angrily denounced the "baby-killing tactics" of the U.S. Air Force and called the academy cadet to whom he was writing a "disgrace" to his country.

His comments sparked a national outcry at the time, among the first in a succession of Internet-fueled, "out-of-control liberal professor" outrages.

Conservative and military Web sites posted the e-mail throughout cyberspace. Thousands of complaints nearly shut down the Mount Greenwood university's e-mail system for a month.

Kirstein, a 30-year teacher at the school, was suspended from teaching for the rest of the semester — and many critics loudly called for him to be fired.

But nearly three years later, the strident pacifist said the e-mail — and the controversy it generated — hasn't torpedoed his career, as he and others expected it may.

He's booked more speaking engagements in the past 30 months than during the rest of his academic career combined.

He's now viewed as "a leading Iraq War critic." He's often described as such in pre-speech advertising. He sits on serious-minded panels to discuss historical precedents and academic freedom. There weren't too many of those invitations coming his way before the e-mail...

Schools: Saint Xavier University Cases: Saint Xavier University: Reprimand of Professor for Anti-Military Comments