NOTE: The article excerpted on this page is from an outside publication and is posted on FIRE's website because it references FIRE's work. The viewpoints expressed in this article do not necessarily represent FIRE's positions.
By Nick Gillespie at Reason Online
Some of you will recognize the T-shirt verbiage to the right as coming from the hugely popular HBO series Game of Thrones.
Nobody at Bergen Community College did, alas, which led to the suspension of Francis Schmidt, an art and animation professor at Bergen Community College. The picture is of his daughter, who is doing some kind of yoga stance.
Here is an account of what happened next, courtesy of Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE):
Displaying a lack of both pop culture and First Amendment awareness, administrators at Bergen Community College in New Jersey placed Professor Francis Schmidt on leave this past January, requiring him to meet with a psychiatrist before returning to campus—just for posting a picture of his daughter in a T-shirt quoting the popular HBO television show Game of Thrones.
Schmidt, an art and animation professor, was required to meet with Jim Miller, an executive director at the college, as well as two other administrators prior to being put on leave because Miller believed he received a “threatening email” from Schmidt.
There are many problems with this accusation. First, the email was not sent from Schmidt. Jim Miller is a contact of Schmidt’s on Google+, so Miller automatically received an email from Google when Schmidt posted on Google+. Second, the “threatening” material was a picture of Schmidt’s young daughter doing yoga in a Game of Thrones T-shirt with the quote, “I will take what is mine with fire & blood.” For those who are unfamiliar with Game of Thrones, this is a quote from the character Daenerys, who is pledging to retake the throne in Westeros, a war-torn continent and the primary setting of the series.
FIRE reports that Schmidt is back teaching but notes, “it’s worrying that Schmidt was forced to go through this ordeal in the first place.” Worrying isn’t the first word I would use to describe the situation. If you want to bring your views on the situation to the attention of Bergen Community College’s president, here’s her page.
Hat tip: Peter Bonilla’s Twitter feed.
Schools: Bergen Community College