This Week in FIRE News: UW-Stout Folds on ‘Firefly’ Censorship

October 8, 2011

By now you’re likely well aware that University of Wisconsin-Stout (Stout) professor James Miller had been censored twice, reported to the university’s "threat assessment team," and threatened with criminal charges because of a satirical posting outside his office door depicting a quotation from actor Nathan Fillion’s character in the television series Firefly. After taking it down, the Stout Chief of Police threatened Miller with criminal charges for disorderly conduct if he posted similar content in the future. After Stout censored his second poster, which satirically stated, "Warning: Fascism," Miller came to FIRE for help.

Last Wednesday, we reported that the Stout chancellor declared that he would not defend faculty First Amendment rights from censorship, in an email sent to all Stout faculty and staff. Stout continued to claim that "the posters in question constituted an implied threat of violence. That is why they were removed."

We’re happy to report that after continued pressure from FIRE and national media, Stout has reversed its censorship of Miller’s poster. Here’s a look at some of the additional news outlets that have chimed in, and other FIRE issues that made the news this week:

On Firefly:

On the Sam Houston State University ‘Free Speech Wall’ vandalism:

On Boston University’s speech codes:

On Professor Emeritus Elliot Cramer’s network access revocation at UNC-Chapel Hill:

On Kansas State University’s speech codes:

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