Why does a defunct cult TV space Western threaten the University of Wisconsin? Good Question!
As in the disturbing incident at Widener Law School, in which a professor has been persecuted and punished for the imagined sexist and racist implications in his fanciful classroom hypothetical, a theater professor at the University of Wisconsin in Stout, is now being subjected to full-fledged censorship by the university’s administration because of a pop culture reference that it finds “threatening.”
And also as in the Widener situation, one wonders if the school’s faculty cares enough about academic freedom and free speech to support their colleague. So far, they have not.
Prof. James Miller is, like me, a fan of “Firefly,” Joss Whedon’s late, lamented science fiction TV series. He mounted a poster on his door that shows actor Nathan Fillion as Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds, captain of the spaceship that cruised through the series. The poster includes a famous line (well, famous with fans of the show, at least) by Reynolds in the first episode, delivered in response to a passenger who asked if he was in danger of being murdered while he slept. “You don’t know me, son, so let me explain this to you once,” Fillion’s character said. “If I ever kill you, you’ll be awake. You’ll be facing me. And you’ll be armed.”
Lisa Walter, the university’s chief of police, took down the poster, stating that “it is unacceptable to have postings such as this that refer to killing.” Walter said that the poster was not covered by the First Amendment:
“ We were notified of the existence of the posting, reviewed it and believe that the wording on the poster can be interpreted as a threat by others and/or could cause those that view it to believe that you are willing/able to carry out actions similar to what is listed. This posting can cause others to fear for their safety, thus it was removed.”
Absurd. Ignorant. Offensive. And an abuse of power. Continue reading →