Follow-Up! Defending Prof. Kevin Allred’s Right To Make An Ass Of Himself On Social Media

When we last visited Montclair State University Women’s Studies Professor Kevin Allred, he was about to be sacked at Rutgers for  tweeting

“Will the 2nd amendment be as cool when i buy a gun and start shooting at random white people or no…?”

In that case, I agreed that the university had little choice but to remove Allred from the campus, noting that Allred,  as an employee, an adult (theoretically) and an instructor, should have known better than to broadcast his provocative musings in 140 characters or less to the world at large, rather than confining them to class. He should also have  known that campus shootings aren’t a joking matter after the Virginia Tech attack. If he had the sense to write “someone” rather than “I,”  avoided “when” to make it clear this was a hypothetical, the situation would probably have not arisen. Then, I wrote,

  “…Rutgers would only be risking outraged parents demanding to know why a prestigious school thinks it’s responsible to have their students going into debt to pay for courses like the one Allred teaches.”

After he had to leave Rutgers, Montclair State hired him to teach the same course on “the music and career of Beyoncé Giselle Knowles Carter.”

I know, I know.

Now Allred is in hot water again, this time for tweeting,

Trump is a fucking joke. This is all a sham. I wish someone would just shoot him outright.” 

He then retweeted the image of Kathy Griffin holding a model of the  President’s severed head.

Ethics Verdict for Montclair: You hired him, now live with him.

  • This was not a threat on the President’s life. A wish is not a command, nor a threat. (See: the Trump-Comey conversation). Nor did it have any relationship to the school, students, or the campus.
  • No students were threatened by this tweet, nor did Allred suggest that  he was going to engage in violence. Had he tweeted,

“Will the 2nd amendment be as cool when i buy a gun and shoot the President or no…?”

…it would be a different issue.

  • The Julie Principle applies. This guy got kicked out of one job for making a gratuitously violent tweet. This school can hardly claim it didn’t hire him with its metaphorical eyes open.Unless his eschewing social media comments of a violent nature that also made the school’s management look like the fools they are for hiring him was an express term of his employment, they are stuck.

They hired a jerk He’s acting like one. They got what they paid for. I know there’s no college that refuses to hire jerks. Look at the composition  of faculties.

  • There should be no sympathy for any college that offers a course for credit on Beyoncé.

In short, this stupid tweet, unlike his previous one, is well within the extremely broad range of expression necessarily protected by academic freedom.

A Related Note: Jonathan Turley flagged the latest in the Keven Allred saga. His headline: “Montclair Professor Calls For Trump To Be Killed.”  Call it clickbait, fake news or just sloppy writing, that headline is misleading. His tweet did not “call for” the President to be killed.  Turley is a law professor and a brilliant lawyer. Surely he knows that saying you “wish” for something to happen is not “calling for” someone to do it. Words matter. Lawyers make their living pointing out more technical differences than this. Worse, Turley is an exemplar. His headline suggests that saying one wishes something (which is a description of how the speaker feels) is the same calling for action. It makes some readers more ignorant than there already were.

Neither teachers, lawyer or bloggers should do that.

13 thoughts on “Follow-Up! Defending Prof. Kevin Allred’s Right To Make An Ass Of Himself On Social Media

  1. Thank God New Jersey isn’t a fly-over state! Can you imagine how terrible the state colleges would be if it were? Whew!

  2. “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?” Probably a bit more over the top, but the Secret Service, when it was still more-or-less functional would have investigated this guy. They can’t afford to take the chance, but, today, I doubt that they will.

  3. Goody golly, if I tweeted every thing I thought, I would be in so much ka ka..I do not get this tweeting thing. I can see it as a tool for shameless self promotion, I candy see it for a tasteful funny musing, I can even see it for revealing your political views. Makes it easier to know who not to vote for! But the problem is if you do note realize that you are tasteless,without class, idiotic, or just too stupid to breath, and you text you reveal this to others that will recognize it for you! We all have our moments when our sense of humor is off, but if you have just suffered a major ding for it you would think that it is the time to put away the phone for a while… know who you are….

        • Beyonce is not high on the list of people of great cultural importance (something I can’t say on Facebook for fear of the Bey-hive) which means just about anyone’s biography can be course material now. I’m majoring in Bruce Willis with a minor in Bugs Bunny.

          • In contrast, Bugs is one of the great characters in American fiction. A Philly wise guy. Unlike Beyonce, I think Bugs would be worth more than a passing mention in a film course dealing with, for half a class or so, Warner Bros. cartoons, Chuck Jones and Mel Blanc.

          • That’s an old one I haven’t heard since I was told it by my angry, Georgia Tech drop-out cousin in the ‘sixties! (He’s a multi-millionaire now, so don’t worry about him.)

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