After first backing a professor’s right to self-expression in relation to a controversial social media post, Midwestern State University in Texas now says it is conferring with the state attorney general’s office and that no students will be required to take the professor’s classes.
“We are committed to monitoring this situation with their guidance and will take decisive action if a line is crossed beyond that of speech protected by the First Amendment,” President Suzanne Shipley said in a statement last week. “We urge you not to judge our university by the actions of a single faculty member. In the almost 100 years of our existence, we have been able to successfully navigate controversy in order to serve our community effectively. I hope that you, with me, will continue to celebrate our progress and accomplishments even as we safeguard our freedoms.”
A week earlier, the university said that Nathan Jun, associate professor of philosophy, was practicing his right to free speech when he wrote on Facebook that “I want the entire world to burn until the last cop is strangled with the intestines of the last capitalist, who is strangled in turn with the intestines of the last politician.” Jun has said the remark was about police brutality but was not advocating actual violence, and that it was inspired by a quote attributed to 18th-century French philosopher Denis Diderot: “Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.”
Jun told the Times Record News that “in the 12 years I have worked at MSU I have never made any secret of my politics, nor have I shrank from expressing my political beliefs publicly, often in an inflammatory and provocative manner.” That being said, he continued, “I realize that I have put MSU in an [unprecedentedly] difficult situation and have indicated my willingness to help ameliorate the damage I have caused by whatever means are available.” Jun also said he’s been targeted for harassment by “local far-right extremists.”