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Bergen Community College in New Jersey has placed professor Francis Schmidt on leave and is requiring him to meet with a psychiatrist before returning to campus—all for posting this picture of his daughter in a T-shirt quoting the popular HBO television show Game of Thrones.
FIRE’s own Sarah McLaughlin broke the news yesterday:
While other characters in the show should probably be concerned that Daenerys will retake the throne with fire and blood (and dragons), administrators at Bergen Community College certainly don’t need to worry. Unfortunately, they are apparently under the impression that Schmidt’s T-shirt is not an expression of his interest in the show, but of his intentions to shoot up the school. Inexplicably, Miller claimed that he believed the “fire” described in Daenerys’ quote “could be a kind of proxy for ‘AK-47s.’”
Schmidt believes the school is acting not to protect students from potential threats, but to retaliate against him. A week before being placed on leave, Schmidt filed a grievance against the school because he was passed up for a sabbatical.
This is just another case of higher education teaching students to think like censors, something I’ve been pointing out for years, including in my book, Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate. And this type of outrageous case is not unusual on campus. In 2011, FIRE dealt with a similar case of censorship over a poster of the character Mal from the cult hit sci-fi Firefly. Check out the video we made about that incident: