You’ve heard about Erik Loomis, the University of Rhode Island assistant professor of history who launched an almost psychotic, foul-mouthed Twitter tirade against the NRA, accusing it of being a terrorist organization, of complicity in and criminal culpability for murder, and a host of other invectives culminating in his wish to see Wayne LaPierre’s “head on a stick.”
This is the same Loomis who laughed when Sarah Palin was smeared with the Gabby Giffords shooting because of an electoral map the insane Jared Loughner never even saw. He didn’t mind when the left-wing mob sought to destroy Palin over nothing. Loomis insisted, however, that a different standard be applied to his metaphor of a head on a stick, clarifying that he only wanted life imprisonment for LaPierre.
The NRA and LaPierre’s transgressions which warranted imprisonment or worse? They exercised their constitutional rights to petition the government for redress (the often forgotten right, often disparaged as “lobbying”) and to their own speech in favor of policies they favored. Because he disagreed with those policies, and made illogical jumps to claims of culpability in murder, Loomis wanted them imprisoned, at a minimum.
Soon after the controversy broke I took the position that Loomis’ employer should not be contacted, because that is the tactic frequently used against me by liberals.
Yet apparently a lot of people did contact Loomis’ employer, or the employer otherwise became aware of Loomis’ Twitter vituperation, resulting in the President of URI issuing a statement distancing the University from Loomis’ tweets.
Now a variety of people are signing on to a statement at Crooked Timber rallying around Loomis on the grounds of academic freedom and free speech.
The statement focuses on the narrow issue of the “head on a stick” tweet and whether it was an incitement to violence. The statement also creates a distraction by trying to blame Prof. Glenn Reynolds for properly characterizing Loomis’ invective as “eliminationist rhetoric” using the standard applied by the media and Democrats to the Tea Party.
The Crooked Timber statement has been signed by hundreds of people, some of whom identify as academics, others who show no institutional affiliation, and a variety of left-wing bloggers.
I don’t think Loomis should be fired, but that doesn’t mean he should be free from criticism.
And he certainly is not a hero of anything.
He’s just a guy who wanted to deprive others of the rights he claims for himself.
Update — Here’s the comment I posted at Crooked Timber: