Image 01 Image 03

Free speech academics rally around academic who wanted to shut down NRA free speech

Free speech academics rally around academic who wanted to shut down NRA free speech

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:

Crooked Timber Comment


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.


Wrong! He should be fired. His lefty supporters use his professional status in his defense, it is therefore perfectly permissible to demand he lose his job. He is a liability to the university. They should disassociate themselves from him. If they don’t the proper conclusion is that they enable his disgraceful behavior.
Stop being squeamish. Hit them twice as hard.

    I would defend his right to free speech, although I know this sniveling hypocrite would not do the same for me or LaPierre. And the university is free to do whatever it pleases with him.

    That being said, if he worked in a normal for-profit corporation, and his personal conduct made the corporation look bad, he would be out of a job.

    A university is supposed to be a place where ideas are exchanged freely without psychotic, hypocritical threats of retaliation. He makes URI look very bad in its capacity as a university. They would be wise to fire him.

      Mary Sue in reply to Willy. | December 20, 2012 at 12:05 am

      Irony of all ironies the LWNJ’s tweeting and commenting in support of Loomis seem outraged Michelle Malkin would call attention to Loomis’ lunacy freely posted on the net. In LWNJ lala land such an exercise of speech constitutes a “witch hunt.” Be sure to update your LWNJ handbook with these latest additions to the vocab list.

      Resorting to contact Loomis employer is a tactic I would expect from the left. I see no reason we should stoop to their level. Loomis is as free as a drunken coed with a camera to post whatever nonsense he chooses on the net. Whether a present or future employer has a problem with that is entirely their prerogative. Nevertheless, it is far more important to maintain the ability to shine a light on hypocrites like Loomis in public than having an employer call them on the carpet in private.

        gottarideduc in reply to Mary Sue. | December 20, 2012 at 8:37 am

        Mary Sue, please come to your senses. We’re in a war. The war is about our freedom, the existence of our Republic. You’re committing suicide fighting the big guns of propaganda with the arrows of being classy. The gulag they have for us won’t be classy. We need to learn to fight!
        Now watch them attack me for using violent language.

    Taken alone, an d since they were made outside of his academic role, his comments do not strike me as a firing offense.

    However they do seem to indicate an ill temper and lack of sound judgement, as well as a willingness to display outright intolerance for speech he finds offensive or otherwise disagreeable.

    None of which are qualities I would want in a tenured professor. If this evinces a pattern of behavior, and it were up to me, then yes I’d send him on his way.

    Conversely URI might decide that, given his otherwise banal academic orthodoxy, he poses no real threat to their reputation and so may be safely ensconced in their leftist adult day care center. But we will know what he is and they will always bear his mark.

He admits he was angry when GWB invaded Iraq. That’s when our response to a mass killing was to retaliate against people who didn’t do it. So now he wants to respond to a mass killing by retaliating against the people who didn’t do it.

The banality of evil.

[…] Free speech academics rally around academic who wanted to shut down NRA free speech. “I don’t think Loomis should be fired, but that doesn’t mean he should be free from […]

Does Loomis not understand proper practice of risk management?

What does Loomis intend to do about criminals and lunatics who ignore the laws?

What does Loomis intend to do about one million aliens illegally entering our nation every year?

What does Loomis intend to do about the federal government arming dug cartels and terrorists?

Apparently, Loomis desires to leave American citizens vulnerable to involuntary exploitation by minority interests.

Apparently, American citizens are second class citizens in America.

    n.n in reply to n.n. | December 19, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Apparently, there is a lunatic born every day. I wonder why some choose to sacrifice their lives and run amuck, while others remain comfortably isolated in their ivory towers. Do they draw straws?

Heads should (figuratively) roll… But not anyone who used a pretty common idiom– not even if you believe he was dead wrong about the argument he was making. (“Dead wrong” – also not a death threat.)

    The term “common” is commonly exploited as a selective reference. I believe “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” or its reciprocal “do to others what they have done to you” is more meaningful. Fortunately, “suffer, while evils are sufferable” is also meaningful, and, unless the NAACP or SPLC gets involved, the disagreement may be reasonably restricted to rhetorical exchanges.

“He’s just a guy who wanted to deprive others of the rights he claims for himself.”

Oh. You mean he’s a typical liberal.

Legal question: Could demanding someone’s head on a stick be a crime?

There are limits to free speech, after all. It seems that explicit incitement to violence might fall outside those limits.

    Willy in reply to irv. | December 19, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    If Sarah Palin had called for someone’s head on stick, the “it was only a metaphor” argument would carry absolutely no water with these leftist “academics”. Absolutely none. Are they so stupid to think they are fooling us?

    ThomasD in reply to irv. | December 20, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Given that Loomis already admitted he was contacted by the RI State Police I’d say yes, the possibility of criminality did exist, and was evaluated by the local authorities.

The NRA and Wayne LaPierre hold coercive, law-making power over the grand total of no one.

Yet they are portrayed as the embodiment of all evil.

    Neo in reply to pfg. | December 20, 2012 at 11:21 am

    The WaPo stumbles on this recent “trend (?)”…

    Over that span, the percentage of households with guns dropped from more than half in 1977 to just more than 30 percent in 2010. Gallup, meanwhile, shows a similar drop — though it found 41 percent of households still had guns as of 2010.
    But then something happened in 2011. Gun ownership spiked to its highest level since 1994 — 47 percent.
    The people who suddenly had more guns ? Not the white males, the Southerners, and the Republicans most associated with guns. Instead they were mostly Democrats, women, and people in every region but the South.

    The irony .. oh, the irony of it all.

Academics are lice.

    Careful. An academic would not hesitate to interpret your words as a death threat (not a metaphor), since lice are commonly eradicated.

[…] UPDATE: I’ll have to provide the dog-whistle translation for Professor William Jacobson’s eliminationist rhetoric here: […]

For those closely following the Loomis matter, here are links to comments I’ve posted on other blogs.

1. On R.S. McCain’s blog, I note that the Crooked Timber professors have failed to answer a basic question that wasn’t covered in their statement, and which I’ve pressed them on (via a comment on McCain’s blog, because the professors blocked all critical comments on THEIR blog). What is the “academic freedom” interest they’re defending, given that Loomis’s tweets were posted as part of his private life, on subjects outside his academic duties, and even his academic field?

Glenn Reynolds very helpfully linked to this comment. Here’s the url:

2. recently posted a story which features at the top the point about the 8 professors not wanting to answer the “academic freedom” question. In a comment I note that apparently in response to my complaint that they’d blocked all critical comments, they created a so-called “open thread” for all comments — but not really ALL comments, as they’re blocking “trolling.” Here’s that url (scroll down to about 10:45 p.m.):

Some of the details here are pretty dense, but the bottom line is that these professors who purport to be standing up for free expression aren’t having their finest hour.

On a lighter note, here’s my analysis of Loomis’s Ph.D dissertation, in which he expressed — in a work that supposedly was about labor unionization and the logging industry — his sympathy for the plight of gay lumberjacks and castrated Marxist assassins in the Northwest in the early 1900s: Naturally it includes a link to a video of Monty Python’s “Lumberjack Song.”

    BannedbytheGuardian in reply to Badger Pundit. | December 20, 2012 at 2:28 am

    Badger….Yesterday I was just surfing & visited Stacey Mc. Yor post was the funniest thing I have read in weeks .

    You must have a steel will to read all that though it did look addictive. What a pretentious pile of shit.

    Congrats again.

    Bruno Lesky in reply to Badger Pundit. | December 20, 2012 at 6:41 am

    Fall on the floor laughing — your analysis of Loomis’ thesis. Thank you!

    Loomis — lefty brainwashed to the nth (hits all Marx / homoeroticism / climate change, etc. buttons in his work.)

    I think metaphorically of Brody in Homeland Season I– brainwashed to emerge as a suicide bomber.

    There must be a syndrome by which one seeks to prevent others from acting on one’s own dark desires.

    It’s beyond belief that this loon is a college teacher.

Well a lot of people gave that jackwagon Loomis a piece of their mind on twitter as I am sure many know from comments on the last Loomis article here.

I just checked to see how he was bearing up on the twitter attention he incited and lo and behold his twitter account is among the missing…

I guess the @#$% storm he kicked up prompted him to fold his twitter tent.

I am sure he blocked me before he shut it down.

How’s free speech treatin’ ya Professor “Put Their Head On A Stick” Loomis?

I know you will read this article seeing as it is all about you.

mmm… Seems good ole Prog Loomis has paid the article a visit and left down twinkles on select comments as proof.

I see youuuuu

    Ahhh “down twinkles” – what a blast from the LWNJ past. Sure seems like the Down Twinkle Fairy has paid a visit to Legal Insurrection this evening doesn’t it?

Loomis has the freedom to say whatever he wants but he shouldn’t be “free” from the consequences of his asinine statements.

Ok I freely admit this Loomis character has me fascinated. I found an earlier tweet of his via a link at The Other McCain to this Topsy archive of Loomis’ deleted tweets:

The best-ever fish chowder, a hand-lettered recipe circa 1950 from the UMass archival New England Chowder Compendium

This may well be a resource for a future edition of Elizabeth Warren’s Native American cookbooks. She could title the next edition “Pow Wow Chowder.”

Moving on, here’s a tweet I very nearly agree with:

It’s harder to buy Sudafed in a pharmacy that high-caliber rifle bullets. Fuck the NRA.

The Sudafed law is certified stupidity codified into law. Let’s compound it by making more bad law shall we? Alas, after a brief moment of agreement, the sane train again leaves without Loomis aboard. Here is a tweet posted just before the one about Sudafed:

Dear Republicans, Do you know the definition of family values? It’s not having our kids FUCKING SHOT AT SCHOOL!!

Please, the strawmen are begging for mercy already.

Finally, this gem was posted November 18, 2012:

Are they coming for your birth control? Yes

Will they be wearing white coats when they come Mr. Loomis?

    gottarideduc in reply to Mary Sue. | December 20, 2012 at 8:51 am

    You’re right on the issues. But the issues are secondary. Warren won. Obama won. The Left is winning. They fight dirty. They bully. They have no shame, no standards, no principles. But they have the propaganda machine from cradle to grave. We better learn to fight.
    Remember, the Bolsheviks were in the minority in 1917, so were the Nazis in 1933, so was Mao in 1949, so was Castro in 1959 and so on.

    Fire Loomis! Stop paying him to spread his poison and his lies! Save the students from further indoctrination!

I disagree, Professor. It is far past time to start holding the left to the same standards to which they would apply to us. Moreover, do you really want this man to be in a position to influence young adults. Freedom of speech, even in the ivory tower, must have some limit – and “eliminationist rhetoric” should be on the other side of the line.

    gottarideduc in reply to GW. | December 20, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Limit freedom of speech, huh? Now that’s stooping to their level.

      punfundit in reply to gottarideduc. | December 20, 2012 at 10:06 am

      No, it’s returning fire.

      Have you read God and Man at Yale?

      I’d like to think GW isn’t advocating limiting speech here.

      One can condemn the speech as over the line rhetoric, and take it seriously as a potential threat (as the cops apparently did in this instance), without outlawing the speech itself.

      Also, it’s OK for his employer to be obligated to respond here, too, if Loomis identified himself as a UofRI employee when making his speech.

      All of this can be done through social pressure on Loomis to grow up and stop being such a turd, without going whole-hog and trying to clamp down in some “restriction of rights” fashion. Maybe that’s what GW was saying.

      No, it’s forcing the left to adhere to the standards it demands others obey. In other words, it’s borrowing a page from their Saul Alinsky’s program for political war.

    GW in reply to GW. | December 20, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    My comment was inartful, sorry. I do believe in freedom of speech, but I don’t believe in speech free of consequences. The people on the left can say anything they want, but to the extent it is either intellectually dishonest or, in this case, calling for violence, we really do need to adopt the Alinsky strategy and do unto them what they have been doing to us for years now. Bottom line, if our nation can be reelected, then the time for continued attempts at measured, rational discussion are pretty much over. The left is at war with us – it is past time that we started to fight back.

I amazes me that many on the Right continue to express the importance of giving the loons like Loomis free rein to spew their drivel, not not expect them to suffer any consequences for their stupidity and offensive behavior – wile they rally to deny us the same.

The Left pickets, boycotts, and verbally attacks anyone who shows the slightest deviation from their fruitcake dogma and then whines if someone on our side does the same to them.

Once again we see how the liberals can dish it out but are crybabies when it comes back to them. Freedom of speech for me but not for thee? The employment consequences of Loomis publically displaying his AHatery is between he and his employer but on the net he deserves all the scorn he has been given.

These are the same people who use the phrase “academic freedom” to mean the worst forms of intellectual despotism known.

I am all for him being given tenure immediately, so that he can be subjected to public ridicule for his words at further length.

LG&M is all about ridicule, after all.

Finally went and read the petition. What a bunch of foolishness and arrogance. How dare we riff-raff question the golden words of a college professor, one of our betters apparently?

The reality that Loomis strives to deny others the free speech rights he claims for himself seems to escape all those heady academics. Too bad those schools don’t have a requirement for reading comprehension on their tenure track.

Professor, this response just doesn’t feel adequate to me. I agree with Loomis’ right to say what he wishes to say, and I agree that he can plausibly claim he was speaking metaphorically. The problem is that I don’t believe he was; I suspect he was using this language in hopes of inciting some crazy person somewhere in the lefty internet to commit murder.

The left is in the ascendancy, and there are lots of trial balloons all over the place suggesting rights they would like to curtail; social controls they would like to see enplaced; and new, more restrictive, definitions of “politically correct” words and policies they would like to see widespread.

Some on the left are openly advocating treatment of political adversaries ranging from marginalization or unemployment to “Lords of the Flies” type solutions, like this one. Civilization is thoroughly frayed at the University of Rhode Island History Department and on the left more generally. People like Loomis are and should be taken seriously when they advocate the violent death of their adversaries (as Loomis has indeed been taken seriously).

Internet bullies grow up physically, but seemingly don’t change very much as their bodies mature.

Assistant prof = no tenure [at this point]. Certainly his actions should be a part of the tenure process.

[…] Erik “I’m a Lumberjack and I’m OK” Loomis is becoming somewhat of a célèbre for the progressive community online and in academia. I’m actually working on a much longer piece about this ongoing […]

[…] blog of the day is Legal Insurrection, with a post on free speech advocates squashing free […]

[…] Free speech academics rally around academic who wanted to shut down NRA free speech […]

[…] Miss USA crowned Miss Universe in 15 years. Congrats to Olivia Culpo! – Obamacare & kids. – Free-speech academics shutting down free-speech. Bonus points if you find the ‘heads on pikes’ reference. – […]

[…] – First Miss USA crowned Miss Universe in 15 years. Congrats to Olivia Culpo! – Obamacare kids. – Free-speech academics shutting down free-speech. Bonus points if you find the ‘heads on pikes’ reference. – […]

[…] Free speech academics rally around academic who wanted to shut down NRA free speech […]