Crossing the line when posting


The National Rifle Association is attempting to get a journalism professor dismissed for tweeting that the navy yard shooting was their fault.

David Guth, a professor at the University of Kansas, tweeted “#NavyYardShooting The blood is on the hands of the NRA. Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters. Shame on you. May God damn you.”

David Guth's tweets after the Navy Yard Shooting.

David Guth’s tweets after the Navy Yard shooting (Screen capture by Shai Fox Savariau).

Kansas State Rifle Association’s President Patricia Stoneking said that Guth should not be allowed to teach.

Stoneking said “The KSRA will do everything possible to see to the removal of this man. He should be fired immediately. His statements are outrageous,”

“Any person with such a vile and contemptuous attitude who has influence over our children as a professor does should be immediately fired.”

Officials at the University said that Guth’s tweets do not reflect the views of the university.

In later blog posts, Guth wrote that he did not regret writing these things and that he is prepared to be criticized by others.

I don’t fully agree with how Guth expressed his feelings via Twitter. I am a strong advocate of freedom of speech, but speaking out about how the NRA’s sons and daughters should be hurt next time there is a mass shooting is not the way to get your point across.

As a journalism professor, I believe Guth does have a duty of showing that he can express his opinion in a way that’s not attacking another group of people. Speaking out and inciting violence on the Internet, which is not a private place, is not the civil way of expressing yourself.

I think that as journalists, we have to carry ourselves in a certain way. A big thing for a journalist is to report news without including bias. Yes, Guth’s tweets and other blog posts were just him expressing himself about the navy yard shooting. But, he could have written his distaste for the NRA in a way that wasn’t so gruesome, in my opinion. Even outside of work, Guth has that duty to carry himself with poise towards any breaking news situation. Even on the Internet.

Guth is also a professor at a university. Being that I am a college student myself in a journalism program, I can relate to this situation. I would not appreciate knowing that a professor of mine was writing such harsh things on the Internet.

Teachers of any kind need to be very careful of what they post on any type of social media. It can be seen by anyone and since teachers are responsible for the shaping of younger minds, it is important that they don’t encourage these types of violent responses from their students, especially journalism students.

Guth’s students will be on a job hunt very soon and if they are exhibiting the type of behavior that he showed on Twitter, then it may be a challenge for them to find a position.

Social media can be a very powerful tool but it must be used in a way that won’t offend others.

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