Professor Suspended for Photo of Daughter’s T-Shirt

This is a very different kind of Game of Thrones spoiler. Francis Schmidt, associate professor of art and animation at Bergen Community College in New Jersey, was suspended without pay for a photo he shared on Google+, where it was seen by several colleagues. The photo? A picture of his daughter wearing a Game of Thrones t-shirt with the words “I will take what is mine with fire & blood” written on it. The quote is from Daenerys Targaryen, mother of dragons, rightful heir to the blah blah blah… in other words, a character on the show.  The dean of the college took the posting of the photo as a threat, and according to Inside Higher Ed, a security official at the school “said that ‘fire’ could be kind of a proxy for ‘AK-47s.'”

Are you familiar with Hanlon’s Razor? One version is this: never assume malice when incompetence will do. This is generally a good heuristic, I’ve found.

This case sounds like incompetence, right? Except for: “Schmidt believes he was targeted in part because he filed a grievance against the college a week before the post for being passed up for a sabbatical.” Hmmm.

There are other reports of the story at TechDirt and Gawker. (via Michaela McSweeney)

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Jennifer Frey
10 years ago

I’m confused. Was he in violation of an actual social media policy, and the idea is that the policy is obviously stupid, or did they take the photo to constitute an active threat or act of aggression towards members of the college?

10 years ago

I’m confused, too. I mean, who uses Google+?
Judging from the IHE story, it looks like they took it as a threat. He has (had?) to be cleared by a psychiatrist before returning to work.

10 years ago

So if he posted a picture of his recent camping trip next to the fire, would the same thing happen? Francis is now listening to “Fire and Rain” on spotify… would he be…. fired? (If you are fired for a picture with the word fire, should they fire the person doing the firing?)

I just don’t get the thought process of these zero tolerance….freaks. (I hate name calling, however it seams right in this and all other Z.T. cases.)