World-Burning, Intestine-Strangling, Death Threats, and Free Speech (updated w/ remarks from Jun)

“I want the entire world to burn until the last cop is strangled with the intestines of the last capitalist, who is strangled in turn with the intestines of the last politician.”

That’s what Nathan Jun, professor of philosophy at Midwestern State University in Texas, wrote in a comment on a friend’s Facebook page.

It was intended as a riff on a quote from Diderot—“Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest”—and was made in regard to the killing of George Floyd this past May, according to Jun (as reported by Times Record News).

Jun’s comment was screenshot and circulated widely, making him the target of harassment by “a group of local far-right extremists” over the past several months, he says, with news of his words now being discussed nationally by Rush Limbaugh and others. According to The Washington Examiner, Jun says that his home was vandalized and that he has received over 300 death threats.

In late September, Jun’s university responded the controversy around his remarks by defending his freedom of speech:

“As a public university, we recognize and protect individuals’ free speech rights under the First Amendment so that ideas and information may be freely exchanged and examined without the threat of censorship or retaliation. Occasionally individuals will express opinions that may be offensive and even shocking, but are nonetheless entitled to First Amendment protection.”

However, last Thursday, Suzanne Shipley, the president of Midwestern State, wrote in a Facebook post that the university was now consulting with the Attorney General of the State of Texas and said that the university “will take decisive action if a line is crossed beyond that of speech protected by the First Amendment.” She added: “no students will be required to enroll in or complete Professor Jun’s courses. Alternatives will be provided even now if the student requests them.”

Here’s her whole post:

According to the Times Record News, Jun said:

In the 12 years I have worked at MSU I have never made any secret of my politics, nor have I shrank from expressing my political beliefs publicly, often in an inflammatory and provocative manner… All of this being said, I realize that I have put MSU in an unprecedently difficult situation and have indicated my willingness to help ameliorate the damage I have caused by whatever means are available.

(via Inside Higher Ed)

UPDATE (10/6/20): Professor Jun writes:

I am very grateful to Professor Weinberg and Daily Nous for drawing attention to my plight. Although I leave it to readers to arrive at their own conclusions concerning my actions and MSU’s response thereto, I would respectfully urge sympathetic colleagues to express their concerns to the university administration directly. Public statements of support and solidarity, as well as donations to my legal fund, will also be greatly appreciated. I am happy to answer questions and/or provide additional details concerning the broader context of the case; please feel free to contact me at (nathan [dot] jun [at] msutexas dot [edu]).

Contact information for MSU President Suzanne ShipleyProvost and Vice President for Academic Affairs James Johnston, and Board of Regents.


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