In an email to the Lawrence Journal-World on Friday, Guth said he had met earlier with university officials and agreed to take administrative leave “in light of the abusive email threats I and others have received.”
“It is in the best interests and peace of mind of our students that I remove myself from the situation and let cooler heads prevail,” Guth said. “It is unfortunate that my comments have been deliberately distorted. I know what I meant. Unfortunately, this is a topic that generates more heat than light.”
Guth, in an interview on Thursday, said, “I did not advocate violence against anybody.” He said he was, instead, trying to make gun advocates see shootings like the one at Navy Yard from the point of view of the victims and their families. “I was getting tired of hearing comments in the media and Twitter that, ‘Gee, this wouldn’t have happened if the office staff at the Navy Yard had been armed,’” he said.
As for the “May God damn you” comment, Guth said: “I think they are on the wrong side of the angels on this issue. I wasn’t cursing them. I was stating that I would like to see God put judgment on them.”
Ann Brill, dean of the j-school, posted this statement on Facebook yesterday:
Dear friends and alumni,
As you have likely seen on the KU Website, Professor David Guth is on administrative leave indefinitely. This has been a difficult time for all of us.
I want to assure you that his classes will be covered by competent and qualified full-time faculty members. The School’s top priority is the students, and we want to assure them that their classes will not be further disrupted. I would welcome any suggestions or offers of assistance you have to ensure our students continue to have the best educational experience we can offer. As our value statement says, we are a “student-centered environment” and that is my first priority as dean.
As you also know, David Guth’s tweet earlier this week has generated a reaction unprecedented in the time I’ve been at KU.
In our law and ethics classes, we’ve asked our students to define the First Amendment, its purpose and history. This school continues to value, defend, teach and preach about the First Amendment. It is a right, yet one that we also say is balanced with other rights, such as the right to a fair trial. One of you put it succinctly yesterday: “With rights come responsibilities.” This situation challenges us all to review our values, our rights and our responsibilities. It is a calling and wonderful responsibility to be a professor of journalism.
As alumni and journalism professionals, I suspect many of you have faced conflicting values in your work and lives. We hope that the experiences you’ve had with this school have helped you in making good decisions. The ability to process and make critical decisions, knowing those decisions often aren’t perfect, is a hallmark of Jayhawk Journalists.
Finally, I invite any of you to share your concerns with me. In addition to the students and all of you, I am so fortunate to work with such a talented and dedicated group of scholars and teachers.
Dean Ann M. Brill