Francis Schmidt is an art and animation professor at Bergen Community College in New Jersey. He likes cats, fantasy stories and social media. And he likes to post pictures relating to cats and fantasy stories to his Google+ page. One of these pictures shows his young daughter doing yoga in a Game of Thrones T-shirt. The shirt includes a quote from the popular HBO show: “I will take what is mine with fire & blood.”
Not long after he posted this picture, he received an email from Jim Miller, the school’s human resources director, instructing Schmidt to meet with him immediately due to a “threatening email.”
When Schmidt arrived for the meeting, they were joined by two other administrators and a security official — and the threatening email turned out to be an automatic notification one of the school’s deans received shortly after Schmidt posted the picture. This security official claimed that the word “fire” in the shirt’s tagline could actually be a reference to an “AK-47.”
Although Schmidt Googled the phrase “I will take what is mine with fire & blood” during this meeting to prove that it was a line from a television show and not a reference to an assault rifle, he received an email later that week informing him that he would be placed on leave without pay until he could be cleared by a psychiatrist to return to campus. He’s since been cleared to return to work.
This is the picture that got Schmidt suspended:
Schmidt, for his part, claims that this suspension was retaliation against him because he filed a grievance against the college the previous week after he was denied a sabbatical. Bergen Community College’s faculty union recently held a “no confidence” vote against the college president’s leadership, citing Schmidt’s suspension as one of their objections to her job performance.
(HT: Eugene Volokh)