Erik Loomis blogs at Lawyers, Guns, and Money. He wrote in the wake of the Newtown Massacre, "I was heartbroken in the first 20 mass murders. Now I want Wayne LaPierre’s head on a stick." For this, he has been targeted by the bottom-feeders and outrage artists of the right-wing.
The folks at Crooked Timber sum up the reaction and our duty:
We must stand by Loomis’s side and speak up and out on his behalf, for he has become the target of a witch hunt, and as an untenured professor at the University of Rhode Island, he is vulnerable. Loomis needs our solidarity and support, and we must give it to him.
Below the fold, my letter to the President of the University of Rhode Island, who issued the following craven and misleading statement:
The University of Rhode Island does not condone acts or threats of violence. These remarks do not reflect the views of the institution and Erik Loomis does not speak on behalf of the University. The University is committed to fostering a safe, inclusive and equitable culture that aspires to promote positive change.
I urge you to write to President David Dooley at email@example.com, and to sign onto the Crooked Timber statement.
Dear President Dooley,
I write to convey my disappointment in your statement of 12/18/12. While it is commendable that "the University of Rhode Island does not condone acts or threats of violence," following that phrase with "these remarks do not reflect the views of the institution and Erik Loomis does not speak on behalf of the University" gives the false impression that Professor Loomis committed an act or threat of violence. But surely "head on a stick" is not a threat but a widely used metaphor. It is no more a threat than one saying "heads will roll" or "batten down the hatches" or "don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes" and so on and so forth.
Furthermore, by omitting the customary "we do not agree with Professor Loomis's viewpoint, but we support his right of free expression" you give the unfortunate impression of folding under an orchestrated campaign to distract from LaPierre's and the NRA's role in the Newtown massacre.
Phyllis M Taylor Professor of French Studies
Professor of Philosophy
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge LA 70803 USA