UW Stout Professor Facing Charges for anti-Fascism Posters · 28 September 2011

By Sara Dogan

The David Horowitz Freedom Center today announced that they support a University of Wisconsin-Stout professor who is facing criminal charges and disciplinary sanctions for posting satirical posters criticizing fascism on his office door.

As the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education who is assisting with the case reports, UW-Stout Theater Professor James Miller first ran into trouble with campus censors earlier this month when he posted a flyer on his office door featuring actor Nathan Fillion who starred as Captain Malcolm Reynolds in the sci-fi series Firefly.  The flyer included a line from the series : "You don't know me, son, so let me explain this to you once: If I ever kill you, you'll be awake. You'll be facing me. And you'll be armed." Just a few days after he posted the image, UW-Stout Chief of Police Lisa Walter contacted Miller to tell him that she had removed his flyer because “it is unacceptable to have postings such as this that refer to killing.”

When Miller replied to Walter that the university should “Respect liberty and respect my First Amendment rights,” Walter replied by stating that “the poster can be interpreted as a threat to by others” and threatening Miller with criminal charges of “disorderly conduct” if he chose to “repost the article or something similar to it.”

Following this outrageous exchange, Miller affixed a new satirical poster to his office door in protest of the university’s censorship. The poster states, “Warning: Fascism” and shows a cartoon image of a police officer assaulting a person lying on the ground with his club. A caption at the bottom of the poster reads "Fascism can cause blunt head trauma and/or violent death. Keep fascism away from children and pets."

Clearly failing to appreciate the irony, Police Chief Walter again contacted Miller to state that she was also removing this latest poster on the grounds that it "depicts violence and mentions violence and death” and could be expected to "cause a material and/or substantial disruption of school activities and/or be constituted as a threat." Miller was also called into a meeting with College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Interim Dean Raymond Hayes about "the concerns raised by the campus threat assessment team.” The meeting is scheduled for this Friday.

Miller then contacted the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) which wrote to University Chancellor Charles W. Sorensen to assert that the posters are considered protected speech under the First Amendment and do not constitute a threat according to legal precedent. FIRE further demanded that the University “fulfill UWS's moral and legal obligations to the First Amendment and common sense” and “immediately end its censorship of Miller's protected speech and should immediately apologize to Miller for threatening criminal charges against him.” FIRE reports that Sorensen has not yet responded.

“This egregious censorship and violation of a professor’s right to freedom of speech indicates the unfortunate turn our universities have taken away from education and the free exchange of ideas and towards a culture of political correctness and indoctrination,” said David Horowitz, chairman of the David Horowitz Freedom Center.  “UW-Stout should issue an immediate apology to Professor Miller and should clarify their constitutional obligations to respect free speech in a memo to all faculty, personnel and students.”

The David Horowitz Freedom Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to the defense of free societies whose moral, cultural and economic foundations are under attack by leftist and Islamist enemies both at home and abroad. More information on the organization is available at www.horowitzfreedomcenter.org.