Wayne State Professor Suspended After Declaring that it is “More Admirable” to Shoot Down than Shout Down Conservative Speakers

A professor at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, has been suspended after posting threatening statements on social media posts that suggested that people would be justified in killing speakers who hold opposing views on issues like transgender policies. Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson released a statement saying that an unnamed professor in the school’s English department made a social media post that is “at best, morally reprehensible and, at worst, criminal.” College Fix identified that professor as Steven Shaviro, who writes in the areas of film, music videos, and science fiction literature.

Wilson stated

“This morning, I was made aware of a social media post by a Wayne State University professor in our Department of English. We have on many occasions defended the right of free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but we feel this post far exceeds the bounds of reasonable or protected speech. It is, at best, morally reprehensible and, at worst, criminal.”

On one level, a suspension could be viewed as a necessary proactive step to guarantee that there is no real danger in this circumstance. Indeed, we have seen a strikingly different treatment given to academics on the right as opposed to the left in such actions.

Many conservative or libertarian professors find themselves suspended or under investigation for controversial tweets or jokes. Conversely, it is comparably rare to see such action against those on the left who use inflammatory language including professors advocating “detonating white people,” denouncing policecalling for Republicans to suffer,  strangling police officerscelebrating the death of conservativescalling for the killing of Trump supporters, supporting the murder of conservative protesters and other outrageous statements.

The most analogous case is that of University of Rhode Island professor Erik Loomis, who defended the murder of a conservative protester and said that he saw “nothing wrong” with such acts of violence. Yet, those extreme statements from the left are rarely subject to cancel campaigns or university actions.

I have generally supported academics on both sides on free speech and academic freedom grounds.

Loomis and Shaviro are examples of the violent rhetoric and intolerance of some in academia.

However, as will come as little surprise to many on this blog, I have concerns over more than a temporary suspension to investigate the matter. The intent of Dr. Shaviro is actually less clear than has been suggested in the press.

At the start, Shaviro insists that he does not advocate “violating federal and state criminal codes.” He then makes the violent reference as being better than shouting down opposing speakers. He warns that the left is being attacked for cancelling speakers when the debate should be over what Shaviro calls their own “reprehensible views.” He insists that these are efforts to trigger such responses to provoke an incident that discredits the left.”

Shaviro makes the extreme argument that “it is more admirable to kill a racist, homophobic, transphobic speaker than to shout them down.” He then makes this point even more menacing by referencing the assassination of Symon Petliura by Jewish anarchist Sholem Schwarzbard in 1926. Petliura was blamed for the killings of thousands of Jews during pogroms and Schwarzbard was acquitted.

Shaviro’s main point appears to be that the continued use of “deplatforming” or cancelling conservative speakers is ill-advised. He notably does not oppose such anti-free speech efforts as inimical to higher education, but only because they backfire in the press. In that sense, Shaviro appears no ally to free speech.

However, his rhetoric may be more reckless than intentional in encouraging violence.

The question is how the university should handle such extreme and chilling language. This was not expressed in class and was done through Shaviro’s personal social media. Like Ilya Shapiro at Georgetown, it was a poorly considered tweet, though (unlike Shapiro) Shaviro has not taken down the tweet. In Shapiro’s case, he was put through a long investigation and the university effectively forced him off the faculty.

There is one difference between Shapiro and Shaviro (beyond a single letter): Wayne State University is a state school and subject to the full weight of the First Amendment. Shaviro could challenge the action as a denial of his free speech rights.

Once again, I believe an initial suspension could be upheld as the university assesses a danger. However, Shaviro does not appear a direct threat to others. Moreover, he can point to his precatory language on complying with state and federal law as negating the violent interpretation of his critics. He can also point to the word “more” as reflecting his point. He says it is “more admirable” than shouting down speakers. That does not mean that it is admirable or commendable (though his reference to Schwarzbard remains concerning). He was engaging in what I have called in my academic writings “rage rhetoric.” In my view, this is protected speech.

Shaviro’s words are worthy of our condemnation. However, a federal court could well order reinstatement if anything other than a temporary suspension for investigation is ordered by the university.

83 thoughts on “Wayne State Professor Suspended After Declaring that it is “More Admirable” to Shoot Down than Shout Down Conservative Speakers”

  1. I guess the real question is would it have been okay to suspend him for suggesting that attempting to prevent pro-transgender policies should be criminalized, with the death penalty as the assigned punishment? That would at least throw it into the discussion realm, rather than directly stating they should be killed. (By the way, I do not support pro-transgender policies. They’re immoral, and destructive of families, communities, and the nation.)

  2. Jonathan: It’s getting more bizarre by the hour! In an interview with Fox host Sean Hannity Trump now claims he had nothing to do with the photo he posted on his Truth Social showing him holding a baseball bat next to a pic of Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg: “I posted a very positive article (?). And whatever picture they put up, they put up. My people didn’t put up the picture”. That’s what Trump always does. He blames someone else when he is caught red handed! Trump owns and controls his social media platform. Whichever way you look at it Trump is responsible for what he posts. Does anyone really think he did not intentionally include that pic? He hasn’t apologized for it, nobody has been fired. He can’t even say who “they” are.

    Trump predicted that last Tuesday he would be charged by Bragg. It didn’t happen and there is a lot of speculation on the reason for the delay. Trump supporters, like you, think Bragg has concluded he realizes he has no viable case to charge. I have a different take. Bragg is preparing other charges against the Trumpster. Say, under NY Penal Code Section 76 that makes it a crime for “anyone who willingly threatens the life, or threatens serious bodily harm” to any public official. I would imagine that Trump’s attorneys have warned him against making threats against Bragg–and why Trump is now trying to backtrack. But Trump’s attorneys should know they are not dealing with a rational 76 yr. old. They are dealing with an emotional 2 yr. old who immediately acts out his emotions.

    1. Woke isn’t about what words we use, it’s about brainwashing!! So if that’s winning, i’m a loser, THANK GOD!!

  3. Jonathan: In other news it appears “woke” is winning! In a recent survey by the research institute NORC at the University of Chicago, with funding by the WSJ (owned by Rupert Murdock), substantial majorities support inclusion and diversity. Here are the partial results of the survey:

    –69% support “accepting people who are gay, lesbian or bisexual”
    –56% support “accepting people who are transgender”.
    –Re “businesses taking steps to promote racial and ethnic diversity” woke beat anti-woke 70% to 28%. At universities on the same Q “wokeness” prevailed again 67% to 30%.
    –The respondents were also asked about their greatest concerns in schools. 61% were more concerned that “some schools may ban books and censor topics that are educationally important”.

    While the NORC survey is only a snapshot in time, as most polls are, it is revealing in that it shows public opinion has shifted over time re the LGBT community. I can remember a time in my own family when my gay cousin was shunned by family elders. He was kept in the closet. My three granddaughters, now in their middle teens, have close friends in the LGBTQ community. When they reach voting age they will wonder why sexual orientation or gender identity was such a big deal. Not good news for the GOP that is at war with “wokeism”.

    The NORC poll shows Americans are advancing in the right direction–toward inclusion and away from exclusion. Unfortunately, some on this blog still cling to the anti-woke agenda. If the NORC is any indication they are now the out liars!

    1. Dennis McIntyre, here’s a part of the poll you left out. “One virtue long associated with liberals, a belief in tolerance for others, is now deemed very important by 58% of Americans — down from 80% four years ago. So the same people who are more in favor of LGBTQ+++ are actually less tolerant of others. You are included. Thank you for your tolerant lack of tolerance. Students and Professors on campus also say that they are afraid to express their real thoughts. I would like to expressly thank you for being one of the creators of this atmosphere of fear. We woke to your woke.

    2. Dennis McIntyre writes about a 2017 photo with Trump holding a baseball bat but when it comes to Jane Fonda saying conservatives should be murdered he doesn’t have a word to say. When Trump’s severed bloody head was displayed Dennis McIntyre didn’t say a thing. I suspect he just enjoyed the show.

      1. “Dennis McIntyre’s only prize was winning the hypocrite reward for the intellectually deficient.

    3. 69% support perversion – 57% don’t pay income tax.


      Acceptance is unbiased and neutral, not biased, prejudicial and rabid promotion.

      – 69% support “accepting people who are gay, lesbian or bisexual”

      – 56% support “accepting people who are transgender”

      – Dennis McIntyre

      “57% of U.S. households paid no federal income tax last year as Covid took a toll, study says”

      – CNBC

      “the people are nothing but a great beast…

      I have learned to hold popular opinion of no value.”

      – Alexander Hamilton

      “The true reason (says Blackstone) of requiring any qualification, with regard to property in voters, is to exclude such persons, as are in so mean a situation, that they are esteemed to have no will of their own.”

      “If it were probable that every man would give his vote freely, and without influence of any kind, then, upon the true theory and genuine principles of liberty, every member of the community, however poor, should have a vote… But since that can hardly be expected, in persons of indigent fortunes, or such as are under the immediate dominion of others, all popular states have been obliged to establish certain qualifications, whereby, some who are suspected to have no will of their own, are excluded from voting; in order to set other individuals, whose wills may be supposed independent, more thoroughly upon a level with each other.”

      – Alexander Hamilton, The Farmer Refuted, 1775

      “[We gave you] a [restricted-vote] republic, if you can keep it.”

      – Ben Franklin, 1787

      1788 election turnout was 11.6%.

      General vote criteria were male, European, 21, 50lbs. Sterling or 50 acres.

      America was designed and established to be a restricted-vote republic.

      Never was America designed to be a one man, one vote democrazy.

    4. You have an interesting definition of inclusion to mean only for those who agree with you. That makes you as intolerant as the most intolerant conservative I can think of, none of which suggest you should sit down and shut up.

    5. “Jonathan: In other news it appears “woke” is winning! “

      Dennis, that was a dumb conclusion, but expected since you don’t understand polls. Let me help you.

      “–69% support “accepting people who are gay, lesbian or bisexual”

      I agree.

      “–56% support “accepting people who are transgender”.”

      I agree.

      “–Re “businesses taking steps to promote racial and ethnic diversity” woke beat anti-woke 70% to 28%. At universities on the same Q “wokeness” prevailed again 67% to 30%.”

      I promote merit, so when performing the poll, ask the question with some context: Do you want your physician or the pilot of your plane to have obtained that position through merit or wokeness? I know you would choose the surgeon who didn’t know the difference between a forceps and a scalpel, but that tells us not to listen to anything you have to say.

      “The respondents were also asked about their greatest concerns in schools. 61% were more concerned that “some schools may ban books and censor topics that are educationally important”.

      I agree. Wokeness cancels anything that doesn’t agree with their position. We have a lot to be concerned about whenever wokeness rears its ugly head.

    6. .”I can remember a time in my own family when my gay cousin was shunned by family elders. He was kept in the closet.”

      Dennis, you obviously suffer from sexual repression, causing you to overreact wherever sex is involved. Psychiatric analysis might help if you get a non-woke professional.

      I don’t suffer from that problem because my family was open to gays and never promoted racism.

      I hope you get the help you need.

    7. Just because you say you are winning doesn’t make anti woke wrong! It just means there are more intolerant people that are woke, and want to force wokism on everyone!
      They’re is more to woke then just transphobic, transgender, lesbian’s, gays, whatever words you make up to identify people! The problem today, most especially with young people is they don’t know much, they haven’t matured to the level of knowing more about the world in general, not just their world around them! People aren’t against whatever gender you want to be, the problem is, it’s right in everyone’s face! Do what you want when it comes to that. Just stop trying to firce feed your so called WOKISM on everyone!! Stay away from my child and my life! Don’t impose your views on us! Everyone has a right to believe what they choose to believe. If you don’t like it, too bad. That is part of life, deal with it without being aggressive towards how OTHERS think! But the WOKIES don’t like opposition to their thoughts and ideas. Again too bad! They make things worse for themselves on their own. If i don’t like someone’s ideas or actions or gender, i stay away from them. I don’t seek them out to belittle them and tell them you’re wrong, They make decisions for themselves. This world is big enough to handle differences. It’s the people themselves that make issues out of every little thing!!
      I am not changing my words to suit anyone. But i am also not going to be rude either! But to say nah, nah, their are more if us then u? How CHILDISH!!

      1. Annie: Glad you have joined our little discussion group. Notice I get a lot of pushback for my comments. Nothing new. “S. Meyer” thinks my mention of a gay cousin means I suffer from “sexual repression” and I am in need of “psychiatric analysis”. Kind of bizarre!

        You say the fact the public now supports tolerance and inclusion of the LBGTQ community means “there are more intolerant people that are woke, and want to force wokism on everyone!” .I don’t subscribe to that view. People are entitled to their own views and I don’t think people who are “woke” want to force anyone to change their views. What I tried to point out in my previous comment is that most Americans are opposed to discrimination against the LGBTQ community. I am proud to be among the majority but that doesn’t mean you should be forced to change your views.

        You also say “young people…don’t know much, they haven’t matured to the level of knowing more about the world in general,…”. I have three granddaughters in their middle teens. From the time they were about 11 or 12 they have had gay and lesbian friends. Now one of their friends is transitioning from male to female. They support their friend because it is a difficult time. So my granddaughters really know “more about the world in general” these days than many adults. They accept people for who they are. They practice tolerance and inclusion in their daily lives. Isn’t that what we, as parents and grandparents, should support?

        I am not trying to “fierce (sic) feed” so-called “WOKISM” on everyone. I agree with you that “this world is big enough to handle differences”. You are entitled to yours despite our differences. So I welcome your continued dialogue.

        1. Dennis, it is irrelevant what view you subscribe to.
          What is relevant is what is true.

          There are innumerable reasons for it, but the FACT is the left is intolerant and getting worse.
          Not all of it. but far more than enough to make things h311 for all of us.

          Of course people who are woke want others to change their views – nearly all of us want others to change their views.
          That is not the issue – You, I, anyone else is free to want to change the iew of others.
          We are not free to FORCE others to change their views or to silence them.

          Not discriminating against others is not something you should be proud of, it should just be normal.
          Is there meaningful parity between racism against minorities vs. racism against the so called priviledged – as if a white working class male from a poor community is priviledge ? Possibly not – but we are trending that way, and we are trending towards idiocy.

        2. Dennis, You feel ‘good all under,’ about yourself don’t you?

          Are you aware there are growing numbers of ‘LGB’s’ who want no part of the ‘TQ+’ label?
          They actually resent being labeled and clumped in with the trans ++ “community”.
          Many “LGB’s” themselves don’t relate to the trans cult and feel it diminishes and harms them as a group.
          They don’t necessarily approve of or understand the 75+ gender possibilities to ‘choose’ from, or the Drag Shows, or the hyper sexualization of children, or pumping kids with hormones, or sexual reassignment surgery as minors, or trans men competing against women in sports, or the confusion and ‘trans+’ pressures now becoming part of LGB dating scene, etc.
          It’s a rapidly growing anti-trans+ sentiment within the ‘LGB’ community, just fyi.

        3. ” Notice I get a lot of pushback for my comments. Nothing new. “S. Meyer” thinks my mention of a gay cousin means I suffer from “sexual repression” and I am in need of “psychiatric analysis”.

          Dennis, your mind is so clouded that your ability to quote and paraphrase correctly is impaired. At the same time, you lie about book removals from school libraries.

          You wrote: ”I can remember a time in my own family when my gay cousin was shunned by family elders. He was kept in the closet.”

          Your behavior and attitude are so bizarre that you possibly might still be rebelling against family members. I don’t know why the shunning of your gay cousin affects you over a half-century later, but it sounds like it does.

          I responded to your craziness stating: “Dennis, you obviously suffer from sexual repression, causing you to overreact wherever sex is involved. Psychiatric analysis might help if you get a non-woke professional.

          I don’t suffer from that problem because my family was open to gays and never promoted racism.

          I hope you get the help you need.”

          By the way, just because a book is named Anne Frank’s Diary doesn’t mean it is appropriate for children if after Anne Frank dies, her sexual nature is changed, and she becomes a lesbian. The book pushes alternate behavior on young children

          “So my granddaughters really know “more about the world in general” these days than many adults. They accept people for who they are.”

          I’m glad your granddaughters know how to treat people with alternative lifestyles, but to think young women have the experience to know “more about the world in general” might be true for you and your problems, but experience helps to develop wisdom something that never entered your being.

      1. So will you go to a doctor or lawyer who is there solely because of his skin color and not because he was best qualified?
        Tell me that when you want to be treated for cancer or some other serious disease or you get sued for a lsrge disputed amount of money.

        Can you spell HYPOCRITE??

  4. Might it be that such inflammatory language from anti-cultural leftists has materialized in the violence wrought by a reported-to-be transgender at the elementary school in Nashville?

  5. This professor’s screed is the human manifestation of a fiddler crab waving its major claw to boast its prowess, beneath an ocean of creatures that do not care: Just another irrelevant crab feeding on the bottom.

    Photo Credit “Mnolf”

  6. Jonathan: I agree. Shaviro should be suspended and warned that if he repeats calling for violence on his blog he should face further discipline–including possible termination.

    That said, “rage rhetoric” is everywhere. Even on your blog. It has been normalized. After I wrote a comment about Trump’s use of “rage rhetoric” to describe Alvin Bragg and calling for “death and destruction” if Bragg indicts him–and the posting of a image of Trump hold a baseball bat over the head of Bragg–the reaction was swift. “S. Meyer”, a frequent blogger here, thinks Trump’s post is “very acceptable” (3/27 @2:19 pm) “Anonymous” (not the rational one) responded (3/27 @ 6:14 pm) to my comment with the following: “Bragg is a bully. People must stand up to bullies and their followers, such as you”. The implication from these comments is pretty clear. Using a baseball bat to smash the heads of “bullies” like Bragg and me is acceptable. Anonymous goes on to say maybe it was not a Trump supporter who made the assassination threat against Bragg. He thinks it was more probably “someone from the violent left”. Now that makes a lot of sense. Why would a supporter of Bragg want to assassinate him? Logic is not part of the thinking of Anonymous.

    Will you warn or suspend S. Meyer, or his alter ego Anonymous, for endorsing acts of violence? Probably not. You will treat such language as “protected speech”. The Q is whether you would take the same position if someone on your blog were to post an image of him/herself wielding a baseball bat over the image of Donald Trump? I suspect that would be bridge too far.

    1. “S. Meyer”, a frequent blogger here, thinks Trump’s post is “very acceptable” “

      Dennis, I see you are a racist as well. You wish to demean Joe Clark, the baseball bat-wielding principal, and pictures of him holding a bat. By the way, Joe Clark is black. Are you able to see the relationship between the two? As an aside, have you ever heard a mother lovingly saying she should hit her child over the head with a baseball bat?

      You are very selective in how you perceive things. Was black Joe Clark violent? Are you that ignorant that you can’t comment responsibly? The answer based on reading lies and misquotes from you is no.

      Bragg is a bully and is using his power in a reprehensible way, much like you when you print lies and misquotes.

      As far as the other quote, the violent left will lie, cheat and steal to get its way, so one can never rule out the idiocy they provide.

  7. The post omitted one important fact: suspended WITH PAY.

    In other words, a paid vacation.

  8. Hmmmm. I actually don’t really find this guy’s statement all that worrisome–it’s nothing more than the bleating of a twit with the braggadocio of an adolescent male. But if we want to do an interesting thought experiment that involves hypothetical violence, query: “Did Rosa Parks have the moral right to use force to defend herself from what was, in essence, an armed kidnapping–given that the police officer had no right under the supreme Law of the Land to arrest her?”

    Were I a professor, should I be suspended for asking such a question?

  9. “Instead of shouting them down we should shoot them down.” In the not to distant past the same phrase was used concerning the Jews. In a free society people who say these things should not be locked up but they should serve as a warning to us all of what can happen if they are given the power to carry out their desires. The first step will be an IRS agent knocking at your door if you dare testify before a Republican committee in the House of Representatives. Ask Matt Taibbi.

  10. Shaviro should be ordered to undergo a thorough mental examination which should be noted on his record WITHOUT NOTING THE TEST RESULTS.
    He should then be suspended without pay for a semester and stripped of his tenure.

  11. This kind of rhetoric from those on the left has become common place. An MSNBC commentator saying that they should have shot the Jan 6 Shaman while he was praying. Jane Fonda saying that murder should be considered to stop those on the right from speaking. The severed bloody head of Donald Trump. Johnny Depp suggesting that an American President should be assassinated. When people tell you who they are you should believe them. They may not have the guts to do the act themselves but there is no doubt that they are encouraging such action by others who are of a like mind. I should have said sick mind. REDRUM is how they say it.

      1. UpstateFarmer, they are all in on diversity except when it comes to the diversity of thought. I don’t say shoot them down I say vote them down if you have any concern for your safety.

        1. TiT,
          Well, I agree about voting and I do at every election, in person, with a valid picture ID at the ready.
          As for my physical safety, well, that is what the 2ndA is for.
          John Say and I have had a few conversations about the possibility of a civil war.
          It is people like Shaviro whom reinforce the idea of civil war being a real possibility.

          1. UpstateFarmer, Im not to concerned. This wimpy Professor probably hasn’t fired a gun in his life to protect his nation. He just holds his head high and expects others to do it for him. All go no show. Maybe he can get one of his LGBTQ+ friends to shoot up a Christian elementary school if he wishes hard enough.

            1. TiT,
              I agree.
              But looking at Mao’s Culture Revolution, Mao actually did not do a whole lot. Just made some speeches, propaganda in the media, and let the Red Guard and those who would lead them to commit atrocities. I think that is where the wimpy professor, with a mob behind him, could be problematic.
              IRT the recent mass shooting, I wonder if the wimpy professor feels anything for those killed.
              As I have stated on many an occasion, I am not religious. But I still feel for those who died, to include the shooter. She clearly was in need of help.


    “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”

    – Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto

    “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off

    such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

    – Declaration of Independence, 1776

  13. Can’t help but feel that this, and the words of many others on the left, including our White House and Congress, are incitement. They are praying someone on the non-left (which at this point is a rather broad spectrum. MAGA Republicans, my a**) fires the first shot. These people are sick to the core, and it is *just* them.

      1. @Upstate

        No doubt. I know that as you have stated you are not ‘white’, neither is my wife, and my wife’s nieces are mixed, but they look ‘white’. Their parents are not particularly political in any regard. What is to become of these girls when all anyone sees is the ‘whiteness’, even though they are the children of first generation immigrants from decidedly not ‘white’ countries that the left claim the defend with their lives? Useful idiots will be useful idiots, but what our modern leftist governments are are doing in 2023 is precisely what was happening in Germany in the early stages of persecution. We cannot afford this for one second longer, and they were hampered by not having global billionaires funding their every move or the benefit of modern technology, so what is to become of us?

        1. James,
          I agree.
          The comparisons to both 1930s Germany and Mao’s Culture Revolution are quite alarming.
          Would the woke leftist “other” us to the point we are no longer human but as someone else put, ‘vermin?’ Much easier to remove or eradicate ‘vermin’ than a human being.

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