Inside Higher Ed today has a story about University of Rhode Island history professor Erik Loomis, who managed to put himself in the limelight with a tweet after Adam Lanza’s massacre that he wanted the head of the National Rifle Association “on a stick.” Seems to me that fits into Paul Krugman’s description of “eliminationist rhetoric” and the university has issued a reprimand. Loomis defends himself by saying that he didn’t intend people to take him literally, but how could he be certain that someone else as angry as he is might not?
Has Loomis bothered to think through his outburst? If the NRA did not exist, would Connecticut have been able to enact anti-gun laws that would have prevented a mentally deranged kid from stealing guns and killing innocent people? I don’t think that case can be made.
Some academics are mounting a defense of Loomis, as if he had transgressed no boundary of civility. I think he did. It’s bad enough to blow your lid and blame someone you dislike for a tragedy he had nothing to do with, but unacceptable for a professor to suggest, even rhetorically, that violence is warranted.