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Professor Faces Punishment for Dissing NRA Head

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Statement on Erik Loomis
Crooked Timber
December 19, 2012

Erik Loomis is no stranger to this blog. A gifted young
scholar of US labor and environmental history, Loomis
is also a blogger at Lawyers, Guns and Money. Many of
us have tussled and tangled with him, most recently
over whether leftists should vote for Obama. We have
often disagreed with Loomis, not always pleasantly or
politely, and he has certainly given as good as he has

But now 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.

This past Friday, in the wake of the tremendous grief
and outrage millions of people felt over the Newtown
mass shooting, Loomis tweeted the following:

    I was heartbroken in the first 20 mass murders. Now
    I want Wayne LaPierre's head on a stick.

Wayne LaPierre is the head of the National Rifle

It seems obvious to us that when Loomis called for
LaPierre's head on a stick, he had in mind something
like this from the Urban Dictionary:

    A metaphor describing retaliation or punishment for
    another's wrongdoing, or public outrage against an
    individual or group for the same reason.

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    After the BP Oil Spill; many Americans would like
    to see Tony Hayward's head on a stick, myself

Ever since putting someone's head on a stick ceased to
be a routine form of public punishment--indeed, the last
instance of it we can think of is fictional (Dickens' A
Tale of Two Cities, though it references an actual
event from the French Revolution)--calling for someone's
head has been a fairly conventional way to express
one's outrage or criticism. Two months ago, for
example, right-wing blogger Glenn Reynolds voiced his
anger over the State Department's lax provision of
security in Benghazi by demanding
, "Can we see some
heads roll?"

Yet that very same Glenn Reynolds is now accusing
Loomis of using "eliminationist rhetoric."

Other conservative voices have joined in. The Daily
says Loomis "unleashed a flurry of profanity-
ridden tweets demanding death for National Rifle
Association executive Wayne LaPierre." Townhall put
Loomis's tweets in the context of NRA members and
leaders getting death threats. And just this morning,
Michelle Malkin wrote at National Review Online:

    What's most disturbing is that the incitements are
    coming from purportedly respectable, prominent, and
    influential public figures.

    Consider the rhetoric of University of Rhode Island
    professor Erik Loomis".
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    Unfortunately, Loomis is not alone".

    So, it's come to this: Advocating beheadings,
    beatings, and the mass murder of peaceful Americans
    to pay for the sins of a soulless madman. But
    because the advocates of violence fashion
    themselves champions of nonviolence and because
    they inhabit the hallowed worlds of Hollywood,
    academia, and the Democratic party, it's

    Blood-lusting hate speech must not get a pass just
    because it comes out of the mouths of the protected
    anti-gun class.

This campaign has now brought Loomis into the
crosshairs of the state and his employer.

Loomis has already been questioned by the Rhode Island
State Police, who told him that someone had informed
the FBI that Loomis had threatened LaPierre's life
Loomis also has been hauled into a meeting with his
.  And now the president of the University of Rhode
Island, where Loomis teaches, has issued the following

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Give me a break. Remember the uproar over Sarah Pa... by Paul Rye on Saturday, Jan 19, 2013 at 2:41:48 PM
SpeechAnd who sets the standards of "civil discour... by Samuel Scharff on Saturday, Jan 19, 2013 at 3:51:39 PM
Of course, you are correct it is a slippery slope ... by Paul Rye on Saturday, Jan 19, 2013 at 5:32:09 PM
should be intelligent enough to know a figure of s... by Archie on Saturday, Jan 19, 2013 at 7:24:16 PM
political correctness...... by Doc McCoy on Saturday, Jan 19, 2013 at 8:10:46 PM