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
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 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:
another's wrongdoing, or public outrage against an
individual or group for the same reason.
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
Yet that very same Glenn Reynolds is now accusing
Loomis of using "eliminationist rhetoric."
Other conservative voices have joined in. The Daily
Caller 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".
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
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
dean. And now the president of the University of Rhode
Island, where Loomis teaches, has issued the following
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