A New Jersey college’s board of trustees has called for an emergency meeting tonight to discuss how to handle the controversy surrounding an e-mail by a professor suggesting soldiers in Iraq should kill their superior officers.
As WorldNetDaily reported, the e-mail by adjunct English instructor John Daly of Warren County Community College was a reply to freshman Rebecca Beach for her announcement of a campus program last Thursday featuring decorated Iraq war hero Lt. Col. Scott Rutter.
Daly wrote: “Real freedom will come when soldiers in Iraq turn their guns on their superiors.”
Daly said Sunday he was worried he would be fired tonight and already had been told not to show up for the three classes he was scheduled to teach today, according to Inside Higher Ed, an online news source.
The instructor said he stood by the e-mail message, but it was being taken out of context. His comment about soldiers turning their guns on superiors was meant “in the most metaphoric sense,” he explained.
Daly also said that because Beach was never one of his students, he thought she was a “Young America’s Foundation organizer and sent the message with that in mind.
He would have used a different tone if he had known she was a freshman, he said, although the content wouldn’t have changed.
In his e-mail, Daly said he would ask his students to boycott the event and also vowed “to expose [her] right-wing, anti-people politics until groups like [Rebecca’s] won’t dare show their face on a college campus.”
Young America’s Foundation, which came to Beach’s aid, said that besides organizing the event, Beach’s offense was hanging up fliers contrasting the number of people killed under communism to those liberated under President Reagan.
Beach responded to Daly’s written tirade with a demand that Warren President William Austin institute seminars on free speech and sensitivity to teach intolerant faculty members to be respectful of differing opinion.
The college has issued three statements since the controversy began, with support for Daly apparently declining with each one, Inside Higher Ed said.
On Thursday, the college posted a statement on its website saying:
The viewpoints of this professor in no way depict the views of Warren County Community College, its administration, or the Board of Trustees. The College does however support the constitution, the first amendment, and the right to free speech.
Additionally, Mr. Daly’s message was sent as a one-to-one message, via e-mail, to one person, and not to the college community. Finally, the College is viewing this message as a personnel issue and will be addressing it according to the policies and procedures of the College.
Austin attended the lecture Thursday night, and the next day, the college’s statement, noting the speech went well, added criticism of Daly, quoting Austin as saying the e-mail was “disgraceful and offensive.”
Saturday, the college announced the board had scheduled the emergency meeting, noting Tuesday was the first day such a meeting could be held legally.
“The Board of Trustees intends to consider the welfare and rights of its students, the college community, and the public in lieu [sic] of recent events. The board will also consider personnel issues,” the statement said.
In the interview last night, according to Inside Higher Ed, Daly said it was entirely appropriate for him to criticize “a pro-war rally.”
People should be outraged that military recruiters are able to attract the college’s students to enlist because they can’t afford tuition and find good jobs when they graduate.
“The YAF is trying to turn back affirmative action and to promote the war, and I have a right to speak out,” said Daly, who noted he’s been teaching at Warren for about a year.
He also teaches at another school but declined to give the name because of the current controversy.
Referring to the threat of being fired, Daly said his situation reflects a trend for non-tenured instructors.
“As more and more professors are teaching part time, this is a direct attack on our academic freedom,” he said.
Daly’s e-mail also claimed that “capitalism has killed many more” people than communism and that “poor and working class people” are recruited to “fight and die for EXXON and other corporations.”