University of New Mexico: Censorship of Professor After Joking About Pentagon Attack
University of New Mexico Professor Richard Berthold addressed the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001 in his Western Civilization class, remarking, "Anyone who can bomb the Pentagon has my vote." Berthold apologized for the statement, and his speech was protected under the First Amendment, but University of New Mexico President William C. Gordon still nonetheless announced he would "vigorously pursue" disciplinary action. Although FIRE protested and the case drew national media attention, Berthold was found guilty of violating the standards of "professorial responsibility" and was banned from teaching freshman classes for a year, amongst other measures.
- "University of New Mexico," October 24, 2001: University of New Mexico Professor Richard Berthold addressed the terrorist attacks in his morning class on Western Civilization, remarking, "Anyone who can bomb the Pentagon has my vote." He apologized for the statement, claiming that it was stupidly intended to be a joke. Although this state university is bound by the U.S. Constitution, its president, William C. Gordon, announced that he would "vigorously pursue" disciplinary action against Berthold. President Gordon later told Berthold that he had violated University of New Mexico policy by his statement. FIRE has contacted President Gordon and the University's Board of Regents, and is awaiting a reply. If Gordon refuses to recognize the Bill of Rights, FIRE will secure appropriate remedy.
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