Temple College: Censorship of Cartoon and Nietzsche Quotation on Professor’s Office Door

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Temple College

On October 23, 2008, Temple College professor Kerry Laird was ordered to remove a satirical cartoon from his office door by Interim Vice President of Educational Services and Chief Academic Officer Mark Smith. Later that day, Laird placed a sign on his office door that said, “Gott ist tot,” a Freidrich Nietzsche quote that translates to “God is dead.” Smith demanded that Professor Laird remove the quote immediately, stating that the quote “can be considered very controversial and offensive.” Smith refused to reverse the censorship even after a faculty member and a student pointed out the double standard being used against Laird’s expression. On November 5, however, less than an hour after receiving a letter from FIRE, Temple College President Glenda Barron reversed its censorship.

  • TC prof strikes a blow for free speech

    November 6, 2008

    Temple College administrators deemed their own actions inappropriate after one of the college’s professors found himself in hot water with them for posting “God is dead” on his office door. The phrase, taken from German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s “The Gay Science,” is followed by the words, “God remains dead. And we have killed him.” By no means is this the first time Nietzsche’s words have created a firestorm. At least as early as the 1960s, students and teachers have used his words to provoke thought. Kerry Laird, a first-year literature and composition instructor, last month posted the philosopher’s words in […]

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  • A Head Rolls at Temple College after Censorship of Nietzsche Quotation

    November 12, 2008

    It looks like Temple College’s president, Glenda Barron, is getting her house in order. About one hour after we wrote to her about the censorship of the words “God is dead” (in German) on Professor Kerry Laird’s door, she announced to all faculty and staff that such censorship had been “inappropriate.” Yesterday, the college announced that Lesley Keeling-Olson, Interim Division Director of the Liberal Arts division, was stepping down at the close of business that day—less than one week after FIRE intervened on behalf of Professor Laird. Keeling-Olson had communicated the censorship order that had come from Mark Smith, Interim […]

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  • Victory at Temple College Explained in Today’s Podcast

    November 10, 2008

    Last Thursday, FIRE’s press release described our latest victory for freedom of expression at Temple College (Texas), where the school’s president quickly reversed the censorship of a religiously themed cartoon and the Nietzsche quotation “God is dead” after receiving a letter from FIRE. In today’s episode of FIREside Chats, Adam Kissel, Director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense Program, discusses this case in further detail and calls on administrators at Lake Superior State University and Lone Star College–Tomball to follow Temple’s lead by undoing the censorship of controversial posted materials on campus. To listen to the entire podcast, click here.

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  • College ends ban on Nietzsche quote

    November 7, 2008

    Whether or not “God is dead,” as Nietzsche famously argued in The Gay Science, the philosopher’s famous quote can once again be displayed on the doors of faculty offices at Temple College, in Texas. The president of Temple, Glenda Barron, and Mark Smith, who had earlier ordered a professor to remove the quotation from his door, sent out an e-mail message to faculty members reversing the earlier decision. “Recently, the administration required the removal of a cartoon and a Nietzsche statement from the door of a faculty member. We have reviewed the Temple College policies and believe that the action […]

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  • Victory at Temple College: School Reverses Censorship of Cartoon, Nietzsche Quote

    November 6, 2008

    In a victory for freedom of expression, Temple College President Glenda O. Barron has quickly reversed the censorship of a religiously themed cartoon and the Nietzsche quotation “God is dead.” A vice president required the removal of postings English Professor Kerry Laird had affixed to his office door because they “can be considered very controversial and offensive.” Approximately half an hour after FIRE faxed a letter to President Barron, she announced to all faculty and staff that the censorship “was inappropriate.” The trouble began earlier this term, when Laird posted a cartoon on his office door that used profanity in […]

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  • Victory for Freedom of Speech: Temple College Reverses Censorship of Cartoon, Nietzsche Quote

    November 6, 2008

    TEMPLE, Texas, November 6, 2008—In a victory for freedom of expression, Temple College President Glenda O. Barron has quickly reversed the censorship of a religiously themed cartoon and the Nietzsche quotation “God is dead.” After Mark Smith, Interim Vice President of Educational Services and Chief Academic Officer, forced English Professor Kerry Laird’s postings to be removed from his office door, Laird turned to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help. “President Barron should be commended for her prompt reversal of her subordinate’s unconstitutional censorship,” FIRE Vice President Robert L. Shibley said. “This is a classic example of […]

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  • FIRE Letter to Temple College President Glenda O. Barron

    November 5, 2008

    November 5, 2008 President Glenda O. Barron Temple College 2600 South First Street Temple, Texas 76504-7435 Sent via U.S. Mail and Facsimile (254-298-8277) Dear President Barron: As you can see from the list of our Directors and Board of Advisors, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) unites leaders in the fields of civil rights and civil liberties, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of liberty, legal equality, freedom of religion, due process, and, in this case, freedom of expression and academic freedom on America’s college campuses. Our website, www.thefire-dev.wp.eresources.ws, will give […]

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