I’d love to say I thought this story was funny, but I find it kind of disturbing and filled with all manner of the stupid.
Francis Schmidt is an art and animation professor at Bergen Community College. He is a Game Of Thrones fan and has a 7-year old daughter named Sophia. Schmidt posted the picture above to his Google+ page because, well, it’s cute. I mean, it’s his kid representing his fandom. We all do this and we all know people who like Game Of Thrones, so no big deal, right?
Yeah, not so much.
After posting the picture, Schmidt got called into the Dean’s office to talk with HR and was suspended because the Dean was worried that the Targaryen family words were a “threat against him.” It seems that one of the officials viewed the word “fire” as a metaphor for AK-47’s stating “When you see the word fire, then someone shows up with an AK-47 here shooting everybody.”
Amazingly, none of the administrators were familiar with the show or bothered run a quick search on Google to decipher the shirts meaning.
Schmidt was later cleared to return to work after passing a psychiatric test. Larry Hlavenka, a spokesman for Bergen college, responded to criticism over the incident with the following statement:
“Since Jan. 1, 2014, 34 incidents of school shootings have occurred in the United States,” Hlavenka added. “In following its safety and security procedures, the college investigates all situations where a member of its community – students, faculty, staff or local residents – expresses a safety or security concern.”
To be fair, this kind of overreaction is somewhat understandable given the fact that school shootings and other incidents of public violence seem to be on the rise. However, Inside Higher Ed revealed that Schmidt, a tenured professor, is under the impression that he was targeted as payback for a grievance he filed recently after being denied a sabbatical.