June 12, 2024

UT Law professor under fire for controversial tweet

A UT Law professor posted a controversial tweet on Thursday, Sept. 22 in response to the Charlotte, North Carolina protests.

The outside front of the UTK College of Law on a sunny fall day. Photo taken on Oct. 3, 2009. No changes made.

Glenn Reynolds, faculty member at the University of Tennessee and USA Today columnist, posted a controversial tweet instructing motorists not to yield to the Charlotte, NC. protestors blocking traffic.

Reynolds tweeted “Run them down,” in response to a TV news station video of protestors on Interstate 277.

“Yes, that was my post,” he wrote in an email to the Knoxville News Sentinel “It was brief since it was Twitter, but blocking highways is dangerous and I don’t think people should stop for a mob, especially when it’s been violent.”

Twitter reacted swiftly by suspending Reynolds’ account, @Instapundit, but reinstated it soon after he deleted the offending tweet at their request.

“I’ve always been a supporter of free speech and peaceful protest. I fully support people protesting police actions, and I’ve been writing in support of greater accountability for police for years,” he wrote.

“But riots aren’t peaceful protests. And locking interstates and trapping people in their vehicles is not peaceful protest—its threatening and dangerous, especially against the background of people rioting, cops being injured, civilian-on-civilian shootings, and so on,” Reynolds said. “I wouldn’t actually aim for people blocking the road, but I wouldn’t stop because I’d fear for my safety, as I think any reasonable person would.”

Reynolds has cited Twitter character limits for “standing in the way of nuance,” but conceded that “Run them down” did not capture his sentiments fully.

Reynolds’ account, associated with the blog Instapundit.com, has 68.2 thousand followers, many of whom are still commenting on the situation in the twitter fire-storm.

UT College of Law Dean Melanie D. Wilson released a statement Thursday morning saying the “irresponsible use of his platform” was being investigated.

“The university is committed to academic freedom, freedom of speech, and diverse viewpoints, all of which are important for an institution of higher education and the free exchange of ideas,” the statement says. “My colleagues and I in the university’s leadership support peaceful civil disobedience and all forms of free speech, but we do not support violence or language that encourages violence.”

Chancellor Jimmy Cheek has since expressed support for Wilson’s statement.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory declared Charlotte a state of emergency as peaceful protests descended into chaos on Wednesday night.

According The Washington Post, 16 police officers and numerous protesters have been injured. One protester, who was shot in the confusion of the Wednesday night riot, was in critical condition and on life support Thursday morning.

The Charlotte police department has continually denied to release the video footage of the original shooting.

This follows the UT controversy regarding the defunding of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion in April 2016 and the controversy over gender-neutral pronouns in August 2015.

Featured image by Nightryder84

Edited by Kaitlin Flippo

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