College Admits Error for Disciplining Professor for ‘Game of Thrones’ Photo

A community college has admitted that it may have violated a professor’s constitutional rights when it suspended him for posting a photograph of a shirt featuring a quotation from the popular HBO television series Game of Thrones, reports The Record, a New Jersey newspaper.

Bergen Community College suspended Francis Schmidt, an art and animation professor, after he posted the photo, which shows his daughter, on Google+ in January. The quote on her T-shirt—“I will take what is mine with fire & blood”—apparently alarmed a dean at the college.

Mr. Schmidt says he was summoned before officials at the college the next day and asked if the shirt constituted a threat against the dean. Mr. Schmidt was suspended for eight days and ordered to visit a psychiatrist before being allowed to return to the campus. He was permitted to return on the condition that he not wear clothing with questionable statements or disparage the college.

But in a letter dated late last month, the college admitted it may have violated Mr. Schmidt’s First Amendment rights, and said it “recognizes and respects” those rights. Mr. Schmidt, who has tenure, said he believes the discipline was in retaliation for a complaint he filed about being denied a sabbatical.

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