Remember that Dutch math teacher that shocked his students into silence by threatening to spoil all the upcoming deaths in Game of Thrones? Another professor is making headlines for a Game of Thrones related incident, but this one isn’t nearly as funny.
Unless, of course, you enjoy laughing at college administrators with absolutely no pop culture knowledge.
According to Gawker, Francis Schmidt, who is an art and animation professor at Bergen Community College in New Jersey, posted a photo of his daughter to Google+. The photo, shown below, showed the girl wearing a Game of Thrones t-shirt themed to the Keep Calm meme with the phrase, “I will take what is mine with fire and blood.”
The line was famously said on Game of Thrones by Danaerys Targaryen when she was in the city of Qarth, and refers to a vow she makes to take back the Seven Kingdoms with her three dragons that she birthed from the raging fire of her husband’s pyre.
The photo was seen on Schmidt’s Google+ page by several colleagues, including a dean that took the t-shirt as a veiled threat towards students. According to Inside Higher Ed, Schmidt was notified via email by the school’s human resources director that he was to report to a meeting with two other administrators. At the meeting, which took place over winter break, Schmidt was questioned repeatedly about the meaning of the photo and the phrase.
The reason? The word “fire” was construed by one of the security personnel as a possible code word for “AK-47s.” That’s right people, Danaerys is the Mother of Assault Rifles in certain circles.
Despite attending the meeting and explaining the Game of Thrones reference, Schmidt received an email later that week notifying him that he was being placed on administrative leave without pay until he could be cleared to return to work by a psychiatrist.
The college is undergoing some turmoil in the faculty, with a recent vote in the faculty union declaring “no confidence” in the college’s president, Kaye Walter, partially due to the incident with Schmidt.
Walter maintains that due to the recent shootings at schools that the administration did not act unfairly against Schmidt, though by American Association of University Professors (AAUP) standards, professors should only be removed from classrooms if they are an immediate threat to students. Greg Scholtz, director of tenure, academic freedom and governance for AAUP, said the Game of Thrones related photo did not meet that criteria.
What do you think? Is it better to be safe than sorry or was this taken way too far?