In a shameless display of unprofessionalism, egregious even by today’s lax standards of academic conduct, a UC-Irvine biology professor used his classroom lectern to deliver a diatribe on the need for gun control in the wake of the San Bernardino shooting and to exhort his students to take up the issue.
As Campus Reform reports, Prof. Richard Symanski’s off-topic lesson on the urgency of establishing gun control was delivered to his introductory Biological Sciences course, which is attended by many freshmen. Symanski’s remarks were caught on video by Irvine student Peter Van Voorhis.
In the video, Symnaski directs his remarks particularly to the freshmen in the class:
I know that over time many of you are going to want to get engaged in a cause and if I were your age, and knew what I think I know today….what I would do is probably jump on this gun issue. It just boggles my mind every time I think about it.
Symanski laid the most blame for mass shootings on the National Rifle Association (NRA):
Who’s the big culprit of this? Well the big culprit is…the NRA—the National Rifle Association—which is enormously powerful in this country, in a way that you and I can’t imagine.
He went on to reject the NRA’s unofficial slogan, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” claiming that we are all so unstable that if we have access to firearms “we don’t know when we’re going to fly off the handle” and commit murder.
Referencing the San Bernardino massacre, Symanski continued:
If we don’t have access to the damn thing, we can’t kill anybody. We might beat the s&%! out of them, we might cut them with a knife, but we’re not going to kill 14 people and put another 17 people in the hospital.
We now know that the San Bernardino mass shooting was a carefully planned terrorist act orchestrated by radical Islamists who likely plotted the assault for years, not a case of anyone “flying off the handle.”
Symanski concluded his rant by again exhorting his students to make gun control a focus of their activism:
If you want a cause—want to get on a bandwagon—then get these guns outlawed, and do something about the Second Amendment.
According to the official statements of the American Association of University Professors, which formulated the modern conception of academic freedom, “Teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subject.” In delivering a lecture on the need for gun control, in a course dedicated to the study of biological science, Prof. Symanski blatantly ignored these dictates and violated the academic freedom of his students.
Irvine student Peter Van Voorhis who recorded Symanski’s lecture agrees, telling Campus Reform “I am totally for people expressing their opinions, but when professors do it, they have a captive audience.”