K-State has pledged to investigate Jaden McNeil, the founder and president of America First Students, over a “racist” tweet about George Floyd.
McNeil, a student at K-State, who founded America First Students in 2018, tweeted a joke about the death of George Floyd, congratulating him on “being drug free for an entire month.”
He then faced wide backlash from leftists online who were upset about the joke, with many threatening him with violence. “People are more upset about this tweet than they are about George Floyd robbing a pregnant woman at gunpoint,” McNeil tweeted. “BTW he died from overdosing on fentanyl and meth.”
This soon reached K-State themselves. President Richard Myers said that McNeil’s “insensitive” comments “hurt our entire community,” and that they would investigate:
These divisive statements do not represent for the values of our university. We condemn racism and bigotry in all its forms.We are launching an immediate review of the university’s options. Black Lives Matter at Kansas State University and we will continue to fight for social justice.
We are launching an immediate review of the university’s options. Black Lives Matter at Kansas State University and we will continue to fight for social justice.
— K-State (@KState) June 26, 2020
Thomas Lane, the Vice President for Student Life & Dean of Students said that the “lack of basic decency and care for how [McNeil’s] post would impact others, especially our Black students, faculty, & staff already emotionally hurting from recent incidents of anti-Black violence is shameful and appalling”:
It is in blatant opposition to the values we hold close and aspire to as a university, such as diversity, inclusion, civility and respect.K-State condemns the post in the strongest of terms. It does not reflect who we are as confirmed by the outrage expressed by so many campus community members. Bigotry, prejudice & racism have no place here.
Lane pointed anyone who was “impacted by this incident” towards counseling services.
For those impacted by this incident, please know there are supportive resources available including The Office of Student Life, Counseling Services, @KStateDiversity.
— Thomas Lane (@ThomasALane) June 26, 2020
Conservatives slammed the decision by K-State to investigate the America First Students president, noting that this was all over a joke, nothing more:
Why is the president of the university bothering himself with a joke someone made on Twitter? And in what way does an inappropriate joke hurt anyone, let alone the "entire community"? This is beyond parody. The whole university has gone into DEFCON 1 over a kid's tweet. https://t.co/WaUxep2a5P
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) June 26, 2020
If Dave Chappelle tweeted this, no one would blink. Instead @KState officials, football players & virtue-signaling babies are in an uproar…and @McNeilJaden is getting death threats & expulsion threats across social media. OVER A JOKE.
What a weak, pathetic country we live in. https://t.co/4qOI4I6jJs
— Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) June 26, 2020
Cassandra Fairbanks pointed out that the joke itself is actually quite common, highlighting instances that it has been used to refer to dead celebrities, like Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston, and Kurt Cobain.
The response from K-State also seems to counteract their very own policies. In 2017, Myers issued a statement on behalf of K-State, reaffirming its “commitment to free speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution”:
The university’s Statement on Free Speech and Expression recognizes that free and open speech is essential to our core academic mission. As the nation’s first operational land-grant institution, K-State has a long legacy of public service to the people of Kansas. As a public university, we know our value to the people we serve comes from an environment that supports open discourse and dialogue. Supporting free speech is not always convenient, or easy, especially in times of discord or unrest.