This one genuinely surprised me, and not just because I’d never heard of Emmanuel College despite having gone to law school in the Boston area. (This is by no means a knock against the institution, I just often get the impression that there are almost as many colleges and universities in Boston as there are students.)
No, I was surprised that a liberal arts institution would fire a professor for discussing this issue.
I find it ironic that Emmanuel College's administration had this sort of knee-jerk reaction. The purpose of a liberal arts education is to help students develop and use their intellectual resources. The free exchange of ideas is essential to this.
I don’t agree with the point Professor Winset was (apparently) trying to make. I don’t think that last week’s tragic events speak to the need for more guns in our society. Unless college students and faculty members have changed significantly in the decade plus since I graduated college, I can envision many scenarios in which more firearms in the hands of students and faculty members might have exacerbated the situation. I can envision very few scenarios in which the presence of more firearms would have saved lives.
I do, however, support his right to make that point, particularly in the setting in which he made it. I’m sure that the discussion left many students upset. Discussions about sensitive subjects often have that effect on people. The fact that strong feelings are aroused is part of what makes them so valuable. Part of developing analytical skills and intellectual agility is developing the ability to think critically about these types of issues.
In its attempt to enforce institutional standards regarding conduct, I hope that Emmanuel College is not ignoring its educational mission.
Fired Professor Speaks Out