News Story

Wayne State prof calls murder of conservative campus speakers ‘admirable’

Professor suspended from $140K/year job after remarks school president calls ‘reprehensible’

Steven Shaviro, an English professor at Wayne State University, was suspended with pay this week for promoting on social media the murder of conservative speakers on college campuses.

“Although I do not advocate violating federal and state criminal codes, I think it is far more admirable to kill a racist, homophobic, or transphobic speaker than it is to shout them down,” Shaviro wrote in a Facebook post.

Wayne State refused to divulge his name to CapCon, but said it had referred Shaviro’s comments to law enforcement. However, his name and screenshots of his social media post quickly began circulating.

Shaviro’s picture has been removed from his Wayne State webpage.

Shaviro writes a blog where he discusses class warfare, socialism and oppression.

He describes himself on Twitter as a “Stealth assassin from the clouds. Science fiction. Music video. Alfred North Whitehead. Kitsch Marxist. Sex negative.”

Although he bemoans capitalism, Shaviro made $140,926 as of 2022, with an additional $1,494 in compensation, according to AAUP-AFT, Shaviro’s union. Wayne State University received $213.6 million in taxpayer funds in the current fiscal year.

The median household income in Michigan was $63,202 between 2017-2021, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The per-capita income in the state during that time was $34,768. This means that Shaviro is paid more than double the average household, and almost four times the average individual income.

Anne Marie Tamburro, program officer for the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, or FIRE, defended the professor’s right to his comments.

FIRE is helping Shaviro connect with no-cost legal defense through the group’s Faculty Legal Defense Fund, according to The Detroit News.

Tamburro says Shaviro’s comment “doesn’t come close” to unlawful behavior and “Wayne State needs to know the contours of its faculty members’ expressive right and respect even – especially – when others are calling for censorship.”

Tamburro says the professor’s remarks threatening violence against those he doesn’t agree with was hyperbole.

The suspension comes on the heels of a school massacre in Nashville, Tennessee, where several children and staff at a Christian school were shot.

M. Roy Wilson, president of Wayne State University, released a statement distancing itself from Shaviro. Wilson puts Shaviro’s remarks on a range between “morally reprehensible” and “criminal.”

“We have on many occasions defended the right of free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but we feel this post far exceeds the bounds of reasonable or protected speech,” Wilson said. “It is, at best, morally reprehensible and, at worst, criminal."

CapCon asked Wayne State about Shaviro’s suspension with pay, but the school declined to comment.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.