Ole Miss Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter condemned a “recent social media post by a UM faculty member” in a statement on Vitter’s personal Facebook page Sunday night.
“A recent social media post by a UM faculty member did not reflect the values articulated by the university, such as respect for the dignity of each individual and civility and fairness. While I passionately support free speech, I condemn statements that encourage acts of aggression. I urge all members of the Ole Miss community to demonstrate civility and respect for others and to honor the ideal of diversity of thought that is a foundational element of the academy,” Vitter’s post read.
Vitter’s post comes after an Oct. 6 tweet by associate sociology and anthropology professor James Thomas attracted attention for its insensitive tone over the weekend.
“Don’t just interrupt a Senator’s meal, y’all,” Thomas tweeted on Oct. 6. “Put your whole damn fingers in their salads. Take their apps and distribute them to the other diners. Bring boxes and take their food home with you on the way out. They don’t deserve your civility.”
Thomas’ post came a few minutes after Thomas retweeted a post by NBC’s Joe Scarborough encouraging Americans to, “Don’t yell at senators, don’t shout at people in restaurants, don’t rage on about past votes.”
Thomas said he was not contacted by anyone in the Lyceum directly about his post.
“I’m guessing (Vitter’s post) was directed at me, but you’d need to ask (Vitter) since he wrote it. Only he would know who he was directing it toward,” Thomas said. “I support the Chancellor’s right to free speech and to express himself through his social media. The free exchange of ideas is a hallmark of higher education.”
Our State Flag Foundation’s Facebook page shared a screenshot of Thomas’ tweet on Saturday morning and called for Thomas to be fired from the university. The organization’s post had been shared nearly 2600 times and had attracted nearly 400 comments by 8 p.m. Friday night.
“JT Thomas is nothing but a radical agitator and is now calling for outright uncivil illegal harassment,” the organization’s post reads. “Fire this awful person, he should never be around your children!!!”
U.S. Senate candidate and State Sen. Chris McDaniel also condemned Thomas’ post on Facebook.
“Another threat from another low-life liberal — this time it’s from an Ole Miss professor,” McDaniel said. “Disgusting. It’s time for disciplinary action.”
University communications could not be reached for comment in response to Vitter’s post.