Campus Free Speech

Professor Kicked Off Campus, Deemed Security Threat for Posting Miranda Lambert Music Video

"Time to Get Your Gun" is not a threat.


Dickinson College suspended an associate philosophy professor after he accused two other academics of plagiarism. But the professor, Crispin Sartwell, claims he was also kicked off campus because he was deemed a security risk—for posting a Miranda Lambert music video on his blog.

Sartwell, a libertarian-anarchist academic, posted lengthy explanations of his criticisms of the two professors, Alexander Nehamas at Princeton University and Linda Zagzebski at the University of Oklahoma, on his blog. In one post, he embedded a YouTube video, Miranda Lambert's "Time to Get Your Gun." According to Sartwell, this spooked Zagzebski, who contacted the authorities.

"I was summarily removed from campus a few hours later," Sartwell wrote in an email to Reason. "They gave me minutes to leave or be escorted off."

Sartwell said Dickinson offered to reinstate him, but only on the condition that he undergo a mandatory psychiatric exam. He refuses to do so, unless the exam is optional.

Dickinson spokesperson Christine Baksi characterized Sartwell as "on leave," in an email to Reason.

"Professor Sartwell is a faculty member in good standing at Dickinson," she wrote. "He is currently on leave. Also, no, no one was evicted from campus."

Dickinson's alleged treatment of Sartwell raises serious questions about intellectual freedom at the private Pennsylvania college. Does it violate college policy to scrutinize other academics' work? In any case, the idea that the Miranda Lambert video was intended as some kind of threat is equally absurd. A quick scan of Sartwell's blog reveals that he posts numerous songs, videos, and pictures all the time. Enjoying a song that positively references gun ownership is not some kind of threat, and it isn't a crime.