Law Professors

Law prof's Twitter account is briefly shut down for 'run them down' tweet about Charlotte protesters

  • Print.


Updated: At first, University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds was defending a tweet about protesters in Charlotte, North Carolina, who were blocking interstate traffic.

“Run them down,” wrote Reynolds, who blogs at Instapundit and writes a column for USA Today. Twitter suspended Reynolds’ account until he took down the tweet, report (sub. req.) and the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Now the University of Tennessee is investigating and USA Today has suspended his column for a month, according to later coverage by the News Sentinel.

Reynolds explains at Instapundit that he has always supported free speech and peaceful protest, including peaceful protests of police actions.

“But riots aren’t peaceful protest,” Reynolds writes. “And blocking interstates and trapping people in their cars is not peaceful protest—it’s threatening and dangerous, especially against the background of people rioting, cops being injured, civilian-on-civilian shootings, and so on. I wouldn’t actually aim for people blocking the road, but I wouldn’t stop because I’d fear for my safety, as I think any reasonable person would.

“ ‘Run them down’ perhaps didn’t capture this fully, but it’s Twitter, where character limits stand in the way of nuance,” he wrote. He likes a suggestion from Erik Wemple of the Washington Post: “Keep driving” would have better stated his sentiment.

Reynolds had a different response in a statement posted Thursday evening on the USA Today website. “I didn’t live up to my own standards, and I didn’t meet USA Today’s standards,” Reynolds said. “For that I apologize, to USA Today readers and to my followers on social media.”

University of Tennessee law dean Melanie Wilson released a statement on Thursday that said the tweet was “an irresponsible use” of Reynolds’ Twitter platform.

“Professor Reynolds’ comments do not reflect my views and opinions, nor do they reflect the values of the college and university,” Wilson wrote. “My colleagues and I in the university’s leadership support peaceful civil disobedience and all forms of free speech, but we do not support violence or language that encourages violence.”

Updated at 8:20 a.m. to reflect new coverage on USA Today’s suspension of Reynolds’ column and his apology on the USA Today website.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.