June 9, 2023

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

KU Professor Protests Campus Carry Law By Wearing “Bulletproof Vest”

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When a professor showily wears body armor to class, it may not stop a bullet, but it will certainly stop the “free flow of ideas.”

Kevin Willmott, a professor of film and media studies at the University of Kansas, did his best to stifle open discussion by wearing what is described as a “bulletproof vest” to his first class. Lest anyone miss his point, Wilmott wore the vest over his clothes.

“Try to forget that I’m wearing a vest, and I’ll try to forget that you could be packing a .44 magnum,” said Willmott.

In the way of background, in 2013 the state legislature passed an amendment to the Personal and Family Protection Act mandating that state universities accept the right of students 21 and over to carry a concealed weapon unless the university provides adequate security, including metal detectors at all public entrances and the like. Universities had four years to adapt and chose not to. Protests followed.

A filmmaker, Wilmott presumably has more facility with the visual image than the spoken word. “The disturbing part of the policy for me is that it is concealed,” he told Rebekah Lodos of the Daily Kansan. “It’s kind of a don’t ask, don’t tell kind of a policy, and so, you’re just kind of expected to forget that they’re probably there. And in that sense, you’re kind of living in a lie.”

In an equally confounding bit of illogic, this time with a liberal twist, Wilmott compared the gun laws to racial segregation. As with segregation in 1950’s Kansas, “[People] don’t want it to be visible, because if it was visible, if everybody was walking around with a bulletproof vest on, people would say, ‘Oh my God, is this a warzone? What’s going on here?’”

Willmott worries too that having guns “welcomed” on campus, reports Lodos, “can obstruct the free flow of ideas in classrooms when controversial topics like race and religion are discussed.” What will most certainly obstruct the free flow of ideas in class is to have the professor show up wearing his opinions on his chest.

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