A State Attorney General Demands that a Professor be held “Accountable” for a Tweet

Lauryn Suduth, assistant attorney general for Louisiana, attended a meeting on December 7 to listen to a letter written by Jeff Landry. This letter was in response to a resolution by the faculty regarding university vaccine requirements. Landry is active in opposition to vaccine mandates. Robert Mann was a former press secretary for several Democratic legislators in the state and was a part of the faculty senator resolution Landry criticised.

Mann used Twitter to attack Landry’s sending of “some flunkieSend it to LSU for him to review. Landry, tweeting from the official account of his government, also criticised Mann’s “disparaging remarksAnd he expressed the expectation that LSU President William Tate might hold him “accountable” and take “appropriate action for his tweet which had “no place” in society. Landry said that he shared these views with Tate over a telephone call. Tate released the statement. a letterHe had also sent a letter to the attorney general asking for Mann’s arrest. At best, the response has been muted from the university.

LSU received a letter from the Academic Freedom Alliance explaining Mann’s posts on social media are protected under the university’s policies regarding academic freedom. The university also needs to publicly affirm that it won’t sanction university professors who criticize state officials. Particularly disappointing is the lack of appreciation by a state attorney General for free speech principles. The press release explains:

Whittington stated that while Attorney General Landry has the right to disagree with Professor Mann’s tweet, Whittington noted that the attorney general went beyond simply voicing disapproval when he used the position of a public official and pressured a state university into taking action against the professor. He crossed a fine line, which he shouldn’t have done. The university must resist such pressure.

You can read the entire letter by clicking here.