Game of Thrones T-Shirt Leads To Suspension Of College Professor

Game of Thrones poster

A Daenerys Targaryen quote printed on a t-shirt was interpreted as a threat against the dean of Bergen Community College.

Back in January, Professor Francis Schmidt of Bergen Community College posted a photo of his daughter in a yoga pose, wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the message, “I will take what is mine with fire & blood.” It’s a well-known quote from Daenerys Targaryen, one of the central characters in Game of Thrones – a show that officials at the college apparently don’t watch.

The day after he posted the picture, Schmidt was called on the carpet and asked whether it was intended as a threat against the dean. Officials at the college may have been a little extra-twitchy because Schmidt had filed a grievance about two months prior over a denied request for sabbatical, but even after he explained the quote (and dug up millions of hits detailing its origins on Google), he was suspended without pay and forced to see a psychiatrist before he could be cleared to return to work.

Schmidt said one official told him that “when you see the word ‘fire,’ then someone shows up with an AK-47 here shooting everybody” as a not-terribly-coherent explanation for his suspension, and the college defended it as standard procedure. “Since Jan 1, 2014, 34 incidents of school shootings have occurred in the United States,” spokesman Larry Hlavenka told “In following its safety and security procedures, the college investigates all situations where a member of its community – students, faculty, staff or local residents – expresses a safety or security concern.”

In the end, Schmidt was reinstated with back pay after an eight-day suspension, although he must comply with some conditions, including not wearing clothing with “questionable statements.” Posting pictures of his daughter wearing such things probably isn’t a great idea either.


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