A science professor has been put on administrative leave after claiming that coronavirus measures such as mask wearing and limiting gatherings are nothing more than a “leftist stunt to destroy civil liberties.”
Thomas Brennan, an assistant physical science professor in the College of Arts, Sciences and Education at Ferris State University in Michigan, also posted racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic slurs on Twitter, the university president David Eisler said in a statement Monday.
Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich. (Carlos Osorio/)
“Individually and collectively we were shocked and outraged by these tweets,” Eisler said. “They are extremely offensive and run counter to the values of our University and our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Our students, faculty, staff and members of the community are upset and offended by these comments, and they should be.”
In August he had disrupted a Zoom staff meeting, with comments in the chat sidebar, student newspaper The Torch reported.
“The pandemic and riots are a leftist stunt to overthrow the United States government and destroy our [civil] liberties,” he wrote, according to a screenshot obtained by The Torch.
After that meeting, Trinidy Williams, the interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, emailed faculty assuring them she was addressing the instance of “unprofessional behavior” that “undermined the gravity” of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Torch reported.
Other meeting attendees decried the sowing of misinformation and confusion, especially about a disease that has killed more than a quarter-million people in the U.S., nearly 8,500 of them in Michigan alone, where more than 300,000 people are infected, according to news site MLive.
Brennan didn’t stop there, according to The Torch. A Twitter account under his name calls COVID-19 a hoax and holds that only cowards wear masks. It calls COVID-19 an “attempt to turn us all into slaves” and proclaims, “Guess what, the COVID stunt has failed. You won’t get your leftist new world order.”
“I did say some hyperbolic things to draw attention to what it is I wanted to say,” Brennan told WZZM-TV.
That included using a racial epithet that he called “an atomic word” designed to make people listen.
“I didn’t use it lightly,” Brennan told WZZM. “But we’re heading toward such a crescendo of madness where we’re about to all be enslaved because of this COVID crisis.”
He insisted in a statement on his website that he does believe COVID is real but thinks its severity and the death count are exaggerated. He also said the 1969 moon landing was faked.
“Putting a muzzle over our face is actually a dehumanizing and satanic ritual,” Brennan told the station.
Students were aghast, and the school put him on leave last Thursday, Eisler said, also launching an investigation.
“Our University was founded on the concept that education is for all of the people all of the time, that all people are welcome here,” Eisler said in his statement. “We strongly reject