A US university professor has been suspended without pay after he posted a photo of his daughter wearing a t-shirt referencing TV drama Game of Thrones on a social media website.
The photo shared on Google+ by Francis Schmidt on 12 January showed his 7-year-old daughter in a yoga pose, wearing a t-shirt with the tagline for the new season of the show, reading: “I will take what is mine in fire and blood.“
While the slogan was apparently interpreted as a threat by his management, the professor claims his suspension was in retaliation for a grievance he filed after being denied a sabbatical about two months prior to the incident.
When the dean at Bergen Community College saw the photo on Mr Schmidt’s Google+ page, he called the art and 3D animation professor into his office to discuss whether the slogan was a threat, according to North Jersey.com.
Mr Schmidt claimed that during the session the security officials and human resources workers were unfamiliar with the show, at which point he Googled the quote - a search that returned 30.8 million hits.
Schmidt said he asked the officials why they thought the slogan was threatening, to which one replied: “when you see the word fire, then someone shows up with an AK-47 here shooting everybody.”
“I had no idea what to say to that. For God’s sake, I’m a middle-aged art professor,” Schmidt told the website. “I don’t own any firearms.”
“This was payback because I filed a grievance,” he claimed.
Following the interview, Mr Schmidt was suspended without pay and was sent to a psychiatrist before he was cleared to return to campus once again.
“The referenced incident refers to a private personnel matter at Bergen Community College,” college spokesman Larry Hlavenka told the wesbsite in an email.
“Since Jan. 1, 2014, 34 incidents of school shootings have occurred in the United States,” Hlavenka added. “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.”