'Game of Thrones' Shirt Suspension: NJ Professor Punished for Pic

Friday, 18 Apr 2014 06:24 PM

By Ken Mandel

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A New Jersey college professor says he was suspended for posting online a photo of his daughter wearing a "Game of Thrones" T-shirt with a "threatening" quote on it.

Francis Schmidt, an art and 3-D animation professor at Bergen Community College in northern New Jersey, told The Record he posted the picture of his 7-year-old daughter Jan. 12 wearing a T-shirt with the "Game of Thrones" quote, "I will take what is mine with fire and blood."

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The proclamation was said during the show's second season by Daenerys Targaryen (played by Emilia Clarke), also known as the Mother of Dragons.

The intensely popular show is based on a series of books by Bayonne, N.J.-born fantasy writer George R.R. Martin.

The quote has its own Facebook page, which also serves as an homage to Clarke's character. Like many things associated with the show, the phrase has since appeared on T-shirts, coffee mugs, cards, and pillows, among other items.

A day after posting the photo, Schmidt told The Record that he was questioned as to whether the photo was a threat against the dean. Despite his explanation, Schmidt said he was suspended without pay for eight days and ordered to see a psychiatrist before he would be allowed back on campus.

When Schmidt asked the officials why they thought the quote was threatening, one said, "'when you see the word fire, then someone shows up with an AK-47 here shooting everybody,'" he told the paper.

"I had no idea what to say to that," Schmidt added. "For God's sake, I'm a middle-aged art professor. I don't own any firearms."

Schmidt's suspension covered the first week of classes. He received back pay upon his return, with the stipulation that he wear no clothing with offensive statements and make no disparaging statements about the college.

Bergen Community College spokesman Larry Hlavenka declined to discuss Schmidt specifically, but wrote in an email to The Record: "Since Jan. 1, 2014, 34 incidents of school shootings have occurred in the United States. 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."

"Game of Thrones" began its fourth season April 6, and drew 6.6 million viewers, the network's biggest audience for any of their shows since the 2007 "The Sopranos" finale was watched by 11.9 million viewers.

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