Ousted University of Tampa professor Kenneth Storey was fired from his post after a tweet he made referencing Hurricane Harvey, writing that the powerful storm was “Instant Karma” for the Texas GOP. After conservative websites expressed outrage over the sentiment, including a hashtag to fire the sociology professor, Storey was fired on Tuesday.
Storey told the Tampa Bay Times that, while saddened, he understands UT’s decision. He got caught up in today’s political climate, he said, and knows now that every 140-character post needs to be able to stand on its own.
“What they see in those tweets is not who I am,” he said. “How I worded it was wrong. I care about people. I love this country. I would never want to wish harm upon anyone.”
The university has no clear policy on protections for speech like Storey’s, said longtime communication professor Gregg Bachman. Though the tweet was “impulsive, immature and insensitive,” Bachman said, he flinched at seeing a fellow professor fired amid blurry boundaries.
“I can feel a slight chill in the air over this,” Bachman said. “I want to see that policy, and if it’s not there, I want it developed, because faculty can’t feel exposed like this.”
Storey’s now-deleted tweet sparked the #FireKenStorey hashtag and comments from former attendees of the university along with Republicans in and outside the state fired off criticism online.