An administrator at Bergen Community College suspended a professor for posting a picture of his daughter wearing a “Game of Thrones” T-shirt on social media. The shirt depicted a GOT quote about fire-breathing dragons that the administrator interpreted as a threat.
Francis Schmidt teaches graphic design at the New York community college. An avid GOT fan, he photographed his young daughter wearing a shirt featuring a quote from fan-favorite character Daenerys Targaryen. The quote reads: “I will take what is mine with Fire & Blood.”
Schmidt shared the picture on Google+. But because Jim Miller, an executive director at Bergen, is friends with Schmidt on Google+, he received an alert when the picture was posted. He considered it a “threatening email,” according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.
Schmidt was placed on unpaid leave and forced to meet with a security officer and psychiatrist.
The security officer told Schmidt that the phrase “fire and blood,” could be interpreted as a description of an AK-47 attack. In actuality, it describes dragon fire, which is used to devastating effect in the GOT novels and TV series to dispatch enemies of the Targaryen family, including Harren the Black and the warlocks of Qarth.
Inside Higher Education notes that Schmidt had recently filed a grievance with the college, raising the question of whether his treatment was some form of retaliation.
In any case, Bergen clearly violated Schmidt’s academic freedom, according to FIRE.
“While other characters in the show should probably be concerned that Daenerys will retake the throne with fire and blood (and dragons), administrators at Bergen Community College certainly don’t need to worry,” wrote FIRE’s Sarah McLaughlin.
Schmidt has returned to the classroom, but Bergen has not admitted to any wrongdoing.
Miller did not respond to a request for comment.
A spokesperson for Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, rightful ruler of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons, also did not respond to a request for comment.