LSU grad student will no longer teach at university after alleged profanity-laced voicemail to state lawmaker
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - An LSU graduate student will no longer be allowed to teach at the university, after allegedly leaving a profanity laced voicemail to a Louisiana State Senator for his vote to override the governor’s veto on House Bill 648.
The university has identified the graduate student to WAFB as Marcus Venable.
The voicemail was left on Republican State Senator Mike Fesi’s voicemail, after he voted yes on a bill Tuesday, July 18, which prohibits certain procedures to alter the sex of a minor child.
“You know who the real experts are, it’s the ones that had this procedure done and are now in their mid-twenties, and late twenties, and trying to say that they hate their parents for letting this happen to them,” said Senator Fesi (R), District 20, on Tuesday at the Capitol.
The voicemail said:
“I just wanted to say ‘Congratulations, to our State Senator, Big Mike Fesi. And that f***ing moron voted to make things worse for people who are already suffering. You fat f***ing piece of sh**. You did not produce any g**d*** evidence to support the claims you made about people being harmed by transgender care, yet we’ve had tons of empirical evidence telling us there’s an increased suicide risk for people who don’t get this care. So you, you big fat headed mother f***er, I can’t wait to read your name in the f***ing obituary. I will make a goddamn martini made from the tears of your butthurt conservatives when we put your f***ing a** in the ground, you fat f***ing useless piece of sh*t. F*** you. I hope you have a terrible day. Go f*** yourself.”
“You know, it goes too far. We just got to understand that everybody’s got their opinion, we still live in a great country for freedom of speech. But we just got to hold it to a condition that everybody understands each other, and we don’t always have to agree,” said Sen. Fesi.
Senator Fesi first contacted the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office, which then sent the case over to Louisiana State Police.
“LSP is aware of the voicemail and we are currently investigating the complaint. It is active and ongoing,” said a spokesperson with State Police to WAFB on July 20.
But on Sunday, June 30, a spokeswoman with Louisiana State Police then told WAFB, “LSP did investigate this incident. The case has been closed. No charges at this time.”
“I just want them to do their investigation, and them do what they think’s right. I don’t want to see no harm come to anybody,” said Senator Fesi.
In a statement to WAFB, LSU officials said, “As a university, we foster open and respectful dialogue. Like everyone, graduate students with teaching assignments have the right to express their opinions, but this profanity-filled, threatening call crossed the line. This does not exhibit the character we expect of someone given the privilege of teaching as part of their graduate assistantship. The student will be allowed to continue their studies but will not be extended the opportunity to teach in the future.”
Legal analyst Franz Borghardt weighed in on whether or not LSU violated the First Amendment rights of the grad student, by not allowing him to teach for them in the future.
“First and foremost, your constitutional rights to free speech are not absolute, if your words or your expression are threatening, if they are harmful, they are not necessarily absolutely protected. So, can LSU respond to a faculty member, albeit an LSU grad student making a profane, potentially threatening voicemail to a member of the legislature, yes I think they can. Because candidly at the end of the day, the call borderlines on a criminal act, whether it be assault, whether it be terrorizing. So, I think LSU can act, but furthermore, LSU didn’t expel the grad student who is also a teacher. It simply said, we can’t have you teaching especially while the case is under investigation,” said Borghardt.
“This particular piece of legislation has probably gained more intensity of emotion, than any other bill in a generation,” said political analyst Jim Engster.
Engster believes calls like this towards lawmakers go too far. And as for the future of this controversial bill, a lawsuit could be next.
“But, it looks like this is going all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States, and it will be up to those 9 justices to determine whether this becomes the law of the land,” said Engster.
WAFB did reach out to the grad student for a comment, and he finally gave us one on Sunday, July 23.
“The duty of the strong is to protect the weak.” - Joseph Venable (1918-1980). More later,” Venable wrote to WAFB.
The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression sent a letter to Louisiana State University urging LSU not to pursue further investigation and asking them to reinstate any future opportunities for Venable to act in his assistant teaching duties.
The organization is asking LSU for a response by July 28.
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