PARAMUS, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A New Jersey professor claims he was suspended over an online photo containing a quote from “Game of Thrones” that he said a school official perceived as a threat.
Francis Schmidt is an art instructor at Bergen Community College.
In January, he posted a photo on Google+ of his 7-year-old daughter in a yoga pose wearing a T-shirt with a quote from the graphic HBO show that read: “I will take what is mine with fire and blood.” The character Daenerys Targaryen said those words in the second season.
A day after the picture was posted, Schmidt said school officials questioned whether the reference was meant as a threat against a dean.
Schmidt told 1010 WINS that he asked officials why they thought the phrase was threatening, and one said “when you see the word ‘fire,’ next thing you know, some guy’s up here shooting everything up with an AK-47.”
He tried to explain that the quote was from “Game of Thrones,” but the officials claimed they didn’t know the show, Schmidt said.
So an official from Human Resources went into the hallway and asked the secretaries if any of them had heard of the series and one came forward and confirmed that the quote was from the show, Schmidt said.
“Without any cueing, she identified not only the phrase, but the sigil of House Targaryen,” Schmidt said.
Two days later, Schmidt said he was suspended for eight days without pay and told he had to see a psychiatrist before he could return to the school.
Schmidt told The Record he believes the suspension may have been retaliation for a previous grievance he filed with the college prior to the incident.
The school has also been embroiled in labor negotiations.
School spokesman Larry Hlavenka is calling the case a private personnel matter.
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