Students allege government professor’s twitter full of bigoted content  


Cassidy Kuester

Government Professor Gregory Butler’s office door in Breland Hall.

There is a fine line between freedom of speech and hate speech, and according to a few New Mexico State students, one government professor has gone too far on Twitter.  

A tweet began to circulate on Twitter in early March about “unpopular opinions” regarding NMSU in which twitter user and NMSU government student, Devin Narveson, shared her thoughts on professor Gregory Butler. 

 “Butler is a raging racist, misogynist and overall bigot in every way possible. He equates LGBTQ+ to bestiality and pedophilia and compares refugees to roaches ‘infecting the next country over,’” the tweet read.  

Butler is a tenured professor of the government department at NMSU and focuses on political philosophy and American politics. He has taught at NMSU for about 20 years. 

Narveson continued to tweet about her experiences with Butler and her findings from his alleged twitter account. The tweets seemed to resonate with other students who shared their own encounters and screenshots of various tweets they came across on the account.  

One screenshot depicts a tweet from Butler of a photo of a Muslim man with the caption, “ever notice how they always have that ‘I kill you’ look in their eyes?” the tweet said.  

[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”6″ display=”basic_imagebrowser”] 

The thread has 40 retweets and nearly 160 likes.  

In response to calls from students for NMSU to investigate the Twitter account and Butler, the university’s Twitter responded by urging students to report incidences of discrimination to the Office of Institutional Equity.  

New Mexico State University is committed to creating and maintaining a respectful, inclusive, and responsible learning and work environment,” the tweet read.  

The response was not enough for Twitter user Devan Davis who was unsatisfied with NMSU’s tweet.  

“This is unacceptable dude. These aren’t just ignorant opinions this is him being openly racist. It’s disgusting,” Davis said.  

The account in question, which has been active since 2015, has since been deactivated as per Gregory Butler in an email to the Round Up. 

“This is not an issue as this account is no longer active,” Butler said.  

Butler’s email further suggested that the twitter account @greg3671, formerly @gregNMSU, belongs to him.  

Additionally, the account tweeted in December 2016 about a letter from thenChancellor Garrey Carruthers that detailed the decision to not make NMSU a sanctuary university for migrant students. Butler expressed elation over the failure of the “silly petition” and said that “common sense” had prevailed.  

Butler had this message for students offended by the contents of the account, “this is all I have to say: anyone who does not like to read provocative things on my twitter feed (or anyone else’s for that matter) is under no obligation to continue doing so,” Butler said.  

Numerous screenshots of tweets and retweets from Butler’s alleged account have lingered on Twitter and exhibit a plethora of racist, homophobic, sexist and xenophobic comments, according to students.  

Narveson said that though his views didn’t often bleed into his teaching, it did come through when discussing certain topics. 

“We really didn’t discuss or debate about politics. It rarely became partisan. It wasn’t until one day later in the semester when we talked about identity politics that it came out,” Narveson said.  

According to Narveson, Butler had the class read an article about white privilege that argued that the concept was not real. When she spoke up about her differing opinion, he “laughed in [her] face” and was largely dismissive, she said  

Narveson said the exchange was extremely disappointing, as she had had a lot of respect for Butler prior to that incident. 

“It’s one thing to have your own opinion, but to belittle and laugh at a student for disagreeing is totally unnecessary,” Narveson said. “I wouldn’t say that he ‘victimized’ me, but he did shut me down and belittled me for having that dissenting opinion.”  

According to former NMSU student Rebecca Payne, who had a class with Butler a few years ago, free speech is often used as an excuse to spread hatred.  

“It begs the question of how far the first amendment will go to protect someone’s opinions when those opinions are solely to deny a group of people their equality,” Payne said.  

The discovery of the Twitter account appalled Payne because, according to her, NMSU is a multicultural school, with exchange students from across the globe and the presence of a racist professor is an afront to the institution which boasts itself as a diverse intellectual haven.  

The solution, Payne said, is to simply fire him.

“There is no room at a university for someone like him,” Payne said.  

Not everyone within the government department is at arms over Butler’s apparent Twitter alter-ego, as for some the emergence of the account came at a complete surprise.  

Christa Slaton, a government professor who teaches classes such as “women in politics,” said she was surprised to discover Butler’s alleged misogyny on the social media platform 

“If you’re going to criticize professors for expressing their political views, are you going to go after liberals as much as you are conservatives?” Slaton said.  

Slaton said that she has never had a negative encounter with Butler but that she also does not discuss politics with him as to avoid those kinds of divisive reactions. 

Hints to Butler’s alleged views are evident in more than just his secret twitter account. In examining his staff profile on the department of government’s website, a list of professional memberships shows links to the Abbeville Institute, which the Southern Poverty Law Center lists as a group of ideologues ushering in a new wave of neo-Confederates.   

The Abbeville institute is a group whose members include academic scholars in various fields from colleges across the southeast U.S. The group concentrates on Southern “identity and history” and focus primarily on what they say are the positive aspects such as the attempted succession by the Southern states which led to the Civil War.  

According to the SPLC in 2004, the Abbeville Institute is on par with the Institute for the Study of Southern Culture and History run by the League of the South, which has been listed as a hate group since 2000.   

Though Butler has deactivated the account, the ramifications for students wanting to take those classes will not subside. Some students have expressed regret in wanting to take his classes but refusing because of the views he purportedly holds.  

“I definitely think it’s inappropriate,” said Narveson. “When you teach your extremely bigoted opinions as the truth, allow your opinions to influence how you’ve treated students on multiple occasions, and how and what you’re advocating for or against within the university itself; I find that highly unacceptable.”

Facebook Comments