Professor tweets 'Trump must hang,' gets paid leave: Opinion

A history professor at Fresno State University in California has been placed on paid leave after tweeting that President Donald Trump "must hang" to save American democracy.


Lars Maischak has agreed to go on paid leave for the rest of spring semester, Fresno State President Joseph Castro announced Monday (April 17). The professor posted the tweet in late February. Maischak teaches five American history classes to more than 200 students. He will spend the rest of the semester conducting research off campus, Castro said in a statement.


"To save American democracy, Trump must hang. The sooner and the higher, the better," Maischak Feb. 17, linking to an image comparing the president to brutal dictators like Hitler and Pol Pot.


Two days later, Maischak tweeted: "#TheResistance Has anyone started soliciting money and design drafts for a monument honoring the Trump assassin, yet?"


The professor has since deleted his Twitter account but did not back away from his inflammatory statements.


"To re-state the obvious: I do not intend to harm Mr. Trump, nor do I wish for anyone else to harm Mr. Trump by way of an assassination! ... I am, however, convinced, given the nature of his regime, that he will be held accountable for his crimes in a court," he said, noting "that historical precedent suggests that a death sentence is inevitable, if democracy prevails."


Maischak did apologize for the comments April 11, telling The Associated Press that he is under federal investigation and has temporarily left Fresno because of death threats.


Maischak told the Los Angeles Times that he wrote the tweet to his 28 followers under the assumption that it would be read by a close group of people he knew who would "place them in their context."


But the tweet made national headlines after right-wing website Breitbart News reported about it in early April.


Eileen Walsh, a former history professor at Fresno State, worked with Maischak for five years until she retired in 2011, told the Times she finds the situation aggravating and said that Maischak is a good person and an accomplished scholar.


"The agreement for the paid leave was reached in accordance with provisions in the collective bargaining agreement with the California Faculty Association, the union that represents all faculty," Castro said. "During his leave of absence, Dr. Maischak will no longer have a teaching role, but will be conducting research off campus."


Maischak has a 3.7 (out of 4.0) rating at Rate My Professors, where student can anonymously assess and comment on their college instructors. He is generally described as "boring," but his classes are "an easy A."


It's not clear how much Maischak will be paid for his time away.


Tim Morris is an opinions columnist at NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune. He can be reached at tmorris@nola.com. Follow him on Twitter @tmorris504.