Louisiana State University (LSU) has taken action against Marcus Venable, a graduate assistant in the Sociology department, due to shocking and potentially illegal behavior. Venable, who left a threatening voicemail for Republican State Sen. Mike Fesi, has been relieved of his teaching duties, the university confirmed on Thursday.
The incident in question followed a Senate vote on House Bill 648, the “Stop Harming Our Kids Act.” The bill, which received Fesi’s approval, seeks to ban hormone treatments, puberty-blocking drugs and related procedures for individuals under 18. It is worth mentioning that despite a veto by Gov. John Bel Edwards (D), the state Senate pushed the bill forward, sparking various reactions.
UNHINGED: This is a voicemail that was sent to Louisiana State Senator @Sen_BigMikeFesi after he voted to override Gov. John Bel Edwards' veto on the bill to ban child sex changes in which @LSU Professor Marcus Venable calls him a "fat fucking piece of shit" and says "I can't… pic.twitter.com/IEKisCF6mg
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) July 20, 2023
Venable, however, expressed his opposition to Fesi’s support for the bill through a crude and threatening voicemail message. The message, filled with crude language, also threatened Fesi’s life. Conservative influencer Greg Price shared a recording of the call on Twitter. Fesi reported the message to local law enforcement, leading to the identification of Venable.
Such extreme and unprofessional conduct on the part of an academic figure has drawn criticism from various quarters, including the university itself and Republican legislators. They echo the sentiment that while freedom of speech is essential, the violent and threatening tone crosses the line of acceptable conduct.
A statement from LSU spokesperson Abbi Rocha Laymoun reads, “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.”
Fesi said, “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.” His measured response sends a clear message to the masses about respecting differing opinions, particularly in a diverse nation like ours.
Despite the distressing incident, LSU has allowed Venable to continue his studies at the university, albeit without the opportunity to teach in the future.