A University of Tampa professor was fired for suggesting on Twitter that Hurricane Harvey was "instant karma" inflicted upon Texans who voted for President Donald Trump.
"I dont believe in instant karma but this kinda feels like it for Texas," wrote sociology professor Kenneth L. Storey in the now-deleted Aug. 27 tweet, reports the Tampa Bay Times. "Hopefully this will help them realize the GOP doesnt care about them."
He followed up by stating that the "good people" in red states like Texas and Florida "need to do more to stop the evil their state pushes."
"I'm only blaming those who support the GOP there," he added.
The university quickly condemned Storey's comments and cut ties with him on Aug. 29.
"We condemn the comments and the sentiment behind them, and understand the pain this irresponsible act has caused," spokesman Eric Cardenas said.
Many, particularly conservatives, were angered by Storey's comments. "I've received numerous death threats," Storey said. "Right now, I am not at home because of threats, that do look credible, of people that identify as white supremacists who stated they are 'coming down from Georgia' to kill me."
Storey said he regrets his words.
"What they see in those tweets is not who I am. How I worded it was wrong. I care about people. I love this country. I would never want to wish harm upon anyone."
However, Storey also insisted he was trying to make a larger point.
"‘This was a series of tweets taken out of context," Storey told ABC Action News. "I was referring to the GOP denial of climate change science and push to decrease funds from agencies that can help in a time like this."
News of Storey's termination has sparked fierce debate. Some believe the university violated Storey's right to free speech.
Colleague and communications professor Gregg Bachman says he believes Storey's tweet was "impulsive, immature and insensitive." However, Bachman also said he was concerned that the University of Tampa lacks a specific policy regarding professors' speech.
"I can feel a slight chill in the air over this," Bachman said. "I want to see that policy, and if it's not there, I want it developed, because faculty can't feel exposed like this."
"We will have to have a deeper and more extensive conversation among the faculty and among the senior academic leadership in order to clarify these lines," he added.
Yet not everybody agrees.
"Yes, he has free speech, but there are some things you should just keep to yourself," student and Houston native Neisha Gamble, 20, said. "The school made the right call."
"Don't wish that upon anyone, and then send a fake apology out," she added.