Ferris State University has settled a lawsuit with a suspended history professor who made headlines for a controversial profanity-laden video he made last January.
Barry Mehler, 75, will receive $95,000 from the Michigan-based university, but he must also honor a three-year gag order that could cost him a $60,000 fine if violated.
He has chosen to retire to avoid possible termination.
Free Speech Violation?
Mehler, who has taught at the institution for three decades, came under fire after a 14-minute video of him ranting about COVID-19, predestination, and class policies was posted on YouTube.
But Mehler defended his actions, saying he engaged in a humorous performance to keep his students hooked and “get their juices flowing.”
“If a professor comes in and he’s all high and mighty and using words they don’t understand — that doesn’t help them relax and think. It was a performance,” he told The Associated Press.
Mehler believed his suspension violated his free speech, and he received support from some students and alumni during the ordeal.
“He has his own way of teaching and he’s vulgar about it. But ultimately, it’s his way of keeping everybody’s attention,” Aaron Wisner, a Ferris State alum and Mehler’s former student said.