In fall 2013, Michigan State University Professor William Penn berated students with an anti-Republican classroom rant captured on video.

Penn said Republicans were old people with “dead skin cells washing off them” who raped the U.S. to get “everything out of it they possibly could.” He also told students if they were “closet” racists he was a college professor and he was “coming after” them. Penn also said in 2013 that Republicans are a "bunch of dead white people, or dying white people." 

In 2012, 47.2 percent of voters preferred a Republican to be president. In the 2004 election, 50.7 percent went Republican. In 2014, 50.9 percent of Michigan voters picked the GOP candidate for governor. These figures suggest that Penn’s insult targeted around half of all Americans, including many of the young Americans then sitting in his classroom.

Penn, a professor in the English department, was taken out of the classroom that semester by MSU, had his classes reassigned and was suspended with pay. He was back teaching the next semester. According to a FOIA request, Penn’s salary in 2013 was $147,410. Since his rant, Penn’s salary increased to $149,910 in 2014 and then to $152,310 in 2015.

Editor's note: An additional comment made by Penn in 2013 was added to this story after publication.

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