Published November 18, 2010
BATON ROUGE, La. – Was a college professor "provoking discussion" -- or criticizing students who don't endorse global warming?
CampusReform.org, a student group launched by the conservative Leadership Institute in Arlington, Va., has circulated a video online of a professor telling students who don't believe in taking steps to end global warming that "blood will be on your hands."
But the video shows fewer than two minutes of excerpts from the lecture at Louisiana State University. And astronomy professor Bradley Schaefer says he is being wrongly targeted by the conservative activists who released the excerpts of his 40-minute lecture on climate change.
"What I was doing was very intentional. I was posing all sides of how to handle global warming, and I was challenging all sides of it, too," Schaefer told The Associated Press. He argued the clips misrepresent his point, which was to provoke discussion about climate change policy. Schaefer said that he gave equal criticism to students with other points of view.
Bryan Bernys, national director of CampusReform.org, agreed that the professor targeted both groups -- unevenly, in his opinion.
"He did attack both extremes of I guess you'd call it ideology," Bernys said. But the comments directed at climate skeptics were "more aggressive and outlandish," Bernys told FoxNews.com.
He admitted that the video was heavily edited, but argues that it was edited merely to highlight the professor's comments.
"It's been edited, as anything like this would have been edited," he said, noting that the entire 40-minute clip is available online. But Bernys was adamant that the comments weren't taken out of context or altered in any way.
"The professor did make these outlandish comments in class," he told FoxNews.com. And Bernys, who also heads up the Conservative Leadership Institute, said that Schaefer's comments were far more pointed when directed at students who chose the conservative point of view.
"He's clearly introducing his own opinion to the class, and it doesn't seem to be a very open position for conservative thinkers," Bernys said.
Rachel Warren, staff writer for school paper the LSU Reveille, spoke with professor Schaefer. Warren told FoxNews.com that Schaeffer didn't seem particularly bothered by the controversy.
"People are going to think whatever they want about the issue," the professor told her. While the video was heavily edited, he feels he challenged everyone equally.
Students may not agree, Warren said, telling FoxNews.com that one conservative student "felt personally attacked and plans to speak with human resources tomorrow." And Schaeffer himself? He doesn't even have an opinion on global warming, Warren said.
Michael L. Cherry, chairman of the department of physics and astronomy, told The Chronicle of Higher Education that Schaefer "is an extremely exuberant and enthusiastic teacher who consistently gets very strong student evaluations." Still, he noted that the video didn't paint the professor in the best light.
"I will confess that while this film was heavily edited, it looks pretty embarrassing. I think it's probably fair to say he was not sufficiently sensitive and was overly enthusiastic."
The dean of LSU's College of Science, Kevin Carman, said no student has complained about the lecture and no action will be taken against Schaefer.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.