Former American Sign Language instructor’s lawsuit against UO dismissed

Former American Sign Language instructor Peter Quint’s employment discrimination lawsuit against the University of Oregon was dismissed yesterday.

In 2011, Quint was removed from the University after saying, “Do you want me to pull out a gun and shoot you in the head?” in response to students who had been talking and signing towards the end of a class when they should’ve been signing.

According to The Register-Guard, Quint initially filed a $505,000 employment discrimination lawsuit against UO and claimed his statement was taken out of context and should be classified as free speech. Federal Magistrate Judge Thomas M. Coffin of the United States District Court in Eugene dismissed the case after the court found that his speech wasn’t protected on the grounds that he was a UO employee at the time.

The remark was in reference to a story Quint had shared at the beginning of the same class that involved a past visit to Pakistan where he was “forced to sit down with whom he presumed to be members of a Middle Eastern terrorist group and smoke some marijuana as proof that he was not in Pakistan to be drug competition,” according to an opinion piece written by former Emerald Editor-in-chief Tyree Harris, who was in the class when the incident occurred.

Harris recounted that Quint described other visitors as being fearful of being shot if they angered the terrorists, saying that he believed that he was able to navigate the situation in an appropriate manner because of his respect for a foreign setting — in this case, it was those of the hearing world as opposed to the Pakistanis. Quint then related the situation to his students’ behavior as a means to garner respect while he was teaching, as well as a call to respect deaf culture.

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