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North Carolina professor found dead weeks after backlash

A North Carolina professor has been found dead just a week before he was set to take early retirement following an online petition to have him fired for his controversial social media comments. 

Deputies discovered the body of University of North Carolina-Wilmington professor Mike Adams, 55, while performing a wellness check at his home at around 2pm Thursday.

Police are conducting an investigation and did not release additional details about the circumstances of Adams’ death.

Adams had a history of making misogynistic and racist comments on social media, and his death comes less than a month after the university announced he would retire. 

The tenured criminology professor –  who recently reached a $504,702 settlement with UNCW for lost salary and lost retirement benefits – once referred to transgender people as ‘mentally ill’ and mocked students who accused him of harassing them as ‘weak pansies’.

Back in May, Adams sparked outrage among students and faculty again after he penned several more inflammatory tweets.  

On May 29 he penned a tweet in which he compared North Carolina’s coronavirus restrictions to living ‘in a slave state’. 

He tweeted: ‘This evening I ate pizza and drank beer with six guys at a six seat table top. I almost felt like a free man who was not living in the slave state of North Carolina. Massa Cooper, let my people go!’  

‘Massa’, which means ‘Master’, was used in literature and representations of black people during the slave era as the way they referred to their owners. 

The day before, on May 28, Adams wrote: ‘Don’t shut down the universities. Shut down the non essential majors. Like Women’s Studies.’ 

UNCW denounced his comments as ‘vile’ and ‘inexcusable’ less than a week later. 

Adams had tried to defend his post to WECT, saying the analogy he used was to do with the Gov Cooper’s oppression during the shutdown, not race.   

However, the tweets prompted two online Change.org petitions to have him fired from his job. Combined they received more than 88,000 signatures. 

The university subsequently released a statement on June 1, which read:  ‘We are listening to the outrage being expressed regarding the vile and inexcusable comments made by a UNCW faculty member. 

‘However, we are not just listening; we can confirm we are very carefully and assertively reviewing our options in terms of how to proceed. We are not able to comment further at this time, as this is a personnel matter’.

Later, Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli, Adams posted a statement on the university’s website saying that Adams would retire on August 1. 

Adams responded with a Twitter post which read: ‘Many young people are depressed because they have been taught to be offended constantly.’ 

Adams also regularly critiqued his colleagues, as well as the students he taught. 

Referring to Black Lives Matter protests, he wrote on  Twitter: ‘The violent outrage of white liberals taking to the streets is brought to you by your local university. None of this would be possible without the encouragement of academic extremists who have hijacked the system of higher education.’

Adams had never been far from controversy – and he appeared to relish in making  provocative remarks. 

Back in 2016, Adams was the target of another Change.org petition after he suggested a Muslim student was a terrorist and that gay marriage was bad as rape.

That petition, which garnered 5,600 comments, claimed Adams had a history of ‘spewing misogynistic, xenophobic, transphobic, homophobic, racist rhetoric’.

The petition said: ‘Adams has disrespected the university’s promise to provide a safe environment for all individual student[s], and instead has mocked and ridiculed not only individuals, but entire groups. These actions are not acceptable, and no university should make a student feel unsafe.’ 

In September 2016, Adams wrote an article condemning student Nada Merghani – a self-described ‘queer Muslim social justice warrior’ – after she wrote on Facebook: ‘Expect to see me at the Trump rally… y’all are not prepared for what I’m about to do. All I can say is pray I make it out of this alive.’ 

Responding to that, Professor Adams said: ‘That sounds like a suicide mission for those who have never met Merghani.’

He added: ‘In my view, she simply lacks the intellectual coherence to form any sort of rational plan – including, but not limited to, killing a presidential candidate.

‘She comes across sort of like Squeaky From me minus the handgun and resolve.’

Merghani told the Daily Beast she felt personally threatened and unsafe on campus after that attack.

She said Adams ‘suggested I was a terrorist without a hint of truth or any regard for my personal safety.’ She then left the university. 

At the time, UNCW said that, whilst they did not agree with Adams’ comments, they were ‘expressions protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.’ 

‘Dr Adams’ conduct and written material do not contain any evidence of a true threat toward this or any other student,’ the university claimed. 

Meanwhile, Professor Adams continued to write provocative comments on social media. 

Later in 2016, he wrote that ‘students who make false claims of harassment to silence others should also be deported’.

He also claimed the argument ‘”you’re racist” usually means “I have no argument”‘.

In a separate post following the November 2016 election loss of Hillary Clinton, Adams sniped: ‘We could have had a woman president. Unfortunately, radical feminism aborted 28 million “potential” candidates.’

He also unleashed an attack on the LGBT community in a piece for right-wing publication Daily Wire. 

 ‘I wonder whether LGBT stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Thespian. So much drama, so few letters in the alphabet.’ 

Meanwhile, Adams had successfully sued the university for religious and speech-based discrimination when he was not promoted to full professor in 2006. 

He was a tenured sociology and criminology professor and had authored a number of books. 

Titles included: ‘Feminists Say the Darndest Things: A Politically Incorrect Professor Confronts ‘Womyn’ on Campus’; Letters to a Young Progressive: How to Avoid Wasting Your Life Protesting Things You Don’t Understand; and ‘A ‘Queer Muslim’ Jihad’. 

The Office of University Relations on behalf of the Division of Academic Affairs at UNCW released a statement Thursday night. 

‘It is with sadness that we share the news that the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office is conducting a death investigation involving Dr. Mike Adams, professor of criminology. Please keep his friends and loved ones in your thoughts. 

‘Students may call the University Counseling Center (910.962.3746) for grief support; faculty and staff can seek support through the Employee Assistance Program.’

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