In Memoriam: Professor Mike Adams, 1964–2020
In Memoriam: Professor Mike Adams, 1964–2020 by Robert Shibley for The Fire
On Thursday, July 23, Professor Mike Adams was found dead from a gunshot wound in his home in Wilmington, North Carolina. On Monday, his death was ruled a suicide.
Mike, a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina–Wilmington, was someone I first met early on in my time at FIRE. Formerly a liberal and atheist, he had converted to Christianity and become a conservative a few years before, and was a columnist and author with the zeal of the converted. Through his nearly two decades of on-and-off persecution by UNCW—and make no mistake, that’s what it was—he and I (along with others at FIRE) also became friends.
Better writers, including former FIRE President David French, commentator Mark Steyn, and others, have already written well about Mike’s life and death, and his disgraceful treatment at the hands of his own university. My own relative lateness in writing this stems from two things. First, though the initial reports already suggested that Mike had taken his own life, an actual determination was not made until this week. As public and as vilified a figure as Mike had become, foul play was unfortunately a possibility. Second, the intensity of my feelings about his death and the reasons for it made this, and continue to make it, a hard thing to write.
At this point in a post memorializing anyone controversial, it’s become customary to say something like “Of course, I didn’t agree with everything Mike said,” or somehow distance oneself from his perceived faults. I am not going to do that here. Maybe I agreed with every word he said, maybe I didn’t. It doesn’t matter. Despite what we have all been trained to pretend when speaking online these days, you can be friends with people with flaws, problems, and “wrong” opinions.
We know this because this describes all of us, and all of our friends, and we have no obligation to be defensive about it. Plus, if you want criticism of Mike, you won’t have any trouble finding it. Just check out the comments on any story about his death for the ghoulish celebrations of his end, starting while his body was practically still warm. Or check out the media coverage of his death, the general attitude of which is summed up by Buzzfeed: “A Professor Who Was Known For His Racist, Misogynistic Tweets Was Found Dead In His Home.” Welcome to the world of the hit obituary.