Mike Adams, a professor and political columnist known for anti-LGBTQ+, racist, and sexist statements, was found dead Thursday at his home in Wilmington, N.C.
New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office personnel discovered Adams’s body when conducting a wellness check, according to The News & Observer of Raleigh. The sheriff’s office is investigating his death but has not released any details, although authorities apparently do not suspect foul play.
Adams was a professor of criminology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and was due to take early retirement August 1 under a settlement reached with the university after he received widespread criticism and calls for his firing over recent comments.
For instance, in late May he tweeted that universities shouldn’t be closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic but should shut down “the non-essential majors. Like Women’s Studies.” He invoked slavery in denouncing North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s stay-at-home orders, tweeting, “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!” He also said “thugs” were present at antiracism protests.
There were at least four recent petitions on Change.org urging the university to dismiss Adams, with one citing his “long history of espousing racist, misogynistic, homophobic, and abusive rhetoric,” The News & Observer reported in its article on the settlement. Adams responded to his critics with a sexist statement on Twitter: “When you write the university asking them to fire me don’t forget to leave a mailing address so I can send you a box of panty liners.”
The university opted for a $500,000 settlement under which Adams, 55, agreed to retire. He had previously successfully sued UNCW, saying the university had retaliated against him for exercising his First Amendment rights.
Adams was a frequent contributor to Townhall, a right-wing website. Among his anti-LGBTQ+ remarks, in 2011 he wrote a column for the site objecting to UNCW’s LGBTQIA Resource Office posting a list of supportive local churches. He said it was inappropriate for a state-funded university and that the school would never put out a list of churches that believe homosexuality “is unequivocally sinful according to both the Old and New Testaments.” In 2013 he tweeted that Facebook shut down his account because he posted, “Gay couples do not deserve equal benefits because they do not equally benefit society.”
In 2016 he expressed support for House Bill 2, a North Carolina law (now partially repealed) that restricted transgender people’s access to restrooms in government buildings. While some commentators worried that the transphobic law would interfere with faculty recruitment for the UNC system, he wrote, “It might be helping us by weeding out emotionally unfit applicants.” He has called trans people “mentally ill” and said there is a “Gaystapo” at his university.
He has lampooned the idea of hate-crimes laws but advised LGBTQ+ people to carry guns for protection. In 2009, after two gay UNCW students were beaten to the point of unconsciousness after leaving a bar in Wilmington, he was outraged that police were investigating the matter as a hate crime. In a Townhall column, he said they were beaten not because they were gay but because they were “drunk and stupid.”
In 2016 a queer Muslim student said she had to leave UNCW because Adams had created a hostile and threatening environment for her, with comments starting before he’d even met her. “Her claims to be a ‘queer Muslim’ are probably part of an act designed to fit into as many victim categories as possible,” he wrote in a 2015 column for The Daily Wire. He also questioned how anyone could be queer and Muslim, saying, “If you choose a religion bent on executing you, nothing you say could be intelligent.”
Many conservatives are eulogizing Adams, while his critics are saying his death should not be celebrated, but his comments should not be forgotten. “Please do mourn Mike Adams’s death, but don’t sugarcoat his rhetoric as merely ‘controversial’ or ‘racially charged,’” UNCW professor L.J. Randolph Jr. wrote on Twitter. “He was blatantly racist, homophobic, and sexist, and his own words left no room for interpretation on any of that.”
A former UNCW colleague, Tim Gill (not to be confused with the gay philanthropist of the same name), had an office near Adams’s but seldom interacted with him. “I found his words reprehensible, and I just tried to avoid him,” Gill tweeted. “I couldn’t believe he was permitted to teach, to be honest, and I recently signed a letter against him and posted it here.”
He added, “I’m seeing folks celebrate this and gawk at the situation, as if it’s an episode of Law & Order. I find it really disturbing and gross. Don’t lower yourself. I’m still in shock, and I didn’t expect this. I don’t think anyone did.”