Public School Teacher Placed on Leave for Saying Rush Limbaugh Cancer Diagnosis ‘Awesome’, Hoping Death is ‘Painful’


Screenshot of tweet by Travis Sarandos. Original tweet and the @travis_MKE account have since been deleted.

Social media platforms like Twitter allow users to post their unfiltered thoughts about any subject, but that has its risks, as one Milwaukee Public Schools teacher discovered this week. Travis Sarandos, an English teacher at Milwaukee High School of the Arts posted an insensitive tweet about conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh‘s cancer diagnosis and has now been placed on leave.

Limbaugh announced earlier this month that he had been diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, prompting a flood of comments from both supporters wishing him well and critics dismissing any thought of offering sympathy to a political foe. Still, most critics focused their ire on Limbaugh’s political positions, treating what is likely a terminal cancer diagnosis as a fate they wouldn’t wish on anyone.

Sarandos practiced no such restraint, tweeting from his account @travis_MKE, “[L]imbaugh absolutely should have to suffer from cancer. it’s awesome that he’s dying, and hopefully it is as quick as it is painful.”

Mark Belling, a conservative radio talk show host in Milwaukee, was the first to report on Sarandos’ tweet, noting that the teacher had responded to critical replies by “re-affirming his original tweet.” According to Belling, Sarandos has also tweeted in the past that he “hates” the Catholic Church, and a “mass extinction” of Christian conservative voters is “our only hope for a future,” suggesting that “poison[ing] the communion wine” would be a good strategy.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reached out to Milwaukee Public Schools for comment, and a spokesperson initially replied by email that “it was aware of the tweet, but that Sarandos was not speaking on behalf of the district or students or other staff at MPS.”

Several hours later, the school system confirmed that Sarandos “had been placed on leave pending an investigation.”

At some point while this controversy was brewing, Sarandos deleted his Twitter account.

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