A gay, conservative professor at Madera Community College in California was recently placed on leave after handing out Jeremy’s Chocolate, sold by the Daily Wire, at an open house event on campus.
On May 8, tenured history Professor David Richardson said he received a letter from school officials stating he was being placed on administrative leave. Richardson had served Jeremy’s Chocolate at an open house event at Madera Community College the previous week.
Jeremy’s Chocolate was launched in March 2023 by conservative news site the Daily Wire after the Hershey’s Company released an advertisement for International Women’s Day that featured transgender woman and LGBT activist Fae Johnstone.
Jeremy’s Chocolate bars are labeled with the pronouns “He/Him” and “She/Her,” the former of which have nuts in them and the latter of which do not. Progressives on social media have criticized the brand as “transphobic.”
Madera Community College spokesman Cory Burkarth declined to provide a statement about Richardson’s suspension, calling it a “personnel matter.”
Richardson told The Fix in an interview Friday that the controversy stemmed from an exchange with a transgender staff member at Madera Community College, who demanded to know what the “He/Him” and “She/Her” pronoun labels on the chocolate bars meant.
“I … said, ‘You’ll have to ask Jeremy,’” Richardson said he joked. “But it was clear to me that this particular staff member was trying to pick a fight.”
Richardson added he was “taken aback” after being confronted and had a “deer in the headlights look” before another staff member came to his defense and de-escalated the situation.
A week later, a letter of suspension was delivered by a uniformed police officer to Richardson’s home, informing the professor he was being placed on leave and barred from stepping foot on campus, he said.
“As the British say, I was gobsmacked. I was floored,” Richardson told The Fix.
Richardson said that despite pressure to “kowtow” to the administration, he will not apologize for handing out the chocolates.
“They pulled out this old argument that ‘you have a thirty-plus year career, is this really how you want to be remembered?’ And I almost wanted to say ‘how dare you,’” Richardson said.
“I have done more for that college than any other single faculty member on that campus,” he said. “And all of that gets wiped away, because I refuse to kowtow to violations of free speech and academic freedom?”
Richardson has faced discipline from Madera Community College in the past.
In 2022, the professor filed a lawsuit against the school alleging a violation of his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights after he was told to complete a six-hour DEI training course. This was the result of the professor allegedly using gender pronouns “mockingly,” Just the News reported.
Richardson is not the first conservative professor in California to face discipline after dissenting from their college’s ideological orthodoxy.
In April 2023, tenured history professor Matthew Garrett was fired from California’s Bakersfield College after criticizing the school’s diversity initiatives and other progressive policies.
The vice president of the Kern Community College’s board of trustees, which has authority over Bakersfield College, compared Garrett and his ideological allies to livestock that needed culling during a board meeting. He later apologized for the comment.
Responding to Richardson being placed on leave for handing out Jeremy’s Chocolate, Garrett told The Fix in an interview that he is “disheartened to learn of yet another overbearing college trampling First Amendment rights in order to impose ideological conformity.”
“Our institutions of higher learning must permit meaningful discourse and dissent without fear of retribution, regardless of whether those views align with prevailing ideologies. When the state grows comfortable silencing unpopular views, we are all at risk,” Garrett said.