The Predictable Happens.

As always, it didn’t take long for the purveyors of higher education to decide, once again, that the 1st Amendment is America’s true enemy. As I’ve always said, there is nothing the average American believes in more than FREEDOM……… as long as no one else tries to use some.

“A classroom is supposed to be a place for academic exploration,” Winset, who taught financial accounting, told the Boston Herald.

He said administrators had asked the faculty to engage students on the issue. But on Friday, he got a letter saying he was fired and ordering him to stay off campus.

So, the way he explains it, the administration told him to discuss this topic, then fired him for doing it in a way they disapproved of. There is no mention of the administration giving specific instructions as to how the topic was to be handled.

Of course, this is nothing new. There have been teachers fired just about every time something like the VT massacre has happened. There were teachers fired after 9-11. An elementary school teacher was fired after the Iraq war began because he presented both sides of the Iraq war argument and allowed the students to – gasp! – make up their own minds about the war! I found it ironic that the conservatives that wanted him fired are the same folks who frequently trumpet to the heavens that they want teachers to educate, not indoctrinate. Of course, they’re talking about that liberal homosexual agenda, not our righteous war.It seems to me that presenting all the facts and letting people, even SMALL people, make their own judgements is education. Just telling them to support the war would seem to be the indoctrination, wouldn’t it?

So educators want the massacre at VT discussed. How do you do that without covering some extremely uncomfortable ground? How do you discuss a situation like this in an educational setting without taking the chance on offending someone, even if that offense is just some hypersensitive batshit from someone who simply wants attention? How do you decide that a line has been crossed when the students that were in the room during the discussion don’t seem to think so? I have no doubt that the “shooting the students with an eraser” thing was simply an attempt to help the students feel the situation the VT students were in – caught by surprise, with no time to move and nowhere to move to, getting shot at close range. I would think that this understanding would be key to having an inteligent discussion of this issue.

It points to the fallacy that Americans have a right to traipse through life unoffended, and that anyone who uses their right to free speech in any way that offends anyone else is using it maliciously and wrongly. It also points to the fallacy that we want to solve any of our problems.

I mean, how do we arrive at a useful solution to the violence in our schools and workplaces if we can’t have a frank and honest discussion about it? How can we solve out security and immigration challenges if we’re hobbled by accusations of racism and intolerance every time someone suggests securing our borders? How can we arrive at any solution to anything – education, health care, abortion rights – ANYTHING – without the ability to speak freely about it? We’re quick to address a problem by declaring war upon it – War on Poverty, War on Drugs, War on Terror – yet those problems persist, especially when they are abstracts like poverty and terror that can’t be shot at. We are happy to declare War on Terror, but treat as unwelcome any discussion of what the government does or doesn’t do in furtherance of that “war”.

So, in general, we can’t seem to discuss our problems as a country, but we can declare WAR on them, whether that makes sense or not.

I wonder if the root of our violence problem isn’t more obvious than we’ve been thinking.

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22 Comments

  1. The apparent inability to have an honest discussion at a university, regardless of the topic, places not just the institution but the entire system into question. It is really disheartening, irregardless of the faith foundation of an institution, that for the amount of money being poured into them, there is nothing but a substandard product being offered.

    With the over sensitization of society, it is no wonder that the country will probably exist in a few years on psychiatric therapy and prescriptions since our ability to cope and overcome diversity and obstacles is being underminded at every turn.

  2. I read about that the other day. I take it he wasn’t as anti gun control as the PTB in liberal academia would like. But still I support the basic concept of employers hiring and firing at will and don’t have much sympathy for fucking rich white professors. Tee hee.

  3. Funny, your classroom example surprised me, because we usually hear that it is the ANTI-war teachers / administrators who won’t allow an open discussion in the classroom. But dipshittery cuts both ways. The problem you raise is serious and I’m pretty much ready to declare defeat. The country is hopelessly fucked up and it will take the emergence of the generation now in grade school, who will have grown up with and become cynical about all that suppressive bullshit, to band together and make things real again.

  4. Paula-

    I don’t think it’s as black and white as that for two reasons. First, if we care about the quality of the educations that we pay for, even in a private setting, then these events should be looked at. Second, is it fair to someone that they be fired for “cause” when that cause is basically unconstitutional? Now this person has to seek new employment with the disadvantage of having a blemish on his record that he really doesn’t deserve.

    Suppose you suddenly get a new boss who just doesn’t like you, so he trumps up a reason to get rid of you, and gives you a bad review just to be pissy. Then you have to find a new job with your most recent employer giving you a bad rap. Do you support his right to do that? I’m not saying that no one should be firable, but when some person or group of people is able to have such a negative impact on another person’s life and wellbeing, I think they should have verifiable reasons that make sense. It’s not just a job we’re talking about here – it’s a career that takes a lot of time and effort to establish. It shouldn’t be blackened just because the guy did what he was asked to do.

  5. Don- just the opposite on this end. I haven’t heard about anti-war teachers not allowing free discussion. I heard about a lot of people – teachers and otherwise- being fired for not being pro-war. The teacher I was talking about had his students make signs that expressed THEIR feelings about the war, and was fired because SOME of those signs were against it.

  6. “points to the fallacy that Americans have a right to traipse through life unoffended, and that anyone who uses their right to free speech in any way that offends anyone else is using it maliciously and wrongly.” This cuts right to it, Joe. Our poor little psyches should not be subjected to anything that might be at all offensive, unless, of course, it’s pornographic in nature. That old “sticks and stones may break my bones” adage is completely irrelevant today. So, the prof. uses a marker to punctuate his class talk, and that’s just too close to reality to be acceptable. But some of these same “kids” will go to their computers and play “Grand THeft Auto” and first-person shooter games and that’s ok. It makes no sense at all.

  7. I guess he was sacked for being ‘insensitive’, coming the following day after Virginia. A joke of a decision of course and it could have the effect of current affair debates in the classroom being curtailed.

  8. “It points to the fallacy that Americans have a right to traipse through life unoffended, and that anyone who uses their right to free speech in any way that offends anyone else is using it maliciously and wrongly. It also points to the fallacy that we want to solve any of our problems.”

    I SOOO agree with this. So many people look for opportunities to be offended, and would rather bitch and moan – instead of trying to come up with a workable solution to problems.

    “in general, we can’t seem to discuss our problems as a country, but we can declare WAR on them”

    Yeh, a lot of people are just a bunch of whiny fucking crybabies (can’t discuss problems), who, when offended, overreact kneejerkstyle (declare war), instead of attempting to have an honest discussion. But, to have an honest discussion, people have to stop being so fucking defensive and just listen to the other side — consider it — then counter. Approach things dispassionately. (not always easy to do, I know..but there you have it…human nature at it’s finest)

  9. First, law firms (and I believe most big corporations) do not give out negative info on former employees cuz of lawsuit potential. They will verify dates of employment only. So my boss could fire me for some dumb thing and no one would ever have to know. But who knows what schools do.

    Second, while it’s troublesome that a prof. was fired for speaking his mind, I’m not sure what the cure would be. Force the college to rehire him? My view is that it would be better for word to get out that this college is a sucky place to work at and attend, their enrollment would drop, and then they’d either have to listen to the marketplace or go out of biz.

    Third, I can’t help but enjoy the irony of this guy feeling no sympathy for the VT victims, yet (possibly) wanting sympathy for his firing.

  10. Wow. I can’t believe how you were able to word everything I thought and felt on the VT murders. And the way we’re being educated these days. Your points are strong, and it sucks that its all true. What will it take for that to change? More deaths?

  11. How can you be sure there’s irony here Paula?
    Who’s to say the prof didn’t have sympathy for the VT victims? Just because he discussed the topic and covered uncomfortable aspects of it? That makes him unsympathetic?

    I’d call that a ‘dispassionate approach’ (to discussing a raw, uncomfortable topic). Imho, we have to be dispassionate so we can see through our emotions, when discussing a topic like this.

  12. Apparently the prof called the VT victims “bleeping rich white kids.” That doesn’t sound dispassionate to me.

  13. “An elementary school teacher was fired after the Iraq war began because he presented both sides of the Iraq war argument and allowed the students to – gasp! – make up their own minds about the war!”

    I didn’t know that. That is scary.

  14. “Apparently the prof called the VT victims “bleeping rich white kids.” That doesn’t sound dispassionate to me.”

    I haven’t seen that. Where did you see it? Can you linky?

    Jessica- I guess we’re in synch. Must be kismet, dahhhhling.

  15. Wasn’t it in the article you cited, Joe? If not, I must be hallucinating. Oh, and in my first comment here, I meant pro not anti. Dur!

  16. Paula-

    There was mention of disrespect and obscenity, but no specifics to back it up, and the vast majority of students had no problem with the lecture.

  17. “Winset was ‘disparaging the victims as rich white kids combined with an obscene epithet. He did not do this as part of an open debate with his students,’ the statement said.”

  18. Okay, Paula, but if the majority of the syudents weren’t offended, then where is the point? And once again, why does “offense” take precedence over freedom of speech, when one is guaranteed by the constitution and the other is not?

    I’m don’t intend to be this particular teacher’s mouthpiece, though. That is taking the debate in the wrong direction. What need to change is this “culture of warm fuzzies” that has pervaded America for the past 20 years, much to the detriment of our society.

  19. Well, the peeps he insulted are dead, so they can’t exactly speak up. His own students didn’t care, that’s fine. I support the prof’s right to say such stuff without fear of arrest by the gov’t, but a guaranteed job? Nah. Who has freedom of speech at work anyway? Not me.

  20. Oh, and I agree on the warm fuzzies. This whole thing could have been avoided if some nanny admin. hadn’t thought it was a neat idea for classes to be interrupted so peeps could emote on the shooting. How many college students died in car accidents this year? No one cares about that. I know, there I go again!

  21. Yes, but why must so much in America be hushed be3cause we don’t want to offend anyone? THAT is the point I’m trying to make. We are never going to find solutions to our problems if everyione is to afraid to speak, and the next generation will be worse off if our educational system teaches them that speaking your mind is only okay when you have nice things to say.

  22. Okay, I don’t have time to read all the comments, but firing that dude was fucking stupid.

    And, frankly, this hypersensitivity to being offended is stupid.

    If you (general you, not specific) are so easily offended, the *you* are stupid.

    There. Next?


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