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Sunday, April 11, 2004

Political correctness and classroom debate

World O' Crap has a long, but very interesting dissection of a recent campus political correctness flair-up at UNC. I had to laugh. Maybe there are schools free of them, but my school definitely was infested with straight white Christian guys (and occasionally girls) who sat around waiting to be offended so they could bring all discourse to a halt by whining about their oppression. They claim that they don't get a voice, but usually the reason their strategy worked was because of the wicked liberal dedication to educational and democratic principles. They got a voice, but so did everyone else, and so the complaint was more about not getting to dominate discussion.
That being said, I read this article and the prof was fucked when it came to handling this guy. Granted, she shouldn't have to be on guard for students who are hired by right wing groups who look to take classes from people on the right wing shitlist--women, minorities, people who teach classes with certain poisonous buzzwords like "diversity" or even "culture" nowadays--so that they can lay in wait for someone to say something even vaguely resentful of having to live at the whim of the powerful. You have to walk on eggshells to keep from hurting the feelings of right wing students.
She called him a homophobe, though, and calling someone a name is a big no-no. (Wingnuts claim to be against political correctness and vigorously defend the right to say "nigger" and "faggot" in academic situations without suffering penalties, but even they find the words "racist", "sexist", and "homophobic" beyond the pale, words far more damning than any racial slur.) That it was the truth is apparently irrelevant. He baited her, she bit. Now they can say that colleges hate white men based on the fact that a professor got angry with a white male who acted like a pissant in her class. This sense of outrage seems well out of proportion until you remember that she, as a member of the teaching class, and a female to boot, had the gall to upbraid one of her betters who is simply tolerating her class because it is required.
If I were her, I would have worded it differently, made some noise about how classroom discussions need to be on substantiated opinions instead of emotional ones, like whether one finds a sexual orientation gross or not. That's a matter of taste and not up for debate. But he said it hatefully and meant it hatefully. I can understand her anger.


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