A Forum for Vigorous Debate, Cornerstone of Democracy

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A FORUM FOR FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND VIGOROUS DEBATE, CORNERSTONES OF DEMOCRACY
[For the journal (guidelines, focus, etc.), go to www.theamericandissident.org ].
Encouraged censorship and self-censorship seem to have become popular in America today. Those who censor others, not just self, tend to favor the term "moderate," as opposed to "censor" and "moderation" to "censorship." But that doesn't change what they do. They still act as Little Caesars or Big Brother protectors of the thin-skinned. Democracy, however, demands a tough populace, not so easily offended. On this blog, and to buck the trend of censorship, banning, and ostracizing, comments are NEVER "moderated." Rarely (almost NEVER) do the targets of these blog entries respond in an effort to defend themselves with cogent counter-argumentation. This blog is testimony to how little academics, poets, critics, newspaper editors, cartoonists, political hacks, cultural council apparatchiks, librarians et al appreciate VIGOROUS DEBATE, cornerstone of democracy. Clearly, far too many of them could likely prosper just fine in places like communist China and Cuba or Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Russia.

More P. Maudit cartoons (and essays) at Global Free Press: http://www.globalfreepress.org

Monday, February 2, 2009

An Experiment in Democracy: Tufts University Experimental College

Thoughts during and after the 20-Minute Interview
"That’s right; the university is a legal corporation, administratively independent from the Ministry of Education, run by corporate executives. All committees are purely consultative. The Senate is mainly staffed by subservient (and amazingly silent) professors and the Board of Governors (the BOG) is mainly populated by representatives of the university’s corporate allies. Both chambers simply vote yes to the President’s recommendations. To my knowledge, no executive recommendation has ever been overturned or even consequentially delayed in my 21 years here."
—University of Ottawa Prof. Denis Rancourt, who dared risk his career for his ideals (banned from campus, then taken away in cuffs February 2009)

[N.B.: Not one of the many Tufts University professors contacted deigned to respond to this blog entry. Thus is the state of vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy, in the Ivory Tower.]

A friend had suggested Tufts University Experimental College might be interested in a course revolving around what I did, which was practice creative activist-dissident writing. Free speech and vigorous debate, cornerstones of democracy, permitted writers in America to write without self-censorship. Those cornerstones ought to be taught, studied, revered, and discussed thoroughly in the context of college-writing classes. Yet how many writing professors, if any, actually did so? Well, I was aware of one, Professor Dan Sklar, who was teaching at another college. But why did most likely not do so? Self-censorship, careerism, and blinding conformity were perhaps the culprits. In any case, I examined the Experimental College website, which boasted being “the oldest organization of its kind in the United States” and served “as a major focus for educational innovation, expansion of the undergraduate curriculum, and faculty/student collaboration within Arts, Sciences, and Engineering.” Innovation sounded “experimental,” but “expansion” did not. It sounded “business.”

“Literature, Democracy, Dissidence, and TRUTH” was the writing course I thus devised. Its “experimental” nature gleamed from the title itself, for dissent and truth, in academe and elsewhere, were being gagged by speech codes and other PC requisites. The Foundation of Individual Rights in Education had designated Tufts and a handful of other universities, including Brandeis University, Michigan State University and Johns Hopkins University, “Red Alert institutions” because they “displayed a severe and ongoing disregard for the fundamental rights of students or faculty members.” Those institutions were "the ‘worst of the worst’ when it comes to liberty on campus.” Examine www.thefire.org/index.php/promo and also “Tufts University: Hostile Environment for Free Thought” (Hawaii Reporter), “Tufts tops list of free-speech foes” (Boston Herald), "The PC enforcers" (The Trentonian), and "Campus Alert: Don’t joke at Tufts" (New York Post).

Perhaps I should have used one of those titles for the title of my course. In any case, the only way professors and administrators would accept a course such as the one I proposed was if they were not proponents of the PC-bridled speech that got Tufts into trouble with FIRE in the first place. In the course, students would examine censorship at, amongst other places, their very own university, be asked to delineate personal taboo areas, and encouraged to break some of those areas by writing about them and even seeking to get that writing published. Every writer (and academic!) knew damn well that “success” depended on turning a blind eye and manifesting a certain degree of herd conformity. Sadly, at least for democracy, most chose the road to “success.” One such taboo area for students might very well include their professors and the Experimental College itself.

Thus, I filled out the application for “Visiting Lecturers” and sent it with my newly created syllabus… into the academic void. Well, actually I was hopeful. After all, this was an “experimental” college. Eventually, I was contacted for an interview. My friend naively thought it was a done deal. But I’d seen far too much in academe to know better. Program Assistant Nikki Bruce responded to my query: “I can tell you that we interview 90-95% of applicants. Your candidacy is certainly being considered, but at this point, I can’t really comment on what that means for your chances. It’s a competitive process, and we try to be fair to all candidates.”
Two of the three interviewers would be students. Were candidates being used as a cheap means for students to practice their interviewing skills? It would be interesting to know if in fact that were an explicit policy. Tufts offered no cash at all to help defray travel expenses, not even for parking on campus! These were indeed desperate times… at least for me.

Out of the approximately 45 so-called “experimental” courses listed for the Fall term 2008, most appeared to be not even remotely “experimental,” including “The Women of Byzantium,” “Medical Spanish,” “History of Documentary Films,” “The Writer's Craft: Practical and Theoretical Approaches,” “The Comic Book in American Culture,” “Forensic Science and the Investigation of Crime Reconstruction,” “The Constitution and American Education,” “Investing in Stocks,” “Advanced Filmmaking,” and “Advanced Electronic and Digital Media.”

Those courses, or similar ones, would likely be found in the curriculums (as electives or other) of universities not even possessing experimental colleges. A handful of the other courses seemed, especially for a university, to be a bit ludicrous in subject matter and scope, including “Soccer, Society, and Immigration” (“As society evolves and changes with immigration, so do its sports”), “The Business of Sports: A Study of the NBA,” “Road Trip: The Automobile, Tourist Traps, and Modern America,” “Bullying in Social Context” (did we need an entire course devoted to “bullying”?), and “Birth of the Tube: A History of Early Television.”

Few of the courses, if any at all, could even remotely be considered daring, risky, or simply politically incorrect. Only a handful of them seemed somewhat “experimental” in nature, including “Producing Films for Social Change,” “Separation of Church and State in American Life,” and “Faith and Social Action: How Faith Inspires Activism.”

My experience—several decades in academe as a professor—underscored that most professors were generally indifferent, if not downright hostile, to truth telling and the needs of democracy for it. What most were interested in was the inculcation of canon (and even PC) in their students. This I sensed during my interview. Democracy itself was not often contemplated and thus tended to perplex, as it seemed to do with my interviewers. Likely I’d confused the term “experimental” with openness, that is, openness to what normally would not be permitted in the curriculum of a “normal” university, in other words, truth telling! Society encouraged the corrupting of terms, “experimental” included. Read Orwell’s 1984!

In the designated conference room, I showed up a little early. One of the student interviewers eventually appeared, so I introduced myself. He was Andrew Wise, English major and rather taciturn, not at all enthusiastic, and immediately began reading over a copy of my syllabus, as if he hadn’t yet even looked at it. Before him, I’d spread upon the table several copies of The American Dissident, which I created, edited and planned on using in the course, several journals that had interviewed me (my face on the front covers), and a new book of my critical poetry. I offered them for his perusal, but he chose to continue reading the syllabus instead. The other student interviewer then appeared. Again, I introduced myself. She was Rachel Abbott, majoring in International Relations. I suggested she take a look at the books and magazines on the table. But she too expressed little interest and proceeded to read her copy of the syllabus, as if she hadn’t yet read it either.

Christiane Romero, the faculty interviewer, arrived 10 minutes late and apologized: “I’m sorry I’m late.” She had a thick German accent and looked like an aging academic. She introduced herself as a professor of German and proceeded to briefly explain the evaluation process: “This is only a preliminary interview. It has to be determined if it fits into the program for the semester. If not, then perhaps for the following semester.” Of course, I immediately wondered why that hadn’t been determined prior to the interview. “We are only a part of the process,” she emphasized. The questions then began. “Do you mind if I stand?” I asked. “Well, perhaps you should sit,” said the professor. So, I sat.

“How would you be grading students?” asked Rachel. “I mean what if you don’t agree with what they write, and what about grammar?” I responded that correct grammar was important and whether or not I agreed would depend on the rigor of the logic employed and cogent supporting illustrations underscored. “If a paper is riddled with grammar errors, it tends to divert attention away from the message,” I noted.

“Will the assignments be equally weighted or how would you grade the assignments?” asked Andrew. “You call this a writing course. How would it be different?” “Well, the assignments would be of equal weight,” I responded. “I suggest four papers, for example. The last would not necessarily be the most important one, though if a student makes the same errors on each paper it could then be weighted more heavily in the negative. Students will be asked to enumerate their taboo areas, for example, then encouraged to write about them. In other words, every writer knows what he or she shouldn’t write about if he or she wants to be successful.” I mimicked quote marks with my fingers regarding the term “successful.” “Orwell had noted ‘A modern literary intellectual lives and writes in constant dread—not, indeed, of public opin­ion in the wider sense, but of public opinion within his own group.’ I’ve included an ample reading list. Orwell’s essay ‘The Prevention of Literature’, for example, is on it. If you haven’t read it, you really should.” Andrew asked me to repeat the title, which I did, then he wrote it down.

“But isn’t successful a subjective term?” asked the professor, who apparently hadn’t understood my gesture. “Sure,” I said. “But by ‘success’ I mean with regards society’s idea of ‘success’. In other words, every professor knows, for example, what he or she shouldn’t write about, if he or she wants to get tenure, early retirement, sabbaticals, special favor or whatever else.” Certainly she understood that!

I showed them the two Tufts student newspapers, one conservative, the other liberal, both of which I’d leafed through prior to the interview. I’d circled “moaning and complaining” on one of them and held it up. “What’s wrong with those terms?” I asked, but nobody responded. “Well, valid criticism ought not to be dismissed as ‘moaning and complaining’,” I said. “That’s lazy and empty ad hominem rhetoric. You do know what that is, right?” The two students nodded. “But don’t you think some criticism is complaining?” said the professor. “If there’s truth to it, then it’s not complaining,” I replied, but she didn’t quite seem satisfied with that response.

“What other goals have you set for this course?” asked the professor. “Well, I’d like to sensitize students to issues of free speech,” I said. “Tufts University, for example, is enacting a ‘Declaration of Freedom of Expression and Inquiry’. Maybe you’re aware of this?” Both students nodded again, though half-heartedly. “Well, it stipulates that, and I quote, that it ‘requires an environment of respect, tolerance, and civil dialogue.’ So, what’s wrong with that statement?”

Nobody responded. Their enthusiasm and inquisitiveness was close to nil. Grades! That’s what seemed to move them, not democracy. “Well, it permits in essence the arbitrary truncation of freedom of expression by professors and administrators who would arbitrarily determine what constitutes ‘tolerance’ and what constitutes ‘civil’,” I said. “In other words, it puts civility above freedom of expression, whereas the opposite should be true in an institution of higher education.”

“Would you then be in favor of hate speech?” asked the professor. “If it’s truthful, yes,” I said. “In fact, it’s constitutionally protected in America. The ACLU has stated that the ‘First Amendment protects speech no matter how offensive its content. Speech codes adopted by government-financed state colleges and universities amount to government censorship, in violation of the Constitution’ [for the full statement, see www.aclu.org/studentsrights/expression/12808pub19941231.html]. There’s also what is known as the heckler’s veto. Do you know what that is?” They didn’t know. “Well, it’s a legal term in a sense and means that somebody who doesn’t like what somebody else might say or does say can truncate that person’s right to say it by simply heckling or making a stink. Far too often, universities succumb to the will of politically-correct hecklers.” Their blank looks made me think my spiel went right over their noggins.

“Oh, so you blog?” said the professor perusing my syllabus. “Yes, I just began doing that a month ago,” I said. “I like to perform what I call experiments in free speech. You’ll note that on the blog. I queried, for example, some 60 UMass English professors with regards the academic culture. Only three responded. Two basically called me an asshole, while the third said he’d be interested in reading anything that had to do with Shakespearian England. That particular experiment supported my hypothesis that professors in general were not very interested in vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy.” Blank looks veered my way again.

“What would you do if a student felt uncomfortable in a class like the one you want to teach?” asked Rachel. “Well, this is probably a course that would require a caveat,” I responded. “You do know what that means?” “Yes,” she said. “Well, it’s a course that would attempt to make students aware of the importance of having tough skin in a democracy,” I said. “Too much truth is being suppressed because someone might find it offensive. I’m entirely for truth and not so concerned about offending or not offending—students or professors.”

Then the interview was over. Only 20 minutes were permitted, though I think I’d exceeded that time limit. The professor asked if she could have a copy of The American Dissident. “It wouldn’t be used in the process,” she said. “It’s just for my own curiosity.” So I gave her a copy, and never heard from her again. Her hate-speech comment seemed to reflect she was a PC practitioner. What, I wondered, had qualified her to be an Experimental College interviewer? Had she ever even performed an experiment in her life? How to sell a course on dissidence and democracy to a tenured German professor on the verge of retirement? It would have been a lot easier to sell soap or Fuller brushes. Evidently, I would have had a fighting chance if the course had been called “Writing across the Curriculum for Women,” “Writing for the Afro-American Stock Analyst,” or simply “Writing for the Texting Generation.” Overall, I thought the interview went poorly and was convinced my course would not be accepted. And indeed, a month later, I’d discover it wasn’t… “due to the high volume of applications” and the “applicant pool was extremely competitive.”

Thus, I perused the courses offered for the Spring 2009 semester. Again, most of them would easily fit into “normal” curriculums elsewhere in foreign language, sociology, psychology, political science and other such departments. Those courses included “Introduction to Haitian Creole and Culture,” “Marxist Ideology,” “Nature Encounters Through Art,” “Sadism, Masochism, and Society,” “Introduction to Trauma: Individual, Family, Community, and Global,” “The Vietnam War in American Culture,” “The Consumer Society,” “Black Power: Student Civil Rights Movements,” “Race, Social Justice & The Moving Image,” “Al Qaeda and Modern Terrorism,” and “Latin America: Democracy, Human Rights, and Civil Society,” “Americans in Paris” (Hemingway redux?), and “Medical Spanish” (once again).

“The Jewish Origins of Punk Rock,” “Introduction to Game Development,” “The History of Geography” and “Digital Democracy in the 21st century: Internet and Mobile Phones” appeared somewhat superfluous for an institution of higher education, while “The AIDS Epidemic in Theatre and Film” and “Jazz as Global Music: Cultural Adaptations of an American Art Form” seemed sufficiently PC. Again, few of the courses, if any at all, could remotely be considered daring, risky, or simply politically incorrect. “Education for Active Citizenship” and “The Constitution and the State of American Education” seemed somewhat similar to my course proposal, but would the professors teaching them actively encourage students to test their citizenship and examine the “state” vis-à-vis Tufts University? Would “Ethical Leadership in Business” touch upon Tufts University? And how about “Guerilla Performance Art & Politics”?

How many of the accepted courses would be encouraging students to open their eyes and, in the name of free expression and vigorous debate, write career-nefarious truth-telling essays such as this one? Was I disappointed by the negative outcome? Certainly! Fortunately, however, the time spent on the proposal wasn’t wasted. Indeed, it resulted in this creative-writing essay and also enabled me to further contemplate the oddity that those who would exercise their First Amendment rights at an institution like Tufts University tended to be conservatives, while those seeking to suppress them, liberals (see www.thefire.org/index.php/case/742.html). How might professor liberals, for example, be teaching at Tufts Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service? Were they teaching that “public service” had increasingly become equated with “self service,” careerism, and the road to making millions like the Clintons and Daschel?

Finally, in the hope of instigating a little vigorous debate, this essay was sent to Nikki Bruce, Program Assistant at the Experimental College, Robyn Gittleman, Director of the Experimental College, and Christopher Barbour, Coordinator of Special Collections, Tisch Library, who had yet to respond to my requests that he examine The American Dissident for subscription consideration. Also, it was sent to the student newspapers, Tufts Daily and Primary Source. The latter was conservative and had been under extreme pressure by Tufts professors and administrators to conform to the needs of PC, as opposed to those of democracy. Furthermore, it was sent to about 45 instructors and professors teaching in the English department—lit bait thrown into the murky waters of the academic/literary established order milieu. Would any of them respond? If lucky, one or several might. That had been my experience with UMass English professors. Eventually, the director responded: "Thank you for your letter of December 17th. I read it carefully and willshare it with other members of our board." No further response was received. Vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy? Certainly not at Tufts!

Likely this very essay would prevent any future chances of my having a course accepted by the Experimental College, though did I really have a chance and would I really wish to submit to another interview conducted by somewhat indifferent and incurious interviewers?

The term “experimental” had a certain mystique and element of hope about it. The reality of the Experimental College fell short of what that mystique and hope would seem to promise. That reality was one of business as usual; that is, college as usual. Perhaps Tufts ought to rename its Experimental College in an effort to conform it to that reality… or better yet rethink the “experiment” which, in the College's own words: "after nearly forty-five years as a vital, thriving part of the university, the Experimental College is no longer an 'experiment'."

The rethinking, if done, should be effected not by those of the corporate/academic mindset, but rather by untenured, free thinkers, uninhibited by the requisites of careerism.

15 comments:

Marijannayiti said...

Greetings and Sak Pase?

Thank you so much for both the post on Tuff and the Poeem/Poet of Obama's inauguration. I would like to comment on the Tuff issue. I attended both an experiemental/alternative High School (John Dewey) in Coney Island, Brooklyn and an experimental college (Hampshire College) in Amherst, MA. I really like the atmosphere of being able to be a free thinker. The mind is released and allowed to flourish in a healthy way.

I am so sorry that they mistreated you as they did. I am not one for grading but I still think that you deserve a chance. I have tried to write about topics that were off limits for instance specifically in graduate school. I did my Masters degree at UC Berkeley and even in the program that I was in there was a push to be PC. I was encouraged to write about "Others" so that I could make "friends" allow myself to be scolded and properly "educated" to further my career. Instead I wrote about stuff that I found fascinating in my own ethnic culture. This pattern continued throughout my graduate career at UPENN for instance where I could not write critically about various theories and methodologies in my doctoral proposal and papers for graduate courses. It really stank! And it depressed me a great deal.
Unfortunately, this kind of silencing is the tip of the iceberg. Many students experienced serious violence and various forms of discrimination which they are encouraged to ignore and not discuss in writing with anyone. For my dissertation proposals, so many topics and subjects were off limits that I realized that what I was being pushed to write was virtually an endorsement of the academy which had mistreated me and violated me in so many ways. In other words, I was discouraged from reflecting on my experiences in academe and pushed to praise these institutions when they didn't deserve it. My work has been seriously empirical but the powers that be sought to refashion me into a non-empiricist, a stereotype.
belle hooks aka Gloria Watkins writes in a revolutionary way about academia. This is one reason I am so enamored with her.
I would like to point out that the courses being taught in the experimental program at Tuffs on Haiti, Haitians, Soccer and Creole are trying to revolutionize the institution. I have known many Haitians who attended Tuffs. In fact, I believe that they have a Haitian Studies program but these folks are some of the most anti black, anti poor and as such anti Haitian people I have EVER met in my life! They need to see themselves in academe that might give them the impetus to start loving themselves. You know when white folks and people in power give you the nod then you're good to go. I have also on several occasions sought help from various Haitian women's organizations in the area where Tuffs is located for issues such as domestic violence and these same Tuffs Haitian types rejected me simply because I was too poor, too black, too dark and too radical. I didn't fit the mold. In so far as the soccer course is concerned, believe it or not this is the only game the most popular sport around the world where the US is not completely and totally dominant. Remember the acquisition of Beckham? And what about the young Ghanaian who plays (the youngest player...) I know that many young Haitian men in South Florida are seen as good prospects as well. These immigrants are reminiscent of Albert Eistein and how the US acquired him because he could destroy the ATOM by building an A-BOMB! Well soccer is a competitive sport and the US is trying to dominate. Unfortunately, they are not as diverse economically as they need to be (socio-economics) in order for the sport to thrive in these shores. So that course is radical but I agree regular sports sociology courses at any good college or university should cover that. As well too the Haitian material can easily be covered in language departments, cultural studies, black studies and the like.
The fact that these seemingly normal and traditional courses are chosen in the experimental college at Tuffs is an indication of the times. We are in a post 9/11/01 era where our society has become ultra conservative to the detriment of the self determination of most. So free speech is not welcomed, and the resources that would allow it to flourish are short changed.
Thank you.

G. Tod Slone said...

Thanks much for the comments. Are you connected to Tufts? If so, how so? If not, how did you connect to this blog? Just curious. Your comments on Gloria Watkins and the Haitians at Tufts are interesting. I will have to look into Watkins since I’ve never heard of her. Having taught at two black institutions of so-called higher learning and now that Obama is Commander in Chief, I suppose I’d have to alter what you wrote to the following: “You know when black folks and people in power give you the nod then you're good to go.” As for soccer, I just thought a course with its regard did not belong in higher education, “experimental” or other. Contrary to your implication, Free Speech was also not welcome on campuses prior to 9/11. And it is not a question of lack of “resources” that has restricted free speech on campuses, but rather one of a plethora of professors desiring to reduce it in an effort of self-protectionism. Sak Pase.

Marijannayiti said...

Greetings again:

Sak Pase means What's up in Haitian Creole. No, I am not connected to Tufts in any way. In fact, I'm in Miami. Gloria Watkins publishes under belle hooks and she has a couple of dozen and probably more. I don't agree with you about the soccer issue, that kind of course belongs in sociology of sports courses. I did doctoral work in that field specifically sociology of gender and sexuality and medicine (different courses) and one of the best professors in the area is at UCBerkeley. He earned his doctorate in Sociology at Princeton.

i agree with you a 100% about the nature of free speech on college campuses before 9/11/01. I felt the pressure even back in the 1980s and through the 90s before the event. However, 9/11/01 served to justify a McArthy era silencing in all fields and institutions. Things became qualitatively worse in my view.
Lastly, I found your blog because you mentioned or wrote about issues with Haiti,and Haitian in the title. So my google alert, alerted me and I checked it out especially since it had to do with Tufts and free speech and writing.
Also, I forgot to mention the fact that I believe strongly that we need to address the issue of bullying at the university level in order to train folks to recognize it and acknowledge it and to deal with it. I experienced so much of that growing up as a petite female/woman and it became impossible in South Florida for me and my loved ones after 9/11/01. We couldn't even get on the bus or walk on the street let alone drive!
Best regards.

G. Tod Slone said...

Thanks much for being up front and honest and translating "Sak Pase" for me. I'd thought it might have been Indian and your name too. T'as pas de citations dissidentes en francais haitien pour moi?
No problem at all, of course, with disagreements. The key, at least partially, is continued dialogue and openness to vigorous debate, something far too many university professors fail royally to do. A large part of that problem is PC and hierarchy. I just had a rather lengthy (46 pp) discussion with a prof in sociology who accused me out of the blue of being a sexist and racist (see, if interested, www.theamericandissident.org/PoemShaulis.htm). I'd actually be quite interested in your take on the discussion. Who knows, you might actually side with the prof. BYW, I too have been a prof, but one who has often spoken out against the institution employing me. Thus, I find myself unemployed if not unemployable today.

It seems mindboggling to me that bullying could form the basis for an entire college course. What would be more beneficial to democracy would be a course on spine building, one that might help the spineless not to run to "mommy" and "daddy" when someone calls them a name or looks at them the wrong way. On that note, a public librarian issued me a no-trespass order w/o possibility of due process (see blog entry). What had I done? Nothing at all illegal, nor did I shout, call her names, or block passages. She just felt she didn't like me, so called the cops. That woman should be fired.

I spent two years in Louisiana, teaching at an all black university, loved the weather and cajun culture and architecture, but hated the blatant racism: whites hating blacks, blacks hating whites. In fact, I was mugged by three blacks. Is it that way also in South Florida? I'm white. And I suspect you're black.
Amities, ma chere

Marijannayiti said...

Bonjour:

No, I don't have any "dissident" citations in French for you. I would really like to go to Louisianna and spend time there someday. I'm sorry that you got robbed. The Librarian who called the cops on you sound like she may have some issues. And yes, they need courses on spine building at these institutions unfortunately, too many people are bullied and they don't get the help that they need. I'm thinking of all the kids in school who hide it from their parents. In my culture one could not come home and complain if one was beaten or violated in any way. I have taken many seld defense courses over the years and I met some of the bullies in those classes as well. So, we need to empower people so they can avoid being bullied. Unfortunately, most will get bullied and some may get help.
Best regards.

G. Tod Slone said...

As I reflect, I suspect Sak Pase comes from Qu'est-ce qui se passe? If ever you have the op, definitely check out the cajun mardi gras in the cajun triangle. I did a number of them... quite unique and quite different from New Orleans. 600 costumes on horses at the Eunice mardi gras! There's black and white.
Yes, that's a good way of putting it vis a vis the librarian: "she may have some issues."
I guess you could be right with the bullying.
Tu ne parles pas francais standard? Tu ne parles que le creole haitien? Ou meme pas? Curieux, c'est tout. J'aime enormement le Quebec et je sais tres bien qu'il y a une communaute importante haitienne a Montreal.
Yes, if we could meld spine building as part of reducing bullying or its effects that would be positive. Of course, it wouldn't be beneficial to teach those bullied self-defense so they can then become bullies themselves. Anyhow, ciao.

mather said...

I liked this one. The scene was painted well with the two students and the teacher. The smugness of these young people never ceases to amaze me. They take a couple of classes and think they're intellectual and worldly, and they get so under the wing of their immediate professors that they don't respect anybody else, or any opposing views. The one thing they certainly learn in school is how to act and feel superior. I get the feeling that after you left the prof took the two aside and told them that you were an enemy of the academy, and that they should do their best to be exactly what you are not. I can see them nodding their heads and laughing, oh yes! Still, your class proposition seems like a well thought out idea, and you just might get lucky if you keep trying with it. The whole thing would make a great one-act.

mather said...

The comments from Marijannayiti are a little confusing to me. How did she find you? What did you write about Haiti to give her that alert?

She says after 9-11 they wouldn't let Haitians ride the bus or drive a car. I find this hard to believe. At the very least it is an extreme exagerration. I personally know many middle easterners who barely got a verbal verbal abuse after 9-11. Maybe Tucson is a friendlier place. Also, to teach soccer in college is ridiculous, and about as PC as you can get. Why don't they teach log-rolling? Soccer is boring, what can possibly be said about it to make it interesting? Kick the ball! Sometimes hit it with your head! Oh my god, how liberating! Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait... GOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLL!It's a popular activity throughout the world. So is walking. The U.S. doesn't excell in it. Who cares?

G. Tod Slone said...

Well, I sent notice to the same ones that this blog was up. No way they'll accept the course proposal in the future. Yeah, I found her comments confusing too. Because I mentioned a course on Haitian Creole in the blog, she picked it up. She was googling Haiti. I guess she's Haitian. Florida has a sizeable Haitian community. I'm not convinced about the bus thing either. She seems focused on bullying. I suppose someone has already proposed a course on WALKING. Maybe something like "The Great Art of Walking as Seen through the Eyeballs of Henry David Thoreau"?

Hey, you'll get a kick out of this. I just had a lengthy battle with Shaulis (50 pp)... kind of like the one we had. I shouldn't tell you because it will give you ammo, but I don't care. You'll find the link on the ad hominem page. The battle is over. I had to give him the last word because it would have gone on forever.

mather said...

Well, I took a short look at that correspondence between you and Shaulis, but what a behemoth! I don't think I can get into it...maybe later. Too much fluff...I don't believe ours even reached CLOSE to fifty fucking pages!

I think arguing in the written form is fun, even to the point where emotions run high, maybe ESPECIALLY for that. It gives people a chance to blow off steam, as well as honing the art of insult, the mastery of which is a sign of intelligence, like the talent for mimicry.

I tracked down the guy who calls himself Renaissance Jones, and his private email and real name: Steve Young. I emailed him about his threat to come over to my house, bend me over my computer, spit in his hand and ram it up my ass. He hasn't said much in the private email, big surprise. No public audience or blog handle to hide behind. I can understand a little hard language, insults, jabs, counter punches, cool, whatever, but threat of such horrible physical violence, in a very serious tone, is something I find hard to let go. I mean it, it shook me when he said it, really, and I don't like that, man, THAT is true bullying.

I think your blog is interesting and it was a good idea to start it, even though I was skeptical at first. Where do you find your ENERGY?

mather said...

I'm reading the correspondence, sort of, kind of skimming it and skipping through it, and it seems he really jumps on what he thinks is your racism. Obviously he's had these ideas about you for a long time and has not said anything, it has built up to this, also probably propelled by some personal problems in his life, his argument with his bosses, etc. Usually when two intelligent people argue they both can see exactly when and where and how the conversation is turning sour, but they keep doing it anyway, rubbing salt in the wound. Why? Because it's fun somehow, satisfying in some way. Why don't you just admit you're a racist, wouldn't it be easier? Hell, I'm not a racist, I just don't like niggers! Also, a "black wannabe" is a "whigger". (This is in jest.)

mather said...

I'm trying, I'm trying, I wish this correspondence would have been on a public basis, it would have been easier to comment on as it was happening. "Aversive rascist"? Is this a new phrase or what? It sounds redundant, like much of the argument itself. Like most arguments. I believe a good argument should be entertaining to onlookers.

G. Tod Slone said...

Yeah, the exchange with Shaulis was long. I had to truncate it as I did ours. He insisted I put it up on the website. He said I'd be guilty of self-censorship if I didn't. So I put it up. Then he insisted I put the whole 50 pp in The AD, which of course would have been ridiculous. Who the hell would want to read it? 50 pp on Aversive Racism? Very tedious. I found myself just defending myself through the whole exchange.
The energy? Who knows? It's just there. I stood outside last night in front of the public library handing out flyers protesting a Galway Kinnel reading. Kinnel was a Chancellor for the Academy of American Poets, which censored me. I actually got to give him a flyer face to face. He of course was arriving, didn't want to stop, though grabbed a flyer.
Well, the satisfaction I get--and I know you're not going to like this--is to see just how little logic some people have and to crush them with logic. Shaulis really surprised me with that regard. Hell, he's a college instructor with a PhD! In fairness, I've informed him of my comments here.
I never heard of "AVERSIVE RACIST" either. Apparently, it's some kind of new PC educationist sociology term. Imagine the books, college positions, articles, and all that shite that it will, if it already hasn't, engender! What is needed is an independent arbiter of logic during such exchanges. That's what theoretically occurs during debates.

Charlotte W. said...

Well, I decided to intrude here to make a comment on something Mather wrote on Feb.6th.

I laughed when I read this part:

"Also, to teach soccer in college is ridiculous, and about as PC as you can get. Why don't they teach log-rolling?"

Some midwest colleges are doing that. Below is a link to a page about a collegiate competition last fall that included log-rolling.

from the page:

9:15 a.m. Men's log roll Women's buck saw Single buck saw Traverse

10:30 a.m. – 11:30 p.m. Women's bolt throw Two-man buck saw Chain throw

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Lunch

12:45 p.m. Women's log roll Jack & Jill buck saw Men's bolt throw Tobacco spit

2:00 p.m. Dendrology Match split Jack & Jill log roll

When: Saturday, Sept. 27 at 4 p.m.

Where: The Ford Center 21235 Alberta Ave. L'Anse, MI 49946

Colleges: Iowa State University, Lakehead University, Michigan State University, Michigan Tech University, Missouri University, Purdue University, Southern Illinois University, University of Minnesota at Minneapolis, University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point

http://sports.espn.go.com/outdoors/timbersports/news/story?id=3592705

mather said...

Yes, oh god I can believe they would teach that in school, Charlotte! You can probably get a god damned degree in it...

G. Tod, thanks for the envelope, got it today.