June 03, 2006

Mommy, They're Hurting My Feeeeeeelings Again!!!

Man, this is not a good week for computer-related issues. First of all, I managed to kill my eMac's hard drive yesterday after playing Falcon 4.0 for a few hours (luckily, everything important is on my PowerBook, so it's basically my full-time computer now), then my Internet connection went down for a while, and now MuNu apparently suffered a DOS attack, resulting in me (and probably everyone else) receiving a "403 Forbidden" error when trying to access SIT.


However, as horrible as the timing on this is, I finally (finally!) found something interesting to write about, and although the weirdness has resulted in this post being delayed by a few hours, I'm not missing an opportunity to put up some meaningful content.

The fact that I'm basically nocturnal helps out in this situation. You may look at the time on this post and think "early morning on Saturday," but for me, it's still early evening on Friday. Yay, summer.

So, anyway...blogging!

Thanks to this post on Protein Wisdom, I checked out this story dealing with the oh-so-exciting issue of racial sensitivity. Let's take a look:

Racial slur read by professor upsets U of I law students

Professor says racial term fit in a negotiations class

Iowa City, Ia. - A professor's use of readings containing racial slurs has alarmed students and renewed discussions about diversity at the University of Iowa law school.

Hmm. I'm having flashbacks to the HillTV situation already. As you're about to see, there's a very good reason for that.

"This incident was kind of the straw that broke the camel's back," said Steven Nelson, 27, a second-year U of I law student from New Orleans. "We're not going to stand for living in an environment that is hostile to us."

If simply hearing a racial slur, regardless of context, fits your definition of "hostile," I struggle to think how you managed to survive for 27 years without having a complete nervous breakdown and spending the rest of your days cowering in the corner babbling about how everyone is out to get you.

...Or maybe I'm giving you too much credit. Anyway...

The university's Black Law Students Association...

Isn't it great that we've finally managed to eliminate racial segregation from our society?

Oh, wait...

...a group of 27 students, said in a letter to law faculty, U of I administration and the Iowa Board of Regents executive director that a March 29 incident was "indicative of a much larger problem at the College of Law."

Predictable as hell. This is the same reaction that takes place every time we have a "bias-related incident" at Syracuse:

"Somebody did something offensive! Therefore, because one person wasn't thinking straight, it's clear that the entire school is full of intolerant bigots who need to be properly educated in the ways of never doing anything that would make anyone uncomfortable ever! Look! Look around! You're all a bunch of fucking bigots and you don't even know it! LOOK!!!"

Sorry, got a little carried away there. Now, let's take a closer look at the event that led to all this trouble:

The incident that triggered the larger discussion was professor Gerald Wetlaufer reading aloud two passages that contained racial epithets in his negotiations class, according to law school Dean Carolyn Jones.

Wow. How utterly horrible. A professor dared to read something written by someone else, and that writing happened to contain offensive words. I understand everything now. In fact, I feel absolutely sickened that anyone could be so heartless and inconsiderate. I can't imagine what those poor, innocent students (some of whom are apparently pushing 30) must have gone through.

Really. I am shocked and appalled beyond belief. Let's move on:

The readings, one from Robert Caro's Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of former President Lyndon Johnson and another a 1964 speech by a black sharecropper named Fannie Lou Hamer, were in context with the course, Jones said, but students may not have been sufficiently prepared to hear the racial slurs.

I'm going to repeat the last part of that excerpt for emphasis:

...students may not have been sufficiently prepared to hear the racial slurs.

Let's think about this. What the crap does that even mean? How do you prepare someone to hear racial slurs? You'd think that if they're able to recognize the words in question as racial slurs in the first place, it means they're sufficiently prepared to hear them again. Furthermore, considering the fact that we're talking about adult law students here, don't you think it's a bit insulting to their intelligence to even consider this?

"Okay, boys and girls, you've all been a very good class lately, and I promise to give you an extra half hour of naptime this Friday, but in tomorrow's lecture, I may have to say some naughty, naughty words, and I wanted to make sure nobody will go home crying, so I have to ask that you have your parents sign these permission slips. Now, if you'll just hand in your fingerpaintings, I'll dismiss you."

I'm having way too much fun with this. It's been a long time since I wrote a good sarcastic rant. Let's continue:

Wetlaufer apologized to students for not adequately warning them about the readings but said he believes they were relevant to the course, which focuses on the power of language.

Can you say "unintended consequences," children?

I still can't get over the fact that the students believe they should've been "warned" about this. The idea of law students being so thin-skinned that they can't even handle listening to a quoted racial epithet is making me hope I never have to be within 1000 yards of a courthouse.

"These were not words I used to oppress anyone in the class or promote anyone else's agenda," he said. "This word appears 49 times in 'To Kill a Mockingbird.' I don't think I have crossed some line here."

The fact that he even had to explain this in an "academic" environment demonstrates the infantilization of the modern American educational system. I'm starting to think that shit like this is why people in certain countries view Americans as dumb.

...Tori Bobryk, a third-year law student who is white, walked out of the class because she was offended by Wetlaufer reading the slur without warning, she said.

I'm not sure which would be more painful at this point: Continuing to think about how anyone could be so sheltered that they would resort to this, or banging my head on my desk until I pass out. I guess I should at least finish the post...

"I wish there had been a preface or a disclaimer or a discussion afterward," she said.


...Oh, I'm still conscious. All right, I'll think about it, damn you.

I really don't understand how people can actually believe this crap about needing disclaimers and discussions, etc. before dealing with any sensitive topic. It almost seems more likely that they're just doing this to get attention...but when I recall some of the ridiculous things I've seen people do and say, I realize that it is, in fact, possible for human beings to be this mind-bendingly brainwashed and idiotic. Moving on...

Nelson, the Black Law Students Association president, said there have been other instances in which students or professors have made insensitive comments.

In another case, a student brought up the idea of reinstating slavery, and the professor, whom Nelson would not name, did not contradict the notion, he said.

I highly, highly, highly, highly, highly, highly doubt that this event happened in the way it's described here. My guess is that someone brought up a hypothetical situation in which slavery was never abolished, and certain students were made uncomfortable by the act of thinking about it. However, since the article gives no more information, I'll go ahead and strike that opinion from the record, as you law school types would say.

(Insert oversensitive asshole here: "'You law school types?' Is that some kind of racial slur? How dare you!")

Jones said the law school has 16 percent minority enrollment — more than other U of I colleges — and is working to recruit more students and faculty of color.

Fight the War on Homogeneity!!!

"I want you...as long as you're a minority!"

"It's really important for our students to learn about diversity and work with people of all different backgrounds. That's where their future is," Jones said.

And what better way to prepare them for the real world than shielding them from unpleasant thoughts? Brilliant!

A new law school diversity committee will work this summer to develop racially sensitive programming, she said.

Why do I get a chill when I see the word "programming" in there?

"You will be assimilated...by accepting diversity!"

Seriously, I shouldn't be having this much fun with an issue that pisses me off this much. I should do this blogging thingawhatsit more often...

[More boring statistics about minority enrollment left out; See the original article if you're interested for some reason]
"Throughout this academic year, we've been thinking about ways to make the law school more welcoming," Jones said.

Nelson would like the law school to draft a policy requiring faculty to put racially related topics in context.

It seems to me that the professor in question did just that and STILL GOT CRAPPED ON, YOU IDIOTS.

"It's not that we don't want these issues talked about...

Could've fooled me.

...it's just we want them to be brought up in a sensitive manner," he said.

Well, thanks for being so specific about what "sensitive" means, moron. Apparently, making it clear that you're reading someone else's words and not endorsing the offensive usage of the words in question isn't good enough for you.

That's the end of the article, but I want to get into these issues just a bit more to illustrate how ridiculous this whole thing really is.

First and foremost, I still can't quite understand how fucking law students aren't prepared for this kind of thing. Imagine tuning in to CourtTV and seeing this:

LAWYER: Could you describe what you saw the defendant doing?

WITNESS: Well, he shot the guy twice, then he just...started stabbing him in the chest while he was on the ground begging for his life. I...I can't really talk about it anymore.

LAWYER: Did the defendant say anything to the victim?

WITNESS: I...I think he called him a..."dumb nigger," and-

LAWYER: How dare you use that word, you monster! You're a disgrace to society, and you deserve to be locked up forever!

DEFENDANT: You can't prove that I-

LAWYER: I wasn't talking to you!

...I think I got carried away again. Anyway, this kind of thing irritates the crap out of me, if you couldn't tell. People are afraid of words.


Not the context in which they're used, or the people who are using them, but the words themselves. As a result, they consider it an assault on their well-being to even hear these words.

I consider myself something of a writer, so I understand the power of language (which was apparently the subject of the lecture(s) in question), but when it gets to the point where the words themselves become the enemy, we've gone too far.

Allow me to share a few personal anecdotes to illustrate the hypersensitivity of these perpetual victims.

First of all, during my freshman year of college, I had an ethics professor (with whom I was involved in an extended debate about abortion) who used racial slurs quite often to illustrate points in class. This professor happened to be black, but if the words themselves are the problem, that shouldn't make a difference. What matters is that nobody got up and walked out of the room when he used said slurs. In fact, at one point in a lecture, he actually asked a student to "call [him] a nigger" in order to demonstrate the uselessness of epithets in an argument. The resulting dialogue went something like this:

STUDENT: Nigger!
STUDENT: Nigger!
STUDENT: Nigger!
STUDENT: Nigger!

A bit more "offensive" than the stuff in the article, even in context, right? But nobody seemed to get bent out of shape about it, and we all understood why the words in question were being used. Nobody complained that there should've been warnings or discussion. We used our brains and figured out why these words were said, and then we moved on.

Keep in mind that this was an undergraduate philosophy class, not fucking law school, so if we were all mature enough to handle this, surely a 27 year-old should be able to handle a quote that contains offensive language.

In addition, this is yet another example of the emotionalism that so dominates our society.

"It's all about how I feel! The mean professor's words made me uncomfortable! He's creating a hostile environment! Me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me!!!"

Grow. The. Fuck. Up.

You want to talk about a "hostile environment?" Try being a conservative studying communications at a liberal school and see how things go. You'll have a great time watching people in a poli-sci class come to a consensus that the broadcast media is overwhelmingly conservative, listening to your history professor imply that he would like to see the president assassinated, hearing your sociology professor suggest that only white people can be racist, having pro-Bush signs ripped off your dorm door and vandalized repeatedly, taking part in a political discussion in which it's you against 19 liberal students and a liberal professor, and overhearing a discussion in which one participant asks "have you ever met a conservative movie-maker?" (implying that they don't exist) while trying to resist the urge to say "you have now." And that's just scratching the surface!

But you know what? I don't go to the administration and complain that my feelings are being hurt and that I should be warned before I have to listen to anything I don't like. Instead, I realize that people don't agree with me, I consider their views, I speak when necessary and remain silent when necessary, and I occasionally vent on my blog, but I generally try to act like an adult, because that's what I am, and that's what you are, so for the love of crap, STOP WHINING.

Finally, let's all celebrate our great nation with a quote from the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, the pursuit of Happiness, and Never Hearing Offensive Words.

You know...something about that doesn't look right...

Posted by CD on June 3, 2006 05:50 AM | TrackBack
Category: General Stupidity | The War on Homogeneity
Semi-Intelligent Comments

Great Rant.


Posted by: tommy at June 3, 2006 11:15 PM


Posted by: CD at June 4, 2006 03:11 AM
< MTCloseComments old="10" >