Image courtesy GC Hutson
Over at Simple Justice, my mentor Scott Greenfield posed a question on the lunacy that has become academia in the context of two teachers and the way their “academic freedom” is handled. I’m going to stab at answering it.
Or is it just crazy to think that there should be anyone in higher education who realizes that they’re all nuts?
It’s absolutely crazy to think anyone in higher education circles should realize they’re all nuts. Students in higher education right now have been so insulated from having uncomfortable discussions, with their lives spent largely in the digital world, that they don’t know how to effectively communicate or respond to others. Add to this the “special snowflake” mentality most parents take with their children, continually playing the role of “helicopter parent” enforced by the police state and you get a toxic combination of people who will not listen or communicate to others.
The educators are a harder nut to crack. It might be because they’re sincere in their belief structure, and truly grasp certain aspects of this lunacy.
Take a look at the image Scott posts here.
That’s a professor at Oberlin College, known heavily for being a hotbed of this new crazy that is straying from uncomfortable discussions and challenging ideas, including becoming the laughingstock of the nation when the students complained about the ethnic authenticity of food served in their college cafeteria.
It’s an awful set of ideas, and Scott makes no bones acknowledging that.
That Karega’s ideas are reprehensible is, frankly, no big deal in itself. Academics think lots of stupid thoughts. And on rare occasion, their stupid thoughts turn out to be right, which is why we let them do so without storming the Ivory Tower with torches and pitchforks.
But look at the other example Scott mentions. Andrea Quinette was chased out of her classroom because she was attempting to pander to those students she taught. She was attempting to be a communicator, and discuss her shortcomings when it came to “white privilege.” In having that discussion with her students, she ended up using the dreaded “n” word which White People Must Not Utter, and as a result is now “under investigation” for not doing what students want her to do.
In case you’re struggling to follow, it’s as nuts as it first appears. In the course of discussing her own white privilege, she used a forbidden word, prompting outrage from her students who then sent out an open letter to demand she be fired.
This is a good time to look at the way the message was sent and received. In the case of Karega, she gets a pass because of the environment in which she teaches. She’s been around a place where words hurt and harm so long that she can’t realize she’s adding to the toxicity when she posts her drivel about “Zionism.”
Quintette was, in contrast, in an environment she didn’t completely understand. She knew she wanted to convey a message and do so from a vulnerable spot. What she didn’t understand is that the students were so insulated in their own little bubbles that the moment she used a less than optimal word in communicating her message, she’d placed her neck on the chopping block.
Is it really PC hysteria, though? Is this the stifling of “academic freedom?” I’ve been turning this thought pattern in my head all morning.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s an issue of “location, setting, and message” gone completely bonkers.
Students don’t want to hear things with which they disagree. Take a look at any Facebook or Twitter account and see the number of times you see the phrase “If you disagree with me on (x), delete/unfriend me.” That’s a person who doesn’t want to have a rational, logical conversation over any uncomfortable idea.
They head to higher education, which is a business. Those who are in higher education have to justify the outrageous sums charged for tuition in degrees like “gender studies” or “race theory,” so the teaching staff is more likely to pander to the student and either attempt to discuss or propagate the “social justice” mindset, which continues to cannibalize itself on a daily basis. If you do that, and you give yourself enough time to buy into that frame of reference, then you will eventually adopt it to the point of madness.
Karega is a shining example of the lunatics completely running the asylum. Oberlin’s gotten to the point where they buy the Social Justice mindset so much they’ll never return to sanity. The location, setting, and message are all congruent to produce such an environment.
Quinette, on the other hand, is the proverbial canary in the coal mine at the University of Kansas. She’s a communications professor. She tried to communicate with people in the language she thought they understood. When she did so, without remembering the audience receiving her message, she got silenced for making students feel “uncomfortable.”
The location and setting were only slightly congruent. Quintette’s message, as a result, was completely incongruent, and that’s why she’s being punished for attempting to reach her audience on their level.
Academia is a place where people either don’t understand the concepts of “location, setting, and message” and how all three intersect work or simply just don’t care. That’s why Quinette got a roll of dimes and a ticket home, while Karega will continue to bask in the toxic Oberlin environment.
And that’s the best I can manage to answer Scott’s question in the world of Mediation is Dead.
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