Isn't that the classic response of many on the political Left when they get caught with their finger in the proverbial "cookie jar"?
The latest, almost laughable example occurred this past when a videotape of a professor of creative writing at Michigan State University, William Penn, went viral.
Don't believe The Motley Monk? Watch the video in which Penn stated:
When you get older you get cheaper, That's what old people do. If you go to a Republican convention in Florida, you see all those old people with their skins cells sloughing off them -- they're cheap.
They don't want to pay taxes because they've already raped this country and gotten everything out of it they possibly could. They don't want to pay for your tuition because who are you? Well, to me you're somebody, and [looking at a student who appears to be frowning] you can frown if you want. [Addressing that student] You look like you're frowning, are you frowning?
I absolutely don’t mean to offend you – even if you are a Republican, I don’t mean to offend you in this class. Outside of class is a different matter, O.K.?
All of this so-called "intellectual formation" is predicated on the notion that has been infiltrating higher education for the past four or five decades, namely, that higher education exists precisely to offend young peoples' sensibilities–aka, what their parents have taught them–so that students begin to define themselves and their place in the world.
There is truth in that notion. Yes, part of the undergraduate experience is intended to assist young people to define themselves and their place in the world. But, where that notion has been hijacked in recent decades is that higher education exists to seek Truth. Ideology is not Truth, if only for the reason that it is not subject to critical scrutiny, as Professor Penn demonstrated so aptly.
According to Inside Higher Education, MSU academic administrators responded promptly after the video went viral, with an MSU spokesman stating that MSU is "committed to creating a learning environment that is characterized by mutual respect and civility where diverse ideas can be explored. At a meeting, Penn acknowledged to MSU academic administrators "that some of his comments were inappropriate, disrespectful and offensive and may have negatively affected the learning environment." They then removed Penn from his teaching responsibilities...ostensibly for the remainder of this semester and perhaps because of the trouble he caused them.
Will that be the end of this story? Slapped on his wrists and after the heat recedes, Penn returns in the spring semester to resume promulgating his ideology, albeit it less stridently so or perhaps even couched in very clever linguistic turns of phrase that Penn can defend as pedagogy aimed at teaching "creative writing"?
What if that professor promulgating his or her racist, anti-homosexualist, or pro-life ideology in his or her classroom also asserted, as did Penn, "I don't mean to offend you."
Does not intending to offend someone make an offense any less?
Let the discussion begin...
To read the Inside Higher Education article, click on the following link: