Imagine a group of political science and journalism students having to sit through and dutifully listen to a boring public lecture by a journalist who's describing voting demographics. Superadd to that the fact that the journalist is a male, associate professor of political science.
When the journalist asks the students in attendance why young people don't vote, one female student responds that students don't understand the political system and find it complicated.
That's where the story at St. Thomas University (Canada) gets very interesting. The male, associate professor, Shaun Narine, blurted out a something that no academic should ever state in public to a female student: "Read a book for God's sake!"
Some in the audience applauded.
On campuses today, blurting what one thinks about stupidity is not decorus because "put downs" are "out." They are demeaning and make people feel badly.
Commenting on the ruckus, one not decorous person noted in a post:
Oh, please. Today's undergraduates are way too coddled. The
student got a real world response to a ridiculous comment she
felt entitled to make out loud because no one had ever told her
how ridiculous she sounds. Good. Now she knows that the emperor
has no clothes.So what should be done to engage younger voters,
make the political system easier for them to understand? LOL!
But, many others--some of whom were not present in the audience--were outraged. On most campuses today, this constitutes decorous conduct. Being "offended" is "in"...even if you weren't there to be offended.
One student who was present in the audience wrote in letter to the editor:
[W]hen it came to my attention that it was a professor here at STU,
I was appalled. My communications class had a conversation about
this immediately after the lecture, and it was agreed by most that
this student should be praised for raising such a pertinent point to
the audience. In no way she should have been made to feel inferior
in this way.
But, what really counts today is that most students in the class agreed that Professor Narine was way out of line. After all, he may know something about politics and demography. But, Narine evidently doesn't understand anything about how people in his audience feel. That's what counts.
What a sluggard! He's nothing more than a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal.
One student who was not present in the audience wrote in the student newspaper, The Aquinian:
"...when I heard that a STU professor actually heckled a student
who had voluntarily engaged herself in the political conversation,
I must admit I was madder than a wet hen."
Metaphorically speaking, this student--who was so easily offended upon hearing second-hand reports of what Professor Narine was reported to have said--must have grown up on a farm.
The good news is that Professor Narine has learned his lesson. In retrospect, Narine says that even though the point he made was legitimate, he regrets expressing his thoughts aloud. He told Maclean's:
I was as surprised by my outburst as anybody else. I was listening
to the student speak and I became increasingly frustrated with the
fact that she seemed to be saying that she did not know anything
about politics. It wasn’t the arcane facts. It seemed to be the most
basic things like what does it mean to vote? What is Parliament?
All those sorts of things. My frustration was very great. I guess I
felt that this was the sort of stuff that every responsible citizen
should know. Out of that frustration I ended up doing something
which I sincerely regret doing.
I sincerely believe academia is a place where we should have rational
and reasonable discussion. I don’t believe in heckling people and I
don’t believe in embarrassing students and I don’t believe in screaming
at people in frustration and in all of those respects I certainly did not
live up to my own standards or expectations.
Assessing his lack of sensitivity to how people may feel about how he feels about stupidity, Narine has since apologized to the student.
The Motley Monk is left wondering: When's the Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson going to apologize?
Ho! Ho! Ho!
Let the discussion begin...
To read the article in Macleans, click on the following link: