Just Above Sunset
April 3, 2005 - The Uses of Philosophy













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Teaching is getting dangerous – see this - an item by someone (Jacqueline Marcus) who teaches philosophy at a college in Florida.

 

In the Florida legislature, House Republicans, on the Choice and Innovation Committee, recently voted to pass a bill that threatens to restrain academic scholars. The law would allow students to sue teachers for beliefs that do not concur with conservative perspectives. If, for example, professors argue that evolution is a scientific fact instead of a theory, and if they don’t devote equal time to creationism, under this bill, initiated by conservative David Horowitz’s campaign, students can sue the professor for being biased.

Although the bill has two more committees to pass before it can be considered by the full House, it represents a growing threat against the very foundation of scholarly research. The intended goal of this bill is to portray professors as tyrannical monsters who terrorize Republican-conservative students, rendering them into poor, helpless victims under the authority of those, ah yes, Brutal Liberal Dictators!

Indeed, the phrasing of the bill is comical. It turns the essential meaning of “liberal education” upside down: “leftist totalitarianism” by “dictator professors” in university classrooms. How’s this for an Orwellian twist? The bill is titled “The Academic Freedom Bill of Rights,” sponsored by Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala.

In this rather oppressive atmosphere, particularly if one lives in a conservative county, as I do, teaching philosophy is a dangerous occupation. It’s not quite as dangerous as being a liberal journalist, but it has its risks.

 

Whine, whine, whine …

But a good anecdote here -

 

A conservative student actually tried to push me aside at the beginning of class, dressed for the occasion in his tie and suit, with a digital camera, to deliver his Thou SHALL Kill presentation. It never occurred to him to discuss his proposal with me after class or during my office hours. He simply presumed that he was at equal status with the teacher, and that he has the “Academic Freedom” to take up precious class time with his flaky opinions on interpreting the word “kill” in the 6th Commandment.

I explained that students are paying to learn from an accredited teacher with degrees in philosophy/humanities. They’re not paying to hear HIS opinions. The test will be on Plato. He stormed out of the class and then dropped out the next day. (Praise the Lord!)

Here’s a follow-up question for Republican legislators: Some students still believe that Saddam was responsible for 9/11. Now if I were to tell them that even the Bush administration has announced that Saddam was not responsible for 9/11, under this bill, if passed, would students have the right to sue me because I clarified fact from fiction? Do I now become a Big Bad Liberal Dictator for challenging misinformation?

 

Hey, kids don’t want to learn what they don’t know to be true.

What’s the point in that?

Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis, asks questions –

 

- Will a professor be able to counter-sue the student on grounds of terminal stupidity?

- What's stopping these students from getting their full does of 'creationism' in Sunday school? Or, are they lazy - wanting 'creationism' in school so they can cut Sunday school?

Give them a good used toaster!

 

And over at FAFBLOG the Medium Lobster has this to say -

 

Freedom is ever-marching, and its latest target for emancipation is none other than the Gulag Academia, where millions of students are held hostage by totalitarian educators whose cruel practice of teaching them things they don't already believe could soon be put to an end.

Florida Republicans are considering passing an "Academic Freedom Bill of Rights" which will give college students the power to sue "dictator professors" who offend their beliefs by teaching material which contradicts them. The Medium Lobster hails this as a measure long overdue. For far too long, higher education has been concerned with "education" and "instruction," mere euphemisms for harsh indoctrination into the totalitarian ideology of Fact. But now students will be given the tools to fight back, to free themselves of their oppressive enslavement to a world in which life evolved over millions of years through natural selection, dinosaurs weren't wiped out six thousand years ago by the flood of Noah, and the evil Xemu was not responsible for the existence of body thetans.

Will students learn more in such an environment? Of course not. If any thin-skinned adolescent can mau-mau his educators into avoiding any subject that fails to reinforce his own prejudices, universities will be engaged in the antithesis of teaching. But this is precisely the point: America has done so much to oppose tyranny in the form of earthly despots that it can only proceed to liberate humanity from the greatest dictator of all: Reality, which tyrannically insists that man acknowledge That Which Is rather than That Which Would Be More Convenient For Us.

Freed from the tyranny of Reality and the dangerous threat of its advance guard, Information, America's youth will be free to live in a world consisting solely of their own pre-existing beliefs, where messy ideological review and examination of fact have become unnecessary. As usual, the Bush administration has been admirably and ably leading the charge in this direction for years.

 

America's youth will be free to live in a world consisting solely of their own pre-existing beliefs, where messy ideological review and examination of fact have become unnecessary?  So be it.































 
 
 
 

Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
 
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