September 4, 2013

"Republicans... are a bunch of dead white people. Or dying white people."

Said the college professor, secretly videoed by a student in the back row, now playing on YouTube, linked by Twitchy.

And I say: Look out all you professors. Anything you say may be taken out of context and posted on YouTube. Your hyperbole and casual humor and reenactments of the arguments of others will look quite different as the world looks over the shoulders of the captive audience you think you're talking at. The back row is no longer the back row. There are a million more rows behind that, full of people with no motive to act like they respect you.


And by the way, if you live in Wisconsin and are at least 60 years old, you have a legislature-given privilege to attend — free of tuition — classes at the University of Wisconsin.

Welcome to the future. Feel free to rant about the Panopticon wherein you find yourselves, but please at least notice you are here.

I feel like recording myself teaching and taking my own quotes out of context, as I paraphrase some argument that's made in a case, putting it in starker words to reveal problems lurking within the carefully framed language of lawyers and judges. I'd like to demonstrate how easy it would be to make me sound like a monster. (And I'm saying that partly to inoculate myself! I've got paraphrase paranoia.)

The man in the video — which I chose not to embed — is said to be a creative writing teacher. Who knows what he was up to? Maybe cranking the kids up, trying to get juices flowing. Come on, somebody, get angry. Look alive.

It's an old game. Waking up the students, but the professors need to wake up. Those students who look sleepy and blank to you all have videophones and they may be wide awake and 10 steps ahead of you.

103 comments:

Larry J said...

Yeah, and the stupid things you say in context can be exposed, too. How about shutting up with your political opinions and doing the job you were hired to do - teach! What is is about academia that puts fascists and bullies in charge of a bunch of young adults?

Gahrie said...

Because of coarse the simpliest answer that this was yet another angry Leftist professor raving against the Right secure in his tenure and Leftist bubble can't possibly be correct.

D.D. Driver said...

Come on. A college professor going on a "rich people are greedy" rant because that opinion is *provocative* to a group of 19-year-olds on a college campus?

If the prof actually thinks those opinions are the slighted bit provocative, he is a stupid man.

Tibore said...

"Who knows what he was up to? Maybe cranking the kids up, trying to get juices flowing. Come on, somebody, get angry. Look alive."

That definitely could be the case. Unfortunately, when direct context is missing, context from personal experience gets substituted instead, and like it or not, the personal experience of many outside of academia is going to be that this is a typical Ivory Tower view that's not well based in reality.

Whether that itself is accurate or not is a whole other question. I'm talking what personal experiences and perceptions are here, not whether those are supported by objective evidence.

What's ultimately bad for both this professor and the recording student is that they're enabling the sound-bite culture of context-substitution. If it turns out that this professor is simply being deliberately provocative to stimulate his students, then few will pick up on that, so the professor ends up looking bad in the eyes of people outside the classroom. And if that's the case, the student has just left him/herself wide open to criticism from the teaching faculty itself for not fairly portraying the statement, thus ending up looking bad too, but in a totally different audience's eyes.

It's always lose-lose when you don't even attempt to tell the whole story. But unfortunately, it's a symptom of societal discourse that context seems to take a backseat to sounding clever, or isolating a statement to force listeners to project onto it. None of that ever fosters good, accurate communication.

Matt said...

How do you know his comments were taken out of context? Would you say the same if he had been gay bashing instead?

-Peder said...

The obvious response from professors would be to tape all classes that they give so that they can release the context that will help them out.

Centurea said...

"Who knows what he was up to?"

Maybe saying the exact same things that my colleagues say to each other when students aren't around.

Why suspect he's putting on an act when professors (especially in English!) regularly say that sort of thing quite sincerely?

SGT Ted said...

His uttered political opinions in the classroom amount to an abuse of trust. There is nothing in a creative writing class that requires the prof to bash the GOP, or to ever express his political bigotry. Not one bit.

He is the stereotypical unprofessional leftist jackass, braying to his captive audience his racist hatreds, instead of sticking to the subject he is paid to teach. He represents everything that is wrong with Academia and should be fired for abusing his position of authority over students. No way anyone in that class that IDs themselves as GOP is going to get a fair shake from such.

surfed said...

A friend of mine lost a job at a prestigious High School Arts Academy for doing just what you mentioned. Firing up his students at 7:30 in the morning for his creative writing class while somebody had their phone on video. His comments taken completely out of context sent him packing. By the time he was called onto the carpet the "narrative" had already been set and no one, repeat no one, was interested in anything he had to say, any defense he offered, or any apology he could think up. And the saddest part? What a great teacher he was...

AustinRoth said...

Try watching the whole video. It was NOT taken out of context - it was simply part of a hate-filled rant directed at his students.

If you can find cause to defend his words, you are no better than him - you have become just another part of the Democratic Party indoctrination machine that college education has deformed itself into.

lemondog said...

Some humorous, acerbic, blunt (Here is the deal, Professor Penn is an asshole.) Student Ratings

Gets a 3.41. All the bad reviews are probably from, ya know, icky republicans.....

Any relation to the other William Penn?

tim in vermont said...

You're right. The idea that a college professor could hold such beliefs is ridiculous. I am sure it is just coincidence that we never seem to hear about cases that fall the other way.

I am a racist for even entertaining the possibility that the professor reads left wing blogs and repeats what he reads there.

Matthew Sablan said...

It's funnier when we do it to politicians.

traditionalguy said...

Non-persons label is the first stage in extermination propaganda. Obama Care Death Panels have been given the green light.

C R Krieger said...

Over 60 and free for in class or also for on line?  Here in Massachusetts I am waging a losing one person battle to expand the $30 per semester fee for those over 60 and Vets to include on line courses.

It is a "color of money issue".

Thanks

Regards  —  Cliff

Michael E. Lopez said...

The problem is not what the Professor said, at least not necessarily. You're right, Ann, that context is important. And in his defense, it seems like the Professor in question is trying very hard not to be mean. (Although he may be so ideologically blinkered that he thinks he's just stating facts.)

The problem -- to the extent that there is one -- is that regardless of whether it's supposed to be provoking, or putting forward a point of view, or indoctrination, or harmless jest... these sorts of polemics always happen to go the same way EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

Between Law School and College and my PhD, I've spent 13 years as a student in higher education, and I've *never* heard a professor go off even jokingly about Democrats. The closest I've seen is Professors making points about issues that are characteristically right-wing -- and that only twice that I can think of. But the number of snide remarks and jokes and insults hurled the direction of Republicans defies memory.

I'm reminded of the water polo team at my high school, the members of which spent a ferocious amount of time and energy kicking and slapping each other in the crotch.

That was all in good fun. Context matters, even when individual acts appear somewhat brutal.

But if you saw two kids, and one of them was kicking the other in the nuts *EVERY DAY* and never got kicked, would you trust the reassurance that it was all in fun?

For my part, I'd have suspicions. I'd have suspicions even if they both HONESTLY BELIEVED it was in good fun.

Bill R said...

Wake them up? With tired old drivel like that? It put me right to sleep.

Illuninati said...

Althouse said:
"Look out all you professors. Anything you say may be taken out of context and posted on YouTube."

I'm not a professor and I do not have to give that hateful man anything. We both know that if the professor had directed that type of racist hate speech towards black people he wouldn't last a day on the job regardless of the context. Because Obama is president, the haters in the Democrat party feel empowered to spew their bilge over everyone else.

Ann Althouse said...

I'm not saying it was good "wake up" material. I'm only speculating about what he might have been trying to do, why understanding it from a different angle makes it less awful than it seems.

If you watch the whole clip, you'll see at the end that he says: Who would want to be Mitt Romney? And then: Who would want to be married to Ann Romney? Then he says more that's nasty toward Ann Romney.

That struck me as trying to get a rise out of people. Who would want to be Mitt Romney? Someone who'd like to have hundreds of millions of dollars and 5 handsome, successful sons, and lots and lots of grandchildren.

Who would want to be married to Ann Romney? A guy who wants a beautiful, adoring wife who will bear him 5 beautiful sons and love them and him for a lifetime. That's obvious, and to go after the wife of the candidate is so antagonizing and gratuitous, and it struck me as sexist.

He could be thinking: What would it take to get these complacent, silent people to say now you've gone too far?

That's not saying he's doing a good job, just that things are not necessarily what you think they are the first go 'round as you slot the evidence into the convenient template that Twitchy gives you.

Matthew Sablan said...

As to why things always fall one way: It is the same reason in a farce, if someone has to get hit, it is going to be a man. It isn't funny to see a woman get hit in the groin; it isn't going to wake up students to challenge them by asking how Syria is different from Iraq.

Though, it is a creative writing class: He could very easily be giving an example of something trite and dull. A "don't do this" type of example.

Or not. I'm too lazy to watch the video (which is why I'm non-committal on what the professor did. Maybe it was bad. Maybe it wasn't. Whatever way it was, it wasn't enough of it for me to care.)

Drago said...

Nothing says "taken out of context" like entertaining the idea that it is beyond the pale to even consider being married to someone like Ann Romney.

This is just part of the standard, run of mill, heard every day calumny against anyone not of the leftist/democrat faith on campus.

Every. Single. Day.

But hey, don't you dare refer to immigrants who are here illegally as "illegal immigrants".

That kind of utterance could probably get you a quick suspension and scolding at UCLA.

That's right Ann. It's all just a big misunderstanding.

Matthew Sablan said...

To expand: There are acceptable targets. In general, Republicans are an acceptable target (though I'm not surprised he'd also go after Ann Romney. Even her *horse* was considered an acceptable target, remember. Remember: She wasn't a real woman during the campaign according to the more strident partisans.)

This goes through cycles: There was a time Democrats were an acceptable target. Lines like: "I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat." and the like.

MayBee said...

I would believe he wants to be provocative if our own president's campaign hadn't portrayed Mitt Romeny as a really terrible kind of heartless man.

Brian said...

Well, are we taking the student's work out of context? Perhaps the student intends to "create" a semester-long multimedia project in which edited videos are used to tell a fictionalized story about an asshole prof and his persecuted students. This might just be Episode 1, complete with foreshadowing about what might happen "outside of class."

Yeah, yeah, I know it looks like a simple gotcha game of "hey, my prof is an asshole!" But if we are to apply Occam's Butterknife to what the prof is doing, why shouldn't we apply it to what the student is doing as well?

Rocketeer said...

Oh, I dunno. Occam's Razor and all that. I suspect it's analogous to the way WFB felt about Buchanan at the end.

Henry said...

Dead white people can be good company.

gregq said...

Dear professors:

Want to be truly provocative? Bash the left. Bash the received wisdom of the academic, cultural, and political left.

Not willing to do that? Then STFU with the politics and teach. And if you can't teach w/o bashing the right, get ready to be fired, for cause.

Bashing the right is the cowards move, because everyone else is doing it, and it's safe within your peer group.

grackle said...

The man in the video — which I chose not to embed — is said to be a creative writing teacher. Who knows what he was up to? Maybe cranking the kids up, trying to get juices flowing. Come on, somebody, get angry. Look alive.

Sure … sure – the nice professor was simply trying to get the students to "look alive …" That's why he threatens a student in front for the effrontery of merely frowning at his typical left-wing Progressive college professor Republican-targeted hate speech.

And the accusation flung at that student of "closet" racism and the threat of reprisal – because the student was frowning at his drivel?

Why, surely the professor was only trying to give the student a taste of reality that the student will face if and when the student has the temerity to attempt to debate a lefty, as in, "You’re a racist because shut up."

Yes, indeed – "Who knows what he was up to?" I'm trying to stifle my laughter but not really succeeding.

MadisonMan said...

That's not saying he's doing a good job

He's far too predictable. That's his problem. Any professor can get up in front of class and ramble on with Liberal Talking Points. I'm sure the kids in the class have all heard it before.

They're probably all thinking Sure, but Professor Jones over in PoliSci said it better!

gregq said...

"He could be thinking: What would it take to get these complacent, silent people to say now you've gone too far?"

Say the same things about Barack Obama.

And until that double standard changes, I'm all in favor of crucifying every single "professor" caught on tape saying things like this.

Jefe Blanco said...

I don't know Ann. I understand you're trying your best to defend another academic, but I don't think that's such a good idea. People like Mr. Penn have severely damaged the credibility of your profession.

I suspect the Collegiate Learning Assessment will catch on. If so, it will utterly destroy professors like this, and schools that hire his ilk. You've been warned.

Uncle Pavian said...

Look for more professors to ban video recording of their classes, and for university administrators to back them up.

Strelnikov said...

That's the lesson? "Look out all you professors"?

Paraphrase: It's ok to think and do these awful things. Just don't get caught.

Clayton Hennesey said...

I recognized somewhere around my sophomore year that one of the best guides to academia was Anne Rice's Interview With the Vampire.

Tenured day walkers strolling through holding pens.

Emil Blatz said...

I sat in the back row regularly at the UW Law School in the late 80's/early 1990's. I worked full-time and had to bag a lunch and eat that quietly while taking notes in a mid-day lecture. Then back to the office, then back for evening classes. The hard part was not making too much noise un-bagging/un-wrapping a sub-sandwich (or a slab of Rocky's) and accessories. Back in those days there were perhaps one laptop, maybe two in a lecture hall with 80 students. Keyboards were louder then and that gave some cover.

I was always aware of the 60+ audit privilege while at UW (over nearly 10 years of education there), but it seemed that I only saw 2-3 people who were ever taking advantage of it. And they kept their mouths shut.

Two questions for Prof. Althouse:

1. How many Seniors do you see auditing classes?

2. What percentage of your students are hammering away on laptops/tablets during your lectures?

Paco Wové said...

"He could be thinking: What would it take to get these complacent, silent people to say now you've gone too far?"

While his 'complacent', silent students all think, whoa, this guy's such a partisan whackjob I'd better just keep my mouth shut in here.

traditionalguy said...

us old white men are in deep trouble by the Demographics calculations that are so loved by Obama's gang.

Although we are 30% of the people , we are only 2% gay and 0% non-white. Ergo we are the new despised underclass Kulaks. So when the gleefully Marxists kill us , they get to redistribute what is left of the retirement investments we hoarded during the Reagan Economic Miracle, and getting the last laugh is an exciting thought.

Cedarford said...

Michael E. Lopez - " And in his defense, it seems like the Professor in question is trying very hard not to be mean."

-----------------
I disagree. In the middle of his guilty white , racist rant, he threatens any student that may disagree with his politics.

He says "I'm a college professor. If any of you are a closet racist, if I find out you are a closet racist, I'm coming after you."

He doesn't mention his criteria, or exactly how he would retaliate against "closet racists" (bad grade, encouraging any in his class to denounce or target a Romney supporter??) - but the threat is there.
And the safest thing for students in a class where you have a white-loather prof is to agree with him. Best of all, through indoctrination, convince yourself he is right so you don't have to lie about your own beliefs..It's easier that way. This is classic Jewish Bolshevik method. Emulated by Nazis, by the Chicommies, the Kims of N Korea, and various Cults.

If there is constant danger from disagreeing on a point the Commissar makes, one slip up leaving you exposed to expulsion from university, your job, a stint in the Gulags or camps, even execution.....You know the best outcome is if you can come to accept the Commissars beliefs and therefore escape danger, the one slip up you make with friends or family that is reported to the authorities.
You must learn to love Big Brother. Win favor by exposing those still unwilling to accept his correct thoughts, as you readily did.


The Bolshevik method works. The people truly loved Stalin. The NORK people by and large outright worship the Kim Family.

Matt said...

Professor, you are not the only smart person here. What makes you think anyone needed Twitchy to tell them how to think about this? You are not smarter because you jumped to the far less likely explanation for the video.

Try being logical. If his intent was to rile up his students, why attack a conservative? Young people tend to lean more to the left politically. Would it not have made more sense to attack the President and Mrs. Obama?

You said that his statements about Ann Romney struck you as sexist. Could that not be because he is sexist? Is it hard to imagine that a liberal professor can be sexist?

What is the basis for your conclusion that he is just trying to wake up his students? If and when he gets canned, will admit getting this one wrong?

Ann Althouse said...

Why would anyone expect him to be good?

That's a creative writing class, and look at the size of it!

How could anybody be good in that situation? Who takes that job? Who takes that class?

Nothing there makes sense!

Making a viral YouTube out of a snippet of it is a flailing, lame self-defense.

It would be better to ask yourself what you're doing in a place like that.

As Bob Dylan sang: "And you ask why I don't live here/Honey, how come you don't leave?"

Andy Freeman said...

> What would it take to get these complacent, silent people to say now you've gone too far?

However, the more likely explanation is that he thinks that no decent person would want to be evil Mitt Romney and that's the message that he's trying to get across.

As far as your "who wouldn't want to be rich and have a nice family" argument goes, Romney was attacked for both by the good professor's fellow-travelers during the election. What's the basis for thinking that that's changed?

If you're going to argue that he didn't mean what he said, you should provide some evidence, not hypotheticals which are inconsistent with the available evidence.

Matt said...

"Why would anyone expect him to be good?"

Ah-Ha! I get it now! He is a prof at Michigan State. Big Ten rival. You as a UW prof would not expect him to be good. Me, as a UW alum, would agree!

"Making a viral YouTube out of a snippet of it is a flailing, lame self-defense."

Self-defense of what? Taking the class. According to the web site, it was the first day of class. Perhaps the student dropped it afterward. Perhaps he'll go back for more videos!

Why take the class? Maybe it fulfills one of the myriad, pointless requirements for getting a degree.

Why teach the class? Captive audience for his political preening. Guaranteed job for life (assuming tenure and not getting canned for being an asshat).

Big Mike said...

That's not saying he's doing a good job, just that things are not necessarily what you think they are the first go 'round as you slot the evidence into the convenient template that Twitchy gives you.

And you know what, Professor? I. Do. Not. Give. A. Shit. Defend him all you like. It just brings you down to his level.

madAsHell said...

I thought dead white people only voted for Democrats.

Disparaging Ann Romney makes him sound jealous, and petty. He is over-compensating for something else that is missing in his life.

Rocketeer said...

How could anybody be good in that situation? Who takes that job? Who takes that class?

Nothing there makes sense!


I don't think I've ever seen a shrewder or more damning rebuke of the world built by the Gramscians, of which Penn clearly is one - proffered alternatives aside.

Aaron said...

I'm sure its the first time he ever spent class time on such political ranting...and the student just got lucky and decided to film that day.

/sarc

Meanwhile Althouse is acting like a cop who backs up her partner who just committed police brutality.

"Da suspect fell down da stairs."

Emmster said...

I'm willing to believe the video simply based on his reviews (thanks for the link, Lemondog!). Here are a few highlights, from comments left before this particular video was posted on YouTube:
"Picks on the attractive girls in classes. Penn presents a facade of being liberal minded and claims to love women, homosexuals and people of all race, but then progresses and perpetuates detrimental stereotypes about all three. He claims to love gay men because they "dress well and appreciate art." He refers to women as "puntas" and cougars."

"Penn is over the top liberal and doesn't accept any other views or ideas. If you dont believe the same things as him then he makes fun of you."

"Penn is racist, sexist, ignorant, and downright offensive."

And this coming from a professor at my alma mater...

Emmster said...

I'm willing to believe the video simply based on his reviews (thanks for the link, Lemondog!). Here are a few highlights, from comments left before this particular video was posted on YouTube:
"Picks on the attractive girls in classes. Penn presents a facade of being liberal minded and claims to love women, homosexuals and people of all race, but then progresses and perpetuates detrimental stereotypes about all three. He claims to love gay men because they "dress well and appreciate art." He refers to women as "puntas" and cougars."

"Penn is over the top liberal and doesn't accept any other views or ideas. If you dont believe the same things as him then he makes fun of you."

"Penn is racist, sexist, ignorant, and downright offensive."

And this coming from a professor at my alma mater...

sonicfrog said...

I'm on Ann's side on this.

It's quite possible he was baiting the students to get them interested. I had a history teacher in college who would rant about such things that sounded crazy, stuff you would never hear people say, including berating Lincoln and Washington. At first we were incensed and shocked. But eventually, when we started challenging him, and then he lowered the boom and challenged us...

"How do you KNOW you're right????"

That ended up being an eye opener.

That may have been the point where I started getting interested in history.

I also had a math instructor who couldn't seem to get the equations right when doing them on the board. To this day, I have no idea if he was trying to get us to do the equations ourselves, or if he really did have a hard time and was actually filing his own class.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Prof Althouse: "It would be better to ask yourself what you're doing in a place like that. "

Yeah, those students were asking for it, no doubt about it.

"That's a creative writing class, and look at the size of it!"

What did they expect? Fairminded instruction? Not dressed like that, I mean, not with a classroom that big, for creative writing no less!

Marshal said...

That's not saying he's doing a good job, just that things are not necessarily what you think they are the first go 'round as you slot the evidence into the convenient template that Twitchy gives you.

Things also do not necessarily slot into the convenient template of least-damaging-to-academia. The fact that something else might be ocurring isn't strong evidence of anything.

How could anybody be good in that situation? Who takes that job? Who takes that class?

I think this point supports the original interpretation. When you're weak on the merits you need to emphasize your other assets.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Prof Althouse: "It would be better to ask yourself what you're doing in a place like that. "

Yeah, those students were asking for it, no doubt about it.

"That's a creative writing class, and look at the size of it!"

What did they expect? Fairminded instruction? Not dressed like that, I mean, not with a classroom that big, for creative writing no less!

bensix said...

grackle -

And the accusation flung at that student of "closet" racism and the threat of reprisal – because the student was frowning at his drivel?

If you watch the whole video, the comment about closet racists was aimed at the whole class, before he asked the student why they were frowning. Campus Reform changed the chronology of the clips they used.

Which does not mean that I think it was appropriate to launch into such a strange diatribe but that one should try to watch clips in their proper context, because the potential for biased and malicious editing, or just misinterpretation, is dangerous.

Matthew Sablan said...

As an aside, the way people are describing this video, it sounds kind of over-the-top. Remember about things that are too good to be true. Especially with Althouse's comments about the room not being particularly full.

If I get home and watch the video, maybe I'll weigh in on my instincts towards its truthiness.

rabbit said...

"Anything you say may be taken out of context and posted on YouTube."

The full video is 9 minutes 32 seconds long and many of the most controversial remarks are near the middle. It's difficult to see how anything was taken out of context in this instance.

MartyH said...

The professor is ill prepared and just free associating as he tries to introduce himself to his students. He does not seem to have any notes to refer to. He rambles from topic to topic (from money to rabbits to how he isn't PC to Romneys and Republicans) without any coherent train of thought. He didn't take the time to have typed course handouts ready.

He obviously does not take the first day of class very seriously; somehow, I doubt that the rest of his educational methods demonstrate any more rigor than that shown here.

Steve said...

I gave it a shave with Occam's razor:

The professor is just an asshole.

JackOfClubs said...

Who knows what he was up to? Maybe cranking the kids up, trying to get juices flowing. Come on, somebody, get angry. Look alive.

I would me more inclined to consider this angle if it weren't always Republicans who were the butt of these examples. If he had said, "College professors are a bunch of dying white people," he would have much the same effect. In fact, it would be even more startling since it creates immediate dissonance along the lines of, "All Cretans are liars." Of course, he would have to change the topic to racism on campus instead of voter suppression in the South, but if all he is trying to do is wake people up, that shouldn't be a problem for a Creative Writing class. Unless the guy turns out to actually be a Republican, I am not inclined to give him a pass.

Alex said...

Ah I see Cedarford just HAD to trot out his antisemitic remarks.

sonicfrog said...

On the other hand.... Being a part-time teacher, yeah, I've heard plenty of crap like this from teachers when they think they are in safe company.

Biff said...

The Professor said, "Why would anyone expect him to be good?...{snip}...Making a viral YouTube out of a snippet of it is a flailing, lame self-defense."

Given the power differential between (1) a tenured, full professor who claims Native American heritage, who has won a range of awards for his writing, and who won his university's Distinguished Faculty Award and (2) an undergraduate student in an introductory creative writing course, a "flailing, lame self-defense" may be the only obvious means of defense available to the student, particularly if the student is a moderate or leans to the right.

MadisonMan said...

That's a creative writing class, and look at the size of it!

Who grades all the writing!

Birkel said...

Hear, hear, Althouse!
How could anybody expect a person hired to do a job -- any job -- actually be good at the job at hand?

Is that just you trying to be all professorial in an attempt to stir the masses?

C Stanley said...

The hyothesis that he is trying to get them to speak up fails when you note that the one student who gave some sort of mild push back was told to shut up.

As for whether the students should just leave or shouldn't have been taking that class to begin with, as often happens I find you presume that most people have much more agency in their choices of life than most really do have.

gregq said...

"It would be better to ask yourself what you're doing in a place like that."

You're taking a class you have to take to graduate, that's what you're doing. With a left-wing commissar threatening you if you ever reveal any thoughts he doesn't like.

What can you do? You can expose scum like his to the world. And that's what this good student did.

gregq said...

"I'm on Ann's side on this.

It's quite possible he was baiting the students to get them interested."

Sorry, but that's a load of crap. The odds are high that a majority of those students were Obama supporters. Want to bait them? Trash Obama, not Romney.

He's just another left wing thug abusing his position to attack, intimidate, and indoctrinate students.

gregq said...

Ann Althouse asked...

Why would anyone expect him to be good?

Because he's being paid to be good. And if he isn't good, he should be fired, and replaced by someone who is.

Because there's most certainly a LOT of people out there with Ph.D.s in English who would LOVE to have his job.

If he can't hack it, the university should get rid of him, and replace him with someone who will actually teach.

William said...

I watched the video. I got the impression that he was saying what he believed. What he said wasn't provocative. Agitprop is as banal as a BOMFOG 4th of July speech. If he does such a poor job of editing his own comments, one questions his skill as a creative writing teacher......You get the impression that he only knows people who agree with him or pretend to agree with him. There's a Dylan line about it makes no sense to talk to you, it's just the same as talking to myself.

Larry J said...

rabbit said...
"Anything you say may be taken out of context and posted on YouTube."

The full video is 9 minutes 32 seconds long and many of the most controversial remarks are near the middle. It's difficult to see how anything was taken out of context in this instance.


A liberal professor being "taken out of context" is the same as a politician who accidentally gets caught saying what he really believes.

Birches said...

I had plenty of engaging professors in classes much larger than that and some about the same size. Try taking World History to 1500. Should be a horrible class. Was not. Because the Professor genuinely cared about his profession as a teacher and a researcher and not just his tenure.

I agree that a ten minute clip might not be a great representation of the sum of that prof's talents. But the fact that someone decided to start filming means it probably happens a lot. And that's why its so ridiculous.

Birches said...

And really, I'm not sure why anyone should be unhappy to be married to Ann Romney. Because they are genuinely happy people and probably would be without their millions.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

What MartyH said, and then some. The staggering level of un-preparedness (for the first day of class, yet!) would be shocking even without the political content.

The context in the fuller video does him no favors; quite the contrary. In fact, the splicing in the edited version makes it seem as though this was a small portion of a much larger talk, in which case your point about context might make sense. What you actually see in the full version is someone who just can't keep his mind off politics for more than about two minutes, and keeps borderline-threatening his students with reprisals for crimethink, while immediately backtracking each time to make a joke out of it. Meanwhile, he manages to spend nine and a half minutes lecturing without getting remotely near the ostensible topic of the course. The closest he gets, in fact, is to describe a passage he promises to type up "for next time" so that his students can read it. I guess the whole goddamned summer was not long enough to get the reading handouts for the first day of class prepared.

If I'd had an elective class where the first day's lecture looked like this, there would not have been (for me) a second day's lecture. I went to UC/Berkeley, so I had some very far-left profs, but they could also, you know, teach.

And Ann,

Making a viral YouTube out of a snippet of it is a flailing, lame self-defense.

(1) Self-defense against what? On finding out that the course that you signed up for turned out, on the first day of class, to be run by a jackass? How's the student supposed to know that beforehand? (Yes, course evaluations, sure, but I never trusted them, and I don't see why anyone should, particularly.)

(2) You don't "make a viral video"; you make a video and then it becomes viral if enough people pass it on to other people.

richard mcenroe said...

"Who knows what he was up to? Maybe cranking the kids up, trying to get juices flowing."

Yeah. That's what he was doing. Just like John Kerry when he told those Ivy League legacy brats they were smarter than the men and women who went to Iraq.

madAsHell said...

This is from his faculty web page:

W.S. Penn teaches in the Creative Writing Program and is one of the founding members of the Native American Writer' ' s Circle (initially the Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers).

He's got the Lie-awatha credential.
Are his cheekbones high enough??

richard mcenroe said...

Oh,and by the way, when we dying white people finally do kick off, we're taking the light bulbs, running water and paved roads with us. Welcome to the rest of the world.

Scott M said...

How do you know his comments were taken out of context? Would you say the same if he had been gay bashing instead?

Or if he was Michael Richards?

lemondog said...

William S. Penn has made Wiki

He is mixed-race Nez Perce and older (age 64), than I thought based on the photo image, and apparently under investigation by MSU.

raf said...

Persons in a position of authority, like professors or police, should be routinely video recorded when performing their official functions. It improves their professionalism is they know they are being watched.

Unknown said...

"It would be better to ask yourself what you're doing in a place like that."

Here is a news flash for you, Professor: The kids (or whoever is paying their tuition) own that classroom. The asshat "Professor" works for them. I know you academics think that your shit don't stink, and that the filthy little ragamuffins should be greatful to be in the company of such stalwart braniacs, but the reality is that they are expecting something for their money not some pompous ass proselitizing about how evil conservatives are. I can't wait for the higher ed collapse. The thought of paying umpteen thousands to send my daughter to school to be surrounded by complete fuckhead Professors and admins makes my head want to explode. Your true colors are showing. I am sure you will vote for Hillary! because she is the most qualified, not because she is a woman. Just like you did for Obama.

Hyphenated American said...

At the very least, this dumbass professor needs a thorough diversity training. He needs to understand that not everyone of his students is a brain-dead liberal.

eddie willers said...

Lines like: "I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat." and the like.

The last time that line was used, talkies had just come in.

Leit Bart said...

Baiting, my a**. I'm sure glad a few other folks here watched the entire 9+ minute clip (readily available at the "viral-video" link).

As @Rabbit or @Larry J said, it does this haughty fellow no favors. He pulls a Bill-Maher-freudian-racist slip and says "Jose" washes Ann Romney's car. He asks his students to imagine being married to Mrs. Romney while extolling Michelle Obama (who is, "as far as I'm concerned, a great woman").

Indeed, our magnanimous hero says college tuition should be funded by the taxpayers.

This was no "wake-up" material; it was his wind-up material.

The clip captured the end of the "lecture." It's at the beginning of this finale where you'll hear him advocate for taxpayer-funded "free" college tuition. This suggests the student had finally had enough and started recording.

Ann, I'm surprised, in your sensitive-to-euthenasia state, that you weren't offended by his "dead skin cells washing (wafting?) off of old people" comment.

But what I would really like to know is how much this single "lecture" cost these students. Or, should I be asking how much it will cost me?

From Inwood said...

Alex

You write:

"Ah I see Cedarford just HAD to trot out his antisemitic remarks."

Maybe you're taking C4 out of context here!

Look, as Prof A says (paraphrase!):

Anything you say may be taken out of context and ... [C4's] hyperbole and casual humor and reenactments of the arguments of others will look quite different as the world looks over the shoulders of the captive audience [he]think[s he's] talking at...

I'd like to demonstrate how easy it would be to make C4 sound like [an anti Semite] monster... (Who knows what he was up to? Maybe cranking the [audience here]up, trying to get [Jews, OOPS] juices flowing.

It's an old game. Waking up the commenters.... (Gurgle, Gurgle)

Harold House said...

I gather there was no possible counter-argument....no no...I'm sure of it.

CWJ said...

I wasn't interested in commenting or digging deeper into this fellow until I read the Amerindian angle and realised that THAT was the hook from which his writing and reputation hung.

Went looking for photos and only found a 14yo photo and interview. He checks all the boxes and touches every multi-culti base as he rounds the diamond safe at home.

He doesn't look one bit Amerindian (brown hair green eyes etc.), but that doesn't deter him. After all, he tells us no one is 100% pure blood Amerindian anymore and he (noble fellow) is not into counting blood drops. Yeah, with his looks no kidding! News flash to WSPenn, no one is 100% anything anymore.

The cherry on top of his poor multiculti soul was his claim that it would somehow have been easier for him HAD he been more pure and looked more like an Amerindian.

Oh brother!!!!!!!

AprilApple said...

We need more anti-leftwing democrat fascist rants.

Douglas said...

I invite my students to audio record my lectures and post them online. That's primarily because English is their second language and they don't get everything the first time. But then again, I don't use my classes to browbeat students about politics.

Fernandinande said...

Maybe cranking the kids up, trying to get juices flowing.

http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/ShowRatings.jsp?tid=95961

Many complaints about his stupid and inappropriate political rants.

Lem said...

Feel free to rant about the Panopticon wherein you find yourselves, but please at least notice you are here.

I became familiar with what a Panopticon was when I looked it up reading this article about Google glass.

When you Google a Wikipedia page, the person you’re with can peer over your shoulder to read it with you. People gather around phones to watch YouTube videos or look at a funny tweet together or jointly analyze a text from a friend. With Glass, there was no such sharing — and as Clive points out, because you often can’t tell whether someone is using it at all, it becomes your own private Panopticon. Even when it’s not on, you assume it is, and then it snubs you.

When a Spouse Puts on Google Glass
By EMILY NUSSBAUM

Ben G. said...

Lemondog -

No relation to William Penn - Founder of Pennsylvania - at least through the male line. That died out in the 1860s, through both wives offspring. There were illegitimate children from some sons though. The apple did fall far from the tree with the Penn family.

gk1 said...

Oh brother professor, you are pulling our collective legs. I watched the whole thing. "Taken out of context" is the first defense of bigots and people who have just committed career suicide after saying dumb things. Yeah, how provocative ripping on republicans on a college campus. That never, ever, ever happens.

Hyphenated American said...

Contrast this idiot professor with the rodeo clown. As I remember, the rodeo clown was blacklisted from his profession and NAACP demanded FBI to investigate and prosecute him.

Could someone contrast althouse treatment of the clown versus the professor?

richardsson said...

I don't think anyone serious about creative writing would take this class on this subject. These students surely have heard this all before; it's like a bad song played too many times before on the radio. As for creative writing, the best book was written by Dorothea Brande back in the 1930's. She might be a dead white woman but she knew what she was writing about. She said you had to get up early in the morning, every morning and write. No coffee, no cigarettes, no breakfast, just write. And Hemingway would add, if you get discouraged, well you should be discouraged.

But, I'm glad these students did this. Exposure like sunlight kills and disinfects. I wish this man a future full of empty chairs.

Yuan Sui said...

Blizzard is very nervous regarding unique currency trading stores selling WoW Silver, should you ever read their own on the internet community, you'll notice that you will find loads of news about suspending gold the maqui fruits fruits fruits city entrepreneurs using their designs. http://www.fitwowgold.com
Buy WOW Gold
RS Gold

AlanKH said...

The prof sounds like an internet troll. If a lot of higher ed were replaced with online comments threads, would there be any impact on grades? Of course, replacing chunks of academia with dirt-cheap websites means that profs like this can't get rich like they do now.

Saint Croix said...

The worst part is not the ranting about Republicans who aren't in the room. Easily the worst part is his search for Republicans in the room.

"You can frown if you want. You look like you're frowning. Are you frowning?"

The student hasn't said anything! He's picked her out of the group and is challenging her to get with the program and smile at what he is saying. She is singled out for frowning.

And then he says...

"I am a college professor. If I find out you are a closet racist I am coming after you."

It's beyond liberal rant. He is taking an incredibly antagonistic stance toward his own student, accusing her of imaginary crimes and threatening retaliation.

Crimso said...

"It's quite possible he was baiting the students to get them interested. I had a history teacher in college who would rant about such things that sounded crazy, stuff you would never hear people say, including berating Lincoln and Washington."

But you've just given a reason why your (and Althouse's) position on this makes less sense. History professor: makes over-the-top comments about Lincoln and Washington. English professor: makes over-the-top comments about Republicans. If this guy was doing what your history instructor was doing, he'd be railing against Shakespeare and Melville.

I somehow manage to teach about evolution at the molecular level without pissing anyone off. And it's not because I dance around it. I directly address the issue that it is controversial to some people. More to the point, I do so without feeling as though I NEED to piss people off.

Thought experiment: I say to my students "I find out you're a closet creationist, I'm coming after you." Know what? None of my goddamned fucking business what the religious beliefs are of ANY of my students. And evolution is very much germane to the material I teach.

A professor so deliberately offensive and threatening ("I'm coming after you") should be immediately fired, tenured or not. What was it Larry Summers said that was so bad (rhetorical question)?

Paul said...

The student he was addressing makes an appearance in the comments and verifies that the professor was dead serious, and that this is an ongoing theme in his class which the student felt compelled to drop in order to keep his GPA up.

Phaedrus said...

Wasn't there a recent case where a student was a former marine or member of the armed forces took offense and punched a professor making these kind of remarks?

That's the kind of context I would not find too objectionable.

I know I know violence is never a solution (unless you can use a drone.)

This guy reminds me of the professor rant (from the opposite side of the aisle) in Rod Dangerfield's Back to School.

Swede said...

What is it with these pale "Indian" professors and their propensity to be such douchebags?

sonicfrog said...

Crimso said:

..English professor: makes over-the-top comments about Republicans. If this guy was doing what your history instructor was doing, he'd be railing against Shakespeare and Melville....


Creative writing classes typically won't deal much with Shakespeare and Melville.

That said, I'm ultimately in your camp. He was being serious. In which case, his comments are horrendous.

It seems he's already been fired. Good.

Now he'll have more time to not protest against Obama's march to war.

RonF said...

Prof. Penn has been removed from teaching duties. Whether he's been fired or just put on ice until the heat dies down is yet to be determined. It should be noted that in 2003 he was awarded the university's Distinguished Faculty Award.

From the Detroit Free Press:

William Penn’s class Thursday at Michigan State University lasted just under 10 minutes.

That was just long enough for teaching assistants to read a note saying the noted creative writing professor wouldn’t be teaching them anymore and a new instructor would be in place on Tuesday.

Penn, a tenured professor, was pulled from all his classes Thursday in the wake of videotaped comments he made during a previous class attacking Republicans in general, and Mitt and Ann Romney in particular. He said Republicans had “raped” the country.

...

Penn remains an employee of the university, and will continue to draw his $146,510 salary. No decision has been made about whether he will teach next semester, MSU officials said.

Strelnikov said...

On a long enough timeline, we're all dead white people.