November 12, 2008
Probably a stupid thing...
I just did probably a stupid thing, which is to stick my two cents into an online student forum at another campus here at Claremont on a controversial issue seemingly in defense of an ultra-right-wing student with, I'm now learning, a long reputation for offensive speech. Oh well. Life has been too calm lately. What I weighed in on was not the content of the debate (gay marriage) but the fact that 74 comments followed a post by this student which had been promptly deleted by the editor of the forum as "discriminatory" and "misleading". It was the first response to a funny little satirical piece in support of gay marriage that was quite provocative and "offensive," in a way.
There is something too sanctimonious to resist about students (and sometime faculty) who rise up to attack offensive speech, with complete freedom to lay out their arguments at great length on the premise that the original speech should not have been uttered, should be censored and removed from sight. Is there no gratitude for the opportunity? The editor and other forum staff returned several times to the ensuing debate, even quoting from the deleted post and on two occasions interpolating their opinions into the posts of the student. For me, as a scholar and fan of the Net, this is beyond the pale for an editor of such a forum.
I'm very sympathetic to arguments about a hostile environment for women, gay people, racial minorities, etc. and steps to protect them. But a self-styled campus "forum" in which an offensive statement such as this receives a rousing shout-down hardly establishes such an environment. And as several students argued on the forum, there is no right not to be offended by anybody else.
We really need public, accountable forums around campus for good, open debates. This student site could be one, and I have learned interesting facts and read well-argued opinion there in the recent past. But assuming such a role implies more civic responsibility than was exercised in this thread, anyway.
One follow-up to my post, challenged my "net-cred"...
i just don’t see a pitzer prof coming in to defend an arch-conservative cmc student without knowing the contents of his post.
...which is really the main reason I'm making this blog entry. Yes, I am who I say and I really did this probably stupid thing.
PS: It's also true that I do not know contents of the deleted post, beyond the wrong-headed but not "hateful" passages quoted by the editor in his justification. I also know that it was quickly labeled "homophobic" by Pitzer students I heard from. This, unfortunately, can mean anything.
Posted by johnn at November 12, 2008 11:28 PM
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