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On Precious Snowflakes: A Rant December 17, 2010

Posted by Skippy in Culture, Rants.

As you all know, I have very little tolerance for people who are so delicate that their precious sensibilities must be coddled and assuaged by any and every unfortunate soul who has the misfortune of crossing their path. I cannot stand “political correctness,” for it and those who zealously advocate for it don’t really give a flying rat’s ass about the people affected by hateful speech/actions; rather, it is itself a kind of orthodoxy that truncates questions and the often uncomfortable answers that we have to deal with on a daily basis (e.g., the deployment of words like “bitch” or “niggah”). I cannot stand people who are so delicate that they cannot hear “foul” language for fear of somehow spontaneously combusting. I find sexual prudes so damned annoying that I wish a good slap upside the head could cure them, for I would most certainly want to be the one administering the slap.

So you can imagine how I felt when I read this stupid story about a college instructor in Hawaii who quit his job in the aftermath of his administration’s caving in to the stupid father of a stupid snowflake. Daniel Peterson taught philosophy at a Hawaii community college for 21 years.

Why share with students that “shit happens”? Petersen said that in the beginning of his introductory philosophy courses, he likes to challenge students, and get them out of easy ways of thinking.

“People think they are in control, but they walk outside and an airplane engine falls on their heads,” he said in an interview. That’s what he’s trying to get across — that you can’t determine your fate.

Another point he tries to make as the course begins is that extremists are determined to impose their will not only on individuals, but on entire belief systems. And he talks about that idea by saying that Osama bin Laden says, in effect: “If you don’t believe in me and my way, I will kill you and your goddamn god.”

A third point he makes at the beginning of the course is that he’s well aware that his style isn’t for everybody. So he says: “If you don’t like the way I teach, the way I smell, or the way I look, there is the door — you don’t have to take my class.”

Petersen said that he is intentionally provocative — and that this grabs students and gets them thinking, which is what he considers to be his job.

Well, at least he did until a precious snowflake (who later dropped the class, by the way) whined about hearing profanity in the class. This grown-ass woman who couldn’t handle hearing curse words (I guess she doesn’t watch a damn thing on TV except for fucking Nickelodeon) complained to her daddy.

Okay, that right there is some WTF shit. Seriously? You complain to your father? And you’re a grown-ass woman? Are you fucking kidding me? The nanosecond I left home, I quit bothering my mother for shit. I felt it an enormous defeat for me to have to have lived with her for one semester towards the end of my undergraduate degree. Why? Because I was fucking grown and thought that I needed to be able to handle shit on my own. And I would have been mortified had my mother ever attempted to intervene in anything I was dealing with when I was in college. I probably fucked up a lot of shit—but it was my shit to fuck up and clean up, not hers. Besides, I think she would have looked at me like I had lost what was left of my mind had I complained to her about any of my professors. Anyway, precious snowflake complains to her dumb daddy…who complains to the administration.

Okay, that’s some more WTF shit. Why the fuck didn’t he tell her to suck it up and grow the hell up? Oh, that’s right, because the university has become just another commodity that has to cater to “customers.” And if dear daddy doesn’t like some other person using arbitrarily defined “swear” words, well then, the school is going to have to cater to dear daddy because he can just take his dollars and send his dumb fuck of a daughter somewhere else! So when dear daddy Jahraus writes whines

Instructors, people in an authority position, with influence and power over their students, have no right to use profanity in the classroom…It demonstrates a paucity of verbal ability and total lack of respect for the students he instructs. This instructor’s action is an abuse of the authority position he holds and a betrayal of whatever confidence the students may have had in his ability to deal fairly with them.
Our institutions of higher learning need to take the high ground intellectually and in general deportment rather than devolving to the lowest vernacular.

You can rest assured that the inept administration of UH Hilo took notice and pressured Peterson to stop using profanity in the classroom. As you can see from reading the article on Inside Higher Ed, things obviously escalated, as they tend to do when university administrators get in the business of telling teachers how to teach. This is a man whose first lecture is designed to be shocking—to get people who don’t need to be there or don’t want their fragile (and most likely, bugfucking stupid) worldviews challenged out of the class.

Now, let me deal with precious snowflake Jahraus’s fucking stupid letter. He claims that the use of profanity is indicative of a “paucity of verbal ability.” To that I say, bullshit. As someone who routinely scored in the upper nineties on verbal tests, my vocabulary, as one student noted, “far exceeds that of the average college student,” as does the vocabulary of most everyone I know in academia. However, our common vernacular is not always constructed around polysyllabic words and complicated sentence structure. I’m certain that if Jahraus and Peterson were to have a battle of wits, Jahraus would come out looking quite the fool.

Also, there’s something to be said for context. What was the point of Peterson’s lecture? Apparently, daughter Jahraus missed that altogether, so offended were her precious sensibilities. And since she either a)was never enrolled in the class or b)dropped it after having her delicate hearing sullied by the use of profanity, she really doesn’t have much of a fucking leg on which to stand. Did Peterson curse at any student? No. Further, this was a standard lecture—again, one he’s used for 21 years, heretofore without complaint. Of course, dumb daddy Jahraus doesn’t care about context—all he cares about is whining about someone in the Mean Old World who dared not make his dear offspring feel like the special precious little snowflake she really is. She’s going to be well and truly fucked in this life if this is how she’s going to react to every and any perceived or actual slight or offense.

And “deportment”? He is using this word, but something tells me it does not mean what he thinks it means. At any rate, the university is not some finishing school for people of fine manners. I don’t know what Mr. Jahraus thinks the university is, but the professoriate doesn’t walk around wearing robes all day speaking the King’s English whilst discussing the latest scholarly article on Dostoyevsky. And guess what, Jahraus? The “lowest vernacular” is used by the people—some instructors have to turn to the world of lived experiences in order to relay larger concepts and ideas. And like it or not, part of that lived experience is the use of language, both proper and whatever is deemed as “improper.” So, yeah. Instructors have every right to use profanity in classrooms. They don’t have the right to use it in order to abuse a student or a colleague. They do have the right to use profanity as part of the instructional process—and if that offends you (or anyone else for that matter), then please, by all means go elsewhere. Oh, and in the meantime…


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