Friday, April 22, 2011

Feeling Unfairly Persecuted for my Political Beliefs Again.

Would you like to know why?

Of course you would, I mean, come on, you're reading my blog. Clearly this is the kind of post you are here for.

So my latest political angst was caused by an article on Jezebel.com. Interesting website, a heathen, like myself, has to appreciate the biblical connotations of the name Jezebel and many of the posts are quite thought provoking, if terribly liberal. (I keep telling myself that if I just stopped reading liberal news websites I would feel a lot less crazed, but then I realize that would make me a terribly one sided blogger and a horrible journalist when I finally get my degree.)

This particular article was about Professor Ellen Lewin, a professor of Anthropology and Gender, Women's & Sexuality Studies at the University of Iowa. She hit 'reply all' to a mass email from the College Republicans and told them "FUCK YOU, REPUBLICANS." (I'm suddenly getting flashbacks to a paragraph in this blog that I wrote on the 19th.)

Was this a responsible or adult way to respond to an email? No, it was not. Especially not when the woman replying is a professor at the college and the people she was responding to were students. The quickest way to lose my respect as a teacher is to prove that you can't see shades of grey and refuse to have rational discussions about other people's political, religious, or social ideas.
Good going Professor Lewin. I wouldn't touch the University of Iowa with a 10 foot pole now, even if they offered me a full ride scholarship.

The mass email in question was one that informed people at the college of
"Conservative Coming Out Week." Planned events include an "Animal Rights BBQ" and an opportunity for students to "pick up your Doctors' Notice to miss class for 'sick of being stressed', just like the Wisconsin public employees during the union protests.
 Okay, possibly a tad bit offensive, but I've always hated being politically correct anyway and I find the idea of an "Animal Rights BBQ" to be hysterical. What can I say? I've never been a fan of PETA. I'm not a fan of the unions and so I find the idea of calling in "sick of being stressed" to also be amusing. And being that I'm a Lesbian Republican and occasionally feel more in the closet about being a Republican than being a Lesbian...well I have to say that having a 'Coming Out Week' isn't such a bad idea. It's like Gay Pride, only nerdier and probably more clothed...but also probably a good place to look for a date.

One of Professor Lewin's later responses (a follow up after having admitted that they language she used was inappropriate, not apologizing mind you.) is as follows.

"I should note that several things in the original message were extremely offensive, nearly rising to the level of obscenity. Despite the Republicans' general disdain for LGBT rights you called your upcoming event 'conservative coming out day,' appropriating the language of the LGBT right movement. Your reference to the Wisconsin protests suggested that they were frivolous attempts to avoid work. And the 'Animal Rights BBQ' is extremely insensitive to those who consider animal rights an important cause. Then, in the email that Ms. Ginty sent complaining about my language, she referred to me as Ellen, not Professor Lewin, which is the correct way for a student to address a faculty member, or indeed, for anyone to refer to an adult with whom they are not acquainted. I do apologize for my intemperate language, but the message you all sent out was extremely disturbing and offensive."

I've emphasized a couple of statements in that quote that I would like to respond to, though I'm certain Professor Lewin will never read my blog. 
1.) "general disdain" here is another case of a liberal not understanding the difference between the Religious Right and the rest of the Republican party. Or perhaps I'm wrong, perhaps the College Republicans at UofI were actively protesting gay rights. If they were doing so, then I agree with Lewin. Co-opting GLBT terms was a shitty thing to do. However, if they were (for the most part) 'moderate' Republicans then I find no problem with it.
2.) "frivolous attempts to avoid work." I can't claim to know an extreme amount about the Wisconsin situation. I do know more about the situation with the Teacher's Union there, because I have a friend who is a teacher. We are both in agreement that if teacher's were doing their jobs then they wouldn't really need the unions to keep them from being fired. I've had a lot of bad teacher's over the years, they kept their job because of the unions. No one could fire them. Bad teachers love the unions, they don't really have to work as long as the union has their back.
3.) "Animal Rights BBQ" No more offensive than lumping me in with the Religious Right or calling me racist because I dare to criticize the president and his ridiculous inability to actually govern a country effectively.

And as for the responses Lewin has received (mentioned in the Jezebel article), yes, there are always going to be morons in the world, we can't get rid of them. However, Lewin can't say she's justified in her comments because of rude commentary she's received as a result of her words. She's a teacher, someone that students look up to and respect. She has a pulpit to teach from that is almost, or perhaps more, powerful than any preacher. She is expected to hold herself to a higher standard and responding in such a fashion to an email, that was not personally harmful in any way, destroys her credibility as a teacher in my eyes. I would never respond to an email of that type in that way. I would delete it if it offended me, but there was no need to respond at all even if she was having "particularly bad mood" that day.

Hell, I've had more offensive things leveled at me personally. You might remember a couple of posts I did back in February (1 and 2) that, yes, did involve some vulgarity on my part. Understandable considering I was being personally attacked for no reason whatsoever, but I never allowed myself to stoop to the level that Professor Lewin's stooped to and I had far more reason to tell those particular people to fuck off, than Lewin's had to say that to the College Republicans.

And people wonder why I feel more closeted as a conservative than I do as a lesbian...

Edit: One last thought, how is this going to effect the students in her classes? Will the Republicans taking her class ever feel safe enough to speak their opinions now, having seen the vitriolic hatred she has for them? I would be worried if I was her student, I would be worried for my grade. This is going to silence the opinions of students on that campus, students who should feel safe to express their political ideas in classes. She has taken that away from students. That, in and of itself, is unforgivable Professor Lewin.

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