Tuesday, November 10, 2015

You Are NOT Of The Body!

There is a lot to be lauded and applauded over the protests leading to the resignation of University of Missouri president Tim Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bown Loftin yesterday. In particular, the stance of more than 30 African-American football players, refusing to play in an upcoming game unless these gentlemen resigned, and being backed by their coaches and teammates, really put the racial intolerance prevalent on the campus in the national spotlight. It also challenged the behemoth of college football and used the power of the purse to force change.

If the fish rots from the head down, then getting rid of these two should lead to new leadership and new goals/plans to address the allegations of overt racism and discrimination.

But like all revolutions, you also get the gullible and easily misled, who generally have no clue what's going on, but who want to grab part of the national spotlight (Festival) and thus be a part of history.

And so, in what is sad footnote on an otherwise successful day, we have this:

A video that showed University of Missouri protesters restricting a student photographer’s access to a public area of campus on Monday ignited discussions about press freedom.

Tim Tai, a student photographer on freelance assignment for ESPN, was trying to take photos of a small tent city that protesters had created on a campus quad. Concerned Student 1950, an activist group that formed to push for increased awareness and action around racial issues on campus, did not want reporters near the encampment.

Protesters blocked Mr. Tai’s view and argued with him, eventually pushing him away. At one point, they chanted, “Hey hey, ho ho, reporters have got to go.”

“I am documenting this for a national news organization,” Mr. Tai told the protesters, adding that “the First Amendment protects your right to be here and mine.”

The protesters accused him of acting unethically and disregarding their requests for privacy.

“What is so hard about respecting our wishes?” one protester asked.

“Because I have a job to do,” Mr. Tai answered. That elicited a retort: “We don’t care about your job.”
Lolz. And that's followed by about 15 minutes of "Bruh, you need to go. You need to go, Bruh, Hey bruh get out, " over and over, to the point of hilarity (thus my newly coined "Bruh Revolution"). 

While the students, who fairly or unfairly, don't understand the 1st amendment, the role of the press, or the difference between public and privates spaces, can kind of be forgiven of their ignorance (the idea that you could claim a "safe space from the media" on public property is beyond sophomoric), what is unforgivable is this professor of communication at the end of the first clip, who literally calls for "muscle" to remove the student reporters...a professor of communication who knows what journalism is and, one would expect, what the 1st amendment is.

Here are the two videos:

While her actions are both appalling and worthy of termination, so is the action of another university administrator caught on video bullying the reporters.

The one hero, who deserves major props, is the photographer Tim Tai who kept his cool and professionalism in the face of the zombie drones/adults trying to intimidate him and make him out to be the aggressor. Talk about "weaponizing the safe space."

And that was the worst part of the videos: the intolerant, Dawn of the Dead-like retort of the student and adult protesters who would rather shun, physically intimidate, and silence disagreement, than engage in it. Ironically, a form of student activism/intolerance that's just as bad as the intolerance they purport to be against.

Watching the videos, I was struck by the parallels to the Star Trek episode "Return of the Archons" where Dr. McCoy is "absorbed into the body" of Landru, a cult like figure, and Kirk and Spock have to rescue him. That's what a lot of the protesters look like in these videos...the followers of Landru (university professors and administrators) engaging in "Festival." 

And if you are suspected or accused of not being of the body, you become the target for removal, and all the rational explanation of the role of the press, the 1st amendment and so on ("Peace, brother") goes right out the window.

Clearly, we need to do a better job of teaching our students how to think critically.

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