Inmates and Snowflakes

The Dallas Morning News (Saturday, November 9, 2019  and other media reported the resignation of an assistant general counsel for the University of North Texas.

“During a university-sponsored event on Thursday at the University of North Texas, the event’s speaker — UNT assistant general counsel Caitlin Sewell — used a racial epithet while discussing the limits of free speech on campus.

“Following a storm of controversy, Sewell submitted her resignation Friday morning, UNT system chancellor Lesa Roe and president Neal Smatresk said in a statement.

“At the event, titled “When Hate Comes to Campus,” Sewell said the following during her presentation:

“‘You know, you can say a lot of offensive things in here because it’s impossible to talk about the First Amendment without saying horrible things. Um, you know, ‘You’re just a dumb n—– and I hate you.’ That alone, that’s protected speech.’”

“Sewell’s use of the epithet sparked a firestorm….”

The article further quotes UNT President Neal Smatresk saying that “Sewell’s comment was ‘not reflective of the values of our university community.’”

“Student backlash prompts resignation” is yet another example of allowing inmates to run the asylum. Putting that aside, UNT is better off without Caitlin Sewell as assistant general counsel. I would not want anyone so pusillanimous to be my lawyer. Evidently she has not been in the real practice of law to have grown a thick enough skin. If Sewell had any mettle, and really believes in freedom of expression, she would have not apologized for using the so-called N-word merely as an illustration — not as a epithet. She should have refused to resign, and dared UNT to fire her. (I know an organization known as The FIRE who would back her.) For that matter, UNT’s president and chancellor should follow her. Their attitude fosters the snowflake atmosphere on campus.

The proscription of a word for use in any context is stupid and silly, and is reflective of a totalitarian mentality. That is what George Orwell was getting at in his Nineteen Eighty-Four. Better to turn it around to your advantage as gay persons have done with the Q-word. In the 1960s, black comedian Dick Gregory wrote a book which he titled “n*****” and dedicated it to his mother writing “Dear Mom, next time you hear that word, you’ll know they’re advertising my book.” Probably will not happen in the brave new world of coddled campuses.

I wonder if UNT, which I attended as a graduate student in the 1970s, is banning Huckleberry Finn, Gone with the Wind, and To Kill a Mockingbird.

See https://www.dallasnews.com/news/education/2019/11/08/staff-attorney-uses-n-word-as-example-during-free-speech-event-sparking-controversy-at-university-of-north-texas/)

2 comments on “Inmates and Snowflakes

  1. A. Cismale Honky (“Ach”) says:

    1) As a thought experiment, let’s appropriate the word “honky” as the preferred racial word tag for the “white” race. I self-identify as honky. But only I and my cohort can utter that word in public. It will be career damaging for a nonwhite to say honky in public.
    2) Ironic that you would not type the N word, nigger, or the Q word, queer, in your blog. Has Big Brother gotten to you? And, 2a) is the word “Negro”, quaint as it is, also held under the shadow of n-wordness?
    3) There is hope, I think. I running a personal campaign to reclaim the word “gay” for the caring anglophones of the world. I feel quite gay today. It is sunny and brisk, I am well-fed and energetic, the geese are in flight. And all this time, I self-identify as heterosexual. How queer!
    4) I also want to reclaim the word “snowflake”, which you horribly abuse. Snowflakes are brilliantly unique, exquisitely geometric, ephemeral works of natural wonder. Fragility is characteristic, sure, but hardly defining.
    5) Stop calling people names! Didn’t your mother teach you anything?

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    • bobreagan13 says:

      Thank you for the comment. I address your points seriatim. 1) The “thought experiment” would not be helpful. What must happen is that individuals end the practice of collectivist self-identification by skin color and remote ancestry. Unless it is necessary for physical identification. For example, picking up a non-acquaintance at the airport, identifying a perpetrator, etc. skin color is no more or less appropriate than hair color, height, sex, and so-forth. A person’s ancestry past a few generations is irrelevant. Everyone has ancestors who at one time or another were oppressed, or were the oppressors. Our government should end the practice of racial or ethnic identification in the Census and elsewhere. 2) & 3) I anticipated this criticism. The post was originally a letter to editors of several newspapers and magazines, who doubtless would not have printed the words in the clear in the present climate. The words were not replaced, especially “queer” to point our the silliness or it all. I agree with you to reclaim “gay” for what it meant in the past, many of our English speaking friends elsewhere still use it in the traditional sense. 4) “Snowflake” has become common parlance for one who’s sensibilities are hyper-delicate. Too many have that characteristic; they melt away at the least heat or light. Perhaps “Thin-skinned” would be a better metaphor. I am open to others as descriptive. 5) What you call “name-calling” can also be shorthand , and is legitimate when appropriate. As far as the “inmate” sobriquet goes, university students, especially in state financed and run institutions, should not have the power to force a resignation of a member of the faculty or administrative staff, especially for what one merely utters. There may well be students who believe that too. Most, however, are true sophomores, Greek for wise-fool, as you may know.
      I sense that you probably agree with me for the main point, but don’t like my style. That’s OK. Perhaps you would be willing to contribute to the mission of The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (TheFire.org. If you do, tell the president Greg Lukianoff, I said hello.

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