Shut up and teach!

Posted: Oct 13, 2004 12:00 AM

Dear Professor Snider (

Someone recently sent me a copy of the guidelines for a research paper that you require of your students at California State University, Long Beach. According to your website, the purpose of the paper is ?to persuade or at least to create tolerance for your point of view on a controversial issue; also to acknowledge the opposing side of the issue.?

Below the basic requirements for the paper, you have listed a number of suggested ?Subjects for an Argument Paper.? Below I have listed some of my favorite entries:

Energy? A related topic is Dick Cheney's secret conference on energy policy.  Why hasn't the administration revealed who participated and should it reveal this information?  Also important is the fact that, as Kevin Phillips writes, "four generations of the [Bush] dynasty have chased [oil] profits through cozy ties with Mideast leaders, spinning webs of conflicts of interest"?

The Economy? Under President Clinton, the Federal Government had a handle on the national debt.  Now the Bush administration is passing that debt on to the post-baby-boom generation?

Birth Control: Should the so-called "morning-after" contraceptive pills (pills that prevent fertilized eggs from implantation) be more readily available to all, whether they can afford them or not and regardless of age?  Of course, in your paper you would need to state your position and support it while acknowledging the opposing position.  (You cannot argue that such pills amount to an abortion?).

Should Justice Sandra Day O'Connor have been impeached for her partisan, political actions in the Bush v. Gore case of December 2000 (she is reported to have expressed a desire to retire but would do so only if a Republican were president?)?  What about Justice Scalia, whose son worked for the law firm of the lawyer who argued for Bush before the Supreme Court, or Justice Thomas, whose wife was part of an organization selecting people to work in a potential Bush administration?

George W. Bush's time in the National Guard presents important questions about the character of a man who has sent hundreds of Americans to their deaths in war and killed and maimed untold thousands of others?

Breaking a campaign promise, Bush has reversed rules to limit industrial carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere?Do you agree or disagree with this decision?

Is it right for the Bush Administration to use the War on Terrorism for political or commercial purposes?...

What role does George W. Bush have in the Enron scandal?  How should the various Congressional investigation (sic) proceed?  Should any new laws be passed?  Should all those who have received contributions from Enron recess themselves or only those who received a certain amount of money?

It is no secret that the Bush administration and many Republicans have taken steps to undo the progress in environmental protection made before they took office.  Now that they control the presidency and the Congress, they have better opportunities to carry out their agenda?

Civil Liberties: The Bush administration has used the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 to erode the civil rights of citizens and non-citizens alike? What can be done to stop this erosion of liberties or can you logically defend it?...

Should there be stricter laws against a woman harming her potential child through smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, or using other drugs while pregnant?...

What evidence do we have that Mr. Bush and his cronies lied to the American people and the world in promoting the war with Iraq?  Do you agree that America has lost its "moral authority" in the world because of this immoral war?...

Although George W. Bush said he would support the national continuation of the ban on assault weapons, he did nothing to urge Congress to pass it?

I was somewhat surprised, Professor Snider, at some of the subjects you told your students to avoid. It was also interesting to read the manner in which you told them to avoid particular subjects. Some examples follow:

Religion (we have freedom of religion in this country and everyone is entitled to his or her own beliefs but cannot force others to accept those beliefs; just as no one can prevent you from following your religious beliefs, so you cannot prevent others from not following your beliefs.  This does not mean you can not argue issues such as [the Establishment Clause].  What it means is that you can't use your own religious beliefs to support an argument?)

Anything you're already convinced of before you start your research, especially subjects you're emotionally involved in.  My reasoning is that with such a topic you would not be able to see that there is another side and this would destroy your argument.

Topics on which there is, in my opinion, no other side apart from chauvinistic, religious, or bigoted opinions and pseudo-science (for example, female circumcision, prayer in public schools, same-sex marriage, the so-called faith-based initiative, abortion, hate crime laws, the existence of the Holocaust, and so-called creationism)

? McNally correctly concludes that those who oppose same-sex marriage do so for one reason: homophobia?  (H)omophobia is to gays and lesbians what racism is to people of color.  Neither homophobia nor racism can be tolerated in civilized, rational debate; therefore, I will not accept either as arguments, however disguised, in your papers.

Professor Snider, I hope that you will allow me to add a few suggestions to your list of proposed paper topics. I have listed several below, all in the form of a question:

How have Professor Snider and his cronies converted the college classroom into a platform for their warped political beliefs?

Why does Professor Snider refer to a fetus as a ?potential child? after saying that abortion is not debatable in his class?

How does Professor Snider identify ?Topics on which there is, in (his) opinion, no other side apart from chauvinistic, religious, or bigoted opinions and pseudo-science??

Does Professor Snider?s emotional involvement with the issue of homosexuality cause him to violate the religious freedom of his students?

Is Professor Snider ?heterophobic??

Does Professor Snider?s intolerance and ignorance of the First Amendment mean that all ?queer critics? are intolerant, ignorant, or both?

Should college students be allowed to wear ?shut up and teach? t-shirts to class at California State University, Long Beach?

And, finally, I have a question for you, Professor Snider. Would it be unreasonable to ask you to just shut up and teach English? Or does that make me a ?queer critic,? too?


Mike S. Adams