Sponge Cake Phil

Posted: Aug 21, 2006 12:00 AM

The Interstate Bakeries Company will soon come out with a new snack cake called the Hostess Thinkie. The idea was inspired by a professor at Georgia Tech who thought so long and hard about a simple problem that it actually became complex. Eventually his brain turned into a rich, cream-filled sponge cake.

Maybe some of you have heard of Dr. Phil McKnight, who chairs Georgia Tech's School of Modern Languages. Recently, Sponge Cake Phil was upset when a federal judge struck down Georgia Tech’s speech code as unconstitutional. Tech was also badly embarrassed because the school has now been placed under five-year court supervision for its inability to respect the free speech rights of conservative students.

Sponge Cake Phil wrote a column for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, which relied on the wisdom of German philosophers. Rumors that his column was ghost written by Justice Kennedy are unconfirmed. Even Kennedy is incapable of the following:

According to Goethe, a poet, thinker, statesman and scientist, and the most recognized icon of German culture, "to simply tolerate is an insult."

As a participant in the European Enlightenment movement, which clarified and defined how we understand human rights and provided the foundation on which much of the U.S Constitution is based, Goethe advocated that "tolerance should actually only be a transitional attitude, one which must lead to the acceptance of equality."

A contemporary German intellectual, Lothar Beier, writing on the controversial and sensitive issues of the French radical right, racism, guest workers, and immigration and integration in Europe, points out that tolerance is the privilege of those in power, and the favor of tolerance can easily and arbitrarily be revoked.

U.S. District Judge J. Owen Forrester has effectively demonstrated this observation by retracting the Georgia Tech rules of tolerance, which are similar to those prevalent at most U.S. universities. For the time being, it would now appear to be perfectly OK for members of the Georgia Tech community to engage in unrestricted attempts to "injure, harm, malign or harass a person because of race, religious belief, color, sexual/affectional orientation," to use the words now banned from the Georgia Tech guidelines for the behavior of members of the university community toward each other.

Many are criticizing Sponge Cake Phil for interjecting German philosophy into the Tech speech code issue. However, such criticism is misplaced. German philosophy began to play a prominent role in the case when a group of liberal Tech students began to superimpose swastikas on the faces of the conservative plaintiffs who opposed the speech code.

When the liberals circulated the doctored photographs on the internet, they did so in support of the speech code, which forces people to refrain from personal insults. They thought their swastika-imposing tactics would be especially likely to promote tolerance, given that one of the plaintiffs is Jewish.

Sponge Cake Phil also has something to say about racism and sexism in the Georgia Tech dormitories:

In the particularly odd language of the court arguments, the "orthodoxy" of tolerance is not to be permitted. What a peculiar use of the word orthodoxy. Carried to the extreme, I can't help but wonder if this means it is now acceptable for students, depending on where they stand, to refer to one another in public and in the dorms with racial and sexual slurs.

Unfortunately, Sponge Cake Phil fails to understand that racial and sexual slurs were acceptable in the Georgia Tech dormitories long before the court struck down the university’s unconstitutional speech code. In fact, liberal defenders of the speech code were passing out Hostess Twinkies in the dorm accompanied by the racially derogatory comment that conservative plaintiff Ruth Malhotra (an Asian student) was “yellow on the outside, white on the inside.” And they added sexist comments when they referred to her as a “Twinkie bitch.” And the university did nothing.

Sponge Cake Phil is also concerned about the issue of arbitrariness of tolerance at Georgia Tech. He thinks the court’s decision to strike down the Tech speech code will hurt minorities:

It is a tool for discrimination and intimidation, a victory for those who are intolerant to exercise their intolerance toward groups they dislike, and in doing so to ban tolerance from their wake.

How, then, will minorities affected by the expected tirades be able to evolve toward a status that releases them from the arbitrariness of tolerance and permits progress toward one of equality? …

Sponge Cake Phil has really over-stepped his bounds, here. Georgia Tech administrators allowed anti-Asian racist slurs to be uttered in the dormitory when there was a speech code in place. Angry liberal opponents of the lawsuit will still be able to make anti-Asian racist slurs now that the speech code is gone.

While Sponge Cake Phil doesn’t like to call people names, he has a habit of quoting people who do:

…But as Voltaire, who had a word or two to say about tolerance, would have it: "It is clear that the individual who persecutes a man, his brother, because he is not of the same opinion, is a monster."

Here, Sponge Cake Phil may have accidentally implied that the liberal students who uttered anti-Asian slurs in the dormitories were “monsters.” Perhaps Sponge Cake Phil didn’t give that paragraph as much thought as the others. But, fortunately for Sponge Cake Phil, liberal students who like to doctor photographs with swastikas will be unable to prosecute him under the campus speech code.

Even though the judge has spared him prosecution for implying that some Tech students are “monsters,” Sponge Cake Phil is still pessimistic about the future:

Tolerance, even if it is itself demeaning and can only be a transitory phase on the way to genuine respect and equality, is, at least, a step forward from bigotry. The defense of intolerance in a Georgia court leaves open the door for the promulgation of prejudice and the replacement of discourse with counterproductive and ugly tirades.

I suppose things could get worse at Georgia Tech. Perhaps the distribution of Hostess Twinkies to make fun of Georgia Tech Asians will be replaced by the distribution of Hostess Thinkies to make fun of Georgia Tech professors.

Finally, Sponge Cake Phil reminds us who this suit was targeting in the first place:

The lawsuit brief itself was specifically directed at the right of campus groups to protest openly with language and actions they choose against the campus gay community. Although I am not gay, I would have to say that the most decent, conscientious, moral and honest person I happen to know is…

Of course, Sponge Cake Phil’s assertion that the suit is directed towards homosexuals is simply false. He just needed to remind us in the closing paragraphs of his column that he has lots of gay friends. And that means he’s tolerant.

Personally, I’m elated that we finally defeated the Georgia Tech speech code. Now, I have a right to email (phillip.mcknight@modlangs.gatech.edu) Sponge Cake Phil to give him my opinion about his column – even though I have no intention of calling him a Hostess Twinkie.

Instead, I intend to promote diversity by offering the opposite opinion. To do so, I’ll dub him a Hostess Thinkie – a fruitcake who is white on the outside and yellow on the inside.

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