I was asked recently - by a child porn advocate, no less - why I write books with chapter titles that are so “offensive.” Citing two such chapter titles – “Fag Hags and Rainbow Flags” and “The Liar, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” – the child porn advocate asked what some of my fellow UNC professors had done to make me sound so “nasty.” I think the question is worth answering.
Put simply, I use provocative language in chapters (more often in columns) criticizing a small minority of my fellow professors for two reasons: 1) because they are proponents of fascism, and 2) because the UNC administration is too cowardly to confront fascist professors due to political correctness - the principal means of enforcing academic fascism.
Let me be more specific by relying upon a recent example involving one of our more authoritarian UNC professors.
Students taking a criminology course approached me after the professor banned (fortunately in writing) the use of the word “mankind” as “sexist.” Students were threatened specifically with point deductions for every single use of the word in exams or papers. Unfortunately, students did not stand up to the professor. Now I have learned that the professor has adopted another rule – this one banning use of the terms “BC” and “AD.”
The professor in question told the students that using “BCE” and “CE” is now a “convention.” Of course, it is simply incorrect to say that prohibiting students from using BC/AD and forcing them to use BCE/CE is a “convention.” It is a practice employed by a very small number of professors – most having strong antipathy towards Christianity.
Even if this unconventional BCE/CE timeline were now the convention it must have been initiated for some other reason. After all, one cannot say it was always the “convention.” It is likely that the original reason for this petty infringement on students’ religious freedom is one of the following:
1. Concerns over “separation of church and state.” It is clear to all but the least educated among us that the First Amendment Establishment Clause was meant to keep the federal government from establishing one particular Christian denomination as an official government church. The notion that BC must be replaced because the “C” stands for “Christ” is both historically and legally indefensible. But some professors actually have (or pretend to have) such an extreme interpretation of the Establishment Clause. This extremism even led several to say (in writing on the Faculty Senate mailing list) that the official university calendar had to use the term “spring holiday” in place of “Good Friday.” This was a stance they attributed to their “strong commitment” to separation of church and state.
That is why (in a future column) I will encourage students to sign up for the criminology professor’s class and defy her BC/AD ban. As of this writing, I have already obtained legal counsel for the students. That other part of the First Amendment mentioning free exercise of religion will be the subject of the federal litigation.
2. Questions about the historical claims of Christianity. It does not help matters that the professor responsible for the BC/AD ban also subscribes to wild conspiracy theories related to the origins of Christianity. She once told me that she thinks the Four Gospels were established as valid during a power struggle at the Council of Nicea. It is this kind of ignorance that leads to questions about whether Jesus was actually an historical figure. Those who tend to answer the question in the negative are naturally inclined to replace the BC/AD convention. Nonetheless, it is still the convention.
3. The Right to be Un-offended. Often, censors will ban words in an effort to preserve a so-called right to be un-offended. In the case of the BC/AD ban I have seen no evidence that anyone was ever offended by the now-banned letters. However, three students have now reported that they are offended by the ban itself. This is an example of how censorship generally backfires. And it is evidence that censors are often socially inept.
When one contemplates the ever-expanding list of words and ideas that are banned from college campus, the need for a caustic response is readily apparent. Strong language is often of good way of letting the censors know you won’t be intimidated. But more than strong language is needed in these times.
Just a few years ago I sent a warning to Georgia Tech letting them know they would soon be sued for a number of policies violating the First Amendment. They willingly abandoned an unconstitutional speech zone policy prior to summary judgment. But they chose to defend an unconstitutional speech code and unconstitutional manual telling gays which churches were “good” or “bad” on gay rights issues.
Because Georgia Tech did not take my warnings seriously they have lost more than just a pair of highly embarrassing First Amendment rulings. They are about to write a check for $300,000 to the attorneys I found to represent the students.
If some child porn advocate is reading this column he is free to consider it a “nasty” piece of journalism. If some UNC administrator is reading this column she is free to consider it a threat of litigation.