Monday, February 16, 2009

What do you think?

I firmly believe that there should be free speech for all, even those we do not agree with. I was reading this brief article about a student at a community college in Los Angeles who was berated by a professor for their stand on gay marriage. I saw the title and thought it was about a person who was pro-gay marriage, well I was wrong. The student gave a presentation about the fact that he thinks gay marriage is wrong. As you can see from my side bar, I am on the other side of him. I think that everyone has the right to get married and that there is no reason that the government should be involved in who and who cannot get married, but this student also has a right to his opinion. According to the article, the student says that midway through his speech he was cut off and called a "fascist bastard". And when the professor returned the grading rubric, rather than giving a grade he wrote "ask God what your grade is." Now maybe the student was blatantly hateful in his speech, but the article, of course, does not give us enough information to make a determination either way. So I have to go on that the professor reacted badly to the speech, by being childish by getting into a fight with a student and then refusing to give a grade. If the professor did not feel that the sources used were appropriate or that the student was being hateful or that the student was not respectful of others than there are ways to handle that, but to act childish is not one of those ways. I also hate the fact that this professor gives all liberal a bad name and just supports the whole notion that liberals are unfair to the opposition and unreasonable.

So my question is, if you are/were a college professor and a student wrote a paper or gave as speech and it was in direct opposition to your opinion on the topic, how would you handle it? The caveat I am going to add is that the student is not hateful toward you or other students, but has an opinion that may be unpopular or antithetical to your own.

7 comments:

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

You are correct, that kid has the right to say whatever he likes and the professor was an ass to berate him. I don't agree with Rsuh, Mann Coulter, or Mike Malkin,but I don't want them to be silenced for fear that someone will slience me.

Mauigirl said...

If I were his professor I would grade his paper/speech on the same basis I would grade a paper written/speech given on the other side of the opinion divide. Was it well-organized? Did the points made support his argument? Was it convincing? Factual?

I agree, we can't stifle opinions on either side.

Anonymous said...

WHEN U R READING THIS DONT STOP OR SOMETHING BAD WILL HAPPEN! MY NAME IS SUMMER I AM 15 YEARS OLD i have BLONDE HAIR ,MANY SCARS no NOSE OR EARS.. I AM DEAD. IF U DONT COPY THIS JUST LIKE FROM THE RING, COPY N POST THIS ON 5 MORE SITES.. OR.. SUMMER WILL APPEAR ONE DARK QUIET NIGHT WHEN UR NOT ExPECTING IT BY YOUR BED WITH A KNIFE AND KILL U. THIS IS NO JOKE SOMETHING GOOD WILL HAPPEN TO YOU

GourmetGoddess said...

I actually do come across this in my class. I ask the question, "Do you think goddesses, by virtue of being female, are beneficial to women?" The question causes my students a lot of stress actually, because they seem to want to answer that question the way I would answer it. Because I am a feminist, a lot assume that I do believe goddesses are beneficial. But there are actually multiple answers to the question and the best papers are the ones that try and move toward a more complex understanding of the situation.

Your job as a teacher is to help students develop skills. I also am for civil marriage for all. But as a teacher, I would have tried to help that student think critically about what he was saying - are there stronger arguments against gay marriage that you can make that don't use the Bible as your only source? What is the validity of any source you have used? Was your presentation persuasive? Was it well organized? Was it confrontational and do you think that was a good tactic? How would you respond to someone who rejects the Bible as any sort of authority in the lives of modern people?

You certainly can call students out when they say something boneheaded, but calling someone a facist bastard isn't the right way to do that. I mean, come on! What a win to win people over to your way of thinking!?!?!?!

Bob said...

I agree with the consensus here (except for Summer's dissent -- WTP??).

Grade/rate the paper on the internal merits of the argument, not the position.

LA Teach needs to go back to school.

Tengrain said...

I read that article, too, Boxer, and my first reaction was the same as yours. The kid filed suit, and I thought good for him.

But I keep wondering: why did the story only report on the kid's suit? Why was there no other perspective? Sure, the teacher probably is not allowed (or is strongly encouraged by his/her representation to not speak to the press), but why didn't the reporter talk to other students to find out what really happened. I mean, it happened in California with overcrowded classrooms, and everyone being a media whore (myself included).

Anyway, my guess is that this kid now has the support of a conservative (and probably Xristian Xrazy) think tank behind him or her, including a publicist. This has all the markings of a setup, at least to me.

Regards,

Tengrain

Tengrain said...

Boxer -

Look at what I found in Raw Story about this news article.

I hope this makes you feel better.

Regards,

Tengrain