26 September 2011

Browncoats vs Academia

Regarding a professor with a Mal Reynolds poster on his office door, with the caption "You don’t know me, son, so let me explain this to you once: If I ever kill you, you’ll be awake. You’ll be facing me. And you’ll be armed."
Popehat | Ken | I Swear By My Pretty Floral Bonnet, I Will Censor You

But this is modern America. In modern America, the Browncoats are people who like to use vigorous figurative language to speak their mind, and they are often outnumbers and outgunned by the Alliance, made up of silly, professionally frightened moral and intellectual weaklings who see expressions of dissent (particularly dissent rendered in vivid figurative terms) as upsetting and potentially all terroristy.

So naturally the campus police at University of Wisconsin-Stout went all Mrs.-Grundy-With-A-Gun-And-A-Badge on Professor Miller. They threatened Prof. Miller with criminal charges for disorderly conduct citation [...]
I see "disorderly conduct" charges bubble up whenever the real offense is "angering the guy with the badge/the guy with the badge's boss." Shouldn't there need to be some actual disorder occuring to warrant this charge?  (Ideally, I mean. In a better world. Not in America, 2011.) How can your conduct be "disorderly" if the most that happens is an uptight guy walks past your door and sneers while thinking angry thoughts to himself?

~ ~ ~

Oh, also, this reminds me of something that's been bugging me for a while. I've been told all my life by the Very Smart People In Authority that non-verbal communication is very important and that "what you say" and "how you say it" are coequal. Context, and tone, and all the rest matters. I was informed, for instance, that saying "Yes, Mrs. Gomez" to my teacher might still get me in trouble because even though I said the right words, I didn't say them the right way. (That is, I did not fake the correct outward displays of emotion, but the difference between inner thought and outer manifestation, and the requirements of the latter as if they were supposed to create the former, is a whole other ball of wax entirely.)

This is all good and well so far. Words are indeed given new meaning depending of the circumstances and methods of their conveyance.

But then these same Very Smart People In Authority also claim that certain verbal utterances can be interpreted devoid of context. Like Dr. Miller's poster, for instance. Or the comments of the professor which ended with Sarah Grunfeld's undies in such a twist. As soon as someone says something that conflicts with the VSPIA's world-view, context goes out the window. They claim the exclusive right to autistically* interpret words without regard to other information and conclude, for example, that a professor might mean to shoot people because he has a fictional gunslinger on his wall.  Later he was reprimanded for "mentioning violence."  Mentioning it.  Not actually doing it, not threatening it, not even approving it.  Just claiming it exists.

(* Apologies.)

The area this really bugs me is college sexual behavior rules. Non-verbal communication goes right out the window there. But once again, that is a whole kettle of fish I don't have time for.

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