Friday, March 23, 2012

Mind Control

Oddly, little controversy has arisen from the action taken by the University of Southern Mississippi against five pep band members for chanting "Where's your green card" at an Hispanic member of the Kansas State University basketball team while it was playing Southern Mississippi.      It did, however, inspire the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliances to applaud the decision by the University to revoke the scholarships of the students and to order them to attend cultural sensitivity training.     Spokesman Bill Chandler supported the college's action

.... to stop this overt expression of racism that was against a Latino.        This demonstrates the ignorance of many people when it comes to immigrants whether they are students in college or legislators or the governor of Mississippi.     As in the past, public officials create the atmosphere for hateful acts in their pronouncements against people of color and others.    It leads to latent racism and they need to stop it.

Upholding the axiom "even a stopped clock is right twice a day" (or in this case, once), Chandler correctly notes the students' words "demonstrates the ignorance of many people."     Bigotry is probably more personally satisfying, but no more reasonable, because it is grounded in ignorance.     The offending remark, referring to a green card, was directed not against a Mexican but against Angel Rodriguez, a student-athlete born in Puerto Rico, at which time the infant concurrently became an American citizen.  

Rodriguez thus properly asserted he ignores such "nonsense, especially because Puerto Rico is a commonwealth, so we don’t need no type of papers.”

It is not mere snark to note that Rodriguez, studying at a fine college, properly would have maintained "we don't need any type of papers"  rather than "no type of papers."    His use of the language expressed ignorance- which, ironically, was one of the evils ascribed to the students by Chandler.      Fortunately, in the list of Seven Deadly Sins, ignorance failed to make the cut.

 Although not in the official list, racism is properly understood as a sin.      But punishment for a racist remark(s) probably makes no more sense than to punish someone for commission of the seven deadly sins recognized by Pope Gregory I- or the hundreds noted in the Book of Leviticus.

Chandler would have us censor or excoriate "pronouncements against people of color and others."     It is hard to determine who the "people of color" (blacks? Hispanics? Asians?) are.    And one wonders:    do "the others" (or "them," I suppose) include Native Americans/American Indians- or are they somehow magically transformed into people of color?      The mind reels.

All this could, presumably, be worked out.    Not so, however, Chandler's primary objective, banning offensive comments because they "create an atmosphere for hateful acts" and "lead(s) to racism."         The slippery slope should be obvious.     Taking an analogous approach is conservative columnist Pat Buchanan, who last December echoed the concerns of millions of Americans when he complained "the number of anti-Christian bigots is growing, and their malevolence is out of the closet."    He quoted a Washington Times editorial which contended

In Leesburg, Va., a Santa-suit-clad skeleton was nailed to a cross. … In Santa Monica, atheists were granted 18 of 21 plots in a public park allotted for holiday displays and … erected signs mocking religion. In the Wisconsin statehouse, a sign informs visitors, ‘Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.’ A video that has gone viral on YouTube shows denizens of Occupy D.C. spewing gratuitous hatred of a couple who dared to appropriate a small patch of McPherson Square to set up a living Nativity scene.

Buchanan, at least, didn't call for penalizing or punishing these designated "anti-Christian bigots."     He did, however, gaze upon this "hate speech and anti-Christian bigotry"  designed "to wound, offend, insult and mock fellow Americans celebrating the happiest day of their calendar year" and conclude

What are these Christmas-bashers, though still a nominal minority, saying to Christians with their mockery and ridicule of the celebration of the birth of Christ?

“This isn't your country anymore. It is our country now.”

The question for Christians is a simple one: Do they have what it takes to take America back?

Pat Buchanan, and the large minority of Americans for whom he speaks, does not like what some  people say about his people.     So, too, is Chandler offended by what some people say about the people he represents, or tries to represent.     They both have a right to be offended.    So, too, do they have a riught to argue that everyone must believe as they believe.      But they would be wrong.     And a university, one of whose values should be upholding the right to free expression (if legal and not posing an immediate danger to safety) ought not to enact penalties in order to enforce conformity with correct beliefs.     Mind control is not a suitable objective for any academic institution.

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