Thursday, June 09, 2005

Politicizing Graduation

This past week or so has seen a trend in commencement themed articles. In Tracy, anti-gay protests promise to congratulate graduates with "God Hates Fags" signs. Down South, Schwarzenegger's planned speech at Santa Monica City College will likely draw protests as well.

As much as I'm daily protesting Schwarzenegger in my own ways, I don't believe holding signs and interfering with what is basically a family event is appropriate. I also don't think it's a way to win friends and supporters to your cause. But, blessedly, this is America, so do what you want.

Then there's CSU Hayward's speaker who bowed out after students threatened to boycott over his views:

Rodriguez, author of the acclaimed memoir "Hunger of Memory," drew criticism from some students for his views against bilingual education and affirmative action.

"I'm a bilingual educator," said student Leah Perez, 32, who is graduating with a master's degree in urban teacher leadership and protested Rodriguez's presence at the graduation. "He believes in assimilation and rejection of one's cultural identity, and we don't feel that is what we stand for in our program, and we don't want him representing us." . . .

"It is a sad situation. You hear about this at other universities," [campus spokesman] Huggett said. "We are a university that has always prided itself on the expression of free ideas. The sad part is people doing this based on a book they haven't read."
One of many ironic aspects of the story is that despite Rodriguez's absence, at least 28 protesting students (and you wonder if that's the total out of 5000 graduates with the beef) will continue with plans to hold their own alternative ceremony. The speaker at that event will be a supporter of bilingual education.

And were I a Hayward voter, I'd be concerned about the logic exhibited by one school board member and CSU professor:

Sarah Gonzales, a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, said it was unfair to give Rodriguez a platform and captive audience for his views.

"We need to teach our students to be able to listen to diverse opinions, but they also need to be able to respond," said Gonzales, who is also a school board member in Hayward. "As a commencement speaker, he gets free air time."
God bless my liberal arts education at a school where the prevailing philosophy was "you don't agree with this? Good, we don't want you to, so let's have a good fight about it, and then drink heavily together later." Over at my other blogging-outlet, there have been a few items on both free-speech-vs.-offensiveness and liberal bias in education lately. When a university has clearly failed to teach its students the value of open discourse, one wonders how valuable the earned degree really is.

6 comments:

cd said...

I might also note that the conservative Berkeley students probably didn't have the option, or the numbers, to avoid being Warren Beatty's "captive" audience.

JB said...

Ah graduation the time for everyone to complain about everything. Oh well. Kamela Harris through in plenty of Social Justice blah blah, but really I mean who cares. Why make a stink about crap, just get the heck out of dodge I say.

In any event, lol, it feels all so close to home, and yet I couldn't care less.

A couple thoughts...

1. I never liked the Westboro folks I thought they were a-holes and I didn't know what to think about them Biblically in the sense of "are they crazy," or "demented" but I saw this:

"Strip away their titles, and those churches are all talking about the same big lie," Phelps-Roper said, "that God loves anyone."

Wow, I was impressed, if that quotes accurate, I know the group is a front for something, and I don't think it's Christian. Do you see what the "big-lie" is, that God loves ANYONE, wow, so in their "mind" God loves no one. That's a far cry from what my Bible says...For God so Loved the World.

2nd. And I'll get myself in trouble for saying this, but I can't stop myself...

"What we need to do a better job of is, if we hear a student say, 'That's gay,' then we need to pull them aside and say that is not acceptable," Frame said. Lol, well that's ...lame...I mean seriously what's next no more "Smear the Queer?" I'm heartened to hear they still call it that in most elementary school.

Our slang and our elementary school games are being ruined by political correctness. I'll miss it when it's gone...Smear the guy holding the football, just doesn't have the same oomph to it.

Disclaimer: I in no way am endorsing any sort of smearing the queer or any sort of violence, I am merely speaking of the game that young boys usually play on elementary school playgrounds dogpiling on whoever holds the football or whatever it is, and the associated language. It is not okay to engage in violence against gays, straights, or others...It is okay to play smear the queer and call it that (in my mind).

cd said...

In my experience, "Smear the Queer" went on the forbidden list long ago.

I dislike when people call things "gay." I would prefer that word not be used in that manner because of its common usage today.

I don't know the history of the Smear the Queer game - whether its use of "queer" started before or after the word, like "gay," came to be identified with homosexual identity/identity politics.

Either way "queer" is now a word reclaimed by certain political groups. For instance, my sexuality and the law professor said the course would be more appropriately title queer law and that she considered that area of practice queer law. We spent a few minutes discussing why using "queer" was okay and she invited anyone uncomfortable with it to discuss the issue with her.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news: but your beloved playground game isn't really cricket anymore.

Is a game by any other name as fun?

Probably.

JB said...

According to wiki (which isn't by all means completely definitive) the game got it's name from the "Victorian" meaning of the word. Basically before identity politics claimed the name.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tag#Smear_the_queer

JB said...

Doh, and I forgot to say, ironically of course, in Smear the Queer, everyone is attempting to be the queer for as long as possible, so go figure...eh!?

Josh said...

I was always the biggest queer and I am proud of it. "Come get me, big, slow, fat dudes! I bet you can't stop me from being the queer!" Wait. Huh?