An associate professor of law at a Christian-affiliated Alabama university ripped his class of “dis-educated,” “indoctrinated” millennials and planned to shut down students who failed to articulate what they really meant by raising issues of “fairness, diversity, or equality,” according to this blog (which is self-titled as “conservative”). The professor also threatened to make students “cluck like a chicken” if they began classroom comments with the phrase, “I feel.”
The professor also went on a streaming channel called “Healthy Republic” to discuss his rules for the semester. You can watch the discussion above.
The professor, Adam J. MacLeod, teaches at Jones School of Law at Faulkner University. Here are his rules, according to the blog:
1. The only “ism” I ever want to come out your mouth is a syllogism. If I catch you using an “ism” or its analogous “ist” — racist, classist, etc. — then you will not be permitted to continue speaking until you have first identified which “ism” you are guilty of at that very moment. You are not allowed to fault others for being biased or privileged until you have first identified and examined your own biases and privileges.
2. If I catch you this semester using the words “fair,” “diversity,” or “equality,” or a variation on those terms, and you do not stop immediately to explain what you mean, you will lose your privilege to express any further opinions in class until you first demonstrate that you understand three things about the view that you are criticizing.
3. If you ever begin a statement with the words “I feel,” before continuing you must cluck like a chicken or make some other suitable animal sound.
MacLoed said his millennial students had been held mental “hostage in a prison fashioned by elite culture and their undergraduate professors.” His real aim was to sharpen his students’ reasoning skills. His problem was with students who slapped labels onto concepts, then argued that they shouldn’t have to learn the concepts or engage with the concepts because of the negative connotation of the label they applied to the underlying concepts.
The professor railed on students who used terms such as “classism,” “sexism,” “materialism,” “cisgenderism,” and “racism” because the terms are “generally not used as meaningful or productive terms” which “most of the time . . . do not promote understanding.”
The professor doesn’t go so far as to say students should seek understanding with racists or sexists, but he does make a point: labeling materials and then using the label as an excuse for ignoring does not equip students to counter ideas with sound logic.
By way of example, the professor said:
[S]lapping a label on the box without first opening the box and examining its contents is a form of cheating. Worse, it prevents you from discovering the treasures hidden inside the box. For example, when we discussed the Code of Hammurabi, some of you wanted to slap labels on what you read which enabled you to convince yourself that you had nothing to learn from ancient Babylonians. But when we peeled off the labels and looked carefully inside the box, we discovered several surprising truths. In fact, we discovered that Hammurabi still has a lot to teach us today.
Again, the professor doesn’t go so far as to say there are treasures inside the mental box of racists or sexists, so don’t paint him into that corner. He was trying to get them to understand the Code of Hammurabi and its effects. The Code is one of the oldest recorded sets of laws known to exist.
The professor told students one of his goals was to confront the same “weeds that infect nearly all of your brains . . . [s]o I am going to pull them out now.”
He further questioned how Millennial students could exalt the values of “diversity” and “equality” at the same time, when seemingly the two are opposed: “[t]wo things cannot be different and the same at the same time in the same way.”
The professor also reminded students that “fair” does not mean the same thing as “equality.”
He ended his speech by saying his goal for students was that each would “encounter at least one iea that you find disagreeable and that you will achieve genuine disagreement with that idea.” Disagreement, he said, was “not expressing one’s disapproval of something,” but understanding the merits of an idea or opinion and confronting it rather than avoiding it.
The students reportedly didn’t run back to their proverbial or literal “safe spaces.” The professor reflected:
To their credit, the students received the speech well. And so far this semester, only two students have been required to cluck like chickens.
[Image via video screen grab from Healthy Republic.]