Best Of The Web
“In the classroom, I’m more interested in setting the stage for a good discussion than I am in making points about academic freedom. Even if I thought, with the comedian Lenny Bruce, that using racial epithets mockingly deprived them of their power, I wouldn’t act on that belief in my classroom. And although Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, which I teach often, includes more than 200 uses of the n-word, I don’t, even when reading aloud, use it myself. Like it or not, conditions are such that choosing to utter the word, even while reading aloud from a book that uses it, can derail discussion of anything other than that choice.
Removing the term from the text—which has been done—falsifies the novel. But there’s nothing important I can add to Twain by saying the n-word aloud. And I sympathize with students who find the word revolting—revolting words and images can be revolting even when they’re presented for a good reason. When to present them is a matter about which reasonable teachers disagree.
Another reason not to use the n-word, whatever the context, is that you might be suspended. That’s what happened to Phillip Adamo, an award-winning teacher and, until recently, the director of the Honors Program at Minnesota’s Augsburg University. He is now taking an involuntary vacation, in part because students have questioned his “teaching competence.”
According to Colleen Flaherty of InsideHigherEd, here’s what happened. During a class on James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, one of Adamo’s students quoted a sentence that included the n-word. According to Adamo, “students were shocked.” So he led a discussion of whether, “in an ‘academic context,’ it was appropriate to use the word if the author had used it.” In framing the discussion, Adamo himself used the “n-word.” After a forty-minute conversation, the class agreed that “the word was too fraught to use going forward.””
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"Have world leaders really got the will to bring peace to Yemen? We hear much about Yemen’s crisis, but far less about the hypocrisy of states fuelling the very conflict they condemn."
"No poll so far in our database has tested Trump against the relatively unknown Weld... Indeed, Weld seems like one of the weakest candidates that anti-Trump Republicans could put up in a national campaign. "
"An initiative by the mayor of Tiberias for the municipality to help provide public transportation on the Sabbath has caused the issue of the social status quo to the forefront of public discussion."
"Like “30 Rock,” “Kimmy Schmidt” obviously slanted leftward, but most always exhibited a similar eagerness to skewer politics more generally than just the GOP."
"Yes, we’re all overwhelmed with email. One recent survey suggested that the average American’s inbox has 199 unread messages. But volume isn’t an excuse for not replying."
"... platforms now have a stranglehold over publishers who, individually and even as a group, have little-to-no bargaining power when it comes to algorithmic changes, ad rates, and much else."
"[There's] a subgenre known as National Socialist black metal, which espouses neo-Nazi views and has been described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as aiming to recruit youth to white-supremacist causes."
"“The Ideas That Made America” by Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen is an anomaly in the genre. Its brevity is a point of pride, yet it aspires to do a little of everything."
"My wish is to die in my own bed, cared for by people I love—clean, comfortable and relatively free from pain. I hope to have time to say my goodbyes and give my final blessings."
"A diet for fast weight loss is a pipe dream. Many of us want to lose weight without making permanent changes, because we view thinness instead of health as a success."
"Opportunity casts a long shadow over all subsequent Mars rovers, setting a gold standard of JPL engineering. Customized versions of its mobility software are used on the rovers Curiosity and upcoming Mars 2020."
"Biblical scholarship has deepened our understanding of the Torah and at the same time challenges us to consider the implications of our declaring the Torah to be emet. What is emet and what does it mean to say that the Torah is emet?"