Should Teachers Carry Guns?

I just saw an article about yet another shooting at a university somewhere in Texas (I’m on the phone, so I can’t link. Please contribute a link if you have one handy).

The article says there will be a bill discussed in Texas’s House of Representatives that would allow college profs to carry guns on campus.

What do you think about this measure?

I, for one, know that this will not make me feel even remotely more safe. I love my colleagues, but they do have a tendency to get cranky. Just go visit the College Misery website. Would you like to be surrounded by those people waving guns about?

Besides, professors are notoriously absent-minded. I routinely sit on my cell phone, Kindle, pen, handbag, etc. What’s to prevent a pensive prof from sitting on a gun during a moment of productive scholarly thinking?

Or take that time when I took a tampon out of my bag thinking it was a pen and started pointing it at students. What if that were a gun and students felt threatened and drew their own guns in response?

I’m trying to be funny here, but the issue is not all that cute. A university should be an oasis of learning, cultivation, kindness, and good manners. It should be a place somewhat apart from the rest of the world. A place where people exist in the realm of ideas and don’t allow the hysteria of the immature and the unstable to seep in.

Teaching Literature Is Possible

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As I walked to class today (see picture), I was worried. Would the students understand the readings I assigned for today? Would they invest the effort needed to analyze difficult XIXth-century texts? Would they give up? Would they feel bored? Spanish costumbrismo of Larra and Estebanez Calderon is definitely not everybody’s cup of tea. And the vocabulary is difficult. However, during the lecture, I realized that our students are a lot better prepared for hard-core literature courses than we expect. We had a really phenomenal discussion, and everybody participated. The class lasts from 5 to 8 pm, and it isn’t easy to keep everybody’s attention at that hour. But the response to the readings was great. We laughed so hard that the walls shook. I got every student in the course to select a text among our readings for the semester, and now they will conduct part of each class meeting where these texts are discussed. This way, students get to create their own activities, moderate discussions, and feel responsible for a text of their choosing. There are 23 students in this class. In theory, a literature seminar should be much smaller but I want a bigger group because I’m trying to prove that there is massive demand among our students for non-gimmicky literature courses with a mountain of complex readings and a lot of academic writing. Of course, I now know why there is such a push to teach language instead of literature. Teaching language is extremely easy after you’ve mastered it. The past tenses are not very likely to change dramatically within our lifetimes. A discussion of a literary text, however, will always go in a new and unpredictable direction.

Robbery Is Not Cool

Yes, yes, I understand that there are reasons to subject us to this, but, folks, I have to tell you, I’m sitting in my office, laughing my head off. The lecturer who is administering the online course on campus crime prevention announces,

“When a person points a gun at you and says, “Give me your wallet or I’ll shoot you”, that’s a robbery! Robbery is a crime! It is not legally permissible to approach people with weapons and demand they give you money. And another criminal activity is climbing through a person’s window, getting into bed with them, and touching them for the purposes of sexual gratification. Because that is sexual fondling. And that is a sexually motivated crime!”

The lecture is directed specifically at college professors. Of course, now I will only climb through people’s windows with non-sexual purposes. Good thing I’ve been warned in time!

Another part of the lecture consists of telling us that we need to inform the police of crimes committed on college property. The lecturer specifies that public areas such as roads, highways, etc. do not belong to the university. So I guess if we see people being assaulted on a public stretch of land, we can just continue on our merry way.

This reminds me of the Soviet Union so much that I can’t stop laughing.

You Live You Learn

I’m undergoing yet another mandatory training that has informed me that I should “abstain from penetrating the genital or the anal opening of another person against his or her will however slightly.” Just to think the horrors I might have inflicted on people had I not been issued this timely warning.

On the positive side, I just discovered that my favorite blouse has buttons. I have been putting it on over my head like a sweater this entire time.

Mental Illness Doesn’t Exist

The words “mental illness” have become a code for people who don’t want to think or analyze. They chirp “mental illness” whenever reality baffles them as if these words actually explained anything instead of being first a means of social control and then a way for pharmaceutical companies to make piles of money.

There is no mental illness that just happens for no reason. It doesn’t exist. What does exist is the following:

a) a society that finds it impossible to accept difference and that prefers to pathologize it and medicate the non-conformist into oblivion;

b) psychiatrists who have no skills and can do nothing but follow this social mandate;

c) people who hand over the responsibility for their personal growth to a bunch of pills;

d) pharmaceutical companies that make out like bandits and keep promoting the “mental illness” meme.

The more wide-spread this meme is in a given society, the more infantilized that society is.

I know that many people have come to experience a profound emotional attachment to the pharmaceutical ads and the idea that there is no mental illness will make them angry. This only testifies to the power of such advertisement that prevents people from noticing the enormous liberating potential of the idea that there is no mental illness.

That is their right, of course. What really entertains me, though, are the earnest Liberals who have come to convince themselves that recognizing mental illness and respecting it as an identity-building construct is somehow a progressive act. It is especially hilarious to see them defend the mental illness label in the same breath as they condemn predatory capitalism.

Yulia Timoshenko and the Death of Ukrainian Democracy

In the winter of 2004-5, the people of Ukraine demonstrated that democracy mattered to them and they were ready to defend it. For several months, people across the country protested in every major city and refused to leave until their rights to vote and elect their representatives were respected. Thousands of Ukrainians camped out in spite of the biting frost and stuck it out until they won. The election that had been stolen by Putin’s pro-Russian puppets was declared illegal and people finally had a chance to elect their representatives.

Yulia Timoshenko was one of the leaders of the protest movement. She became a rising start of Ukrainian politics. However, her and her colleagues’ attempts to get things right in Ukraine encountered a deeply entrenched resistance both within and outside the country. In a notorious meeting with the leading businessmen of the country, Timoshenko said, “Ukraine needs strong, healthy businesses. I promise to do everything to create an environment where you can work freely, legally, and with minimal impediments. Can you promise to pay taxes and avoid corruption?”

“No!” the businessmen (every single one of whom used to be a member of the Communist Party of the USSR and a powerful apparatchik) responded in unison.

At the same time, a massive anti-Ukrainian propaganda campaign was unleashed by Putin who wasn’t interested in having a functioning democracy so close geographically. Putin exploited the anxieties of the Russian-speaking Ukrainians by spreading rumors. One of such rumors was that the Ukrainian government was going to force everybody to read the Russian poet Pushkin in Ukrainian. For some reason, this idea (that had zero basis in reality, by the way) deeply traumatized people who never read any poetry at all, let alone the supremely outdated and boring Pushkin. As a result, the Russian-speakers of the country decided that it was very important to them to continue not to read Pushkin in Russian instead of not reading him in Ukrainian and voted for a pro-Putin government.

This new government started persecuting the former leaders of the democratic political movement. Among these people, Yulia Timoshenko had the highest approval ratings. She was imprisoned by the Putinoids and subjected to torture. The Putinoids are still so afraid of her that now the want to imprison her for good:

Ukraine’s former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is suspected of ‘ordering the murder’ of a member of parliament, the Posecutor General said. If found guilty, she will face a life sentence behind bars.

Ukraine’s State Prosecutor has completed its investigation of the murder of Deputy Evgeny Sherban, who was shot dead in 1996. Tymoshenko is alleged to have ordered the hit.

This Sherban character is from Donetsk, the seat of the most powerful organized crime organization in the country. He was killed in the 1990s, during the bandit wars. These mafia bosses were killing each other all over the place, and now the death of one of them is being used to silence the most powerful opposition voice in Ukrainian politics.

Of course, I’m not saying that Yulia Timoshenko is some sort of a saint who needs to be canonized. There are no saints in Ukrainian politics. However, while she lives, there is a hope that Ukraine will find its way out of a criminal quagmire it is in right now and start moving towards democracy.

This is why the Ukrainian government is trying to murder her.

And while the most popular female politician in Eastern Europe is being tortured, Ukrainian feminists of FEMEN are flapping their breasts around in Paris.

P.S. Thank you, Roberto Severino, for giving me the link and the idea to write this post.