All too often, college professors expect that they will be able to make the most outrageous comments in class free from any criticism or penalty. Indeed, because of their position of power, they presume that their students will sit back and shut up as they are indoctrinated in the left-wing views of a professor -- even if the class is not about politics.
A woman is asking North Idaho College to refund the money she paid for an English class, saying her instructor spent more time bashing Republicans than teaching English composition.
Linda Cook, a former aide to the late Idaho Congressman Helen Chenoweth and a longtime GOP supporter, withdrew last week from an entry-level English class taught by part-time instructor Jessica Bryan. Cook sent a letter to NIC Vice President Barbara Hanson Monday asking that the college refund her $379 course fee.
On Monday, Bryan said Cook is "making a mountain out of a molehill" and that she's "surprised and disappointed" that Cook didn't tell her about her concerns before making a formal complaint.
Notice, Bryan isn't denying the comments -- she is blaming the offended student for complaining. What were the comments made? Oh, nothing much.
The letter claims Bryan said on the first day of class that "George Bush was elected president because people in this country can't read" and said Feb. 12 that "I believe in the death penalty … . First we line up everyone who can't think and right behind them, anyone who's ever voted Republican."
Bryan doesn't deny saying those things but said Cook missed her point entirely, which was to encourage debate and critical thinking among her students.
"Most (comments) were said facetiously in an attempt to get my students to think," she said. "Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that anyone would take it seriously … . They were always said with a smile."
Excuse me, Ms. Bryan -- I have a hard time imagining those comments were appropriate in an English class, even when "said with a smile." Would you have considered it appropriate to replace "anyone who's ever voted Republican" with "anyone with Jewish blood"? Or how about "anyone who is an illegal immigrant"? I don't think so -- instead you encourage the death penalty for over half the population of the United States because they have defied your political will. Frankly, I'm concerned that only one of your students offered an objection. But then again, you began the course by branding anyone who disagrees with you politically as ignorant and illiterate and then kept up the drumbeat of political partisanship every class, so I can understand that students who wanted a grade based upon the quality of their work would keep silent.
It seems that Ms. Bryan's employer agreed with the complaining student -- she got her refund.
Coeur d'Alene Police are investigating death threats against a part-time North Idaho College English instructor who made disparaging remarks against Republicans, including a facetious suggestion that Republicans be put to death.
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Bryan told police she began receiving threatening phone calls and harassing e-mails shortly after the column was published. Police began investigating Tuesday and released copies of 10 of the messages Friday. An account of the complaint also was posted earlier this week on a popular conservative news Web site under the headline "Execute Republicans,' says college prof."
The account in World Net Daily also linked to Bryan's e-mail address.
In the messages that were subsequently sent to Bryan, she was threatened numerous times with death and variously derided as a communist, a traitor, a parasite and a Leninist radical.
A writer from California referenced past South American dictators who executed liberal intellectuals: "Pray that there's never a right-wing coup d'etat in this beautiful nation you'll be one of the first ones floating in a river like your cronies did in Argentina and Chile."
NIC spokesman Kent Probst said Bryan's e-mail address and phone number have since been changed, and campus security has been placed on a higher level of alert. "It's a situation we take very seriously," Probst said. "The well-being of the instructor and the students in those classrooms is of paramount importance."
I guess it is acceptable at NIC to support the execution of political opponents while teaching a class, but to
threaten a professor with death write nasty emails to a professor who urges the execution of political opponents during class is quite beyond the pale. Interestingly enough, there is no indication that Bryan considered these threats harsh emails to be an invitation to dialogue, a spur to critical thinking, or the possibility that they were written by smiling individuals who were merely being facetious. No, rather than tell the writers of her concerns, Bryan contacted the police. Seems somewhat hypocritical to me, as does the act of changing her phone number and email address. After all, how can debate and dialogue happen if you close down the avenues of communication in this manner?
Of course, I don't advocate death threats against political opponents, -- not even ones who have already called for my death. Indeed, I condemn the threats that have been made against Jessica Bryan, because they are immoral and counterproductive. But I refuse to consider Bryan to be a victim in this case, merely someone who has received back what she dished out -- in spades. Perhaps this affair will cause her to think before she issues death threats in her classroom in the future -- and, being a "good liberal" be more "sensitive" to boot.
UPDATE: WorldNetDaily covered this story, and included four of the "threatening" emails. By my lights, none of them actually qualifies as a threat -- unless, of course, Bryan's comments in class are to be labeled as equally threatening.
Among the offensive emails released by authorities are these:
"You contemptuous excuse for an instructor. If you are trying to start another civil war and it comes about, I hope your family will be targeted first. As a Republican, I take umbrage at your suggestion that I should be shot. You'll find that Republicans can shoot back."
"Screw you, communist (expletive deleted). Even though you are entitled to your opinion we all have freedom to vote anyway we please. You would do well teaching in Iran hating Jews. Bottom line I feel the same way about liberal (expletive deleted) such as you."
"I hope you lose your position and cease poisoning the flower of our future who enroll in your class with your leftist indoctrination."
"Pray that there's never a right-wing coup d'etat in this beautiful nation [because] you'll be one of the first ones floating in a river like your cronies did in Argentina and Chile."
There no actual threats there, only some hateful sentiments expressed to her. But tell me -- are they really any more hateful than the comments made by Jessica Bryan in her class? And can anyone argue that if her words in class are somehow protected by the First Amendment, these emails are entitled to any less protection?
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