And not just any college professor. Barry Mehler is the director of the Institute for the Study of Academic Racism at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan.. at least for the time being.
Mehler was suspended by the university several weeks ago after he sent a bizarre video to students in which he (among other things), told students that their grades were already determined before the semester began because he uses predestination as his grading system and called them “cocksuckers” while apparently quoting or referencing the TV show Deadwood.
He also said as part of his Deadwood adaption, “I work in a paid f—— union job and no limber-dick c–ksucker of an administrator is going to tell me how to teach my classes. Because I’m a f—— tenured professor.”
He then added this line to the end of what he describes as his soliloquy, which is not taken from Deadwood, “So if you want to go to complain to your dean, f— you, go ahead, I’m retiring at the end of this year and I couldn’t give a flying f— any longer. You people are just vectors of disease to me and I don’t want to be anywhere near you. So keep your f—— distance.”
As it turns out, Mehler isn’t taking his suspension quietly. As Michigan Capitol Confidential recently reported, the professor unleashed another video rant in response to the university’s decision to place him on administrative leave for his “profane, offensive and disturbing” (in the words of the university president) diatribe to students, and this time he decided to weigh in on the right to keep and bear arms.
Mehler’s remarks appeared in a Jan. 21 interview posted on YouTube. The professor was defending the comments he made in the earlier video to students. In the newer video, he cited the First Amendment and free speech to explain why his profanity-laced video to students should be allowed. He then mentioned the Second Amendment.
“The Second Amendment gives white men the right to carry a gun and shoot Black people when they are afraid. ‘I saw him and I was scared so I shot.’ Stand your ground,” said Mehler, who is the director of the Institute for the Study of Academic Racism at Ferris State.
Just a thought for Prof. Mehler here, but if you want people to take the First Amendment more seriously maybe you shouldn’t take a giant dump on the Second Amendment in the process. Minimizing the importance of one helps to diminish the respect for all the rest, and representing the Second Amendment as the product (and practice) of racism is not only historically inaccurate, it ignores the role that guns have played in protecting black lives from real and virulent racists.
You can listen to Mehler’s comments in context below, though I have to say I didn’t find his reasoning particularly persuasive or insightful.
Yes, profanity is protected speech, and if Mehler were on administrative leave simply for using the f-word or referring to students as “c***suckers” in private I’d be firmly on his side here.
But does Mehler really believe that the university should take no position when a professor calls his students “vectors of disease” and says he doesn’t give a flying f*** what they think about it? Does Mehler have a First Amendment right to say that? Yes, and no one is going to charge him with a crime for doing so. But his employer also has an expectation of professionalism on the part of faculty, even those with tenure.
Personally, I don’t see this as an offense worthy of termination, but if I were in college I’d never want to take a class that was taught by him, and it’s a good thing he’s set to retire at the end of the semester. And who knows, with all the churn and turmoil over at CNN he could always audition for a gig as a prime time host. They’d love his schtick about the racism inherent in the right to keep and bear arms, and he’d get to find out what it’s really like to have your speech policed by your employer.