Wednesday, March 4, 2009

CCSU Students Talk About Guns: Naturally, Their Professor Called the Police

This is slightly off-topic, but the news item is too weird not to share.

Last October, at Central Connecticut State University, Professor Paula Anderson, told students to make oral presentations discussing a "relevant issue in the media."

Three students presented the view that the Virginia Tech massacre of April, 2007, would have had a lower death toll, if professors and students had been carrying guns.

Naturally, Professor Paula Anderson called the police.

I am Not Making This Up

It gets more interesting. John Wahlberg, one of the three students owns guns!!!!! Even though CCSU strictly prohibits guns on campus and in residence halls. Mr. Wahlberg apparently lives 20 miles off campus, and keeps his guns safely and legally locked up. Smart man.

College Professors, Hoplophobia, and National Policy

One ditsy college professor on the east coast isn't going to do all that much damage. Actually, the incident has it's funny side - although I feel a bit sorry for Ms. Professor Anderson and the three students who talked about guns.

I ran into the word "hoplophobia" about a year ago, in a blog which seems to have disappeared. A formal definition: "Hoplophobia (n) - mental disturbance characterized by irrational aversion to weapons." It's not in most dictionaries, but yes: it's a 'real' word.

As I wrote back then, "The idea that fear of weapons is not normal seems to be one that hasn't gained traction among America's best and brightest."

Note: Hoplophobia is an irrational fear of weapons. Not the sensible reaction to seeing, say, a rifle being stroked by some giggling fellow whose eyes don't focus.

Hoplophobia, like other disorders, isn't a serious societal problem as long as a small percentage of the population is afflicted, and those who are do not hold responsible positions.

College professors are a small minority, but they are, as a group, one of the traditional information gatekeepers in American society. Until the Information Age, they were among the select few who decided what the rest of us were permitted to know, and how events and ideas were presented.

No 'conspiracy' involved: That's just the way things worked, before cell phones, blogs, and text messaging.

College professors are still influential. Some of their students may believe what they say. When significant numbers of professors are convinced that guns are to be feared, some students will learn to fear guns, too.

Aren't Guns Dangerous?

Weapons of any sort are, by definition, dangerous. Like knives. I work at home, next to the kitchen, so there's enough weaponry within 20 feet to start a small gang war.

And, I'm okay with that. I'm also okay with Mr. Wahlberg owning guns. I don't mind people owning dangerous technology, as long as they're not crazy. It's part of living in a free society.

That's why I'm relatively unconcerned about people owning guns, LP gas, ammonium nitrate, anhydrous ammonia, printing presses, fax machines, and computers.

All these give whoever possesses them, and knows how to use them, considerable individual power. I don't mind individuals having power: even if they're not Connecticut college professors.

Related posts: News and views: Related posts, on censorship, propaganda, and freedom of speech.

Related posts, on tolerance, bigotry, racism, and hatred.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

CCSU has had a lot of incidents with fascism lately. This one is the best example, but a posting on Job Vent about the way that they treat non-Union employees shows that overall they are not concerned with fairness. They are a state organization that is out of control with many things, including an inability to spend reasonably, and it seems to be part of their aim to suppress individuals. I am posting anonymously since I still have to work there and experience it everyday. Hopefully I won't for much longer. There is a system of royalty in place here that goes like this. Tenured professors, union-employees, other professors, animals, the grass, shit in the toilet, and at-will employees especially in their IT departments. The at will guys don't even receive re-mediation if they need it. Instead they are screamed at in a dark room in the basement and told to conform to lies if they want their jobs. Anyway, you can read the post on Job Vent for more details. The point is that this is a state university that we all pay money for in our taxes. At the very least they should have to behave like they at least give a little bit of a shit about being American, and that includes respecting individual freedom which they don't. Again see the post for more details like the CIO's unwritten policies.
http://www.jobvent.com/companyBrowse.php?CompanyID=12013&searchType=company&searchText=ccsu

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

Anonymous,

First off, although what's going on at CCSU may be "fascism," I'm a cautious about using the term. "Fascism" has a fairly definite meaning (see fascism, Princeton's WordNet)

What does seem clear from this 'gun' incident and a few other indications is that CCSU is another academic institution with a distinct aversion to those who hold views which are not in favor - and are unaccustomed to having their own views and foibles questioned.

Sounds like you didn't like it there very much.

Getting back to "fascism." It's possible that the system at CCSU is literally fascist. However, terms like 'fascist,' 'commie,' as well as the more global 'pig' and 'dog,' have been used as epithets for so long that they no longer have, in my opinion, the power to startle or inform: outside relatively small groups of like-minded individuals.

So, although I see similarities between CCSU's behavior and the former Soviet Union's habits - and those of Germany during the Hitler administration - I won't use labels like 'commie' or 'fascist' to describe CCSU, or any other organization. Unless the organization actually does fall into one or the other of those categories, and that the term is pertinent to the discussion.

Anonymous said...

Brian,
Sounds to me like post 1 and 2 here do put CCSU into that realm of discussion even by your narrow definition, or rather suggestions, of when to use these loaded words. You do liken them to fascist Germany and the Soviet Union after all. Perhaps that's because they fit the description. The anonymous person does not indicate that they work for the institution, just that they have knowledge that needs to be shared. They do not say that they are the person from the external link. Both poster 1 and 2 are talking about a taxed base organization taking scary liberty with the way they do everything, including treat students and employees, that can easily be considered fascist to say the least. I am not sure why you are skewing the issue by giving us no firm stance, and your personal definition of fascism.
From Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascism
Since the University is part of the state it can be assumed to be a political organization, to some extent, and both original posters are well within their rights to liken the University, or at least these specific parts of it, to other fascists. Perhaps we should be asking, why these things are going on at a University that we all pay for in some way? Shouldn't they be expected to at least honor the basic rights of their students and employees? Shouldn't they all be given access to the union, as the 2nd poster indicates they must not be? Shouldn't a student be able to give a report on a hot button issue without being harassed? Don't we expect that as tax payers? So what if they use the words fascist, or even assholes, or whatever to describe them. The state deserves that here because it's how they are behaving. Sure not every single one of them, but enough of them that they need to be investigated. I have seen no indication that even their school paper, or local papers, have done more than mention that the first incident happened. Who is going to ask the questions here, and why aren't they being asked? Oh yeah, because we're too afraid to challenge the state right? Sounds like a situation I've heard of somewhere in history before, but oh wait I shouldn't say that it's fascist even though it is. Something about a 2nd amendment and 1st amendment too somewhere, but we can't concern ourselves with such trivial things these days, or at least we should wait for more mass arrests and rights violations before we do. Sarcasm aside, don't you expect that people treated poorly, and people that know people that have been treated poorly, will have a poor attitude of the state? You allege that the 2nd poster must "not have liked it there." Do you expect them to like the organization after violating 1st amendment rights? Sigh.... while we fight amongst ourselves defending the CCSU's of the world for their unacceptable behavior, more organizations start to behave just like them. I don't want to pay taxes to support an organization that behaves like that, but oh yeah, I don't have a choice just like most tax payers. Must be nice to be funded no matter how you treat your fellow citizens. It's sad when many private companies make it a point to respect their people more than our government has shown they do here. What does that say about the state of Connecticut?

Anonymous said...

CT is also a very corrupt state. There's been more than one instance in which the FBI has had to make a visit to arrest police officers, and former Gov. Jodi Rell is very lucky she's not behind bars today.

To survive at CCSU as a worker you must become a sheep, think of the exact opposite of Nietzsche's Over-man. You can't be an individual and a worker while at CCSU because that means you are not a cog.

Reporting any foul play, misspent money, theft (from superiors), negligence, or even physical/verbal abuse from superiors is a very big no-no, and grounds for termination.

It doesn't have to be for whistle-blowing.
The Union workers at CCSU, especially the administrative staff (HR, IT, etc), are borderline criminally insane. They will lie in wait for any reason to terminate "at will" while looking like it wasn't for whistle-blowing.

IT said...

Wow, what else can be said. This place needs to be investigated and some high up people need to get canned. Oh, and I think the use of the term fascist, or similar terms here, is totally appropriate. Knowing how Universities treat their professors today, meaning they hire mostly adjuncts and don't give them benefits while your tuition goes up anyway, I hate to attack this professor... Still all they did was report it. It was the cops, administration, etc. that allowed these violations to take place, and furthermore to continue to take place. By turning a blind eye to it your newspapers, TV stations, and ultimately the state are responsible too.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.