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 UpIt 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 PolicyOne 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.
- "Castro, Cuba, Guevara, Traditional Gatekeepers, and the Information Age"
(January 30, 2009)
- "William Felkner vs. College Conformity: Traditional Information Gatekeepers Face Another Challenge"
(December 16, 2008)
- "America, Racism, and What Didn't Happen at Virginia Tech"
(January 22, 2009)
- "DC Gun Ban, Online Censorship, Individual Rights, and Power to the People"
(June 27, 2008)
- "American Academic Institutions: Impartial, Neutral, Nonpartisan, Dispassionate"
(April 29, 2008)
- "EEEK! Guns! Hoplophobia and Foreign Policy"
(December 23, 2007)
- "Professor Takes Heat for Calling Cops on Student Who Discussed Guns in Class"
FOXNews (March 4, 2009)
- "Professors need to respect First Amendment rights"
The Daily Campus (March 4, 2009)
Related posts, on tolerance, bigotry, racism, and hatred.