The Left has coached the American citizenry on the subject of compassion with a tedium that lives at the heart and soul of the social sciences. But contrary to popular opinion, this effort really never has been about cultural diversity. It's about achieving cultural suppression under the guise of policing diversity. From the Left's perspective, the best way to move their cultural agenda forward is by making everything that is and has been philosophically, politically and economically successful seem either trivial or evil. This is achieved best by convoluting honest debate with the most specious arguments available and by viewing any attempt at compromise as a cultural surrender and a signal to advance their agenda forward.
Is there anything more emotionally exhausting than honestly attempting to reason with jesters who argue foolishness as a way of wearing you down? For goodness sake. It's like debating with Roger Rabbit, although to be fair, at least Roger Rabbit genuinely meant no harm. More exhausting than debating farce is the realization that the foolishness is nothing more than a tactic for fatiguing and breaking down one's opponent and when you recognize this you can finally accept that you are, in fact, the opponent. That's all you are and that's all you are ever going to be.
There's a now fairly well reported news story about a person by the name of Ryan Rotela – a young man of Mormon faith who is a student at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. Per a muddle of online sources, young Ryan was… or was not, depending on the news source that you are referencing… suspended from his Intercultural Communications class and may or may not face disciplinary charges which will or will not be heard and decided by a student advisory board because Mr. Rotela refused to participate in a class study which asked him to act against his religious beliefs.
The reason that I equivocate on and on is because there is a great deal of nonsense which confuses the truth of what really happened. But I've gotta tell you, the way this little novella's plot has developed over the last few days, one might get the impression that Ryan Rotela is an absurd, belligerent student wreaking havoc over what we can all obviously see is a very trivial social experiment advanced at the request of his professor who was simply trying to illustrate that there is no such thing as absurdity or belligerence.
Convoluted? I suppose that it depends on your meta-meta perspective. In my opinion, this obfuscation of truth alone should demonstrate the professor's deficiency regarding the matter of intercultural communication, but seeing as how I'm a conservative and therefore not quick enough to grasp the nuances of intercultural communication, I'm probably wrong.
This is what we do know. Professor Deandre Poole instructed the students in his class to write the name "Jesus" on a piece of paper. Depending on the news source that you read, Professor Poole may have left open the option for the students to participate in the activity. Young Ryan may have been permitted to sit it out so to speak, but this doesn't quite jibe with the story's conclusion…I'm just saying, if Poole made the exercise optional then Rotela's lack of participation in the exercise should not have gotten him suspended and if this was truly a class on communication then Rotela's communication of his dissatisfaction with the professor's instruction methods should have been merely par for the course.
Poole, who is reportedly the vice-chairman of the Palm Beach Democratic Party (or at least that's how he was listed when I linked to the site – let's see whether Poole's leadership role in Democrat politics gets scrubbed as this story spreads) then asked the students to place the paper with the name "Jesus" on the floor and stomp on it.
Per the teachers' edition of the class textbook named Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach, 5th Edition from which Professor Poole took the exercise:
"This exercise is a bit sensitive, but really drives home the point that even though symbols are arbitrary, they take on very strong and emotional meanings. Have the students write the name JESUS in big letters on a piece of paper. Ask the students to stand up and put the paper on the floor in front of them with the name facing up. Ask the students to think about it for a moment. After a brief period of silence, instruct them to step on the paper. Most will hesitate. Ask why they can't step on the paper. Discuss the importance of symbols in culture."
Professor Poole, naturally, was just following a textbook example of how best to disconnect a student from his beliefs. In this way the professor lays the ground work for the student to learn that no cultural predilection is more valid than any another. Apparently, we communicate better when nothing is relevant. Professors in the American education system love to challenge students to deconstruct the rigid thinking of our nation's cultural mores but I wonder. Do they appreciate that they themselves are cultural dictators in their own right by bullying students with the monolithic advancement of progressive philosophies at the university level? Perhaps they just never thought about it that way or perhaps that was the point all along.
Jesus? Honestly? What is in a name? Attributing anything more than graphite on college rule to this illustration of symbolism misses the point, right? Is it insulting? It's only intended to insult as a way of challenging the student's understanding of his own ethnocentrism. I mean, are we so religiously fanatical that we can't see that writing a name on a piece of paper and stomping on it doesn't hurt anyone?
Does it hurt anyone?
So then, why specifically the name "Jesus" if it's not meant to hurt anyone? Why single Christians out?
Could not the exercise achieve the same ends by asking the students to write down the name of the person they most admire? Do we learn anything about the cultural perspective of the Left because the name had to be Jesus?
Why not Mohammed or Moses? Ronald Reagan or John F. Kennedy? Why not Martin Luther King or Malcolm X? Why not Margaret Sanger or Gloria Steinem? Karl Marx or Julius Caesar? Why was it Jesus Christ? And what does this reveal to us about the assumptions of Professor Poole or the author(s) of Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach. What are the subtle lessons presented in Poole's exercise?
Pertaining to those individuals who can't look beyond the affront to their Lord and Savior long enough to pass a simple college course, the university's more malleable students will now have a living example of who deserves the general derision which shall be thrust upon the university's more rigid thinkers. So that is certainly one thing we have learned from Professor Poole's lessons in communication.
There were students who stomped on the paper right away, of course. Callousness comes more naturally to some people than to others, I suppose. But here's what is really interesting…and man, I bet there could be a whole college course dedicated to the study of this exercise alone because some people hesitated before they stomped on the name "Jesus."
Perhaps they knew that there was something not quite right in what they were being asked to do and they were looking for some social feedback on what the proper response should be. It seemed wrong to them. They hesitated but they stomped anyway, so there's another thing that we've learned. Students were taught that the best way of mastering the skill of intercultural communication is by disparaging their own culture and learning the art of irreverence. We must then assume that in order to be a successful intercultural communicator, a student will do well to first become a sociopath.
Man-o-man, I cannot wait to spend upwards of $150,000 per child so my young-ins can get them some of that-there good book learnin'.
So I ask again, did stomping on the name "Jesus" hurt anyone? Is there really such a thing as cultural tolerance? If so, is that what our children are being taught when they are asked by their professors to disregard their better judgment and behave in this brutish manner?