Professor Suspended After Reading Literary Work Using N-Word

We have previously discussed protests over professors using the n-word in hypotheticals or as part of a course on hate speech. Professors are being denied basic academic freedom over such content to courses. The most recent such action was taken against Professor Phil Adamo of Minneapolis’s Augsburg University. He has been suspended for using the n-word during a classroom discussion about a James Baldwin book which uses the word.

Adamo was teaching Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time and quoted this line: “You can really only be destroyed by believing that you really are what the white world calls a n—–.” Baldwin used the full word in context and students objected. Baldwin addressed the issue of the use of this word as part of text and discussion.

Adamo was later relieved of his duties as head of the school’s Honors Program because he discussed “essays on the history of the word.” Adamo tried to make the “distinction between use and mention.” In other words, “To use the word, to inflict pain or harm, is unacceptable. To mention the word, in a discussion of how the word is used, is necessary for honest discourse.”

That distinction was clearly lost on some students who posted a taped class  on YouTube under the title “Phil Adamo Justifying Use of N-Word.”

The incident reflects a growing unease among professors that they are not afforded basic academic freedom over the content of their classes, including using words that are the subject of research or actually mentioned in literary works.

What do you think?

63 thoughts on “Professor Suspended After Reading Literary Work Using N-Word”

  1. One of the projects of the Wikimedia Foundation (which runs wikipedia to the extent it can be said to be run by anyone but flying squads of well-canvassed leftists alert to create consensus for their view of things) is wikiversity, a “project devoted to learning resources, learning projects, and research for use in all levels, types, and styles of education from pre-school to university, including professional training and informal learning”.

    For the reason I just mentioned, any material from that project with even glancing political relevance should be viewed as a “potentially unreliable source” (wiki-ese for “source of information which debunks the Left”), but that leaves most of the material in the wikisphere untaijnted.

    If the Koch Brothers are looking for a really worthy charity, don’t give money to the Wikimedia Foundation – despite having to run beg-a-thons several times a year. WMF also gives a lot of that money to projects outside wikimedia and even holds contests to discover more ways outside the main Project to spend money. Instead, pay teachers, professors and other educators on a “per deliverable” basis for course syllabi which make best use of what wikiversity has, and pay programmers and online content specialists to adapt it to online courseware.

    The point ought to be to allow students to learn university-grade material at their own pace for a small fraction of college tuition, entirely what is now the dangerously toxic environment of resident university study. Since the Left has largely succeeded in co-opting the university system in Western universities for its own ends, it’s time to kill the university system by replacing it with something better and less expensive.

    Those university educators who still wish to teach and learn may do so just as easily (more so, as the story above shows) outside campuses which are now hostile to serious scholarship unless it’s conducted in acceptable shibboleths, with bows to inappropriate objects of worship. The modern university is now the polar opposite of its medieval model – rather than being a place conducive to scholarship and responsible debate and discussion, it is a place where scholarship is rapidly becoming impossible.

    It’s time for us to tell modern universities what Leon Jaworski told Rick Deckard in “Blade Runner”… “Wake up! Time to die!”

  2. He shouldn’t have been penalized in the slightest for reading the word as it appears in James Baldwin’s book to his class.

    It should have been a massive non issue.

    That it was an issue is itself preposterous.

    That reading the word in class, as the prof did, led to his suspension is beyond reckoning and signifies the hysteria that attends us.

  3. I have a hypothetical. It’s about the typical state “hate crime enhancement” type law.

    Let’s say a white perp beats up a black guy. The white perp is observed yelling while he is beating the victim, and was calling the victim “N word!” … not “nigger” mind you, but, “EN WORD!”

    Would this evidence support a finding by the court that the punishment qualified for a hate crime enhancement?

    If so then do we have to ban “En Word” too?

  4. Hey! This is kind of like verbal iconoclasm. Let me explain.

    The good news is that the endless conversation and apologies for the so-called legacy of slavery can be ended sooner, if we forget history. Part of forgetting history, is forgetting art from the period. That may be visual art- or verbal art. So throw the dried up raisin in the garbage and let’s forget about the whole thing, since we aren’t even allowed to use the words to describe it. This will also mean Mark Twain and several of the classics of American literature are gone. Oh wait you say already those are banned and forgotten? Then let’s jettison the rest too.

    Sooner we end the setasides and scholarships and quotas and special treatment for African Americans the better. For everyone. Well maybe not better for them. Ok: but let them taste equality!

  5. I haven’t read the book but this excerpt from Wikipedia would seem to illustrate the 1963 problem is alive and well in his 2019 classroom.

    Throughout the book, the author suggests the way past the Negro problem. In general, both Negro and white races must transcend what they think they know, believe, understand and fear. He suggests that America, as both a country and an ideal, is handicapped by narrowness of thinking. Only by expanding perception and experience, on both sides, can America and the people living there become fulfilled and honored in the way it can and perhaps should be.

  6. Those who write “n-word” have willingly fallen prey to the faceless dictates of their Orwellian masters. I will not fall prey to them, but will instead write “nigger” when quoting someone who said nigger or wrote nigger. Perhaps Baldwin himself ought to be called out as an anti-white racist. As for Turley, he needs to cease trying to please the Orwellian speach-controlling masters. If he’s going to cite someone, then he needs to cite that person w/o altering what that person wrote: “You can really only be destroyed by believing that you really are what the white world calls a nigger,” wrote Baldwin. And indeed add to that quote, if the word nigger upsets you so much as to render you hyper-violent or hyper-depressed then you desperately need to grow a backbone. Sticks and stones will break your bones, but names will never harm you! Democracy canNOT survive with so many fragile spineless citizens…
    G. Tod Slone, Ed.
    The American Dissident

  7. And yet, rap music which repeatedly uses the N word, and refers to women in derogatory fashion, is modern day prose and the subject of academic courses of study.

  8. Are they trying to apply anachronism to literature? Either pretend that modern values applied to yesteryear, or replace important works with no talent contemporaries? Taming of the Shrew is obviously out. Misogynistic.

    We are lobotomizing the collected knowledge base of the latest generation. That’s the only explanation for producing graduates who think Socialism is a grand and fair idea.

  9. Appeasing 18-21 year old student whims and misguided idealism is stupid. The university administration should have more backbone and support for the professor who was obviously instructing not insulting their students.

    What should have been a ‘teaching moment” was lost on an administration that clearly needs more of just that.

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