Augsburg University and UChicago Face Protests Over Classroom Use Of The N-Word

In Minnesota, Augsburg University has reportedly stripped Professor Phillip Adamo of his directorship of the honors program after he used the n-word in a class discussion of a passage (using the word) from James Baldwin. In the meantime, at the University of Chicago (my alma mater) Professor Geoffrey Stone is under fire for the same alleged offense in a classroom. Unlike Augsburg, however, UChicago has continued its staunch defense of free speech and academic freedom in support of Stone.

In the Adamo case, the class was reading from James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time when a student read a passage that included the word. Students immediately objected and Adamo asked them whether it was better to use “the euphemistic phrase ‘the N-word’” or use the actual text of the famed author. That did not go over well with some students who demanded punishment for the History professor. Adamo has previously won teaching awards, including the Minnesota Professor of the Year for 2015 by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

Rather than support academic freedom, Augsburg suspended Adamo while performing an “ongoing inclusivity review.” Now it has stripped him of his position as director of the honors program. What is missing is an explanation of what he did wrong or sanctionable. The Echo reported that Adamo has been taken out of honors courses. Moreover, Brandon Williams, student government president, praised the administration for its “promised review of a number of Faculty Handbook points, such as those involving changes to the definition of academic freedom.” That sounds ominous. Academic freedom is well understood, just not universally accepted. If this account is accurate, this is a core issue of academic freedom.

At UChicago, there is a boycott being organized by five “racial and ethnic affinity groups” to stop participation in the Admitted Students Weekend. Their grievance? UChicago has stayed faithful to the core values of free speech and academic freedom. The widely respected law professor Geoffrey Stone used the n-word in his Constitutional Law II: Freedom of Speech class. They were discussed the “fighting words” exception to First Amendment-protected speech. Rather than attempt to understand his pedagogical purpose, students sought to punish Stone for using the word despite the clearly academic purpose.

The Black Law Students Association complained to Dean Thomas Miles in a letter that is chilling in its utter dismissal of core values of free speech. They declared:

“Cloaked in First Amendment rhetoric, the University of Chicago has prided itself on being one of the few, if not the only, law schools that permit professors to include racial slurs as part of their curriculum. We understand the contours of Freedom of Speech and the value it can add to the marketplace of ideas. However, free speech is not free, and as it is currently applied, the University’s free speech policy, the “Chicago Principles,” leaves Black students bearing the costs.”

I am not convinced that these students understand or at least accept “the contours of Freedom of Speech,” let alone academic freedom. All students benefit from a world-class institution that has built its reputation on the foundation of free exchange of ideas and values. They conclude by saying

“We did not pay thousands of dollars to attend an institution that takes a passive role in responding to structural injustices at the expense of our educational liberties. We feel overextended, unappreciated, and quite frankly, exploited.”

Restricting free speech and academic freedom is not an exercise of “educational liberty.” It is an exercise of censorship and intolerance. That fact that these students fail to appreciate or recognize the difference is chilling.

Fortunately, UChicago has stood against the tide of speech controls and sanctions sweeping over American educational institutions. It have steadfastly stood by Stone, as it should.

37 thoughts on “Augsburg University and UChicago Face Protests Over Classroom Use Of The N-Word”

  1. I clearly remember my excitement at going to college. We were treated as adults, and not children. Occasionally, a professor cussed (like when the physics professor accidentally shocked himself during lecture.)

    I cannot imagine the reception if someone demanded a safe space, or bubbles, to discuss a tough topic back then.

    The N word is used repeatedly and excessively in rap music. It is used as a greeting amongst African-American friends. I find that use of the word abhorrent. They haven’t really taken ownership of that horrid word, because if anyone else uses it there is mass uproar.

    As rap artists win awards for music denigrating women and rife with the N word, academics face criticism and a threat to their livelihood if they discuss it in lecture, and not in any derogatory sense.

    That’s a double standard.

    How are we to discuss slavery in any real academic sense if you cannot read or say derogatory terms used to dehumanize people?

  2. Teacher: “The last half of the XXth Century saw a great movement to wipe out certain types of unacceptable comments. As a nation we were treated to a full explanation by ‘******* ********’ James Baldwin. No longer could ‘******’ be used in speech or writing.”

    “Does that mean we can use a series of ****’s” one student questioned?

    A second student asked, “It seems logical that the subject matter may no longer required in the syllabus as none of us have ever heard such an utterance.”

    Teacher: “True and their were enough of those ‘*****’ that added together all of you are due for top grades and while I’m working on my new publish or perish book all of you may use the time for other classes.

    Some time later.

    What the **** was that all about?

  3. I’m not sure I understand how offense could be taken in this incidence. Is the professor supposed to pretend that James Baldwin, a celebrated Black writer, didn’t use the word. Are we all supposed to pretend that it wasn’t used? Is it now inappropriate to discuss our past as it was?
    What seems to be lacking here is good judgment and common sense both of the part of the student and the University.

    1. Yes that is correct. So, what we can see is that our whole university arts and letters system is afflicted by a cultural Marxism that would have made even Karl Marx sick at how lying and dishonest it has become.

  4. Part of problem is that professors are mostly a bunch of timid wimps. Now if a hundred professors all did this on the same day at once, it would be the end of it. But they are wimps, wussies, chumps, who are out there tattling and scolding about political correctness to the kids, and then it bites them in the butt, and they cry, and get demoted, then a few articles like this, and it all proceeds apace down the path of morbidity.

    Moreover, rather than dwelling on James Baldwin, maybe they should try Iceberg Slim for an assignment. If you can read Henry Miller ok then you can read Iceberg Slim. And rather than Langston Hughes, they should try out some of the poets writing brilliant, euphonious, clever lyrics in hip hop. It’s being ignored because the feminists think it’s misogynist, for one, and for two, they are afraid to say the ubiquitous “N word” which is in all these songs. Very sad! A missed opportunity.

    I had bookmarked a few other really fantastic lyrics from hiphop recently, besides the Young Dolph song “get paid,” and I may pull them out to share here if anyone is interested.

    I am not aware of any impressive poetry at all after say the 1960s, which was not also lyrical. Some of the best poetry written by English speaking Americans after that has been just in popular music. Besides lyrics, anybody can let me know if I’m missing something.

    Mostly I like classic epics for poetry, like I said, Homer. I’m a person of simple tastes.

    1. Speaking of classics I’m sure those great classics like Ice Cubes Amerikkkas Most Wanted and Death Certificate are downloaded on many phones at Augsburg to study by. I’m also willing to bet that if those albums were blasted over giant speakers campus wide to celebrate diversity or black history month the University would receive some kind of liberal award from some liberal foundation and a grant to pay for a newly released cop killer of Augsburgs choice to get his or her degree in African American Studies.

  5. “We train young men to drop fire on people, but their commanders won’t allow them to write “f**k” on their airplanes because it’s obscene!” Col Kurtz, “Apocalypse Now”

  6. ha! not blocked.

    I will share another favorite that folks are missing out on.

    tar baby is one of the best pieces of folk wisdom ever told! right up there with Aesop

    nobody wants to promote these now because a white person went around collecting these stories from former black slaves.

    well, today, let’s just forget the wisdom rather than conserving it?
    that’s how universities see things

    1. well it didnt eat the Huck Finn but it did block the lyrics to the catchy tune “get paid” by “young dolph,” a song I really like. prolly that was the F Bombs@ lol

      1. here is my other favorite hip hop song, from decades hence. i added paragraphing

        The Tower–Ice-T

        I’m rollin’ up in a big gray bus
        And I’m shackled down
        Myself that’s who I trust
        The minute I arrived
        Some sucker got hit
        Shanked ten times
        Behind some bullsh**
        Word in the pen the fool was a snitch
        So without hesitatin’
        I made a weapon quick
        If found a sharp piece of metal
        Taped it to a stick
        Then a bullhorn sounds
        That means it’s time for chow
        My first prison meal
        The whole feeling was foul
        It wasn’t quite my style
        But my stomach growled
        So I flushed the shit down
        And hit the weight pile
        The brothers was swole
        The attitudes was cold
        Felt the tension on the yard
        From the young and the old
        But I’m a warrior
        I got my ground to hold

        So I studied the inmates
        To see who hd the power
        the Whites? The Blacks?
        Or just the gun tower!

        In a blink of an eye, a riot broke out
        Blacks put their backs to the wall
        Cause it was north and south
        A gun man shouts
        And everybody had doubt
        Until the bullets started fly’n
        Took two men out
        Thn they rushed everybody
        Back to their cells
        Damn the pen is different than
        The county jail
        I’m in a one man cell
        I know my life’s on a scale
        I wonder if that gunman is goin’ to hell
        This is my second day
        I got a ten year stay
        I learned my first lesson
        In the pen you don’t plaay
        I saw a brother kill another
        Cause he said he was gay
        But that’s the way it is
        It been that way for years
        and when his body hit the ground
        I heard a couple of cheers
        It kind of hurt me inside
        That they were glad he died

        and I ask myself
        Just who had the power?
        The Whites? The Blacks?
        Or just the gun tower!

        You see the Whites got a thing
        The call White pride
        The Blacks got the muscle
        Mexicans got the knives

        You better be wise
        You want to stay alive
        Go toe to toe with a sucka
        No matter wht size
        A fool tried to sweat me
        Act’n like he was hard
        I stuck him twice in the neck
        And left him dead in the yard
        It was smooth how I did it
        Cause nobody could see
        With my jacket on my arm
        And my knife on the side of me
        Bam bam, it was over
        Another one bites the dust
        I went crazy in the pen
        With nobody to trust
        Bench’n ten quarters, so I’m hard to sweat
        Used a tat gun, and engrved my set
        They call me a lifer
        Cause I’m good as dead
        I live in the hole, so the floor’s my bed

        And I ask myself again
        Who has the power
        The Whites? The Blacks?
        Or just the gun tower

        Songwriters: Rashir Bilal / Tracy Lauren Marrow
        The Tower lyrics © Reach Music Publishing

  7. I’ll make this easy for the stupid professors out there who want to include black authors like Baldwin. STOP STUDYING JAMES BALDWIN.

    Just pick a different work to study, preferably not by Mark Twain, but some other white author who didn’t impact on the race issue, like say, Homer’s Illiad? That’s worth more college time if you ask me, than James Baldwin.

  8. This is yet another attempt to nullify the Constitution, specifically, the freedom of speech and the right to private property. Other communistic aspects of the American welfare state that constitute nullification and are unconstitutional are “Affirmative Action Privilege,” quotas, welfare, food stamps, social services, forced busing, utility subsidies, WIC, TANF, HAMP, HARP, Education, Labor, Obamacare, Obamaphones, Social Security, Social Security Disability, Medicare, Medicaid, Fair Housing laws, Non-Discrimination laws et al.

    Including universities, the right to private property allows owners to possess and dispose of their property however they choose without any form of interference by the government which is severely limited by the Constitution to facilitating the constitutional freedoms and rights of individuals.

    Statutes may limit assault, battery, stalking, physical harassment, etc. by verbal attack but they may not abridge the freedom of speech including the individual words of speech.

    Americans are provided the unabridged freedom of speech to oppose, offend, insult, etc. the King, President, the Dog Catcher or anyone else they choose and no citizen has any right to claim offense in order to deny or abridge another citizen’s freedom of speech.

    1st Amendment

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    5th Amendment

    No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

  9. One night in Liberal University indoctrination lab.
    Professor Frankenstein:⚡”It’s alive. ⚡ It’s alive.⚡ It’s alive!⚡IT’S ALIVE! ⚡⚡ IT’S ALIVE!⚡⚡IT’S…huh?…What the F*#&?…no…No, get back…NO…aargh🧟‍♂️AAAHHHH!”

    1. that’s right,

      “like Saturn, the revolution devours its own”

      Jacques Mallet du Pan

  10. I know the answer to this question, but will ask anyway. What is wrong with kids who cannot even hear a word without falling apart emotionally?! Those kids are not fit for elementary school, much less college.
    I would not let a child of mine leave the house if they were too delicate to shape up and get over themselves.
    How do they survive those harsh winters in Minn. if they are such delicate little whiney pants?

    1. They’re not falling apart. These are self-aggrandizing power moves on their part.

      1. “They’re not falling apart. These are self-aggrandizing power moves on their part.”

        Correct. There’s no trauma at all. It’s also the dopamine rush from a fit of performative outrage.

      2. Exactly, It’s a power grab, pure and simple. The question is why it succeeds as well as it does. White guilt is the most common explanation, and it’s good as far as it goes. But I believe that white “allies” are making their own power grab. By throwing their full support behind the helpless minorities victimized by white oppression, they get to feel morally superior to other whites. That’s the payoff. It’s these people – not the students – who are primary responsible for all this insanity.

      3. That is exactly the case for the motivation, though as fragile as they are some definitely come apart at the seams under the smallest amount of shear.

      4. When Black Lives Matter thugs storm a podium in the middle of a rally, and yell that they’re taking over…….that ‘s the kind of emotionally falling apart I’m talking about.

      5. and because most professors are nut less wimps, the aggressive bullying students will do what they do, and because admins are a bunch of sociopathic paper shufflers only out for a paycheck not much will happen soon.

        Similar a bit to the Chinese Cultural Revolution where Left-radicals are destroying the very foundations of civilization with their childish and immature scapegoating— but also not like it. That was supported by Mao with his attack on “the four olds” and other rhetorical mischief. But our errant overzealous red guards” do not have a Mao behind them. There is no one Big Man giving these freaks the green light to act up, and no one voice on the left that can suddenly stand up and tell them to stand down.

        that’s why, a lot of this will only be properly curtailed when big money gets its face bloodied, and then it tells the trustees to reign the freaks in. But for now, enough of the big money men who keep on ignoring and feeding the universities, are unconcerned with the effects of this stupidity on regular people., which is why people voted for Trump, a guy who can mass-initiate counter-revolution against these raging Jacobin fanatics.

        I have a hypothesis that the Left — such as it was in the 1930s lets say, which had a strong pro-Labor focus– by the 1960s had turned away from economic issues and moved on towards non-economic social strife issues, such as surrounding race and sex, mostly.

        I suspect that Cunning Money Men PAID THEM to stop addressing labor issues and start focusing instead on social chaos operations — this was the transformation of the Left that happened in the 1960s, with the emergence of anti-white “Civil Rights” as the primary focus to the detriment of the other economic concerns of the working class. With the left constantly crusading against one “systemic oppression” or another, little things that restrained finance in the old days, have gone by the wayside. State usury laws are a relic for example, which went away for all practical purposes, a thing that hardly anyone notices, but affects nearly everyone, quietly, as growing debt eats away at the earnings growth of every new generation stupid enough to take out overpriced lines of credit. Just one example. But gays can get married now! An issue that pleases only a small number but distracts the larger number from other bad things in play like offshoring and the other negative effects of financialization on the nation.

        When I talk to young people about racism, they get excited. when I try and explain what is “usury” and social religious and legal limitations on it over the ages and how that’s relevant today, I lose them very quickly. I suspect big money men figured out this dynamic in the 60s which is why a lot of them are always on the “progressive” or chaotic side of various social issues.

        A key turning point was LBJ’s reversal on his segregationist party colleagues. People don’t get that segregation was a social institution that benefitted low and middle class whites in the South. It did not benefit upper mobile and capitalist interests. As one old timer told me, “The Chamber of Commerce was among those behind desegregation from the start.”

        Those people quickly abandoned the Democrat party that has been making war on their social conventions and order ever since– Nixon’s Southern strategy is still in play.

  11. “N-word, b-word, c-word are not the vernacular of a great people especially when “f*ck” is an omnipresent stain on every aspect of conversation, music, art and declining culture.”

    Wow, this is great. I will use this in future discussions.

    I used to have a foul mouth especially after graduating college. My brother sat me down and told me how he worked with a guy who swears every other word. He then proceeded to tell me how this guy has no ammunition left when he is really angry. I took my brothers words to hart and never swear unless it is really called for. I have quite a stock of ammunition now. And it has served me well since people know when I’m truly angry.

    1. This was supposed to post under mespo727272 comment: March 20, 2019 at 7:05 AM

  12. It’s an ominous sign. The students want to show that they no longer accept the traditional power structure, which had valued academic freedom. So academic freedom has to go. They believe that whatever function universities will have under the new order, academic freedom won’t be part of it.

  13. What we have here is rank-and-file faculty being harassed by jack-wagons. You have administration jack-wagons and student-body jack-wagons. Nothing prevents the administrators from telling the student body jack-wagons to go hang, and if it were a complaining delegation from the campus evangelical fellowship, they’d be met with indifference, irritation, and condescension. The administration jack-wagons are in place because the college president is a jack-wagon. A jack-wagon is who the trustees hired. Whenever you see these problems, trustee non-feasance is the core of the problem. And the trustees are jerks largely because our professional-managerial bourgeoisie are jerks. You want the source of the problem, look in the mirror, professor. Look at your circle of friends.

    1. TIAx3:

      Truth in every syllable. We are failed not by our rank and file but bu our leaders. We haven’t seen this level of complete abandonment of leadership since PMs Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain pussy-footed around Westminster and decided that not offending Hitler and his gang of thugs was good for domestic policy.

    2. ” You want the source of the problem … Look at your circle of friends.”

      DSS, no truer words can be said. The elites have lost sight of reality. A lot of things aren’t being talked about on this blog that seem to be within Professor Turley’s main interests. Why?

      Freedom of speech is eroding quickly and we see that on the social media websites and even in Professor Turley’s reluctance to talk about these things. Americans are now afraid of saying what they believe because they know they will be attacked from the fascist left and subject to losing their jobs or even opportunities for their children.

      The elites are afraid to stand up for all those things they profess to believe in. If their voices remain shut regarding freedom of speech then they are contributing to the extinguishment of our free speech and basic rights.

  14. I once believed that only primitive cultures had taboo words and not progressive ones mature enough to handle frank, uncomfortable discussions. Now I learn from our academe-based high priestesses of morality that we’re incapable of saying certain words because they are far too painful. It’s the “boo boo-ization” of a society devoid of its founding testosterone. N-word, b-word, c-word are not the vernacular of a great people especially when “f*ck” is an omnipresent stain on every aspect of conversation, music, art and declining culture. We have to adopt the vocabulary, sensibilities and proscriptions of a middle school girl to function. This is not evolution and maturity buts their opposite.

    1. “N-word, b-word, c-word are not the vernacular of a great people especially when “f*ck” is an omnipresent stain on every aspect of conversation, music, art and declining culture.”

      Wow, this is great. I will use this in future discussions.

      I used to have a foul mouth especially after graduating college. My brother sat me down and told me how he worked with a guy who swears every other word. He then proceeded to tell me how this guy has no ammunition left when he is really angry. I took my brothers words to hart and never swear unless it is really called for. I have quite a stock of ammunition now. And it has served me well since people know when I’m truly angry.

      1. Some cross their fingers and some leave out the letter ‘e’ and others using this method I learned in on of my language courses. Pick out a number of words and use them instead of the off color ones; Such As Chuuuuu leta Puerco! Chanco! Chihuahua. the inflection will guide the understanding.

          1. these words are, to our ears, homophones, but the characters are different.
            so it works pretty well for those writing Chinese, say, on the internet.

            verbally, they have different accents, to differentiate the meaning, but we can barely tell the difference, and anyways in nearly any language, context over rides pronunciation

    2. No wonder gray is the in-color. It reflects the discernment, values, and character of far too many people. It is like we are in a fog–no clear outlines, no clarity, no direction.

      Some sun is needed to burn away the fog.

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