Professor Barry Mehler at Ferris State University in Michigan clearly does not want to return to in-person classes. Appearing in a video with a space helmet, Mehler went full Howard Beale in a video in which he called his students “vectors of disease” and tells them to “stay the f**k away from me.” While many have declared Mehler completely insane, his video may be as clever as a covid-phobic fox. Let me explain.
Mehler teaches the history of science and is the founder and director of the Institute for the Study of Academic Racism.
In the video below, Mehler lashes out at the requirement that he return to in-person classes despite the risk to his health as an older person. He is profane, insulting, and taunting.
He is also being clearly sarcastic and waggish at points. For example, he tells the students that he randomly assigns grades at the start of the course because he does not care who they are or what they do in this class: “None of you c**ksuckers are good enough to earn an A in my class. So I randomly assign grades before the first day of class.” However, he later explains how they can earn an A without coming to class if they do the other work.
He uses the pre-written speech (you can see the script when he shares the screen) to attack religion, Western Civilization, America’s legacy, and both the students and the university.
Mehler may set a record for the purely profane in his diatribe:
“I may have f***ed up my life flatter than hammered s***, but I stand before you today beholding to no human c*ksucker,” Mehler says. “I’m working in a paid f***ing union job and no limber-d*ck c*ksucker of an administrator is going to tell me how to teach my classes. Because I’m a f****** tenured professor. So, if you want to go complain to your dean, f*** you, go ahead. I’m retiring at the end of this year and I couldn’t give a flying f*** any longer.”
At one point he declares “[w]hen I look out at a classroom filled with fifty students, I see fifty selfish kids who don’t give a sh*t whether grandpa lives or dies. And if you won’t expose your grandpa to a possible infection with COVID, then stay the f*** away from me.”
It is Howard Beale with a doctorate.
So is this just madness? Perhaps, but I don’t think so. Three clues can be derived from the video. First, there is the fact that this was a pre-written “soliloquy.” It sounds like a spontaneous diatribe but It is a calculated and intentionally worded address. It could be more Machiavellian than Bealean in that sense. While Mehler does call his students “vectors of disease,” he then shows how he took that language loosely from a movie as a teachable moment on plagiarism.
Second, Mehler reveals that he does not want to teach in person. To that end, he encourages students not to come to class and assures them that their grades will not be impacted. Indeed, he strongly suggests that he will look with disfavor on those who appear in this class.
Third, Mehler says that this is his last year before retiring and he has tenure (and union) protections. He encourages the students to complain to the university. Indeed, he almost begs them to do so. They did and the university expressed the predictable shock as it placed him on leave.
So what does that all mean? It could mean that Mehler was trying to get himself put on leave. (Hopefully, he can still return the $300 space helmet). Before the university could fire him, they must investigate him and follow grievance procedures. He will claim that this was an effort of being edgy and humorous. That process could likely take the year and Mehler would simply retire. In the meantime, he and his space helmet can stay at home.
Or he may be crazy.
67 thoughts on ““Stay the f**k away from me”: Professor Placed On Leave After Calling Students “Vectors of Disease” and Promising Random Grading”
Wow: I had no idea Natacha’s dad was so learned! I see where she gets the whole rant-and-rave thing from.
He’s 75. At 75, he’s fully vested in Social Security. He likely has a pension from his employer. He should retire. Spend the rest of his Golden Years hermetically sealed in his apartment.
Darren Smith: (Before I forget–my “responses” seldom show up under the commenter to whom I am responding) — Just want to say that your “Soliloquy” was particularly funny, as was the bit piece and Eight Degrees.I’m just not clever or quick enough to send an equally-witty response/comment
“No surprise that [Mehler] is the “director” of the Institute for the Study of Academic Racism. Victims, victims everywhere . . .”
You know what is contemptible? Those who condemn a man based on ignorance.
That Institute focuses on how racism infects science, e.g., eugenics. It has nothing to do with “victims, victims everywhere.”
Mehler spent 40 years helping holocaust survivors recover from their nightmares — nightmares caused, in part, by racist “science.”
Seriously, people. Before you pull the trigger, *know* what you’re aiming at.
“Mehler spent 40 years helping holocaust survivors recover from their nightmares — nightmares caused, in part, by racist “science.””
Sam, where did you see that data? Thanks.
Various bios and interviews.
“victims, victims, everywhere”–you must be referring to the fat election loser’s fake Arizona “rally”* in which he tried to claim that white people are being discriminated against in COVID treatments–right? As usual, he twists the facts–in this case, public health officials have published information that blacks and other minorities are disproportionately affected by COVID and by lack of availability of tests and treatments–a public health consideration in treatment–not prioritization. And, there was the usual lying about losing the election and trying to blame Biden because he hasn’t been able, in one years’ time, to reverse the damage the fat one did to this country in 4 years’s time.
*not a rally–just a vainglory event since he hasn’t stated he’s running for office, because if he did, federal law would apply to what he does with the money he gets from the disciples. Mainstream media won’t point the camers at fatso any more, so he uses the contributions he gets from the gullibles to stage a “rally”, which was done for no reason other than as a salve for his massive, but fragile, ego. He just HAS to get that fat ass out there and hear the cheers of the disciples.
You got TDS, bad!
He may be sublimely clever or he may simply be goofy in the head. Or, he could be just a pathetic little attention whore. Let’s face it; he’s a scholar of trivia who nobody’s ever heard of. This is probably the best he’ll ever do at gaining even a scintilla of notoriety. So sad.
A good chunk of the speech is straight out of Jim Ellsworth first scene in Deadwood season 1. A very funny and profane intro to the character. David Milch had a way to give profanity a certain poetic charm.
Soliloquy of the Professor’s Cloister
Gr-r-r–there go, my heart’s abhorrence!
Wear your damned facial masks, do!
If COVID killed men, mother-f’n students,
God’s blood, would not mine infect you?
What? your thesis needs grading?
Go, file that harassment claim–
My career is broken and fading.
Hell, I got my two minutes’ fame.
Nice analysis, Prof. Turley!
People like this mal-adapted man, have been laying their axes to the foundation of reason and civilization for decades, tenured, and festering in their own sophistry within Academian, ruining the minds of their students.
Could not have said it better myself.
Well, I would add only a few comments… One, most of us learn about plagiarism in high school or even junior high school; although worthy of mention there is no reason to teach it at the college level… two, both the American Puritan Non-Separatist and the Pilgrim Separatist were Calvinist only in respect to pre-destination, they otherwise rejected or ignored Calvin, to include even his marriage ordnances; third, they did NOT believe in “grace through salvation.” Grace through salvation is the view of the so-called “Modern Protestant,” which does not appear in the Puritan churches of MA Bay until 1790. Very simply, the Puritan did not believe he could redeem himself, achieve or acquire grace by any means, nor that such grace alone would ensure his place in the eventual hereafter. Grace through salvation versus pre-destination; these are historically primary religious tenets, a college professor should know the difference, should know the historical facts, and should not teach untruths. I think this professor needs to be retired: I would not sit in his class.
Update: Just as some of us predicted–it was not a serious video. Check out Detroit Free Press article I am most dismayed by the fact that we have a population that does not get parody, but especially the satire whose ridicule of a subject is intended to bring about reflection and consequent change in our society. The president of the university gave the typical knee-jerk response. I seriously question his intelligence. Do they not teach parody and satire in high school anymore? Kudos to those who got it; the rest of you go back and study literary devices.
” I am most dismayed by the fact that we have a population that does not get parody”
To be fair, so many things have become parodies of themselves, the “theater of the absurd” presented with seriousness, that distinguishing real satire from the too common craziness has actually become challenging. Maybe this incident will help people practice more nuanced analyses…
“. . . we have a population that does not get parody . . .”
As opposed to some, at least his former students understand that it is parody:
“I’ve gotten lots of support since this happened by former students who said, ‘You were the funniest professor I ever had,’” said Mehler, who has been at Ferris State for decades. “People who have watched the video are writing to say, ‘It was hysterical. I laughed from beginning to end.’”
Hmmm. Could be performance art echoing the high satire of Swift’s A Modest Proposal??
Professor Mehler, is teaching in person an unreasonable expectation during a pandemic, especially for a 74-year-old professor? I don’t know. You raise an interesting question, but if you’re vaccinated and boosted and still worrying about it, you can’t blame only Republicans. The vaccine has been oversold by a lot of people to an anxious electorate, and it’s as bad to fire and ruin the lives of people who don’t want the vaccine (that isn’t performing like a vaccine) as it might be to force you to teach in person.
And I’m not an anti-vaxxer. Been vaxxed and boosted, just like you. I just openly recognize the limits of the technology as much you do tacitly.
All of this normally should raise interesting questions for your Democrats–as well as Republicans–but Democrats need a witch hunt to change the subject from Afghanistan and inflation.
Reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic, Founders and the dominion of the U.S. Constitution must be taught in American public K-12 schools; that process must include rational, effective, judicious and economical budgets.
Colleges must be operated as private property in the competitive free markets of the private sector without interference and skewing by unconstitutional legislation.
Extravagant salaries based on a union-created “image” and popularity polls must be terminated.
Usurpation of the power of elected officials by corrupt communist teachers unions is unconstitutional.
Elected officials must establish and implement curricula.
Corrupt communist teachers unions must be irrevocably decertified in perpetuity.
The military is every nation’s primary workforce; the military will never unionize, strike or otherwise unconstitutionally usurp power.
Corrupt communist teachers union members who strike must be removed and terminated with extreme prejudice.
Corrupt communist teachers unions must never again be allowed to usurp the power of elected officials.
Corrupt communist teachers unions must never again be allowed to corrupt and interdict the educational process in America.
Non-union teachers must be hired to teach and non-union teachers must teach precisely as they are directed.
This “teacher” fosters an environment that discourages any questioning of his proclamations which thereby prohibits critical thinking which is fundamental to the learning process. How sad and pathetic. He should have just retired instead of waiting for the University to put him on leave.
There are a lot of diverse opinions on this video which makes it more interesting. The video demonstrates a keen mind and could be a teaching moment in multiple subjects if carefully viewed and discussed. Without knowing more about him, one cannot pass judgment on the man from this video. He is a leftist, but that shouldn’t change our viewpoints of his abilities.
“Without knowing more about him, one cannot pass judgment on the man from this video. ”
Sure, I can. He’s an ass.
You are entitled to your opinion, but if he talked about eating children to stop poverty and starvation, would you still think he was an as$? I think you would need to know more about him before making any decision.
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