Academic Freedom, Part Deux

Ever since I posted an article on a teacher at Rowan-Cabbarus Community College being suspended for showing Fahrenheit 9/11 in class, I have kept an eye, every few days, on any new information. Not a thing, as of this time. I have a few emails out to some of the more local news sources, will see what pans out. Might have to check some of the bloggers from that area of NC. FYI, Salisbury is midway between Charlotte and Winston Salem/Highpoint.

I did find an interesting letter to the Salisbury Post (which, surprisingly, doesn’t seem to have even carried an article on Mr. March). I had wondered in the comments section of my original post whether any media had interviewed any of Mr March’s past and/or present students, vis a vis the update that I put on that post.

I would just like to post my view and objection to the investigation
of Davis March, professor of English at Rowan-Cabarrus Community
College. I am a former honors graduate of RCCC, and I was a student of David March.

few professors or teachers have inspired me as Professor March did. I
feel that he has been overly criticized for teaching students to think.
I give Davis March my total support and respect for being a
responsible, inspiring educator. Davis March has the uncanny ability to
wake up his student’s minds. RCCC and its administration committed a
very grievous and cruel disservice to their students and to the
community by (temporarily) suspending March.

Sounds pretty good. However, if he broke the rules, he should pay the price, no matter how good he is. But, the writers next comments tend to make me think that she is rather biased, and may not be sticking up so much for March, but the showing of 9/11. Hey, I could be wrong, but, my opinion:

RCCC has violated the students’ freedom of speech and has engendered
political discussion. This issue proves that Rowan County is not
progressing, but continues to live in the redneck Stone Age.

I am not surprised that young people or new progressive enterprises are not motivated to live or work here.

Perhaps my view is colored by having read sites such as the DU, Kos, and other Liberal outlets, along with involvement on a political forum. But, and some disagree, I still say that English Composition class is the wrong place for this. RCCC did not violate the FoS of the students. They suspended a teacher for violating school policy. I’ll admit that I have never taken an English Composition class, just the standard English classes (take your shots, if you want), but, is that class the right place for a "political discussion?" I would say no. And, if following the rules means being a "redneck," then hand me the paint.

Just to be clear, had Mr. March shown a pro-Bush film and been suspended, or F 9/11 and a pro-Bush movie, I would feel the same way about his suspension. It is deserved. So close to the election was the wrong time.

No other student letters, but, this letter is laughable. Besides referring to the movie as Fahrenheit 451, the writer claims to be a lawyer. OK. But his argument is contradictory. First, he talks about freedom of speech, then:

If March had intended to sway student
voting, he should be disciplined. Was his purpose to show movies or to
introduce materials depicting the other side of the political spectrum?
There is nothing improper about an instructor presenting various views
by whatever means he or she feels is appropriate to developing young
minds. Therefore, I assert the culprit for this violation of academic
freedom is Dick Brownell, who has not offered any complete public
explanation of all the facts surrounding the issue.

Let’s not convict March until we have all the facts.

If March has broken RCCC policy, he should be disciplined. That is what Dick Brownell has stated. And, to continue with the same reiteration, it was an English Composition class right before the election. Let’s not convict Brownell without all the facts, either.

Then there is this letter, which calls for showing Fahrenhype 9/11. No. Still the wrong place at the wrong time, at least prior to the election. I had been rather surprised by the lack of letters from his current students, till I came across this article:

March’s students are glad he’s back
but are still unsure of how the situation will affect them. "Everybody
is more than happy he was back," said Kristin Pitel, who has taken all
of March’s classes in the past but is not in one this semester.

She said students have been given no details about the incident, and March told them he  couldn’t discuss it. "The students are upset at how it was handled," Pitel said.

Check out the rest of the article, some good quotes from Mr. March. From reading many of the letters, I would like to give Mr March the benefit of the doubt, and say that he was going for discussion on F 9/11, both for and against. My personal opinion still resides at the least in "wrong time." Over the summer, fine. Maybe even early October. But, not right before the election. And not after being told not to.

One last thought. Did Fahrenheit 9/11 really change any-ones mind? During the controversy surrounding it, I have yet to ever hear of that happening. Lefties loved it, Righties hated it. Yet no one has discussed it changing their mind on who to vote for.

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