Thursday, April 25, 2013

In Which A Professor Uses an Unfortunate Personal Example...

A community member who wishes to remain anonymous sends this in...

A long time and mild mannered professor got himself into trouble this week. During a discussion about gun control, he found himself amongst a minority in the room who agreed that background checks were a good idea. To make his point, he decided to share this little bit of personal history:
"Look, guys, I am going to tell you something I don't usually share with students, even though it is nothing to be ashamed of. I am bi-polar. I take my meds, but with bi-polar, they sometimes need to be adjusted. Sometimes I get a little shaky. And I can buy a semi automatic rifle in this state, no problem. I carry a large bag on a regular basis for work----that wouldn't attract any attention here. Do you realize that means that at any given moment I could walk in here and shoot all of you in this room before you'd have a chance to really react? And let me tell you, on some days, especially THIS time of year, it is a touch and go thing from minute to minute!"
The police arrived to escort him from the building within minutes of the end of the class.


  1. And yet, some of that prof's state legislators want to arm him, and I bet a lot of those students thought it was a great idea...right up until he divulged his mental health struggles.

    And he's right. I find it mildly appalling that I can be in therapy for anxiety and depression, leave an appointment, drive to the local Big Box, and buy a rifle without having to wait. Then I can drive next door to the Farm Store and buy ammo for that rifle. Luckily I don't have to do that. I already own the rifles,and the ammo cans are under my bed.

    1. Until recently, on a frontage road in a nearby town, you could buy liquor, guns and porn at stores in the same parking lot. One-stop shopping!

      Oh -- and I agree about the ridiculous laws and about compassion for the not insubstantial number of people with mental illness. But . . . (see reply below)

  2. Hmm. So I'm going to convince students to my position designed to lessen violence by threatening to use violence against them? Got it.

  3. It's so easy to use that example without putting yourself into it. As in..."in grad school I had a professor that was bi-polar..."

  4. The lesson to be learned here is simple: Never. EVER. Trust flakes (of any stripe), and let them lull you into a false sense of security!

    It's like the guy who went to live among the bears, so he could become accepted as "a part of them." Well, he certainly did, at least for a digestive cycle or three.

    Inevitably, the flakes will turn on the human interloper like a bunch of fevered, syphilitic monkeys, shredding the poor bugger apart like a pinata.

    Really, though, the math proves it quite easily.

    TH = Thinking Human
    F = Flakes
    a = (TH + F)
    t = Time
    c = Calm Interactions

    a + (t * c) = TH + High Comfort Level w/F

    F = Purveyors of carnage

    TH = Stuck with unquenchable suffering & scarring

    Numbers don't lie...

  5. This equation applies also to Leona from Loveland's Big Thirsty.

  6. Lots of craziness to go around here, including both the laws (or lack thereof) and the professor, who apparently was kinda-sorta but not completely aware that things were getting a bit out of control, and it was one of those times when a medication adjustment was in order. I realize that's how many mental illnesses work, and that sucks. On the other hand, if one of my students used this example in class, I'd report hir, as soon as class was over (and possibly sooner if said large bag were in evidence). That statement is too close to a direct threat of harm to ignore, especially given the widespread availability of weapons appropriate for mass killing.

    So -- maybe a reason to support *both* reasonable gun control and better mental health services (and, perhaps, more liberal medical leave policies; it sounds like on some level this proffie realized he didn't belong in the classroom that day)? Neither would have solved this problem entirely, but both together might have helped.

    This is also a reason to stick to our subjects in class, no matter how passionately we may feel that our students are wrong, wrong, wrong, brainwashed by Fox News (or CNN/NPR), etc., etc. I don't know whether this professor was in criminology or, say, math, and I'm not sure whether it will make a difference given the close-to-direct threat, but, assuming this discussion was at least somewhat off topic, "stay on topic" (or "think twice before assigning readings on controversial subjects just for the sake of stirring up discussion/correcting students' worldviews") might be the sort of boundary one could set when in a more stable state, and have some hope of observing even as things deteriorated.

  7. Most of all, my best wishes to the proffie for healing and renewed stability, and for being able to continue his teaching career (in a state that doesn't panic the students).


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