Friday, March 13, 2009

And they think grade inflation is bad *now*...

Republican senator Jeff Wentworth (San Antonio, TX) has introduced a bill to the Texas Legislature that would permit people to carry concealed weapons on college campuses. His reasoning is as follows:

"I don't want to wake up and read in the paper that Texas students were mowed down like sitting ducks on campus because they weren't allowed to defend themselves," said Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, who is filing the "campus carry" bill this week. "It's a matter of personal safety and self defense." (from the Dallas News 2/24/09)

As a college instructor, I find this bill to be quite terrifying. I would feel very uncomfortable knowing that my students may be armed--I wonder if the schools would issue bullet proof vests to the faculty and staff? And what about the intimidation factor? Some students are a little frightening in their responses to a bad grade *without* weapons.

Plus, the idea that we'll be "safer" if everyone armed and able to properly defend themselves from mentally unstable attackers makes no sense to me. Sounds like a lot of freaked out people running around campus with guns to me.


M said...

I don't think terrifying begins to describe my reaction to this. I mean, that is just what we need. A bunch of adolescents (b/c let's be honest, college students are still going through some of the hormonal changes associated with late adolescence), who are stressed out by finals or just recently broke up with their boy/girlfriend carrying guns around. Great idea!

paperweight said...

As Lightening McQueen says: "IDIOT!"

That is so f--ckin stupid. Hormones, alcohol, drugs, & guns just what we need on our c
ampuses. I know at least 4 instances from my old gig where the boys/girls beat each other up in the parking lot, dorms, etc, screaming I'm going to kill you.

Then again, half the "country boys" there had guns in their trucks (or even on them) anyway.

"God Bless Texas"

p-duck said...

This terrifies me. I'm feeling a little bit ignorant about what we can do to stop this. What can we do? On the one hand, we're guaranteed the right to work in a safe environment--I won't feel safe if I know my students are armed. Can you even imagine handing back a group of bad papers?
Also, I've visited some the (many) web sites that promote this idea and they all argue that handguns on campus would stop future shootings because someone could simply shoot the shooter. I don't want to test this theory! Also, if carrying a gun on campus isn't seen as threatening, what right do I have to complain if someone wips a gun out while I'm on the way to the library??

Let's do something about this rather than just talk about it.

M said...


It seems that the best thing to do would be to contact the congressperson from your district and let him know that professors and instructors in TX aren't interested in this. I also think it would probably be fairly easy to start an petition to this affect, which you could then present to said congressperson.

solon said...

To some degree I think there is some amount of hysteria in this post and in the comments, especially since almost all of you have worked for a University where there are many guns on campus. In my last semester at a large Mid-Western University, I taught in an ROTC building. The first time I checked out the classroom there were fifty people dressed in uniform, taking apart, cleaning, and putting back together machine guns.

While I do not agree with the bill, especially since the purpose of the bill conflicts with the basic values of a University, almost every university, I think it would be best to check and see which states have concealed weapon laws on the books and examine the number of gun incidents that occur.

Not all of the people who own guns are raving lunatics. Some of them even have weapons training, which reflects the purpose of a University-- if we provide people with knowledge, then they are better equipped to live their life.

Even as Paperweight points out, while the guns may not be in the classroom, they are not far behind.

The Roof Almighty said...

What surprises me is that it takes a Texas lawmaker this long to conceive of something Texas students have been arguing for in Composition classes for the half-decade I've been here.

How can you fail to understand the logic that, if everyone has guns, then, essentially, no one has guns. In the same way that, "if I have herpes, and you have herpes, then what can fucking hurt."

(My answer: "it can hurt your inflamed sores" is derided as liberal puss-wash. They point finger-guns at me and tell me to cry. I comply, dancing to the music in my head.)

M.A.D. is a living, present argument to our li'l' puddingheads.

What they miss, however, is that, according to the Texas census, the most likely victims of violence here in Aggie central are foreign-born students (who can't own a gun because they aren't the chosen ones), our female date rape victims (who secretly want it), and bike owners (faggots), none of whom are clamoring to own guns, and thank god, because then they could never stop shooting us.

But, howdy, do us white men need a gun on us constantly to keep ourselves safe from imaginary bad guys. Howdy.

Now just wait until some shitty, coward State Senator suggests that we bring the bonfire back on campus TO HONOR OUR BONFIRE DEAD with like a total fucking kegger and a fire bright enough to scare away the demons and negroes and our secret pistols warming our thighs like secretive uncles smelling like beer.

Sure, I like beer.

Supadiscomama said...

Solon, you realize that "hysteria" is a loaded term, right? And I don't think it's "hysterical" to be concerned about students carrying weapons to class.

I never indicated that gun owners in general are raving lunatics. However, I do think that the ones who would choose to bring a weapon to class "just in case" a lunatic does attack are paranoid and may be a bit quick to draw.

And perhaps you never had a student try to intimidate you when he (yes, I'm being gender specific) is displeased with the grade you "gave" him. Ask P-Duck to tell you about her Marine.

P.S. The ROTC kids didn't bring their automatic weapons to my lit class.

M said...

I have to agree with Supa's comments on this one, Solon.

I'd also like to remind you that I was on the phone with your wife the day that a young man wearing a mask walked on to the campus of your current college with a rifle, quite near your building, as I recall. I don't think you'd say she was "hysterical." Would knowing that all of your students were similarly armed made you feel any safer? Would it have made Megs less worried?

Oh, and none of my students ever carried their guns to class--or to my office. And frankly, if a student had ever walked into my office, sat down, and took off his or her jacket to reveal a pistol, you're damn right I'd have been "hysterical."

And one more thing: at no point did anyone suggest that all gun owners are raving lunatics. That is, in fact, you're own interpretation of the comments. I know lots of stable, well-adjusted individuals who own guns--PW among them. That aside, I still wouldn't want to teach in any state that passes such a law. I daresay you wouldn't either.

solon said...


First of all, my objection was to the crass portraying of college students as if they could not be reasonable citizens.

Second, since I have been in a position in which this has occurred, though certainly not to the scale that other schools have seen, you should know that the actions of a student who possessed training prevented anything from occurring. This was the point I attempted to make.

Rather than bluntly state, "A bunch of adolescents...who are stressed out," which fails to make any distinction about the actual people who attend college, the point remains that there are some kids who could actually provide a service, if they were properly trained, to others in need, which may in fact help prevent tragedies.

Now, I object to this legislation because I do not believe it is best to pass legislation on large scale tragedies and because carrying weapons in a classroom does violate the ethos of a liberal education.

It is highly unlikely that this legislation would pass because of practical matters, such as student housing, rejection from professors, and administrators. If a law were in place, professors would have the right to reject meeting with students in their office if students were carrying weapons.

As for the hysteria comments, all words are loaded; all ideas are incitements. To walk through every possible meaning of a word before posting it would make most of the posts rather short.

And, throughout the semester, the ROTC kids were in the room next door all through class. Every Tuesday and Thursday.

Anonymous said...

No you didn't, M! Leave me out of this, lady!


The Roof Almighty said...

Again, I deal with this at the Freshman level on a semi-daily basis (while you are all in your ivory tower lit and speech classes) and I can assure you that the problem may or may not be guns, it may or may not be that our students are slack-jawed yokels ("Most folk'll never lose a toe but, then again, some folks'll"), and it may or may not be that adding guns to a largely gunless enclave does not logically shrink the likely amount of gun-based crimes.

The problem is that the people in charge of proposing, implementing, and soapboxing the legal and political aspect of this want carnage.

They want schoolchildren to run at the gunmen and soak up bullets so that other, slower children, don't have to. They want textbook-weighted bodies to be cast off to Valhalla just to prove a point.

And the church and the press don't help, praising a man for "deflecting bullets" with his Bible, although, by deflecting, they mean that the bullets destroyed the Bible and killed the man.

And let's not pretend that the ROTC guys, and the military in general, are ethical grandmasters of gun control. Or else we wouldn't be seeing this,27574,25171043-1248,00.html

I don't blame guns for gun violence. I do firmly believe that anyone who says he "needs" or "deserves" a gun should be refused one and placed under close surveillance.

Notice that no one "needs" or "deserves" other arms and tools(bows, halberds, trebuchets, chainsaws)

This is Texas, don't forget what that means:,0,6051682.story

Supadiscomama said...

Is the condescending tone really so necessary?

The Roof Almighty said...

I'd bet you wouldn't ask that question if we all had guns.

Supadiscomama said...

xoxo, Roof.

solon said...

Since the “condescending” remark is probably directed at me, rather than at the other manifestations of the tone in the post and thread, I will attempt to address it.

Most of the ire at the post developed after I wrote “hysteria,” a word that is important for the way in which it reflects the psychological dimensions of fear and violence in a situation. While there are some scholars who disagree with certain usages of the word, in the communication literature, it is more acceptable, probably due to its association with mass media (message effects on audience) or propaganda (the one-sided treatment of an issue), meaning the word is not as “loaded” in all forms. Of course, charging another of the use of sexist language, especially when unwarranted, is another loaded rhetorical move as it cuts off debate on the issue at hand. At the very least, when challenging the use of a word, it would be reasonable to argue why the word must be interpreted in its controversial connotation rather than understanding the word in its conventional sense.

Other words that could have fit would be “paranoid,” though this too can offend because of its mental implications and, further, it was not as appropriate in the context of the post. “Illogical” or “irrational” may apply because of the lack of evidence and poor characterizations of the students throughout the post. However, these words could be just as loaded if someone were to interpret them as being such and the response would have probably been much worse. “Over the top” would have worked, though it is a phrase that is quite boring and does not carry the appropriate connotations of fear and violence.

If you feel that I did not comment in good faith then it is appropriate to mention that. We all reach different conclusions on subjects. However, just because we reach different conclusions does not mean that we cannot challenge people on the use of evidence or reasoning in an argument. It is one thing to reach different conclusions; it is another to cut off debate on the matter because of the perceived appropriateness of a word.

Finally, while the statement “all people who own guns are lunatics” is an example of amplification, it is not too much different from the implication that students who possess guns would be maniacs, that they would lose any possible means of reasoning, that they would only use the guns to intimidate, or that they in no way could prevent some tragedy. All of these are loaded implications and they were offered without much support.

M said...

For the record, Solon, I often find your comments, even the ones in which you don't use terms I would consider "loaded," condescending. I only say this in an effort to make us all more aware of the tone we use when we comment on one another's posts. I agree that we should feel free to challenge each other, as we so often do. But it seems to me, and others should feel free to add in on this thread, that the dialogue often shuts down when we don't address each other with a modicum respect. Supa's original post, and I think most of the original comments (at least, the first 4 or so), expressed a genuine fear at this particular law being passed. Granted, perhaps out of that immediate fear, the responses were not particularly kind to all students. But, rather than recognize that fear, you summarily dismissed it, which, for me, was more condescending than your use of the word hysterical. I think your points would have actually been received more positively and would have perhaps sparked a different sort of conversation if you had recognized the fear that such a law provokes in many, many teachers across the U.S. and Canada first and then making your other points, many of which are valid. As I often have to tell first year comp students, your message was lost because of your tone.

solon said...


As long as we are on the subject of the appropriate use of tone and condescending language:

After reading your post, I enjoyed the subtle irony of your words, even if it was not intentional. I think it is time for some black tea….