When I was a Tufts University Jumbo, I engaged my teachers in pointed, spirited debate. (Surprise!) None of my profs shied away from intellectual confrontation, nor punished me for refusing to tow the party line in class or on paper (something you write on with a pen or pencil. Google it). So I don’t get why University of Texas professor Lisa Moore [above] is up in metaphorical arms about campus carry, organizing her fellow educators to oppose Texas’s new concealed carry legislation. I reckon the chances of a UT prof being assaulted by an armed student pissed off about course content or grades are . . .
way less than the odds of a prof getting mowed down by drunk student driver. (More here.) For insight into the educator’s anti-gun anxiety, Bloomberg’s anti-gun agitprop arm The Trace submits Moore’s [edited] anecdotal evidence “proving” that campus carry is a bad, bad thing:
Has a student ever brought a gun into one of your classes?
No, but I’ve had some experiences that made me very grateful students weren’t allowed to carry guns on campus. I teach gay and lesbian studies. When I first got here in the early ’90s, I had an office on the ground floor of the English building, and I had a lot of posters up advocating for gay rights. One day, someone broke into the office, burned my gay rights posters, and then wrote “depravity kills” all over the windows. It was scary enough for me to know someone was willing to commit a serious act of vandalism. Were it the case that someone could have brought a gun into my office, during office hours, I think I wouldn’t have been able to do my job . . .
More recently, during the semester after the Virginia Tech shootings in 2008, I was teaching an LGBT literature class. Sometimes the class riles up students, and I had a student that semester who believed, among other things, that gay people were going to hell. After a while, I guess as a kind of protest, he started coming to class and lying on the floor. He also started posting things online about not doing the reading and said that he would stop other students from doing the reading. I got nervous and went to my supervisor, and it turned out this student had problems with mental illness and had, in the past, been taken out of other classes. Subsequently, he was removed from my class, and I wound up teaching the rest of the semester in an undisclosed location, with an armed guard stationed nearby.
An armed guard, eh? Can we infer, then, that a gun is a suitable tool for someone looking to defend themselves and other innocent life against seriously crazy, potentially violent people? Yes we can! Moore can’t, though. I’m sure the idea that she should carry a gun – instead of relying on an armed guard – never once occurred to her, either.
Although, clearly, the idea that her teaching riles people up does. In fact, it’s probably a badge of honor. See? I’m so damn progressive, I’m in danger! Don’t let people with guns on campus! Except the ones protecting me. Sigh.
So going forward, what will you do if you have a disruptive student who happens to be carrying a gun?
I don’t know. I’ve heard faculty say, ‘I’ll just give everyone A’s from now on. I’m not going to risk pissing someone off if they’re going to be armed.’ Others have said they’ll only lecture — they won’t allow classroom discussion because they don’t want things to get heated. Basically, we have to look at ruling out anything — any subject matter — that might seem provocative. It’s very strange. Shutting down dissent and free speech is the opposite of what should happen on a college campus. Personally, I don’t think I would confront a student who was disruptive if he was armed. I’d rather say, ‘Class is dismissed.’
Seriously? There are UT professors who are such cowards that they’ll award everyone in their class an A because someone in their class might be exercising their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms? They’ll stifle in-class debate, avoid presenting contentious material, thus shortchanging their students just in case someone’s legally armed therein? Remind me again: who’s “shutting down dissent and free speech”?
As for Moore having to confront an armed disruptive student, what would she do in the face of a really disruptive pistol-packing student like, say, spree killer like Chris Mercer? “Class dismissed” aint’ gonna cut it. At the risk of offending a Gay and Lesbian Studies professor, it’s time for UT profs to man-up. If they’re worried about armed aggression – and why wouldn’t they be? – they should consider learning how to use the most effective personal defense weapon, soon to be legally available to them. And thank the Texas legislature for giving them that option.