Scott C. Guffey

My Maniacal Rant, Chapter Three, Part Four

After review of the Sunday news shows, I am struck by the amount of times I heard “Mister Trump,” when for years, I did not hear “Mister Obama” out of the mouths of most journalists from 2008 to 2016. I’m pretty sure how I feel about that observation, but I’m also certain about how most television analysts shy away from mentioning race as a factor in all Americans’ lives, in addition to the lawyers, teachers, and doctors in rural and suburban America who do the same in their day-to-day. So, it’s an item of little note…

I also understand how hard it is to be a journalist in this day-and-age. Today, we’re the enemy of our American neighbor, as Trump disseminates like seed down the row.  The journalists on TV, however, need to step up their game.

This past Thursday’s press conference provided so much exposure of Trump’s fallacies and fallibilities, yet the TV journalists still treat Trump as if his media presence gives him legitimacy. At some point, journalists are going to have to get aggressive and stand up to Trump’s bullying, and all of us are going to have to realize that Trump supporters are not interested in the good of the country.

We all have to stand up to this Trumpism, or we are going to become an oppressor nation…or more importantly, an aggressor nation, which would certainly produce World War Three unequivocally.

The three items I would have liked to see paid more attention to this Sunday on the shows:

1) Russia has taken an aggressor stance against America since the Trump pressor, and this is certainly because of what Trump said at the press conference. Beyond Trump blaming the media for changing Russia’s mind about a reset, Trump cavalierly mentioned, “The greatest thing I could do is shoot that ship that’s 30 miles offshore right out of the water.” This flippant remark was not mentioned much on any of the Sunday shows (or much of the MSNBC, CNN, or Fox News shows since Thursday), but it should be the biggest red flag out of all of the mush out of Trump’s mouth. I guarantee it was the statement that got Vladmir Putin’s attention, and it’s the kinda thing that is antithetical to the whole “Russia can be our friend” bullshit.

2) A Jewish reporter asked a perfectly reasonable question, and he was berated without much of any defense from American news outlets’ best journalists. Jake Turx of Ami Magazine asked a legitimate question about how Trump will deal with anti-Semitism. I suppose Trump’s answer tells me that America will ignore anti-Semitism, belittle any mention of it as an unfair question, and continue to promote old-school, White-American Denialism of discriminatory practices by Americans to the bitter, undying White-American end. You know, status-quo for our country!

3) Donald Trump continued his disparaging treatment of black citizens by his treatment of April Ryan. People, there’s just too much evidence out there of how racist Donald Trump is to continue to believe him when he says he is “the least racist person” you’ll ever meet. Come on. He’s a white supremacist. This news item gained a lot of attention in the major media broadcasts, but every member of the media is still afraid of calling this spade a spade.

Please continue to resist this Orange Tyranny. Speak out against this oppression within the Free States of America. Do not believe that we live in carnage. Believe that we live in harmony with our neighbor.

Resist.

Scott C. Guffey, M.A.

The Scattered Rhetoric of an Aging English Major

A lesson learned from studying English in college concerns linguistic importance within American life. The objective and subjective natures of a shared language system are most indicative of the human condition. By finding the intermediary concept between these natures of diction, we can reach comprehension of all things related to the human being (subjective nature) and the human animal (objective nature).

We need to apply moderation instead of absolutism to understand how language is best used in both spoken and written discourse. Instead of promoting absolute objectivism and logical, mathematical application to every rhetorical use—instead of allowing subjective ignorance, of how much human emotion affects our laws, policies, and social norms—we need to comprehensively understand both the affective objective and effective subjective applications of rhetoric to truly understand how humans act and operate within the shared language system. We need to qualify our words with both objective proof and subjective understanding. We need to do this every day in order to successfully engage in human society.

We cannot be students. We cannot be fathers and mothers and sons and daughters and brothers and sisters. We cannot be doctors and lawyers and nurses and teachers and journalists. We cannot be laborers and carpenters and steelworkers and construction engineers and architects. We cannot be politicians and advertisers and entrepreneurs and financial engineers and judiciary officials. We cannot be friends and companions and lovers. We cannot be Republicans and Democrats and conservatives and liberals. We cannot be mathematicians and scientists and farmers and grocers. We cannot be black and white and Hispanic and gay and straight. We cannot be Christian or Catholic or Protestant or Baptist or Orthodox or Muslim or Mormon or Scientologist or secular or agnostic or atheist. We cannot be male and female, young and old, or urban and rural.

We cannot be characters.

We cannot be any of these words, objectively and subjectively.

We cannot live as humans (animals and spiritual beings), without a shared language system.

We must acknowledge what a language system is, and how humans collaboratively endorse this system. At its base, any language system must be visually represented or aurally construed. These sensory components are necessary. It is true of all languages, but it might be easiest for American readers to understand this through modern English representation, as this is what most of us have been required to utilize successfully to function within the national community. In the English language, most every word or phrase has objective and subjective connotations. I assume other language systems share this duality, only because I am not fluent in any other language.

Concrete physicality is easy enough to describe with terms like ball, heat, and water, while subjective concept gives us spherical, hot, and wet. Easy in the previous sentence is entirely subjective because it depends on the individual interpretation to define ease, and there is no way one could define easy for every person. Objectively, defining easy requires agreement, and in this collectively competitive society, acknowledgment of ease ultimately calls for measurement against another’s efforts. To put it simply, everybody’s got difficulty. Whether difficult is a better antonym than hard is entirely debatable since hard also refers to physical rigidity, which makes perfect sense to those of us with thick heads.

If we want to focus on mentally laborious activity, a concept with little need to show physicality, there is excellent applicable value for metaphorical usage with every chosen word. Perhaps, because we always wander towards subjectivity whenever we use a shared language system, it is simply impossible to attain true objectivity, as so many logicians advocate.

The point is that we use language to create dichotomies, to create a range of understanding between universal dualities, objects or subjects that are denoted by words and phrases within the English language, placed together with emphatic method and empathic outreach in the form of sentences and clauses. Absolutism focuses our attention on the polarities of this range, while moderation allows us to create degrees, usually by applying logical rationale and emotional empathy, between rhetorical polar opposites, represented on a shared metaphorical scale.

This is a good lesson to learn from examining the Golden Mean of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. A call for moderation of language and action is an appropriate point for the Christian community, with a strong Biblical derivation guiding Aristotle’s philosophy.

Our current American political system is broken because of the dichotomy of the dual-party system. Too much absolutism has created a divisive ideology, which does not allow for the changing of one’s mind, adapting one’s thought process, or examining the degrees of rhetoric within these public arguments.

Although the idea of a third political party has been attempted (and spurned) multiple times in this country, perhaps, a wonderful idea might be to consider the formation of a Nicomachean political party in America. This party’s members would promote a consensual approach to breach the widening gap between the Republican and Democratic parties. Hopefully, the existing parties’ members would not automatically get into “fight mode” every time they engage in debate with this third party member, who might examine intermediary concepts about which the two parties battle vehemently. They might not instantly turn to insults, conjecture, and fallacy to shoot down the other members’ rhetoric. They might understand the objective success of written policy and law and address the subjective emotional gap that widens between such age-old social dichotomies as religion vs. science, rich vs. poor, youth vs. elderly, black vs. white, and man vs. woman.

It might be a step in the right direction. Certainly, we could use that in this country right now. If Nicomachean is too hard to spell, then maybe we can call it the Rogerian party in honor of Carl Rogers’ comparable theories.

We can further utilize applicable, practical English study to our society with Stephen Toulmin’s essays from The Uses of Argument. His examination of how rhetoric is actually used, mostly in legal argumentation, has been especially fruitful for designating the degrees of language utilized specifically within the dichotomy created between objective and subjective uses of the English language.

Toulmin called for the necessity of qualifiers in authentic, valid language use (138). Absolutes are easily proven as invalid statements; some medium degree must be utilized for valid, logical construction. If someone uses the “all or nothing” approach, then sometimes, it indicates a speaker attempts to emphasize illegitimately. To put it subjectively, persuasion is about 50 percent crossing one’s fingers and hoping the recipient doesn’t call bullshit. If I am not to be believed, then please flip the television onto CSPAN, MSNBC, or FoxNews. Please measure the amount of times statements include words such as only, never, always, nobody, all, need, and must.

I admit having an obsession for watching Sunday morning news programs, especially NBC’s Meet the Press. I think John Boehner is currently the reigning champion of overusing absolutes and lacking qualification, specifically for his appearance on Meet the Press on March 3rd, 2013.

Rhetorical qualification might be the saving grace of America’s political system, if only American politicians consider how best to cure it.

Admittedly, I’ve noticed quite a few leans towards absolutism in this very essay. I’m attempting to mediate appropriately, but there’s probably and possibly going to be quite a few rhetorical statements that are inserted for emphatic persuasion.

It’s a difficult endeavor to speak or write without using absolutes, but it is possible to use qualifiers appropriately. I attempt to qualify most things I say and write, but usually a few invalid, absolute-laden claims become interspersed within my own rhetoric.

In fact, it happens more than a few times; I usually reexamine my conversations of the day and find a statement or five I would like to correct, as most people do. Especially with speaking, it is difficult to generate language and meaning frequently that is well-managed for qualification. I attempt to be cognizant of it, and I will retract most absolutes I have used if one of my students, listeners, or readers does catch me. I hate to admit I’m ever wrong, like most people.

So, I endorse criticism of my own rhetoric.

I can be wrong.

It’s possible, and at times, probable.

If only our country’s political rhetoricians would occasionally utter such words every now and then.

Toulmin also gives us the oft-challenged concept of inferential warrant, which might also be synonymous with the phrase common sense, as it is used in our American lexicon (4-5). Toulmin’s introduction of warrant as a necessary component of rhetoric is sometimes considered a threat to objective logic by academics. Aristotle’s logic promotes inductive/deductive rationale, needing a clear claim and valid support to interpret linguistic process. Toulmin persuades us to understand warrant as practical application of how language is used by individuals within a collective. Toulmin acknowledges that objective, scientific, and logical warrant are most easily accepted by a community, but subjective rhetoric often relies on communal belief, social mores, and legal consensus. It is possible for a community to commonly agree upon what is right, subjectively.

Language-users need to warrant a statement with common understanding and inferential, subjective comprehension. We sense each other’s commonality by hearing the words out of each other’s mouths and reading published words. We infer what is appropriate and right; this is sometimes how we falsely endorse concepts together that are actually inappropriate and wrong. Reviewing recent American history, inferential warrant has allowed for the segregation of minorities in schools, women’s inability to participate in a national vote, and laws that disallow two individuals of the same gender from participating in a national institution (or classifying them as “mentally diseased” as recently as the 1970s).

In other words, we justify discrimination. Common sense does not always qualify as good, right, valid, or even sensorial, yet it is referred to consistently when we communicate with one another. We insist on inferential warrant when we engage in a shared language system, yet common sense, or “sensing the norms of commonality,” is not always for the best. We often use the term common sense to imply a valuable line of thinking, when the warrant has not been fully plumbed for validity.

I know I’m guilty most days of using the term common sense to help persuade others that I what I say should be acceptable, if not accepted. Even a superb rhetorician as Barack Obama uses the term common sense for emphasis and emotional appeal often. Perhaps that is why he is much maligned.

Communication is most important in day-to-day life. This is understood, through commonality and inferential warrant, by how we raise our children together, with a social understanding that education is the best communal institution for them. We insist on good grades in reading and mathematics, and we place value together on the communal environment in which children grow and mature. These American children communicate in the shared language system of English at the earliest possible age, with students of the same age within the direct community and teachers whose implied, ethical goal is to foster those communications.

But, we have to regard that many human beings have engaged in other shared language systems, especially outside the boundaries of the United States of America.

We’ve become so damn full of ourselves in this country.

The American culture, steeped in the shared language system of English, seems to have a problem acknowledging and respecting the world’s different languages and cultures. The factor that is perhaps most to blame for discrimination and condescension of others might be rooted in the inability to understand other language systems. Indeed, it might also be rooted in Americans’ lack of skill and understanding within our own adopted language system!

We could also acknowledge that language systems do evolve. As human civilizations evolve, the use of language practically changes for the needs of the human animal and human being within these systems. It’s easy enough to identify with today’s hypertext dialects and technological textual constructions (e.g., Twitter, blogs, emoticons, etc.).

Consider that Charles Darwin, in his Origin of Species, was mostly successful explaining the concept of evolution using a subjective metaphor based on sensory image: the sustainable structure of a tree, growing outward across branches and producing variant strains and possibilities depending on the biological culmination of an organism within a physical environment. Darwin was well aware of the literary tradition of tree as symbol in literature, religion, and philosophy. Good writers have read and understood enough text to claim authority, and Darwin was an exceptional writer. Consider how Darwin admitted frustration on how those who claimed spiritual understanding could not endorse the theory of evolution, which seems to be a continuing trend even in 2015.

Subjective understanding is necessary to comprehend both the concepts of evolution and God. Perhaps, a shared language system is simultaneously humanity’s greatest evolutionary trait and God’s most wonderful gift. Evolution, as a word that emotes and denotes, can best be understood by humans within the constraints of objectivity and subjectivity, as Darwin most eloquently succeeded through rhetorical means, integrating objectivity and subjectivity of language to prove the concept of evolution scientifically and religiously.

The concept of a shared language system is simple enough to comprehend. Every language system has a visual and auditory component. We construe symbols, letters, and numbers to understand; these are represented through visual process. We read published text (print and virtual), and we write using the system of language that will most effectively reach an audience. We make audible representation of consonants and vowels using our tongues, throats, jaws, and vocal chords to correspond with the written word, and we attempt to hear these utterances from others to comprehend. With written language, it requires more patience and consumption. With the spoken language, it requires more immediacy and improvisation. Language is a human construction, joining humans together in society through reading, writing, speaking, and listening, necessitating the state of being human to participate. It is a sensory process, reliant on our sight and hearing, that takes place primarily within the marvelous human computer we objectively dub the brain.

The human brain is a language processor. In addition to signaling sensory information, it is within this brain that language is comprehended, using any shared language system. The brain acquires this language system from the environment via sensory information, but the phenomenon of communication is objectively specified to occur within the natural design of the human brain. With all of our medical understanding of the human body, it remains the brain that is most difficult to objectively map and calculate. We have been able to map small areas of the brain—mostly by studying the language of those who have suffered aphasia of the brain—but the comprehensive structure of the human brain is still lacking to most scholars, mostly because it is comprehensively a language generator.

Perhaps, the function of the human brain as a language processor is best understood through analogous means: the human heart, as a muscle, rhythmically pumps blood through the human body, causing movement and physical function, while the human brain, as an electrical generator, rhythmically pumps chemical signals across the areas of the human brain, causing words, sentences, thoughts, and ideas.

Yet, we attribute what we have dubbed the soul to reside within the heart. The subjective understanding of the human spirit can be summed up rhetorically as “one who has a good heart.” Objective scientists, doctors, and mathematicians have very little success finding evidence of a soul or spirit within the physiology of a human animal, but we, as human beings, understand that we have a subjective spirit or soul somewhere in our corporeal bodies. Whether or not we care to admit it, we can objectively state that our subjective understanding of goodness, happiness, and spirituality are best comprehended within the physicality of the human brain.

I might better present the dichotomy of subjectivity and objectivity of human beings using the term character, rather than attempting to separate the concepts of soul and brain, especially as the Aristotelian concept of human character is dependent on subject as much as object.

It is within Aristotle’s Rhetoric—specifically the age-old, traditionally-tested Aristotelian appeals of logos, ethos, and pathos—where we find what I deem exciting applications of objective and subjective comprehension of rhetoric.

Ethics, identified as a necessary nuance of a shared language system, apply intermediary linguistic function of objective logic and subjective emotion. This necessary union of objectivity and subjectivity within a language system allows greater understanding of the human animal, human being, and human culture: the ABC’s of humanities study.

The use of logic is the most objective appeal we can make using a shared language system. We attempt to break things down mathematically, proving validity, structure, and synchronicity. We use science to identify the physicality of our environment, designate functions of biological organisms, and analyze human behavior. The scientific process, theorizing and proving through experimentation for all possibilities, must still rely on a communicative system of symbols and numbers to operate successfully. Theory, formula, and syntax require objective language application, pragmatically.

Linguists attempt to validate claims of language in multiple language systems. Hearing morphemes and phonemes uttered together in coordinated sequence and unique appliqué creates rationality in the human world. Logicians will inductively and deductively reason.

Logic has proven to be most utilitarian. We can easily observe its necessary application within human interaction because it is primarily based on the objective, physical world. Einstein’s translated, theoretical take on the structure of the hydrogen atom, best shared by the brief, infamous formula of E=MC², gives us an excellent symbolic lesson on how matter, energy, and physicality operate at the atomic level, particles of an atom that are excited beyond our ability to comprehend (the numeric squaring of the speed of light, which perhaps requires subjective understanding along with objective rationality). However, greater understanding of Einstein requires careful attention of his spoken and written rhetoric, designating quantum physics and relativity with careful inductive and deductive process of symbol and meaning.

In order to communicate best using objective means, we must use logical appeal. We might define a universally-understood shared language system that emphasizes objectivity as mathematics. Using Arabic numeral systems and symbolic representation (+, -, %,$….), we can communicate within most any word/utterance /syntactical language system, currently or historically. Mathematic representation is best utilized to prove physical energy and scientific rationality.

Emoting, the human condition of emotion, is our most subjective appeal, using a shared language system. Literary writers specialize in emotive writing: story, poetry, memoir, expression, belief, and existence. Emotions remain the mystery of the human condition. Love, family, death, war, poverty…there is little that objective reasoning or rational application can do to properly define the emotional roles of men and women. Anger, frustration, happiness, fright, depression, joy, grief, elation, companionship, security, panic, passion, trust, authority, intimidation, lazy, prideful, confidence, and hatred are all extremely subjective concepts, yet all human beings understand these words wholly. Most people cannot help but immerse themselves in many of these subjective concepts a few times every day.

The best adjective to convey feelings I have difficulty expressing, or hold to the highest degree of sacred, communal understanding, is ineffable.

A shared language system is inadequate to globally define humanity.

We cannot create a comprehensive system of effective language because every word has some subjective connotation. We cannot escape subjectivity when creating syntax. Many lean towards abandoning emotion in argument because it is inefficient. Perhaps the most efficient use of language, the ability to communicate with other human beings, is to acknowledge the effectiveness of subjective empathizing.

Politicians utilize subjectivity in most speeches and publications, on both sides of the American political aisle. Objective-minded doctors fail where a doctor’s bed-side manner might better assess the subjective concept of pain. Lawyers and judges operate within the objective letter of the law and the subjective spirit of the law. Colleges continue to award degrees in the objective sciences or subjective arts.

Parents tell stories, and teachers use literature to better educate. Each progressive generation learns about the immediate culture from the massive amount of radio, television, film, and internet we consume; all of this mass media necessitates, and propagates, a shared language system. Storytellers will analogize, utilize metaphor, create fictional characters, or even create subjective worlds. We might acknowledge how we fashion our own character and culture because of these crafted stories.

As human beings, we inherently know that the most persuasive arguments come from the subjective heart rather than the objective head. As rhetoricians, we find that the best representation for emotion is as aesthetic proof. We appreciate beauty, art, nature, God, love for each other, life, liberty, and happiness subjectively; in fact, it is most difficult to analyze these concepts objectively. We might acknowledge that emoting is just as necessary as rationalization. We emote with each other to convey significance in our individual experiences using a shared language system.

I identify music as the best expressive, universally-understood linguistic auditory/written system. If math can be used across nations as a universal system of logic, then music is easily identified as a communicative method to understand emotion. I can hear a Spanish aria or Latin opera, without understanding the lyrics, and I will understand the sadness, happiness, regret, or delight that is expressed aurally. The most influential instrumentalists in history have been those who have successfully emoted without words. We sing hymns in church, rise together for the national anthem at social events, and listen to the radio frequently…hell, the subjective cliché of “everyone loves music” doesn’t really need qualification.

Most every person enjoys a list of musical favorites. Some of my favorite conversations involve trading favorite bands, or why the electric guitar changed popular music for the better. It’s so very easy to identify music as the perfect universally-understood communal medium.

The intermediary concept of ethics attempts to identify a universally-understood language system. We reach a dilemma as a human race because there is no universal system, by auditory or written means, that we can use to communicate human character. A shared language system is necessary to identify ethical proof.

Just as we recognize that mathematics can generate subjective understanding, we also recognize that musical composition requires objective construction. With language systems, every utterance or written word conveys objectivity and subjectivity. We comprehend, within context, the degree of objectivity or subjectivity necessary to promote personal understanding.

There is no universal method of communication to identify ethical character; we need to share a language with others in order to endorse Aristotle’s most difficult proof. Ethics are best placed between logos and pathos. We can better represent ethos as an intermediary function of language, utterances equating polar opposites—shared understanding of degrees of absolutism creating intermediary interpretation—using objectivity and subjectivity, or logical rationalization and emotional expression. Understanding ethics requires an intermediary approach within the shared language system. Character and characteristics require a union of objectivity and subjectivity that logic or emotion, singly, cannot represent.

Ethical proof becomes a most practical product of a shared language system. We should emphasize it in our teachings, no matter what discipline we might ascribe to as professors and administrators.

The study of English has fruitful lessons to share with modern America. Please stop dismissing my degree as useless towards the purpose of education, or earning an honest living, if we’re going to be subjective about it.

It gets so very old, when you’re beating it on down the line.

-The Maniacal Professor
Works Cited
Aristotle. “Nicomachean Ethics.” Literature of the Western World. Ed. Brian Wilkie and James Hurt. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2001. 1220-1225. Print.

Cooper, Lane. The Rhetoric of Aristotle. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1960. Print.

Meet the Press. NBC. WNDU, South Bend, IN. 3 Mar. 2013. Television.

Toulmin, Stephen. The Uses of Argument. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Print.

Diatribe about Bad Teaching and Personal Circumstance

[Author’s Note—This piece of writing was a companion piece with Monday’s article, “Reaction to Maurice Eisenstein.” I wanted to separate them because the original was intended to be my professional reaction as a former college instructor, and I’d like the professional critique to be taken seriously by the academic community without my personal opinion detracting from its credibility. This portion is my personal reaction involving my own selfish circumstance, being a cast-off college instructor who’s struggling to find work. I have been advised that I am making it difficult to find work as a teacher by venting my frustrations to the world (good advice, too, from a respected mentor…he does understand, however, how thick-headedly stubborn I can be…God bless him). I suppose I am more interested, as a writer, at exposing some of the hypocrisy found in our education system, both on the national scale and locally in NW Indiana. There is a part of me that finds solace in reporting this to the internet world…therapeutic writing is a vice of mine, I confess. Of greater importance to me is revealing to my reader more details of why there is a blog titled “The Maniacal Rant of a Community College ‘Professor’” on the internet. I don’t anticipate any grand reward for myself, where I am granted a teaching position because of my angst; however, I don’t expect to find a local teaching position even if I don’t publish this article. My goal is not to hold back and allow full disclosure of my situation. Perhaps, enough readers might understand some problems in the education system…and I continue to be in the business of providing knowledge through writing.—SG]

What I am about to write will offend the sensibilities of some of my former colleagues. I have already been asked on several occasions to censor myself in this blog, lest I reveal too much about the inner workings of a college institution for which I worked. I’ve even been told that I might endanger the job security of those who are still retained, from the same mouths that are not at all upset by my own lack of job security. The label “whistleblower” has been conveyed, and apparently that is a negative label to incur.

I worry that many will not see the correlation between my claims here and the problem of Maurice Eisenstein, yet I cannot fully reveal my personal discontent and reaction that occurred when I read about Eisenstein’s role without doing so. When seeking counsel about my personal situation from some of these same colleagues, I have asked the question, “Am I a bad teacher?” Their response is nearly unanimous: “No! No! You’re an excellent teacher, but…”

To my colleagues who might be offended by my position and revelation here, I do apologize, but I am compelled to be revelatory here, partly inspired by Eisenstein’s continuance, but mostly motivated by my own circumstance. Herein, I try to reveal the truth to the best of my ability, including how it might paint me in a poor light. I do admit this is purely my own subjective, emotional opinion, and ask understanding from my colleagues that it has become most troublesome for me to continue skirting around the truth of my situation, in order to avoid offending those whom I’ve had the pleasure of calling “friends.”

I am consumed by frustration about my situation as an unemployed college instructor. The source of my frustration remains the illogical policies and the corporatization of the college education system. I have been informed by friends and former colleagues that it is problematic for me to continue to seek work as a college instructor, especially at the institution where I worked for seven years. I have sought opportunity to teach several times at several colleges, and I find no prospect…or solace. Several friends have informed me of their worry for my well-being and that it would be in my best interests to “just let it go.” Their advice usually detracts to my taking the first minimum wage job I can find, dismissing my years of training and experience, in order to find closure on my situation…

…and this blog is a silly idea, too! Heaven forbid I practice what I preach (and my colleagues teach in class) by turning to writing as a potential career choice. I’ve recently had the privilege of being chided by an internet troll for being an unemployed teacher, which only adds to my personal discontent. This troll’s paraphrased, summarized sentiment: “I disagree with you, and I have discovered you are unemployed, which means you must have been fired because you suck; therefore I have discredited and illegitimated your argument entirely.” Everywhere I turn, I find opposition to my aspirations to teach writing to students…except from my former students, who continue to find me on the internet and compliment me on the pedagogy I implemented on their behalf.

When I read Professor Kamalipour’s article concerning Maurice Eisenstein, my initial reaction was, “How does this man get to teach, and I cannot?”

For those who might suggest that I assume and overvalue my own teaching validity, I can only state that at no time when I taught as a college instructor did my students rally and protest against my continued tenure, as this continues to occur to Eisenstein. In fact, on two separate occasions, my students rallied behind me when it was learned of my tenuous status, and they contacted administration en masse in an effort to retain my services as a continuing lecturer. Neither effort was met with much accord.

The irony of this situation—and the detail that strongly focuses my ire on the hypocritical nature of our education system—is that my failure to retain my position as a college instructor stems from my attempt to point out other bad teachers and their unethical behavior within my own faculty.

Several students, almost twenty in number, had demonstrated to me through documented papers and unified testimony that another instructor was grading papers unfairly and not lecturing according to valid disciplinary theory. An appeal was made to me to interject upon these students’ behalf. I did talk face-to-face with this instructor, but I made little headway; in fact, the unethical teaching behavior of this individual became more emphatic, and it seemed to be directed at spiting me personally, as students from the class later testified to me, in anonymity.

I brought up this professor at a departmental meeting of English and communication, and I was shaking and nervous as it was something I was cautioned to avoid…not to make waves for anybody. I revealed the situation using a hypothetically bad teacher, attempting to retain anonymity so as to avoid hurt feelings and emotional response. The offending instructor was not present, but I was prepared to identify this instructor if present, or if this instructor chose to self-identify. Feeling it was my duty as a student-advocate, I felt it was necessary to bring this up, knowing I would be opposed.

As anticipated, I was not met with much agreement by the other faculty…and especially my department head. I still clearly remember a few of the most egregious questions I was asked by one of my colleagues, “Do you really want other teachers looking in and spying on what you do in your classroom?” My response was, “Yes! Absolutely! If I’m a good teacher, then I have nothing to fear….” From the same opposing teacher: “What, do you want someone to lose their job?…to get fired?”

Lest I paint myself as too noble in this exchange, I must admit to allowing my temper to get the best of me. My voice became raised, and an utterance I made, one intended to insult and enflame, I do regret. I challenged my department head, twice, with the claim, “You’re wrong.” I followed with, “I figured we could focus on important things, like what we do in our classrooms, for a change…” If I could go back and re-perform my rhetoric, then I would abstain from letting my temper become enflamed. Because I felt like I was on an island and was being ganged up upon by the majority of my colleagues, I lashed out. Also, this was not my first challenging of authority at my institution; I suppose I earned a reputation as a curmudgeon from many administrators and faculty. I have noticed on several occasions my colleagues’ tendency to purse their lips and stare mutely straight forward when I would begin my multiple dissents, hoping I would just shut up already…I suppose this contributes to my self-appointed moniker, possessing a “maniacal rant.”

Because of these personal characteristics, I feel I lost support from my compatriots. I am slow to admit that it is a personal flaw, as I continue to prescribe to adversarial argumentation; however, I can admit that this personal attribute has done me little good in my goal of being an ombudsman…or retaining my position as a college instructor.

My evidence for this claim: my department head chose to attack me instead of handling the other instructor, even though it was obviously a revelation that such mishandled management of a class was occurring under his watch. He left an anonymous note for me, which I still possess. Here is the transcription:

Just Some Thoughts

You admitted to not submitting an agenda item, but, rather, interrupted another discussion, even though a “blue sky” open forum has been on every agenda, ever.

You disparaged a colleague, and an absent one at that.

You disrespected the chair, who has always been our advocate.

You referred to yourself several times as “brilliant” and not only implied, but, once, directly stated that those with other viewpoints were not so gifted.

You kept on repeating the same point, even after a solution was presented.

You damaged your reputation with your colleagues.

Your coarse demeanor called into question your own classroom management skills.

I would do some image repair and offer some meaningful individual and group apologies.

Just some thoughts from someone who thinks you are better than what was showing on Friday.

Socrates believed we gain out [sic] first measure of intelligence when we first admit our own ignorance.

I found the note insulting, mostly because of my own classroom skills being “called into question,” when my goal was to focus on potentially bad classroom management within our own department. I will admit to referring to myself as a model teacher, in fact, a “master teacher,” as I was referring to an inspirational segment of Waiting for Superman, where Harlem teacher Geoffrey Canada cited his experience of becoming a master teacher and the necessity of good teachers to admit when they have mastered their craft…obviously, I was misconstrued. Because I was insulted, an obvious schism was created between me and my supervisor, and became most difficult for me to continue my professional obligation. The general consensus of my colleagues was that there might be a problem with bad teachers there, but I was the biggest problem in the department. At best, it was communicated that I certainly could have handled it better (yet I am confused by the idea of a presented solution, since no resolution was reached…and bad grading and lecturing still continues at the institution, which is ultimately what I act to prevent, in all cases, at many colleges, including with Maurice Eisenstein).

This meeting was the beginning of the end of my teaching career, as obstacle after obstacle presented itself, preventing me from even teaching as an adjunct…with no support from anyone within my department to retain me. I will admit that this is not the only circumstance that has contributed to my downfall, but it is certainly the primary impetus. Consider that all of these former colleagues continue to teach, and many of them are the aforementioned friends whose advice is for me to abandon teaching and become a carpenter once again (…and the religious comparisons are not lost on me).

When I see bad teaching occur, it causes the hairs on the back of my neck to stand straight up, and I continue to see case after case reported in the news, locally and nationally. When I read about Eisenstein, I could not help but compare him to my own situation. How can someone like this continue to teach, but I am disallowed at every opportunity? I admit to personal obsession over this quandary, to my own detriment. When I grasp for answers, my conclusions are often rooted within failed collegiate policies…and the teachers that enable unethical behavior in order to avoid conflict and controversy…

I admit to emotionally-charged rhetoric here. This situation might best explain why I find myself creating conflict and controversy in this blog, hoping to expose unethical behavior, while advocating for a return to good ethics in our education system. Because of this blog, I anticipate I will have less luck acquiring future teaching appointments, which means I have not cured my so-called subjective “flaw” of emotional expression.

Meanwhile, Maurice Eisenstein gets to continue teaching at my alma mater, to my community, spewing his hatred, approved by collegiate policy and emboldened by failed attempts to remove him, based on his own transparently unethical teaching practices, hateful rhetoric, and academic bullying.

I ask you, my reader, how is this not hypocritical? I continue to search daily for an answer to my plight, and I’d invite any thoughts on the matter…in fact, this issue pervades my thoughts wholly, to the point of physical illness and mental fatigue, and I would appreciate some response to my dilemma through written comment of this blog. Am I, in fact, a curmudgeon, who has made his own bed and should lie in it? Do I overvalue my acumen and have no right to make such an appeal for my own ability to pursue teaching at local colleges? Am I wrong to compare myself to Maurice Eisenstein, a case of apples and oranges? Or, do I have a point about colleges reassessing their inane policies that counter-intuitively work against the professional role of a college? Do I have a right to appeal to my community to teach in local Northwest Indiana, where I have made my home and want to remain, where Maurice Eisenstein is allowed to continue to sell his poison and snake-oil? Should I continue to campaign for better teaching in a college environment, or censor myself for the benefit of making a college instructor’s job easier, perhaps at the expense of a paying college student? Is there some element I have missed that has skewed my calculation for increased advocacy? Should I continue to campaign to be a college instructor, or even continue this experimental blog, promoting better educational practices? Should I accept my fate and seek employment in any other capacity than teacher?

I appeal, in this somewhat desperate act of rhetoric, to the academic community, for explanation or answer. I would like to hear from my college professors, who might defend collegiate policies or provide valid explanation. I would like to hear from college administrators, who allowed for my removal, and continue to block me from teaching opportunity. I would like to hear from college presidents, like Mitch Daniels or Thomas Snyder, under whose presidencies Eisenstein’s tenure continue and mine ended, respectively. I would like to hear from Maurice Eisenstein himself, as he should be allowed the opportunity to refute my assertion of his faulty teaching. I would like to hear from my former colleagues in this public forum, instead of in private conference. I would like to hear from college students, whether they attended my class or not. I would like to hear from the Northwest Indiana community, to which I remain stoically devoted. I would like to hear from the public-at-large, from other states and nations, as some who subscribe to my blog have surfaced. I would even tolerate the opinions of internet trolls, as it seems at times, they are the only ones who give a rat’s ass about what I write on the internet.

I seek answers, as I remain lacking of resolution and seek sweet, unattainable closure on this matter. Enlightenment would be appreciated.

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Reaction to Maurice Eisenstein

I recently read the article, “Bullies Hurt: Fact & Fiction,” written by Dr.Yahya R. Kamalipour, a communications professor from my alma mater and my former teacher.

I will not spend much time in this article pointing out why Maurice Eisenstein is a bad teacher, a failed logician, a hate-monger, or an academic bully. Kamalipour does this succinctly in his article, and Eisenstein makes it more apparent by his own agency and rhetoric. The case has been made against Eisenstein, and Purdue has elected to retain Eisenstein despite his unethical behavior.

It is understood that it is difficult to remove a professor who has been granted tenure at a university. Maurice Eisenstein has been challenged at the university and in a court of law, but tenure policies and legal defense continue to trump good ethical professionalism. I have learned that there is a cost to the university to legally attempt to have Eisenstein removed, and the financial cost is close to seven figures. Today’s college is more concerned about fiscal solvency than professional rigor, and I grudgingly admit understanding of this. There are still multiple calls for the university to do something about Eisenstein, but there is no wherewithal to continue. I hate to sound defeatist, but there remains little legal recourse to remove Eisenstein without first reassessing collegiate policies or reinventing from scratch the tenure system at colleges (for which I have advocated).

I have three potential solutions to the problem of Maurice Eisenstein, which are practical and might be implemented by those who oppose his continuation as professor at Purdue University Calumet:

1) Continued education and awareness of Maurice Eisenstein’s unprofessionalism is warranted. Dr. Kamalipour is an excellent professor of communications, and he is well aware of the power and strength that rhetoric and public exposure has for communal structure, institutional change, and social mores. I know this because Kamalipour taught me as much in the classes I enjoyed under his tutelage as an undergraduate. His blog should be promoted at Purdue Calumet, and knowledge of this travesty should be spread through the Northwest Indiana community…in fact, the world should become aware. I ask my reader to read Kamalipour’s blog to become aware of injustice within my local collegiate community. I write about this in my blog with the hope of more exposure to a serious problem within my treasured and respected institution of higher learning.

2) The following is a comment I posted within an online discussion about what to do about Eisenstein: “Cannot an ombudsperson position be created?…perhaps another political science administrator/instructor/professor who could attend, monitor, and challenge Eisenstein’s hate speech when it is unduly spewed out in his classroom. I know it is additional expense, but it would be less than the legal fees for removing him. It would maintain the academic integrity of the university, also…which is ultimately the ethical concern.”

3) Ultimately, my professional dilemma is formed around the disservice that occurs in Eisenstein’s classroom; I know that Yahya Kamalipour can defend himself and has already successfully refuted Eisenstein publically (although, academic bullying of fellow faculty is specifically unethical, and Eisenstein should not be allowed to target Kamalipour or other faculty members in such a manner). However, Eisenstein continues to teach classes at Purdue Calumet. The students at Purdue Calumet deserve a quality education, and Eisenstein’s pedagogy and opinions do not qualify as “quality.” I write directly here to students who might have the displeasure of retaining Eisenstein as their professor, whether forced by credit requirements of a degree-seeker, or electively by students who wish to learn about political science. The role of a professor is “one who professes to know, to understand,” not one who absolutely knows or understands. The role of a student is “one who studies, who comprehends;” furthermore, I would extend the definition for a college student to be “one who challenges ideas and contributes to the academic conversation by logical argumentation, validated evidence, and fresh perspective.” While most college professors are uncomfortable with students challenging their authority in the classroom, it is the right, or even the duty, of a college student to challenge the lecturing of their professor with rationale and critical thought, for the purpose of furtherance of the academic discipline…and certainly to oppose bad theories or illogicality that a professor might utilize. This is a difficult student role to assume, as most believe a teacher’s knowledge is to be consumed, and a student is expected to comply without question…but this assumption works against the basic premise of an education, where a student is to gain agency. Authoritarian pedagogies work against the students’ best interests on many occasions, especially concerning the case of Maurice Eisenstein. As a student, I challenged my professors (even Yahya Kamalipour a time or two). As a college instructor, I invited my students to challenge my ideas and rhetoric; on several occasions, my students became their own teacher and convinced me to the contrary on several claims I suggested in the classroom…I believe this is integral to my professional obligation as college instructor—to profess my comprehension of my discipline, admit I could be wrong, and do what is in the best interests of my students. This is the fundamental issue with Maurice Eisenstein: he cannot admit wrong-doing, and without significant consequence, he has been encouraged to continue his faulty pedagogy and appalling rhetoric, at the expense of his students. Students, you can challenge your teachers, especially if you suspect they are wrong…if an instructor unduly punishes you with threats in the classroom or to your grade, then that is when written policy is designed to protect you, and Eisenstein could be exposed for the fraudulent professor he is…It is understood that this would take courage and be a bit scary, but it is perfectly within your parameters as a college student, one who pays increased tuition rates to be in that college classroom and deserves to receive quality instruction and facilitation.

For a more personal reaction to Maurice Eisenstein’s teaching, click here.