The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Here We Go Again

For the second time in a week, a San Antonian is in the news for complaining about a book:

According to a notice released by 56-year-old student Eliseo Ordaz, he staged a sit-in and hunger fast on campus Monday to protest "racial discrimination in UTSA's English Department."

Gabler said Ordaz complained to officials that a William Faulkner novel assigned by one of his professors contained a derogatory name for black people and that unfavorable comments about minorities were made in class.

Officials reached an agreement with Ordaz on Monday, promising to open a new investigation into his claims and to interview the professor and every student in the class, Gabler said.

First, let's get this out of the way and do the obligatory link to Arlene Wohlgemuth's "To Kill A Mockingbird" quote. While you're reading it, remember that this woman now lobbies on behalf of industries/groups that require a whole heck of a lot of schooling.

I don't understand this at all. I really don't. Faulkner was writing in the language of his day and region, crafting characters that were far less eloquent and schooled than he was. What are we supposed to do forty-plus years after his death- change every instance where Faulkner wrote "the word" to African-American? This is such a ridiculous complaint. Honestly, could we act like adults and get over the unfavorable comments? Seriously, what's a university there for if not to hear outlandish, and quite possibly offensive, claims from both all sides. If you didn't like them either refute their claims, call them stupid and forget about it or do both.

And this is such a wishy-washy way (say that five times fast) for the University to handle it. One of two things happened- either the Office of Institutional Diversity did a good job investigating the complaint or it didn't. If they did, stand by your employees and see just how much intestinal fortitude this guy has to follow through with this claim. If they didn't, think about hiring some new peeps in that office.

At no point and time in this admittedly short article was there any mention of the teacher being a racist- although maybe that's implied by him doling out a William Faulkner reading assignment. So basically this entire investigation is going to revolve around 1) whether or not Faulkner should be taught at the University level (you're going to be on the losing end of that one guy) and 2) whether someone was offended by some comments made by fellow students AT A UNIVERSITY!!!

There are so many other things this guy could be raising a ruckus and getting into the paper for- Darfur for instance. But he chooses to go after the literary giant who wrote, "The Sound And The Fury."