Professor's Illogical Accusation that Right to Bear Arms Limits Free Speech


In a commentary published yesterday by The Chronicle of Higher Education, an English professor at Utah State under a headline with lack of logic (English professors should know better, I can say that, I am an English professor), “Guns on Campus Have Already Curtailed Free Speech,” blames the right to bear arms on “feminist and media critic” Anita Sarkeesian’s cancellation of an appearance on campus.

First of all, by now everyone should know, even that gun-obsessed Brit Piers Morgan, who enjoys the financial rewards of being in America, that guns don’t do anything by themselves. Like a toothbrush, you have to attach a human being to a gun, for it to do its work. Second, a gun in the hands of a person has been known to do much good work.

To continue the metaphor further, and no doubt there will be protestations that one cannot compare a gun to a toothbrush, a gun has helped clean up our society and defeat evil when such work was necessary. Yes, I know it’s dirty work in the minds of some, but someone has to do it. Just as an aside to the most “progressive” among us, don’t you like it when the plumber comes in and unclogs the drain for you, even though in your mind he is no doubt “marginalized” in society until you get the bill?

But back to the commentary by the English professor in Utah. She writes about the speaker’s cancellation: “In that decision, we witnessed one of the first clear examples of how laws allowing concealed weapons on a college campus can thwart academic freedom and First Amendment rights to free speech.”

I must commend the professor for writing that laws allowing concealed weapons can thwart academic freedom. She could have written “do thwart” or simply “thwart.” But logically the laws allowing concealed weapons on a college campus cannot thwart academic freedom and First Amendment rights to free speech.

But what is at least as disturbing as the professor’s mention that death threats were made against the speaker, and of course the professor automatically assumes persons who legitimately are carrying will shoot the speaker, is her “wimpfication” or “sissyfication” (let’s coin those terms) of the professoriate at her institution and at-large:

“Less visible are the ways that individual faculty members censor themselves. They may choose to omit course material or change course content because of a perceived threat; unconsciously alter course content without fully realizing they are responding to the presence of guns; or retire early because they are hesitant to teach at a campus that permits guns.”

What sad, generalized assumptions, trying to tug at heart strings, leaving our brains behind. Who is to say that professors would be threatened by a law allowing concealed carry. Who is to say that there are not persons who speak freely already perfectly aware that harm can happen regardless of laws. And who is to say that concealed-carry individuals on campus might not follow the moral principles of a Matt Dillon rather than those of an Islamist terrorist?

But where I must draw the line in the sand completely is at the female professor’s generalizing, sexist stance. She writes, ” In a state where gender roles are, for the large part, entrenched and traditional, our students lost the opportunity to hear a woman questioning the roles and possibilities that exist for both men and women.”

Last time I checked, and it is not so because I live in the South, women are buying guns, training in the use of guns, carrying concealed with permits, and hunting. And this past weekend, I had the chance to view a delightful segment on FOX featuring Tucker Carlson with several women for whom hunting is a way of life and now have their own TV show, Hot Dawgs. Unfortunately, many professors don’t take in a lot of news or limit their news intake to MSNBC and other such outlets and so miss out on the world-at-large. This, unfortunately, makes them a great target that stands for ignorance.

11 thoughts on “Professor's Illogical Accusation that Right to Bear Arms Limits Free Speech

  1. The Chronicle column, I believe, was a trope in the service of rhetoric, and was not meant as a syllogism. For my part, I teach in criminal justice, and police officer students are not uncommon in my classes. I make it clear that I will not teach in the presence of firearms. Weapons tend to deter discourse.

  2. “What it is.” The gun appeared through the open driver’s window of the car stopped behind another at a light. Wallets appeared and disappeared into a maw outside the car.

    Was the free speech of the driver and passenger abridged? Not explicitly, but speech was not a good idea so, implicitly, any right to it was denied.

    Any atmosphere where one must choose between perceptions of safety and rights of speech limit speech. When I am stopped by a cop, I keep my mouth shut and do what I am told. Technically, I may have a right to do otherwise. Practically, I do not.

    I want debate in my classroom, spirited debate. If one (or both) of the discussants is (or are) armed, I have to stifle debate much earlier than I might, otherwise. Even the idea that one or both might be armed would make me do so.

    By their very nature, guns, particularly handguns, end debate, either by threat (implicit or explicit) or by action. Any argument otherwise is illogical.

  3. I posted previously (before the CHE article) about this issue from a diametrically opposed view here: I will let that post, and Marty Kich’s subsequent response to Ulf (, with which I fully agree, make the case. However, I can’t resist commenting on these lines from Ulf’s piece: “And this past weekend, I had the chance to view a delightful segment on FOX featuring Tucker Carlson with several women for whom hunting is a way of life and now have their own TV show, Hot Dawgs. Unfortunately, many professors don’t take in a lot of news or limit their news intake to MSNBC and other such outlets and so miss out on the world-at-large.” Really?! Since when does a promotional segment for a TV show about women hunters (and judging from the photo, suspiciously young and attractive women hunters) count as “news?” I would hardly say that faculty who don’t enjoy such entertainment “miss out on the world-at-large” or thereby become “a target that stands for ignorance.”

  4. I wish to thank everyone for civil responses, including Marty, who took the time to write a whole post in response. I am grateful that we can discuss such an important topic without engaging in what is worse than mud-slinging. The Academe Blog is a fine “place” where colleagues discuss and at times post intentionally or not intentionally “hot,” and so are sure to spark debate.

  5. Last night I saw the show Hot Dawgs on sportsman channel. Note the gender exclusion. I witnessed the characters in the image above unleash savage dogs that trapped, encircled and attacked what looked like a warthog. The animal desperately fought against these dogs, then collapsed with exhaustion with the “dawgs” dangling from its neck by their teeth. As the wounded animal lay frightened, the women bound the animal’s front and back legs together with a rope or some chord. Only then did they remove the dogs with their blood-stained mouths and snouts from the helpless beast. Then the petrified, abused animal with gaping, bloody wounds is dragged like a sack of potatoes onto a flatbed truck. I was horrified and disgusted with this gratuitous cruelty to an animal that has every right to be treated with respect.

    Call me an exemplar of “wimpfication” or “sissyfication”: lovely sexist and homophobic terms that the author wishes to see “coined” but I opt for programmes without violence against animals that are treated as objects for us to shoot, kill, and maim for sport and cable-ratings.

    • Sir, (Peter). I am from India, I love animals, and I am horrified by what you have described. If this is what constitutes ‘ entertainment’ for these privileged but sad examples for human beings, they have no moral right to call themselves part of the human race. Thank God there are people like you around to balance the scales for humanity. The author of this piece does not deserve to call himself a professor if he condones such sick acts.
      He begins Para eight of his rabid rant with the words, ‘ What a sad, generalised assumptions….’ and then he has the unmitigated gall to mock others for their incorrect usage of English. Tsk, tsk. Darton College must be having a pretty poor standard of English among its graduates, if this is what the grammar of its faculty is like.
      Back to the subject, the best use those three dogs could be put to would be to show such demented souls, including the women who constitute the protagonists and the demented audience members who applaud from the sidelines, that sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. When these pigs in human form squeal, we would know whether they enjoy such brutality when the shoe is on the other foot.
      Appalled that universities in a country renowned as the cradle of higher education have such inhuman beasts on their payroll.
      Peter, thank you once again for highlighting the plight of hapless animals at the hand of these thugs. In my country, India, we have a tribe called the Bishnois, whose members proudly continue to give up their lives to save animals who live in their vicinity. THAT is what is called as evolved humanity.

  6. Dear Cyrus and others, For the record, as they say, I do not hunt and have never hunted. However, I am not opposed to those who hunt and eat what they kill, as long as they do so as humanely as possible. In some instances, I think hunters probably are more humane than an industry that slaughters and produces our burgers, steaks, etc., that we consume. I have yet to watch the show “Dawgs.” One of the reasons I wrote the blog post was to shake things up, to point out the problems inherent in discourse, including politeness and consensus building.

    • Dear Ulf,
      As you mentioned in your post that you had the opportunity to view a ‘ delightful segment’ the natural assumption would be that you enjoyed what it depicted and portrayed. By the way, I, and many others, are vegetarians by choice, so the question of burgers and steaks on our plates or our tables does not arise. We share a substantial portion of our human DNA with animals, and the world has been gifted to all of us who have taken birth on it, whether human or otherwise. If at all we consider ourselves superior, we should desist in behaving like brutal savages with animals who have done us no harm.
      And if politeness is the outcome desired, it could hardly be expected by shaking up sensibilities on issues of senseless blood and gore, which are repulsive to any sane soul. Regards

      • And what Peter has so graphically described can under no stretch of imagination be considered ‘ humane’ but reeks of blood-lust and savagery on the part of apparently educated and privileged ‘women’ There can be no logical defending of such behaviour.

  7. Dear Cyrus, I only watched a promotional segment, ladies sitting on sofa with Tucker Carlson, so sorry if this did not come across. For some reason no footage of the show was shown, unless it happened when I was out of room. About meat, on occasion I have told myself I should not eat meat of animals that are slaughtered, but then the habit of years of growing up eating meat wins out. How could Americans and other citizens of the world learn to not eat meat? I know that in Sweden the animals at least have rights to enjoy pasture and fresh air, but obviously they still get slaughtered. Best, Ulf

  8. Dear Ulf, Thank you for the explanation.
    If the question ‘ How could citizens of the world learn not to eat meat’ is rhetorical then I have no answer, but if it is genuine, I think step one towards it would be to visit the slaughter houses and observe the process or at least video footage of the same. For most people, that would be sufficient. Further, there are books on the concept of Karma which explain the reason for pain we undergo in human form. A lot of it can be attributed to participation, knowingly or unknowingly, in cruelty to animals. Obviously this is not something every reader would believe as it appears to transcend the realms of existing pure science, but there is sufficient evidence in metaphysics to prove that ‘ vibrations’ given off by animals (and humans) in great pain, have repercussions and ramifications far beyond the physical and geographical locale where the pain occurs.
    Sorry to have been rude in my initial post but I erroneously assumed you concurred with the needlessly cruel actions of those savage women.
    What lies beyond my comprehension, (and I guess it always will), is how people from an apparently civilised society, having an upbringing more privileged than most people in the world have access to, can yet indulge in this mindless orgy of violence, enjoy it whole-heartedly, and get a television channel to air it. Regards, Cyrus

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