Campus Free Speech

Professor at Augsburg University (Minnesota) Suspended for Classroom Discussion About Quoting the Word "Nigger"

The discussion stemmed from a student's reading a sentence in class from James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time.


Randy Kennedy, a noted scholar on race and the law at Harvard Law School, and the author of Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word, published this excellent article Friday in the Chronicle of Higher Education, and graciously agreed to let me reprint it:

A series of dismaying events has transpired at Augsburg University, in Minneapolis. According to several undisputed news reports, it began in October, when a student read a sentence in class from James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time: "You can only be destroyed by believing that you really are what the white world calls a nigger."

Airing the N-word caused a commotion. The professor leading the class, Philip Adamo, asked the students if they felt it was appropriate to voice the word Baldwin had written. In doing so, Adamo repeated the word. Later, he sent to the class two essays on the politics of the N-word. The next day, some students asked Adamo to leave the classroom while they discussed the lingering controversy. They were joined by other students who were not enrolled in the course. He complied with their request. Later, after a flurry of emails in which Adamo continued to try to explain himself, the university removed him from the course. He has since been suspended, pending the outcome of a formal review.

This dispiriting farce discredits those who have played a role in it and undermines Augsburg's claim to be a serious institution of higher learning.

First, there are the students who complained that they had been shocked, hurt, and made to feel unsafe by the professor's "use" of the N-word. How can anyone sensibly think that Adamo was "using" the N-word, in the sense of deploying it destructively? As Adamo stated in his own defense, there is "a distinction between use and mention. To use the word to inflict … harm is unacceptable. To mention the word in a discussion of how the word is used is necessary for honest discourse."

This is not a case of a professor calling someone "nigger." This is a case of a professor exploring the thinking and expression of a writer who voiced the word to challenge racism. This is not a case of a professor negligently throwing about a term that's long been deployed to terrorize, shame, and denigrate African-Americans. This is a case of a professor who, attentive to the sensibilities of his students, sought to encourage reflection about their anxieties and beliefs.

None of those distinctions require deep insight. They should be obvious. Students unable to appreciate them are students unprepared for university life.

Second, although Adamo initially did nothing wrong, he compromised himself when he allowed himself to be cowed by the students, who prevailed upon him to abandon his classroom. He should never have left it. He should have invoked his authority as a professor. There is a reason he was leading the class: He knows more about the subject at hand than his students do. That is a justifiable basis on which to pull rank, to insist on a display of at least minimal respect. By caving, Adamo elicited neither sympathy nor understanding, but contempt.

Adamo further compromised himself in a subsequent letter that reads like parody. The classroom, he wrote, "is a place where any and every topic can be explored, even those topics considered to be taboo. That is how I understand academic freedom, which is a precious thing to me and other professors. It is the currency that allows us to speak truth to power." So far, so good.

But in the next breath, Adamo betrayed his expressed commitment to intellectual freedom and adventurousness by suggesting that it stems only from his "privileged position": "I am now struggling to understand how it may be better not to explore some taboo topics, and to weigh the consequences of absolute academic freedom versus outcomes that lead to hurt, racial trauma, and loss of trust."

Such talk is misplaced in the context of a perfectly responsible classroom discussion of James Baldwin's rhetoric. Adamo's genuflection to that prattle stupidly empowers those who have shabbily mistreated him.

Some professors at Augsburg have repudiated an academic-freedom defense of Adamo. Their open letter contains two sentences, in particular, that illustrate vividly the embrace of anti-intellectualism and illiberal conformity that is sadly ascendant in all too many precincts of academia. "We believe," they wrote, "that further conversations about academic freedom can only take place after we acknowledge that harm has been done to these students."

In other words, discussion of a central pillar of the academic enterprise must be put on hold until everyone agrees to the highly contestable claim that "harm" has been done.

Their next point is all too predictable. They want the university to "require meaningful and challenging diversity, equity, and justice training for all faculty." One can confidently predict that the "training" they have in mind will be devoid of pluralism and debate, despite their putative commitment to "diversity" and "inclusion."

By all appearances, those who have most betrayed academic ideals at Augsburg are the president, Paul C. Pribbenow, and the provost, Karen Kaivola. They are the ones who punished Adamo. They are the ones who allowed a perfectly acceptable pedagogical decision to be turned into an academic crime. They are the ones who have, in their published statements thus far, neglected to say anything critical about the students who encroached upon a professor's classroom. They are the leaders who, in a moment of crisis, have failed miserably to educate their campus about the aims and priorities, freedoms and limitations that should be part and parcel of life at a serious university.

NEXT: Lesson on Islam Didn't Violate Establishment Clause or Free Speech Clause

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  1. “Professor at Augsburg University (Minnesota) Suspended for Classroom Discussion About Quoting the Word “Nigger””

    OMG Prof. Volokh said the word!

    “Randy Kennedy, a noted scholar on race and the law at Harvard Law School, and the author of Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word”

    Blasphemy! He said it again!

    1. I see you beat me to it.

      1. And the halibut was … delicious.

        1. Are there any women here?

    2. First Amendment rulings say it can be appropriate to use the N word without redaction. (See Hardy v. Jefferson Community College, 260 F.3d 671 (6th Cir. 2001) (professor could use the unredacted N word in class discussion about racism, under First Amendment)).

      Indeed, court rulings themselves use the N word without redaction in recounting what transpired, in racial discrimination lawsuits. Yet, it is now so taboo in the eyes of progressive reporters to write the word even in a disapproving way, that I am avoiding doing so. I am avoiding using it, to avoid being smeared in some future news story that would misleadingly claim I “used” the word when in fact I was just relating its use by others.

      Even if Augsburg is a private college, First Amendment principles might indirectly apply here by virtue of contractual academic freedom provisions. (See McAdams v. Marquette University, 914 N.W.2d 708 (Wis. 2018) (professor at private college had contractual academic freedom right to express his controversial, First-Amendment protected views against same-sex marriage)).

    1. I was expecting some short clip by Samuel Jackson.

  2. America’s best days are behind it. This is Black Run America.

    1. You’re an idiot, but I’ll still try to explain it just this once. Most of the ultra-pc crap on campus is being enforced by “white allies” trying to burnish their woke credentials.

      If it was black run it would make more sense, but white leftist run, doing everything they can to make leftist blacks like them, but not having a real clue, is where the real crazy comes in.

      1. It’s not literally run by blacks but it’s run for the benefit of blacks. Anything that has a disproportionate impact on blacks is bad.

        1. I can’t believe you don’t understand how this works.

          ‘For the benefit of blacks’ is the *cover*used. Its for the benefit of the white PC power-mongers. ‘For the benefit of blacks’ is used to both keep blacks down *and* to gain power over other whites. All the work done to ‘help’ minorities could hardly have done more damage than if these people openly set out to harm them.

      2. Are you sure? The personality types are the same as the people up front with the rope and n pictures of lynchings – the pleasure of torturing someone regarded as socially irredeemable, and claiming righteous superiority while doing so. If the campus zeitgeist changed, you don’t think they wouldn’t go back to the former gig?

        1. The personality types are the same as the people up front with the rope and n pictures of lynchings

          Yes, the real lynchers are those who get overly angry at using the N-word.

          I also don’t think anyone who used to lynch people is actually alive today to ‘go back to the former gig.’

          1. Nah, I’d be shocked if there weren’t a few around; The last lynching I’m aware of was in 1981.

            1. Not a bad point – history ain’t even history sometimes and we would do well to be reminded of that fact.

              Nevertheless,I doubt said lynchers are spending time on campus in Minnesota being busybodies about profs using bad words.

              1. There are still vicious bigots in America, Sarcastro. There was plenty of violent racism during the 1950s and ’60s, for example, and some of those folks are still around. They’re difficult to find, however, because society has changed and the intolerant tend to guard genuine positions on racism, misogyny, etc, using terms such as “colorblind” and “traditional values.”

                They probably continue to reveal their genuine thinking in contexts they regard as safe — private homes, confederacy-related events, Republican committee meetings — but the average person would likely be unable to find an admitted strident bigot these days, even in Alabama, South Carolina, or Mississippi. Those blacks must have been beating themselves at Selma — and those Freedom Riders committed suicide, then jumped in holes and buried themselves — if you believe the current alibis down south.

                1. Yep, you democrats were certainly very violent towards blacks, and still very racist.

                  Probably because so many of you are pure evil.

                2. You would know – you’re one of the more vicious ones.

            2. “The last lynching I’m aware of was in 1981.”

              What incident was that, Brett? The last “lynching” from the Tuskeegee records was Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner, the three Civil Rights activists, in 1964. I disagree with labeling that incident a “lynching,” as it wasn’t for a specific “offense” and the killers took great pains to cover it up.

              It was, however, a politically-motivated murder.

                1. Thanks, TMCF.

                  Though I’d (personally) also call this one a racially-motivated murder rather than a lynching, since Donald was just a random black kid who was not suspected by his killers of any offense at all. Though it’s borderline, the facts that the killers were KKKlansmen, and they displayed the body in a stereotyped lynching mode, do not make it a “lynching.”

                  I’m not just nit-picking. “Lynching” had a specific definition, and it wasn’t just a racially-motivated killing, but a case of “vigilante justice” in which the victim was suspected of some grievous offense beyond the ability of the legal system to handle (though the “suspicion” might be merely a way to gain plausible deniability).

            3. 1998. James Byrd.

              1. Thanks, DN.

                Not a lynching, but a racially motivated killing (not everyone will agree with me). Much like the Michael Donald case (immediately above), Byrd was an all-but-random victim, though known to his assailants who were simply looking to sadistically kill a black man.

    2. @ARWP

      Wasn’t there a survey a while back that showed that black people, as well as other racial minorities, hate political correctness more than white people do? Which makes sense, since they are just as likely, if not more so, to be victims of it than white people. POCs often have “unwoke” views on topics other than race that allow more “woke” whites to bully them. And Reason has documented how black men are disproportionately victims of those Title 9 kangaroo courts.

      I think it’s a stretch to say PC culture benefits blacks. At best the PC rage mob gives them a little bit of time in the sun before turning around and attacking them.

      1. Let’s all get together and slaughter all the dirty hippies.

        It would solve a lot of problems.

        1. I guess it’s human nature to dislike the people whose preferences you must obey each day.

          1. Arty, you’re the one who must learn to obey.

            So learn to obey, Arty.

  3. The next day, some students asked Adamo to leave the classroom while they discussed the lingering controversy.

    How universities appear to have changed in the past four decades since I was a student — and not, I fear, for the better. I went to a fairly laid back UC school but I’m pretty sure that it would never have crossed any student’s mind to ask a professor to leave his/her own classroom.

    1. Agreed. And he actually complied!

      Well, at least it hasn’t reached the point it did in China. Yet.

    2. Do you think this is a super common thing or something?

      1. Would you accept, “Once is more common than it should be.”?

        1. He shouldn’t have left but him leaving says more about the tail-end of distributions and how he falls there than it does about every university.

        2. I would, wholeheartedly.

          But that does mean that people can’t lean on ‘in my day, this didn’t happen’ nearly so hard.

  4. I think we all know who’s graduates aren’t going to be employable. I feel really sorry for the students who were defrauded into thinking they were going to be attending a place of education.

  5. The American higher education system seems bound and determined to demonstrate that it has self-lobotomized. I guess one way to keep tuition prices from rising faster and faster is to demonstrate to those American parents writingthe checks that the value of a University degree just keeps falling.

  6. I’d have written “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” on the black board, and then flunked the lot of them.

  7. Off to Room 101 for a visit with O’Brien.

  8. A wonderful column, but I would disagree with Prof. Kennedy in one particular: some of these students have indeed been harmed–perhaps irreparably. It’s just that Prof. Adamo had nothing to do with that.

  9. Let us consider the allegedly offensive quote that started all this: from James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time: “You can only be destroyed by believing that you really are what the white world calls a nigger.”

    Those who are claiming to have been “harmed” and “hurt” and “damaged” because they heard the dreaded N-word used in this context are doing exactly what Baldwin called upon them not to do. And I guarantee that none of them see the irony in this.

  10. And the university also banned every rap “artist” and other black folk who use the world routinely from campus as well, right?

    1. The old tired ‘why do they get to use that word and we don’t’ argument, seen in the wild in this day and age!

      1. It’s not so much that we’re asking for a particular standard, as that we want there to be just one.

        1. There’s the boastful use of the word (“head n-word in charge”), the mild rebuke (“n-word, please”), and the somewhat stronger put-down (“no-account n-word”).

          The rules for white people are discussed in an NSFW Chris Rock monologue – but I repeat myself.

        2. I think one can draw a pretty clear distinction between what I’m thinking were I, a white dude, to say it versus when black guys use it.

          Not that I’d be saying it with malice, but I don’t think it’s a double standard to say I’ve got some different stuff going on than a rapper.

          1. Can we get a ruling on Cypress Hill?

            Also, what if (hypothetically speaking) a black rapper says it to titillate a white audience?

            1. Ain’t up to me to rule – it’s between the speaker and the listeners. Hence why state action is such a bad idea.

              But white folks complaining there’s a double standard in this day and age have no excuse other than reaching because they love them some sour grapes.

            2. Quentin Tarantino.

          2. Except, of course, you need to not only be the proper pigment to author and originally sing the song, you need to be the proper pigment to vocalize the song, anywhere, anytime, ever.

            1. What you using the N-word means is between the user and their audience. Not anywhere, anytime – sing out all you want in your car by yourself, John Bolton.

              Complaining that the audience isn’t being fair is just ignoring how history and context shape language.

              e.g. I use illegals on this blog all the time. Other blogs I post to, I use undocumented. Because I read the room.

                1. First, ‘people are outraged on the Internet’ isn’t really a great metric for behavior modification.

                  Second, yeah, social media has a helluva audience. Lock that down, ffs.

                  1. The standard “it is OK if you are etc etc” standard is the definition of a DOUBLE STANDARD. Either the word is OK or it is not OK. This “one class of people can say it….oh yeah they say it with an -a emphasis are the end…so it is OK” is plain silly. And anyone that tries to defend this as a “standard” is just making a fool of themselves.

                    This is a free society and speech has one uniform standard applicable to all in society. Remember the f- word used to be forbidden in common parlance (hence all the Supreme Court cases from the 60’s and 70’s focusing on the use of the word). Now I hear children dropping the f- bomb in public on a daily basis.

                    I don’t personally use the n- word (and only don’t put spell it out here to avoid filters…although it doesn’t seem Reason using one in the comment section) but I don’t care if other people use it. And if rappers, etc. and people who seek to limit the word are OK with that then they need to sit down and shut up when other use it.

                    1. This is a free society and speech has one uniform standard applicable to all in society.

                      Legally sure, socially that’s laughable.

                      Arguing there’s a double standard elides all context and history.
                      Alas, whites don’t have such word tied into such a history of dehumanization and bondage. We try and make due witch cracker but it’s just not the same. This different history will give rise to some different standards sometimes.

                      If the wages of not having a history of slavery is one word becoming taboo in most spaces, I’ll not begrudge that.

      2. ‘why do they get to use that word and we don’t’ argument,

        That is not the argument he made.

        The argument is if the word is so bad, no one should use it.

        You don’t see Jews running around singing about kikes, do you?

        1. Words are not bad; sounds are not magic – it’s the ideas they stand for.

          And the idea a white guy using that word stands for is not the same as the idea a black guy using it stands for.

          There is some ambiguity between speaker and listener, but this case is as stark as they come.

          1. Blacks who use the word are agreeing with the idea that blacks are inferior.

            1. I think you’ll find lots of blacks and whites who disagree with you there.

              1. Well, they’re wrong.

          2. The problem is purely rhetorical. I never thought I would cite him in a serious discussion, but Tekashi 6ix9ine has a great interview about his use of the word. He’s hispanic but says nigga more than pretty much anyone else. Most of his posse is black and they have no issue with him using it, but some black people take issue because he isn’t black. He literally said “what are you going to do?” when someone criticized him about it during an interview. If someone gets offended because they think that words stand for something based on your innate characteristics and not how you use them, then those people can frankly go fuck themselves.

            1. If you have an audience that will indeed go f right off or don’t care, then take as much advantage of that as you wish. That doesn’t mean anything about someone else who is not in that position, though.

              At this point, you need to work hard to be surprised that some words change meaning depending on the the speaker and audience.

  11. Meanwhile, Augsburg is located just blocks from the Riverside Apartments, a large (and somewhat notorious) apartment complex just off downtown Minneapolis. The towers and surrounding neighborhood are the center Minneapolis’s large Somali population, which has been the target of real racism (such as a recent bombing of a mosque). The assigned high school is South High School, at which

    1. Not sure why it cut off the rest of my comment.

      …at which less than 1% of African American 10th graders pass reading proficiency and at which only 76% of African Americans will graduate.

      So while Augsburg students are sitting around, gazing at their navels, and debating these issues, there are real issues just outside their windows. Issues that are far more life changing that these matters, and on issues where their involvement could make a real difference. But arguing over these issues is just sooo much easier than, you know, tackling the difficult issues.

      1. By African Americans do you mean the descendants of slaves or are you including the Somali immigrants? If it’s the former that’s terrible but if it’s the latter that might just be due to the high age of immigrant children and will improve within a few years.

        1. All African Americans, not just those who are children of immigrants. But even if it had been the later, it would be concerning, since many (and probably most) of those children had been born in America and attended local schools.

  12. I litigate a lot of discrimination cases. I can’t tell you how often I get deposition or trial testimony more or less like this:

    Q: And what did Smith say to Jones?
    A: He called him the N-word.
    Q: Did Smith say, quote N-word, close quote, or did he say the actual N-word?
    A: He said the N-word.
    Q: The words “N-word” or the actual N-word itself?
    A: I don’t understand.
    Q: I know you don’t want to say it, but Smith called Jones a “nigger,” didn’t he?
    A: Yes.
    The last question was technically leading, but permissible in the circumstances.

    1. It’s ridiculous that people just don’t say ‘nigger’.

      1. No it isn’t — asshole.

        1. Yes it is just plains illy people can’t use the word….especially seeing a certain demographic use the word in common parlance.

        2. CJ, only frightened children are afraid to say or write a word because it’s supposed to be magic or something. I refuse to write ‘n-word’, when we all know goddamn well I mean ‘nigger’. I do consider it very impolite to call a black person that, but I’m not going to be afraid to quote the word we’re actually discussing in context.

          However, feel free to be a frightened child all you want.

          1. You conflate not wanting to be a dick with being a coward. I’m not afraid of saying the n-word, I just think it’s rude.

            1. Liberals conflate not wanting to capitulate to their every last demand with wanting to be a dick. Particularly in regards to their demands that people self-censor.

              It’s a central tactic of liberalism, has been for a few decades now: Pretend that agreeing with them is demanded by basic manners, so that their efforts to censor dissent is just an attempt to get people to be polite.

              Use of the word “nigger” here in this context isn’t being a dick, nobody is using it as an epithet or insult. And that’s the only think that makes using it offensive.

              I can, however, understand somebody who refuses to use it in any context because they don’t want to come up on an internet search 15 years from now and end up in front of a firing squad. I’m just too old to have that worry, otherwise it’s not entirely unreasonable.

              1. A fertile new arena of discussion, well away from LoSl’s posturings of boldness.

                Conservatives have their sacred cows they get offended by all the time. But yeah, they don’t usually think it’s because the left are being dicks; usually it’s part of some broader secret coordinated agenda to change America.

                That being said, I agree with you that the right not obeying what the left thinks are rules of common courtesy isn’t always motivated by intent to or gross negligence in offending. With the n-word and people on the Internet? Yeah, that’s not some cultural disconnect; that’s on purpose.

                In the context of the OP, it was certainly being willfully transgression, and I have no doubt the prof realized he was taking something of a risk of being offensive. Absent more info, though, he could totally have not meant to be a dick. Again, though, that’s between him and his audience. But certainly not the state. Which includes his employer.

                1. After Journolist was exposed, I don’t think you still get to treat suspecting secretly coordinated agendas as paranoid. Before that I’d assumed myself that the media’s uncanny adoption of a particular take on an issue within hours was just some sort of spontaneous collective behavior, like the way a flock of starlings move around.

                  I was wrong, it actually was secretly coordinated.

                  It’s been proven to occur, the question now is if any particular allegation of it is well grounded, because the allegation isn’t prima facia unreasonable anymore.

                  In the context of the OP, no, it wasn’t deliberate provocation. It was a discussion in an academic setting.

                  1. We’ve had this discussion before – the Journolist wasn’t what you think it was.

                    It does reinforce my thesis that the left may have a tendency to think the right are all being dicks on purpose, but the right thinks the left are a bunch of interlocking conspiracies.

                2. Sarc, you’re just a stupid, banal, slovenly idiot searching for a village. Yes, you ARE a coward. It has nothing to do with being polite. You’re a weak piece of ofal that shouldn’t speak u less spoken to.

                  Beta male? You’re more like a delta male, at best.

          2. If all you meant to reference was contextual quoting, then we don’t have a disagreement. But that’s not what you said. Language can be tricky that way.

    2. Time to get away from this silly ‘n-word’ stuff.

      Disney has a catchy little tune you can hum to yourself.
      N – I – double guh, er.

  13. Words with venom, words that bind, words used like weapons to cloud my mind. I’m a person, I’m a man. But no matter how hard I try, people just say Hey! There goes that Nigger-guy! Everywhere I go, it’s always the same. Everyone just thinks of me as that one single name. Hey, Nigger-guy! Nigger-guy. Hi, Nigger-guy. STOP! Now go, call me Nigger-guy, fill me with your hate. Try to bring me down. Oh up, you’re too late! When will it end? Will it ever be a time? When I can be thought of as more then just Nigger-guy? Respect.

    1. Arty, it would be quite step up for you to even be thought of in those terms.

      1. Pay attention to middle initials!

  14. This is what children do. The first step in adulthood is being independent. When you don’t have enough time in the day to do everything because of work and responsibilities, you’ll quickly learn that there’s no time to be sad or upset about things you don’t like. The next step is realizing that being moody doesn’t help you accomplish your goals with limited time, so you start realizing what’s actually worth throwing a fit about. Protip: this isn’t one of them.

    I hate identity politics, but I think that other groups with slurs need to call out blacks on this one. Nobody says the “K-word.” It’s okay to say kike and I don’t feel transgressed against when I read it in a book. Matter of fact, kike has become a joke at this point. Jews stopped responding negatively to it and most laypeople don’t even know what the word is. Blacks could learn a thing or two from us.

    1. Maryland arguably passed the first “modern” speech code (i. e., censoring not simply criticism of the established order/established church, but punishing the act of giving offense). You couldn’t with insulting intent, call anyone “heritick, Scismatick, Idolator, puritan, Independant, Prespiterian popish prest, Jesuite, Jesuited papist, Lutheran, Calvenist, Anabaptist, Brownist, Antinomian, Barrowist, Roundhead, Separatist”

      1. To violate this statute, the words had to be uttered in a “reproachful manner,” so I imagine it would be OK to say, “this hymn goes out to all my Barrowists,” or “what up, my Jesuite!”

      2. As long as I can still say “Jehovah,” I’m fine.

      3. they missed out adding rustlers, cut throats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswogglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass-kickers, sht-kickers and Methodists to the speech code.

        1. you said rape twice.

          1. I see that nobody rose to the bait here. Just as well.

  15. There is a much sadder side to this insane compulsion to avoid at all costs exposure to “the N-word.” One of the truly great American novels, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, is literally filled with such references, as Huck’s companion on his raft trip down the Mississippi,the escaped slave Jim, is continually referred to as “Nigger Jim.” Yet Huckleberry Finn is one of the more anti-racist books that you’ll read, as Huck is constantly learning of the gentle and generous humanity of Jim. The book would not be nearly as authentic without Twain’s use of the idiom of the day, nor would its message be nearly as clear without the clear contradiction between the dehumanizing use of the phrase “Nigger Jim” and the clear humanity of that character. Yet a whole generation (or more) of American school children has been denied the lessons taught by this great American novel merely because it makes use of a word which is now completely verboten, regardless of context.

    1. In other relevant Minnesota news, the Duluth school district just removed “Huckleberry Finn” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” from their curriculum for just such misguided reasons. They replaced it with a book on the effects of the Dakota War by a female Native American author, which is relevant to locally, but at the expense of the opportunity to teach kids about the roots of anti-black racism which is also still relevant.

      1. Just, meaning a year ago. I know you want to marshal your anecdotes to make them seem more common, but maybe check first.

        1. The book was published in 1960.

          If you are correct, it was banned in 2018. Therefore this banning has been in effect for the most recent 1.7% of its existence. Seems pretty recent to me.

          Your statement is fatuous. That’s a shame because I’ve read many of your comments and you are better than that.

          1. Feb of 2018.

            I’m not saying it’s not super dumb, I’m saying banning Huck Finn isn’t sweeping the nation.

            1. Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that it hasn’t yet swept the nation? Not knowing the future, and all that.

              1. Generally I see no reason to hedge my language against the status quo continuing – it implies I believe things that I do not.

                But DjDiverDan’s post is about the present state of affairs, and overstates things considerably.

              2. I thought the Huckleberry Finn wars were largely over, and – good news – Huck won.

            2. “I’m saying banning Huck Finn isn’t sweeping the nation.”

              The day ain’t over yet, and progtards still got a whole mess of stupid to go round.

              1. Come on, Last of the Shitheads,
                When the “Ban the Books” movement had some strength and was beginning to gain traction, progressives were leading the charge against those groups’ idiocy.

                If you think stupidity is limited to one side of the ideological divide . . . then that says more about you than about anything else.

                1. Progressives aren’t the one leading the witch hunts these day, now are they?

                  Is that tracking for you, jackass?

    2. Yet a whole generation (or more) of American school children has been denied the lessons taught by this great American novel merely because it makes use of a word which is now completely verboten, regardless of context.

      Maybe check on this fact before you post.

      Remember: anecdote isn’t fact.

      1. According to the American Library Association, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was No. 14 on the list of most banned books among American school libraries and classrooms. In 2015, in response to the long repeated complaints about the language used in the book, one publisher of ebooks made available for classroom work published a version of Huckleberry Finn in which the word “Nigger” was replaced with either “servant” or “slave” in order to eliminate the offending language. There are numerous school districts which ordered that Huckleberry Finn be removed from required reading lists in their curricula, and numerous other school districts in which the book was removed outright from school libraries. Maybe you ought to do your own research, Sarcastro, you bloviating weasel.

        1. Relative numbers like rankings are often useful, but not in this case. You claimed a whole generation (or more) of American school children has been denied the lessons taught by this great American novel.

          I’m not saying there’s no problem, I’m saying you are the one bloviating with your hand-overplaying crisis rhetoric.

          1. With a nice ‘think of the children’ twist, natch.

        2. “bloviating weasel”

          Yep. That definitely sums him up.


    3. DjiverDan: A correction. Jim is /never/ referred to as “Nigger Jim” in “Huckleberry Finn.” The words “nigger” and “Jim” appear side-by-side only once, in a letter Huck writes to Mrs. Watson.

      That said, in one place Huck uses “nigger” three times in two sentences, and it appears 219 times in the book.

      1. That’s like half an hour of a Tarantino film.

  16. What strikes me is that this is at Augsburg, which is a fairly conservative school. I would expect this sort of thing to happen at Macalester or Carlton or another of the more liberal schools in the area. To hear this happening at Augsburg is kind of like hearing of a Lutheran church censuring a pastor for saying “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays.”

    1. The march through the institutions is getting perilously close to its conclusion. They’re approaching the point where they switch from subversion to just openly crushing the opposition. (Or trying, anyway.)

      You can see that in the increasingly bold use of “deplatforming”, for instance, including shutting off the disfavored from basic financial services.

      Expect the transition to take place the next time we have unified government under the Democrats. They’d thought it was going to happen in 2016, and were a bit shocked. That’s caused a determination that, the next time they have the levers of power in their hands, they’re not going to allow a mere election to take that power away. No more complacency.

      They’ll undertake all sorts of actions to see to it that we don’t have any more elections where somebody else might end up winning. They’re openly discussing what to do, don’t even bother plotting in secret any more.

        1. Just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean someone isn’t out to get you

        2. Right, because deplatforming isn’t a real thing, right? Nobody’s had their site host drop them because of their politics, or woke up one day to find that they’d been banned from multiple media platforms over night, or discovered that suddenly a major financial institution has closed their account for no good reason, just because they’re unpopular in the wrong circles.

          And nobody would even think of cutting off the financial services to a large social media platform just because they refused to cooperate in deplatforming.

          None of that is actually happening, right? Right?

          I frequent liberal sites to keep track of the chatter, and there’s a big uptick in discussions of tactics like Court packing and overturning the CU decision so that political speech can be censored. Read Tushnet on “Abandoning defensive crouch liberalism”; He’s openly advocating all sorts of measures the next time Democrats get into power, to see to it that they never end up out of power again.

          You know, when people say they’re going to screw you over the next time they get the chance, it’s a real mistake to think they’re joking about it.

          1. Equating deplatforming with ‘openly crushing the opposition’ is the kind of drama I have come to depend upon from you.

            Yeah, gab dying is the crushing of conservativism.

            I frequent liberal sites to keep track of the chatter, and there’s a big uptick in discussions of tactics like Court packing and overturning the CU decision.
            I mean, if I took the VC as telling what conservatives would do, I’d be…well, I’d be a paranoiac.

    2. Augsburg is “fairly conservative”? By what standards? Sure, maybe by Macalester or Carlton, but those are places where AOC is considered a bit too centrist. A conservative school would be something like Bethel, Northwestern, or Crown. Augsburg is still titled a bit left.

      FWIW, my brother attended Augsburg just short of 20 years ago. He complained about its liberal PC culture back then. I doubt they’ve walked it back.

  17. This is just another example of how cowardly and mindlessly political most college administrators have become in the last 20 years. Indeed, their fixation on severely punishing even the utterance of a taboo word is right out of the Middle Ages.

    1. It’s a D&D magic-user spell; Power Word: Nigger. When cast it causes massive chaos, possible insanity for all within hearing or reading range, progressive aligned creatures may lose their shit, and the destruction of the caster’s career if a saving throw is not successfully made. Requiring a 20 roll on a d20.

  18. The idea and concept that certain words in the English language “belong” to only certain demographics, especially in a free society, is not only silly but dangerous. If that argument is accepted for one word, it can be applied to any word(s).

    Maybe Trump supporters don’t like hearing academics and fellow students making fun of the President they support. Why should they be subjected to having to hear the use of such language? Aren’t they entitled to a “safe space”? I’m sure it also does emotional damage to have your political leanings constantly (and sometimes directly) attacked by just being a captive audience in class, at campus events, or just walking through the student union to only have some guy jump in front of you with a “Dump Racist Trump” protest sign.

    I’m pretty sure a certain demographic would cry foul if say a university decided to punish or ban anti-Trump or anti-conservative protests because a minority of college students were offended by it or felt threatened just hearing such rhetoric. (If you want a real world example just see how much bloody murder the Left cried when Liberty U. banned the College Dems because they were pro-baby killing).

    1. This is the lamest slippery slope.

      Soon blacks will have taken all our words!

      No one on this thread at least is arguing that universities get to ban speech like this, so the bulk of your comment is taking out a pretty hefty strawman.

      1. Come on Sarcastrated you can do better then rolling out a fake strawman here. I said nothing of a “slippery slope”. Just pointed out the double standard and how if we have one for a certain word, why not replicate said standard to other words that other people find highly offensive.

        1. If that argument is accepted for one word, it can be applied to any word(s).

          What kind of slope is that?

          1. No slope….it is called a LOGICAL CONCLUSION.

            1. I object to your use of the word “slope.”

    2. It’s true that groups are stealing words from ordinary usage to weaponize language.

      Disabled has been in baseball for more than a century.
      But now the disability industrial complex has co-opted and redefined the word in such a way that they now claim that baseball is the offender.

      Likewise the word holocaust. Perfectly functional word that didn’t mean mass killings, subsequently appropriated by a single group, and now try to use holocaust in its former manner. (see google n-gram for word frequency prior to 1940)

      1. Words change meanings. Sometimes reflecting events, sometimes on purpose in an attempt to get social influence. Such is the way of these sounds we connect to ideas.
        Weaponize language is some good melodrama though.

        I liked it when for a moment I thought you were calling it a ‘word holocaust.’

      2. They are not asking the PGA and the LPGA to stop using the word handicap.

  19. Yet another university makes itself disreputable. If Dick Gregory could have book named “nigger”, why can’t Prof. Adamo? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.–…..ry/298850/

    1. And Augsburg isn’t even on FIRE’s list of the 10 worst free speech offenders among U.S. colleges and universities.

  20. The described incident is profoundly depressing.

  21. There have been problems in the past regarding this. Back in 2015 when i was looking for best medical college a similar incident take place. Well luckily i didn’t had to face such thing in my university years.

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