The IUSB Vision Weblog

The way to crush the middle class is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation. – Vladimir Lenin

Are You Sexy Enough to Talk to Me?

Posted by iusbvision on September 12, 2007

“Oh no, you are not even sexy enough to talk to me!” This was one of the first things I heard at IUSB after I enrolled as a student.

I was walking in front of the SAC where I saw a short, slightly overweight man walking toward a young woman in a mini skirt. He had made eye contact with her while they were walking towards each other on the sidewalk and he said hello softly as a courtesy…… and the above was her reply. I have written about civility before and it is time to write about it again.

What is it with so many people today? There seems to be a greater lack of civility then ever before. The above act of viciousness is not the only one I have witnessed since enrolling on campus. I saw a left-wing activist student cuss out a member of the College Republicans over a minor disagreement over the position of a sign. The College Republicans here at IUSB had to get a plexi-glass covered and locked display board because some of the more “tolerant” among us repeatedly vandalized it.

There is also the hate mail that has been sent to student publications. Some of it is just unbelievable. Some of the hate mail sent to me has been a litany of warm and fuzzies like, “you better shut up Chuck,” “you better watch your back Chuck,” “you better watch your mouth,” and not to be left out, the myriad of colorful metaphors (read cuss words). The Vision had to suspend the posting privileges of a professor for repeatedly posting cuss word filled rants. By the way, I love hate mail so please send more.

We cannot have an article about civility at IUSB and forget to mention the parking lot. I witnessed a man side swipe a car in the parking lot and just drive away (yes I turned him in). There was also the rash of “support your troops magnets” that were repeatedly taken off cars, including my own.

Incivility is not just a problem at IUSB. I have a stack of news articles in my archive that tell of campaign offices being attacked and vandalized, college student groups being attacked physically by other students while administrators sat on their hands, and a disturbing trend of increased anti-Semitism on campus across the country. I have even run across a few anti-Semites on our campus.

Why is this happening? It’s not just the old folks acting this way it’s the young as well. It has been my experience that many students and some professors are simply incapable of being on the losing end of a conversation or debate without losing their temper or walking away. Too often they simply do not have the skills to understand an opposing argument or effectively articulate their own and still behave in a civil, adult manner.

We did not have this problem to this degree 150 years ago. Each town had two or three partisan news-papers and they argued in a very lively manner as to why their point of view was correct and the other papers were wrong. The result was an average citizen that was exposed to debate and argument with an applied critical thinking process every day. The Founding Fathers debated every facet of our society vigorously face to face and in letters to each other and still had great respect for each other. We have lost that in today’s society.

One of the worst acts of incivility has been brought to us courtesy of the Columbia School of Journalism. Colombia awarded a 2004-2005 photo showing the execution of three Iraqi election workers by insurgents. The Associated Press (AP) reporter was a few feet away snapping the photos in complete safety because the insurgents tipped off the AP to be there at the right place and time. This slaughter of the innocent could have easily been stopped if the AP had a residue of humanity; instead they chose to exploit the murder of three innocent people and were rewarded for such revolting behavior with a Pulitzer Prize from the Columbia School of Journalism.

Professors being persecuted for their political views are also a problem in civility that I could write about in every issue of The Vision. Professor John Lewis (no relation to our own John Lewis) at Ashland University in Ohio had received a $100,000 gift to the university to do research in objectivism, a philosophy that also has a political angle involving small government and free markets. Ashland U. was thrilled to take the money and Prof. Lewis received letters of praise from Ashland U’s president. When it came time for Prof. Lewis’ tenure he was denied:

…the Board of Trustees voted to deny your application for promotion because it was concluded that there had been a lack of support on your part for the University’s Mission Statement. … Specifically, concern was expressed at all levels of the process about writings, submitted by you as part of your scholarly activities in support of your application, that advocate for Objectivist views that are hostile to the University’s mission. (http://www.thefire.org/index.php/article/8226.html)

Ashland’s published rules guarantee that professors are “free from institutional censorship or discipline.” Prof. Lewis asked the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (thefire.org) to intervene on his behalf.

Perhaps Bill & Ted were on to something when they said, “let’s be excellent to each other.”

Chuck Norton

3 Responses to “Are You Sexy Enough to Talk to Me?”

  1. Great read Chuck,

    It’s true that civility has historically gone downhill. I perhaps attribute much of it to the overdramatization of issues that now have far too much emotion attached to them. When an issue such as abortion, sex before marriage or any other quasi-sensitive issue is raised people immediately go on the defence and become emotional about the issue. However, this is what I have learned from my experience in dealing with such people – do with it what you will, and as a disclaimer, understand that I am just sharing my experiences and am not saying everyone falls into these categories:

    1) People who respond critically to opposing viewpoints most likely do not know why they stand where they stand. In other words, it is far more common for a person who does not believe in God to get emotionally charged when someone starts to argue with them when they do not fully understand why they don’t believe in him. This is “I go where the river flows” philosophy, where we accept our beliefs based upon whats convenient at the time, and not on reality or truths. This makes it much more difficult to defend and much more offending when asked to defend it.

    In this respect it can be concluded that perhaps we are simply becoming more and more increasingly ignorant of why we take our own stances, and lashing out at others with opposing viewpoints because they simply disagree with the viewpoint we do not fully understand.

    2) Everyone seems to need some drama in their life. At least in the 20th century. We almost depict ourselves an identity correlating with a dramatic movie or television series. Perhaps it is the continual saturation of emotional arguments, stories and illustrations we are exposed too daily. It’s clearly unhealthy. I walk away from a depressing movie sometimes more depressed than I was before. Does this mean I was influenced by it? Well it’s not life altering, but some part of me was, at least for a moment affected. Lets add up those moments over a long period of time and see if they have an effect.

    For those who crave drama, emotional arguments are the way to go. Nevermind being reasonable or rational, it is often more common to depict your viewpoint as oppressed or shunned… you get more sympathy that way.

    Lets not forget, “For those who control the pictures, control the people”

    3) The Great Distraction is something I have been talking to people about recently. The idea is that while we are pre-occupied with our own lives and our own things, much more damaging things can be done without our noticing. We are an entertainment culture now, all of our decisions and time revolve around making our own lives better. Advertising, movies, videogames all share the same idea, that the goal to achieve is to obtain more and enjoy life’s pleasures.

    It’s true we need to enjoy life’s pleasures, but now there are pleasures around every corner! If we spent all of our time enjoying life and working to continue to enjoy life (which we do) then we will spend no time paying attention to the things in life that matter, such as fixing the government or speaking out at a speech. The Great Distraction aims to catch us unprepared, and it does so brilliantly. About the time anyone is ready and willing to stand up, they have spent most of their time distracted to know what to say or how to say it… only to be shot down by the opposition.

    We no longer prepare ourselves for the important battles, we pre-occupy ourselves with entertainment.

    Great article Chuck, and by the way, “Don’t do it Antonio! ES TOO SEXY!”

    Craig Chamberlin

  2. 1. I’d like to request a clarification: the professor whose comments were blocked was not an IUSB professor, correct? Otherwise I imagine that our university procedures would be in place to handle unprofessional conduct.

    2. Likewise, with reference to paragraph 3, I’d like to note that incivility is not in any way reserved to a particular side of the political spectrum. Perhaps that was not your intention, but it read that way. The Gay Straight Alliance has had similar problems to the College Republicans.

    3. Chuck, while the points on civil discussion are valid, the line between, shall we say “biting wit” and incivility is indeed a thin line, one that you have walked on more than one occasion. Some might argue you yourself have stepped over that line, more than once – and I doubt there is an absolute truth to whether that is true or false. I’ve indicated my personal position on this to you at the end of the last semester. Cuss words are of course out of order, but before one gets there there is a lot of grey area, and a lot depends on one’s perspective.

    4. I think Craig’s first comment was particularly and artfully phrased – for both those who believe in God, those who don’t, and those in between.

  3. Rachel said

    Welcome back, all.

    I want to agree that people have become much more uncivil to each other, but I’m fairly sure what Andrew says is correct: it seems to be a problem that crosses party lines. I honestly don’t think the crux of this issue lies in the political sphere; people just aren’t as respectful as they used to be.

    And I would like to say that that young woman who only talks to people who are “sexy enough” to talk to her will probably end up missing out on a lot of very interesting and edifying conversations. Of course, she doesn’t sound like the type to be worried about that kind of thing. I just wonder what she’s going to do when she only has “sexy” friends, and her body starts to go the way of all women’s bodies…good luck sister.

    Also to the poor gentleman to whom this cruelty was addressed: sir, you may feel free to say hello to me on campus anytime. Granted, I will not be wearing a hot little miniskirt, but I can guarantee you I will not be so uncivil or cruel. :)

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