Wednesday, February 16, 2005

In Praise of Larry Mumper

I'm a college professor. In American culture we have seldom been a popular bunch. The famous comedy Animal House captured a common image of us when it depicted "Professor Dave Jennings," played by Donald Sutherland, as a tweed-jacketed, pot-smoking flake. The famous tear-jerker Terms of Endearment depicted the English professor "Flap Horton," played by Jeff Daniels, as a tweed-jacketed, skirt-chasing flake. Most recently, Larry Mumper, a Republican state senator representing the Marion area, has introduced a bill that would somehow--the enforcement provision is nebulous at best--debar professors from "persistently introducing controversial matter into the classroom or coursework that has no relation to their subject of study and that serves no legitimate pedagogical purpose." Apparently we professors do this all the time.

I quote from a Jan. 27 article in the Columbus Dispatch:

Mumper, a Republican, said many professors undermine the values of their students because "80 percent or so of them (professors) are Democrats, liberals or socialists or card-carrying Communists" who attempt to indoctrinate students.

"These are young minds that haven’t had a chance to form their own opinions," Mumper said. "Our colleges and universities are still filled with some of the ’60s and ’70s profs that were the anti-American group. They’ve gotten control of how to give people tenure and so the colleges continue to move in this direction."

Stuff like this is kinda silly, in my opinion. Bills like this are made to be ideological soap boxes. Sen. Mumper gained his victory as soon as the bill began to attract national, even international, attention. He is probably better-known now that at any time before or hereafter.

Ironically, I think that he would be somewhat embarrassed if the bill did become law. If enacted into law the state would have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars defending it against an inevitable lawsuit, and this at a time when the state budget is hard-pressed to deal with the most basic needs. I suspect that the 21st district representative, Linda Reidelbach--who seems very intent that the state should spend its money carefully--will ultimately vote against this bill or vote for it only if she knows in advance that it hasn't a prayer of passage.

Even so, at first, I admit, the bill got me down. I can't help it. I'm the sort of person who wants everyone to like him, and it saddens me to find that Sen. Mumper doesn't. I have won three teaching awards in my career, including the Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching, which is the highest my university can bestow. But I am still, after all, a professor who is a Democrat and, some would say, a liberal, which apparently makes it hard to differentiate me from an outright Commie.

Upon greater reflection, however, I want to speak in praise of Larry Mumper. For Sen. Mumper, I now realize, was one of the influences who got me off the sidelines and spurred me to think about what I could do as a citizen to improve the quality of political discussion in Ohio. So thanks, Senator!

3 Comments:

Blogger Gavin Blair said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:34 AM  
Blogger Gavin Blair said...

I don't think you will have to worry about it passing. I don't think it will even get to the House. I sure hope not at any rate because it would do a diservice to us students no matter what our ideology is. There are still many republicans against it at least in the Senate, and combined with the Dems I think it is safe. Keep up the great blog.

9:10 AM  
Blogger J. said...

Hey just a suggestion, why not list your many blogs on each blog so it's easier for us to jump from history to activism, etc? Would be a great assistance.

4:23 PM  

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