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Professor asks students to burn U.S. flag or Constitution

Liberalism is nothing new in academia. Leftists seek sanctuary in the ivory tower of higher education where they can feel free to impose their liberal moonbattery on hapless college students. The less control they have over the country, the tighter their grip over academia becomes. And nothing runs more rampant on college campuses than anti-Americanism.

A University of Maine professor gives us yet another example.

A University of Maine student alleges her former professor offered extra credit to class members if they burned the American flag or the U.S. Constitution or were arrested defending free speech.

On the first day of class, associate professor Paul Grosswiler offered the credit to members of his History of Mass Communications class, according to sophomore Rebekah McDade. Disturbed by the comment, McDade dropped the class and intends to take the course again next semester with a different professor.

"I was offended," McDade said Friday. "I come from a family of military men and women, and the flag and Constitution are really important symbols to me because of my family background."

In an e-mail responding to a request for comment from the Bangor Daily News on Friday, Grosswiler said he thought McDade misunderstood the class discussion, which was intended to elicit thought about the First Amendment. He said he has held this same discussion for years without incident.

"I don't intend for students to burn either the Constitution or the flag, and over the years hundreds of students have understood that," Grosswiler wrote.

...

A journalism and political science double major, McDade said the first class of her fall semester at UM began with the typical syllabus introduction and class overview. Despite repeated "liberal" comments made by Grosswiler, McDade said, she was not uncomfortable in the classroom until the flag burning comment.

"Everyone is entitled to their own political beliefs, and more power to you if you are passionate about it," McDade said.

When Grosswiler listed the extra-credit opportunities, McDade said the class of approximately 50 students grew very quiet, and some questioned whether he was serious.

At first, student Kathleen Dame said she thought Grosswiler was joking, but then he went on to explain to the class that burning the flag was not illegal. While Grosswiler approached the topic in a serious manner, Dame said she felt he used it as a tool to educate the class on the First Amendment.

"It was pretty outlandish and [he was] trying to prove a point," Dame said Friday.

...

UM spokesman Joe Carr said Friday that Grosswiler's classroom comments were not intended to be taken literally and that extra credit would not be granted for carrying out such activities.

A second person in the class did submit a complaint about the lecture, but Carr did not know in what form it was filed.

When asked whether the university would pursue disciplinary action, Carr replied, "No."

He said Grosswiler has worked at the University of Maine since 1991, is one of the more veteran professors in the department of communication and journalism, and is a "well-respected member of the faculty."


Why would they punish a professor for bringing politics into a journalism classroom? After all, anything in the mainstream media is biased to the left anyways, so might as well get the kids used to it, huh?

See, once upon a time, it was considered a gross abuse of power for a teacher or professor to talk about politics to their students unless it was a class based in politics. But in today's more enlightened world, it's perfectly acceptable for professors to indoctrinate students with their leftist views, no matter how little it relates to the subject. And liberal messages are the favorites to drive home -- anti-war, anti-Bush, anti-America, pro-abortion, etc.(remember Rosalyn Kahn?)

Far from being a place with open dialogue and the free exchange of ideas, higher education today is more remniscent of a dictatorship. Democrats vastly outnumber conservatives, speech codes have become the norm, and while liberal speakers are welcomed, conservative speakers incite near riots. On college campuses, there is one way of thinking allowed.

And that's the kind of thinking that allows a professor to tell his students that they'll get extra credit for burning the United States flag or Constitution without receiving any repercussions, and then sneering that it was "just to elicit thought about the First Amendment".

Perhaps the most telling quote from Professor Grosswiler was this one:

"If they don't tolerate thought that they hate, they don't believe in the First Amendment."

So not tolerating a professor asking students to burn the United States flag is equal to not believing in free speech?

Your tax dollars at work, folks.


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Comments (33)

I'd pay good money to see o... (Below threshold)
Proof:

I'd pay good money to see one of his students burn his teaching credentials!
Throw in his diploma and ACLU card for a trifecta!

Here's the slightly differe... (Below threshold)
ijosha:

Here's the slightly different version I read:
http://www.leadershipinstitute.org/News/?NR=352

... other than the arrest "clause", he came up with a (apparently on the spur of the moment) very very old and tired symbolic gesture.

Terrible, terrible I say... (Below threshold)
civil behavior:

Terrible, terrible I say.

Asking students in a college class to think "critically" about any subject. Particularly one emoting what manner of patriotism is allowable in the Constitution.


Terrible. Who would have thunk it.

Is our children learning?


So a college professor uses... (Below threshold)
Brian:

So a college professor uses some minor shock tactic to make a point, and some wignut takes him literally.

Must be a really slow news weekend.

Why would they punish a professor for bringing politics into a journalism classroom?

Yeah, by what insane logic does the First Amendment even get mentioned in a journalism and communications class?! That's just crazy!

When will these people quit... (Below threshold)
nogo war:

When will these people quit pandering to the United States Constitution?
When will they quit pandering to Supreme Court decisions?
http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/flagburning.htm

Why do you people despise the principles our nation was founded upon.
Why do you hate the United State of America?

Maybe some of you are willing to concede everything outside of the Second Amendment of our Constitution.
That is fine. But please quit calling yourself an American. Being an American is much more than Amendment number 2.

I graduated from the Univer... (Below threshold)

I graduated from the University of Maine in 1985 with a degree in journalism. Paul Grosswiller was one of my teachers. He was not a professor in those days but a copy editor at the Bangor Daily News who was hired to teach a few courses.

Grosswiler was always extremely liberal in his politics - as was the entire department - but in the days before he had tenure he did not use them so heavy handedly as "teaching tools."

As an instructor he was average at best. The only thing I can recall learning from him is the trick of reading copy upside down. It forces you to read more closely and you miss fewer errors. (It's really hard to do with comments.)

What's interesting to me is... (Below threshold)
LaMedusa:

What's interesting to me is the reaction of the students, and how Dame took immediate offense at the extra credit offering. Apparently the students have better instincts than the instructor. This is probably just an ego trip shock experiment on Grosswiler's part.

I did go to the link that ijosha provided and found this laughable message:

According to McDade, Grosswiler had already claimed that free speech didn't exist in America anymore because "the Republican administration has made it all but illegal."

Yeah, he's teaching something, alright.

Liberal moonbat double spea... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

Liberal moonbat double speak in full display again. Chickenhawk liberal courage in display again: hawk against America and chicken against the enemies of America. And the first instinct of the liberal moonbats is to spin and not to be honest with themselves again. How about free speech for Jihadist Terrorism awareness week? Liberals have no respect for the first amendment. It is simply a propangandist tool to spin for the enemies of America. Once liberals are in power, they will try to take it away from everyone else but themselves.

A good topic to challenge t... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica Immigrant:

A good topic to challenge the critical thinking of students: how the liberal democrats are trying to stifle free speech with fairness doctrine and their brazen MoveOn/MediaLiars smear of Rush Limbaugh.

Apparently the students ... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Apparently the students have better instincts than the instructor.

I assume that you're talking about the hundreds of students over the years who were able to put this lesson into its proper context and not get freaked out about it, and not the one single student who wasn't.

I believe the students shou... (Below threshold)
George:

I believe the students should be offered extra credit for getting that professor removed from his job.

Tolerating what you hate *i... (Below threshold)

Tolerating what you hate *is* the definition of tolerating. And Free Speech that doesn't include offensive speech isn't Free.

That's not the wrong part.

The "problem" can be solved if the professor includes an example or two on the other end of things... say, extra credit for protesting at an abortion clinic or for getting dinged by the University "tolerance and diversity" police.

I support those who see thi... (Below threshold)
mikem Author Profile Page:

I support those who see this as a lesson in free speech. As long as they believe in the principle that they expound rather than the anti-American sentiment then they would also support a professor who called on his students to commit a truly demonstrative expression of free speech, that is, the burning of a cross on campus, the flying of a Confederate flag, the burning of a Koran, or Torah, or Bible.

I'm sure we will now hear that such a professor should be fired for using a free speech lesson as a cover for his ideological oppression of many students.

(I just threw the Bible in there for the hell of it. I am well aware that burning a Bible, just as inserting it in urine, is quite acceptable to the professor.)

What I don't understand, th... (Below threshold)
Allen:

What I don't understand, that for 6 years, the GOP controlled the White House and Congress. Why didn't they, in that time push for laws requiring that burning the American Flag, language for America is English, etc. They had the majority, they could have passed those laws, yet they didn't.

Now you can realize how the majority of Americans, would have appreciated that, but you can also realize how the GOP for 6 years earned the "rubber stamp" congress.

"I assume that you're talki... (Below threshold)
LaMedusa:

"I assume that you're talking about the hundreds of students over the years who were able to put this lesson into its proper context and not get freaked out about it, and not the one single student who wasn't."

I'm talking about the initial reaction of the 50 students in the class. I can imagine he's had the same reaction over the years that he describes as "without incident."

Ah yes, it's the old "I did... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

Ah yes, it's the old "I didn't mean that literally" defense. At the same time, whenever someone on the right engages a leftist, they suddenly become hyper-literal. The professor is a coward who scampers for cover like a cockroach when someone flips on the light.

As an aside, it has finally dawned on me why the left likes/defends al Qaeda so much. They are the same people. Both seek to overthrow their governments from within and replace them with a "more just system." Go back and read the various statements of the leftist group called "The Weathermen" - as I have recently done. The Weathermen were incubated on college campuses. Their m.o. is the same; a group of radicals that infested a slightly less radical organization and steered it towards the violent overthrow of the government. Their rhetoric sounds just like Osama bin Laden. At least they had the courage to admit what they really believed.

Full video documentary on t... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

Full video documentary on the Weather Underground.

You be the judge.

How about burning thr UN fl... (Below threshold)
Spurwing Plover:

How about burning thr UN flag or this idiots teaching credentials instead or hanging and burning aefigee of this idiot
depp=true

I'm talking about the in... (Below threshold)
Brian:

I'm talking about the initial reaction of the 50 students in the class.

Yes, as I said. The ones who were able to put this lesson into its proper context, including the "some" who engaged the professor in the lesson. But not the one single student who lacked that capacity.

I am amused by those who (a... (Below threshold)
OhioVoter:

I am amused by those who (apparently) have no experience with today's college students (Brian, Nogo War, for example), but believe that "students engaged professors in the lesson".

Based on my eperience, those students were the ones asking "what else" they could do for extra credit - they weren't challenging him on THAT statement.

At the beginning of the quarter, one of my toughtest jobs as an instructor is to get students to question what I say. I learned early to not say something that was pure BS just to get a reaction because, unfortunately, the chances of someone questioning what I said IN CLASS was slim to none. Some students simply don't care - others would dutifully regurgitate anything I said, without question, in hopes of getting a good grade. Those who will say "I disagree" are unfortunately too rare these days.

BTW, there are also ramifications of getting arrested on a student's future career. While it may seem inconsequential to a Hollywood actor or a professor with tenure, convictions can affect a student's opportunties for internships and practicums. It is not something to take lightly and, if that is all the professor really was doing, he should know better.

Can anyone find an example ... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

Can anyone find an example of a conservative teacher offering extra credit for students burning an Islamic flag or something else dear to liberals, say, a Communist flag?

Can anyone find an example of a conservative teacher offering extra credit for students who get arrested?

Can anyone find a conservative teacher?

Synova's point requires a r... (Below threshold)

Synova's point requires a response from Brian and Nogo. Would their reaction to this story be the same if the professor was suggesting they burn the Koran or the Iraqi flag? Would the university's response be the same?

"Yes, as I said. The ones w... (Below threshold)
LaMedusa:

"Yes, as I said. The ones who were able to put this lesson into its proper context, including the "some" who engaged the professor in the lesson."

OhioVoter has the most valid points, based on the experience of an instructor. But if you think back to when you were a student, you'll remember off the wall teachers that were just trying to make their own, statement. Even in high school, I had an English teacher that used profanity openly in class in order to make the "free speech" point to his students. Some instructors impose standards on students without clarity and pay the consequences when their inconsistencies are exposed.

All this 'defense of free s... (Below threshold)

All this 'defense of free speech' talk kills me.

Whether this girl took his extra credit assignments seriously or not - whether they were given seriously or not - the whole exercise was pointless.

It's not illegal to burn the flag and I don't believe it should be. It should be socially unacceptable, but not illegal. And getting arrested for 'defending free speech' is, well, I don't know what the hell that's supposed to mean. I mean, think about it; arrested while defending free speech. What is he trying to prove with that? It's not the defense of free speech that would get one arrested. It's what they do in that defense that could get them arrested.

I would have told him to put his money where his mouth was and give me a few suggestions on how to get myself arrested while I defended something that wasn't against the law.

No, I think this whole concept of free speech being under attack is purposeful misdirection.

What is the usual response by person-a who says something person-b finds distasteful or unacceptable and the person-b responds with criticism? Somewhere along the line, person-a will trot out: Free Speech! In essence, person-a is implying that person-b is attacking their right of free speech.

It's just an attempt to deflect criticism that also happens to fall under free speech.

Is free speech something that needs to be defended? You're damn right. But let's defend real infringements on free speech and don't go creating fake ones.

"What is the usual response... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

"What is the usual response by person-a who says something person-b finds distasteful or unacceptable and the person-b responds with criticism?"

Ironically, some college campuses are where "free speech" is limited the most. Dissenting views are not allowed. In your example, person-a - along with his cohorts - will shout person-b down, steal and destroy his publications, and bully him into silence.

In your example, p... (Below threshold)
In your example, person-a - along with his cohorts - will shout person-b down, steal and destroy his publications, and bully him into silence.

And then the college admin will look the other way and do nothing. And if person-b complains loudly enough, the admin will respond by accusing him of depriving person-a of free speech rights. O, the irony.

This is a ridiculous story ... (Below threshold)

This is a ridiculous story to comment on. The professor was merely trying to elicit some interesting writing assignments from an apathetic student body. How many campuses has Fiano visited that she can say: "And nothing runs more rampant on college campuses than anti-Americanism."? Anti administration is widespread since 70% of the American population is anti Bush and Cheney due to their misguided policies. Perhaps Fiano is confusing anti administration with anti Americanism? Also, please note that most students tend to reflect the views of their parents and most faculty tend to be moderate, in my experience as a lecturer at a state university.

Hugh,You suffer from... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

Hugh,
You suffer from masturbatory myopia. See a doctor.

Also, please note that m... (Below threshold)
OhioVoter:

Also, please note that most students tend to reflect the views of their parents and most faculty tend to be moderate, in my experience as a lecturer at a state university.

In my experience, as a lecturer at a state university, "most" students are beyond the age that they mimic their parents beliefs.

As to faculty, I have found that faculty tend to think other faculty are "moderate" if they agree with their views.

And, no, I wouldn't agree that anti-Americanism is rampant on American campuses - anymore than I would agree with your comment that 70% of Americans are "anti-Bush or anti-Cheney" for any reason. Sure, I have seen polls that tout that number, but then I have also seen polls that indicate 88% of Americans don't trust Congress.

HEY ADMIN, why hasn't my co... (Below threshold)
Jeff Blogworthy:

HEY ADMIN, why hasn't my comment been released?

I am amused by those who... (Below threshold)
Brian:

I am amused by those who (apparently) have no experience with today's college students (Brian, Nogo War, for example), but believe that "students engaged professors in the lesson". Based on my eperience, those students were the ones asking "what else" they could do for extra credit - they weren't challenging him on THAT statement.

Except the story stated that some students asked if he was serious. That was probably the reaction he was trying to evoke.

Synova's point requires ... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Synova's point requires a response from Brian and Nogo. Would their reaction to this story be the same if the professor was suggesting they burn the Koran or the Iraqi flag?

Absolutely.

Whether it was the American flag, the Iraqi flag, the flag of Texas, or the Kennedy family crest.

Except the story stated ... (Below threshold)
OhioVoter:

Except the story stated that some students asked if he was serious. That was probably the reaction he was trying to evoke.

To which he replied (according to the story) ...

"Absolutely"

So, are you claiming that he simply was attempting to engage students in discussion or that he was saying that he absolutely would give extra credit to someone who burned the American flag?

If we use the section you reference, then there is no doubt that he really meant what he said - and it wasn't an attempt to jumpstart a discussion.




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