FU State U (Oh, My Virgin Ears)

Higher education professors can now be fired for swearing. For f*ck’s sake. (I’m using an asterisk because I don’t want to get fired, obv.) LSU fired a tenured professor for dropping an F bomb in class. Tenured, then fired for casual swearing. What is higher education coming to? Read one critical response here.  The F word wasn’t even directed at anyone. Who are these sensitive students that are reporting professors for using swear words? Haven’t they ever seen an R-rated movie? Where is Huey Long when you need him? Is Sean Penn still a relevant pop cultural reference?

I’d be willing to bet Huey Long dropped a few F bombs in his tenure as governor. I mean really. When you think of conservative southern states, Louisiana is not the first to come to mind. New Orleans is like the least conservative southern city I can think of. There’s a lot of swearing going on during Mardi Gras, I bet. Okay, LSU is in Baton Rouge, but still. I bet Robert Penn Warren used the F word a few times. It’s been a while since I read All the King’s Men. I can’t remember if Willy Stark had a potty mouth or not. He seems like the cursing type.

So, here’s the run-down of the evolution of college educating: In addition to not actually challenging students on any of their beliefs or asking them to do any real work to earn their grades, professors are now not allowed to say curse words either. It would be helpful if institutions would compile a list of things professors can do. “Okay class, today we are all going to sit quietly and run out the clock because your young minds can’t handle anything else.” Students are now listening to Final Jeopardy music for four months instead of any meaningful in-class discussions because professors are being fired for using colloquial language. Jeebus Cripes on a cracker.

Verbal abuse of a student is certainly something universities should be concerned about but policing the language choices of their instructors is just ridiculous. I wonder if this is actually a free speech violation. I’m not a legal expert but LSU is a public institution, so I am suspicious. I can think of some professors I had as a grad student that would be up the pink-slip worthy Sh!t’s Creek if this rule was enforced at the university where I received my Ph.D.

Can you imagine if people in other fields were fired for swearing? I’m picturing a drill sergeant in the Army yelling at a buck private without using any curse words. It’s amusing to consider, like watching a Quentin Tarantino film edited for network television. I can see Samuel Jackson’s lips moving, but no sound is coming out. Also, construction zones are going family friendly.

In summation, swearing, like long dashes, should be used sparingly and for emphasis. It should not be a fire-able offense. I hope the university doesn’t start scrutinizing my use of the M dash—I’m rather fond of that particular punctuation mark.