Elijah Lovejoy Alert #11

The entrance to Cypress College, located in Orange County, California. (iStock)
Cypress College in Orange County, California

An adjunct professor at Cypress College in California is on leave of absence after a video went viral of her engaging in a conversation over zoom with one of her students who gave a presentation critical of cancel culture and supportive of the police. The college prof challenged the student’s opinion that the police are heroes, claiming that the origins of the police is historically rooted in organized efforts to capture runaway slaves in the antebellum South, and that many police have committed atrocious crimes for which they have not been prosecuted.

Many of the headlines in news outlets have labeled the conversation as “heated” or as an “argument,” or that the professor “flipped out” when the student said the police were heroes. I have watched the video that is available on the news outlets and, while brief, nothing that I have seen suggests that the conversation was heated or argumentative. It seems to me that both the student and the professor kept their composer, for the most part, though the professor was rude. According to one source, the student was to be allotted ten minutes to take questions from other students after his presentation, and it seems the professor took that time for her own response. It is also true that the professor regularly interrupted the student and attempted to dominate the discussion. But, the student did have the opportunity to express his position in response to her questions and her opinions. Is that not partly what college is for? Adults engaging in a conversation on a topic on which they disagree? I grant that the prof could have handled it more respectfully, but her behavior was not horribly egregious. It is an emotional subject, and she got emotional. The student later expressed concern that his grade might suffer because of his disagreement with his teacher, but this is speculation. If his grade for the class was poor, and he was convinced it was because of this encounter, then he could proceed with the appropriate process to appeal his grade. But, barring that, there is no reason at this point to think that he would have suffered any negative consequences for his presentation, or in defending his position.

So, why is the professor now on leave, so that she will not finish the semester? The articles I have read do not make clear if she decided to take the leave of absence or if Cypress College encouraged or required her to do so. It has been reported that she will not return for the fall semester, but the article linked above says that it was never her intention to do so in the first place. The articles I have read also report that she went on the leave of absence in response to the video going viral. I wonder why the video was shared in the first place. It is not clear who made the decision to share the video. Was it the student? If so, why? The Daily Mail was first to pick it up. Honestly, why is this news? A student and a professor engaged in a conversation on a topic on which they disagreed. The prof got a bit too emotional and was rude in her interrupting the student and in trying to dominate the conversation. Okay. So what? Deal with it. Until there is reason to think that she gave the student a bad grade because of his opinion, there is nothing here.

We have to stop this. We have to stop thinking that every disagreement means that the person who disagrees with me hates me, or that the person with whom I disagree is hateful. All we are accomplishing is widening the divide that already separates otherwise reasonable people into two sides that our media and political elites are attempting to convince us cannot be bridged. We have to stop playing into their agenda. I am glad that the student did not name his professor because he felt she merited some privacy (which gives me reason to think that maybe he did not share the video – but, who did?). I am disappointed that the student then chose to go on to news programs to discuss an even that, in my opinion, is not newsworthy.

Cancel culture needs to be cancelled. We cannot go on like this.

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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