Tuesday, July 7, 2020

The Sad State Of Academia And "Cancel Culture"


Mostly on this blog I talk about the things I like, particularly entertainment from the past that I admire. Only occasionally do I get political on here, but this is one of those exceptions as I think it's too important not to address.

Within the last couple of weeks a situation happened to a friend of mine that very closely resembled what I too had experienced in my last year or two of teaching college until my resignation in 2015. (Perhaps I'll finally tell that story in the near future). Cristy Maltese is a veteran of Disney feature animation, having most notably painted backgrounds for The Little Mermaid, Beauty And The Beast and several other features through to Home On The Range, for which she was background supervisor. In short, she's got a lot of talent and some pretty impressive credits to her name, so she knows her stuff. Recently, Cristy had also been teaching Visual Development in the Animation program at Laguna College of Art & Design in California. That all came to an end last week after a ridiculous situation that Cristy writes about here. Please read her account first before continuing on to what I have to add to it below.

https://medium.com/@cristymaltese/how-laguna-college-of-art-design-is-dealing-with-its-racism-88505daf4a87

The following is Cristy's original letter to LCAD that she also copied to her teaching colleagues, including Larissa. These segments are from Larissa's Facebook page, so you can also see the snide comments in response from she and her followers:



Now, here is Larissa's initial response to what Cristy had said:



She then followed that up with this letter of rebuttal that was sent to LCAD:

https://www.facebook.com/larissa.marantz/posts/10158563054098234

As well as airing her views about Cristy on Twitter:

https://twitter.com/LarissaMarantz/status/1276886456481398791

As you can see, Larissa went to great pains to paint herself as a “victim” of “racism”, when it was really all much ado about nothing , i.e.  a hashtag that read #AllLivesMatter issued by one of the staff at LCAD. Yet when Cristy tried to show just how benign that statement from this well-meaning staffer was (as he was actually writing in support of BLM), Larissa decided that Cristy must also be publicly outed for not kowtowing as she was supposed to when it came to all things related to the Black Lives Matter movement (a dubious organization hiding behind a title suggesting noble intent). Anyone who has actually read Cristy’s original letter can plainly see how it was only meant to calm things down and is not “racist" in the least, as Larissa falsely claims it to be. Yet Larissa decided to write a spiteful screed in response that deliberately mischaracterized Cristy’s words while also ginning up her followers on both Facebook and Twitter, all of whom added their own vitriolic comments likely without ever having actually read Cristy’s letter in the first place. Just take a read through those comments to see how hateful they are.

The end result was that, after this debacle and the pressure that Larissa and her followers (including other faculty and students) put upon the college through a signed petition, Cristy received a phone call from LCAD letting her know that she would not be called back to teach in the next semester. In short, she was another casualty of today's "Cancel Culture".

The fact is, I know only too well how such radicals operate, having been subjected to much the same vindictive experience a number of years ago myself. As such, I know how to recognize their insidious and dishonest tactics intended to ruin the reputations of others. Teaching can be a very satisfying experience when one has students who are willing to learn, as well as colleagues and administration who are tolerant of different viewpoints. But it can devolve into a nightmare when those who are steeped in “outrage culture” are looking for any opportunity to take phony offence and seek to destroy their target by whatever nefarious means they can. So long as this intolerance of alternative views and practice of “Cancel Culture” continues, our colleges and universities will lose their brightest and their best teachers and professors, and will end up with mediocre people remaining to indoctrinate and cow their students into submission. This does not bode well for the future of higher learning or for society at large.

3 comments:

RR said...

I'll say this while I still can. When I was growing up, I'd been subjected to racial discrimination, racial slurs and taunts and insults - and I prefer that to what's happening now. A proper revolution, if you want one, is about changes that have positive effects overall, not just choosing and inflicting mob justice on targets. It won't rid the world of "microaggressions", it'll just scare everyone into submissive banality; perfect for a surveillance government to take over, like in *ahem* certain countries.

In any case, I think the universities have had their day, now parents are going to send their kids to trade schools and STEM institutes where they can "learn to make a living, you punk". It's sad because the whole point of university is to continue the idea of school - to raise the thinking level of everyone in the community as a whole, not recruit young people for the professor's army.

Pete Emslie said...

Thanks for that comment, RR, and I agree with what you say. This insidious recent trend of "Cancel Culture" will lead to nobody being able to speak honestly or openly out of fear for their reputation and career. We have got to allow criticism to be aired without threat of being destroyed over it.

RR said...

All that being said, here's the big faux-pas in context:

Just as Black Lives Matter is the name of a movement, All Lives Matter is also the name of a movement, it's socially seen as a backlash to BLM, a denial that racism exists, and even sympathy with the far right. Huh? Yeah.

In other words, you have to be active on social media and "in the know" to even know how the things you say are even interpreted. And for those of us who hate social media because it's corporate owned, riddled with ads and narcissistic professional "influencers", and a depressing waste of time...too bad.

Just because Black lives matter doesn't mean BlackLivesMatter (among whose objectives are dismantling the nuclear family), and just because you believe all lives matter doesn't mean you believe AllLivesMatter (which aligns you with Fox News).

A simple "you made a mistake and you need to post a retraction" would have been more appropriate than all this mess, but retractions are ignored and firings make more clickable headlines.

I have faith one day we'll fix all this.