Tuesday, September 25, 2007

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] Bitterman Update...

As is always the case, there are at least two sides to every story, and the tale of Steve Bitterman's firing which I wrote about yesterday has just that. However, I still contend that Mr. Bitterman's dismissal is based more upon his student's outrage at having their mythology criticized as opposed to his confrontational teaching style. (Link to full story here)
[S]tudents in the class, which was transmitted to a classroom in Osceola over the state fiber-optic network, say Bitterman also told them to question their religious beliefs and at one point in the heated debate told one of the Osceola students, Kristen Fry, to "pop a Prozac."

Fry said she left class in tears.

"I talked to a lawyer and was told that what he was doing was illegal," she said. "He was not allowed to be derogatory toward me for being a Christian. I told my adviser I would sue if I had to."
I think this is still a case of a gutless and cowardly administration crumbling to a very thin-skinned student and her threats of litigation so as to protect her fragile delusions. Bitterman has every right to criticize her religion just as the religious have every right to criticize those whose beliefs are different from theirs. I may not agree with his tactic for encouraging debate within his classroom, but I do not see how he overstepped any boundaries as an instructor.
Bitterman said the Prozac comment was a joke meant to disarm a student who "was screeching at me."

"Sometimes you say something outrageous just to see if you can provoke some discussion. ... I can be a little acerbic at times, I don't deny that," he said. "I certainly take students' viewpoints seriously in the sense that I encourage them to express it, and then I will challenge that viewpoint, regardless of what it is, to see how well they can back it up with reason and critical thought.

"Often, these students are essentially right out of high school and they take things so personally," Bitterman said. "They really can't distinguish between a critical assessment of their argument and an attack upon them personally."
The only mistake it seems Bitterman is guilty of is that of attempting to have a critical and adultdebate in a classroom of emotionally delicate children who, rather than hear any criticism of their beliefs, take steps to silence those who disagree with them. And, the notion that this institution is willing to fire an adjunct so as to coddle these fragile students is an insult.

The world is a very hard and harsh place, and it's clear that this institution is doing nothing to prepare these students for life beyond its halls by censoring those who stress the value of critical thought over willful ignorance.

Now, please keep that quote above in mind: "He was not allowed to be derogatory toward me for being a Christian."

Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 9/25/2007 11:48:00 AM

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