Is intolerance being taught at UC Davis and Sacramento State?
It would appear so because in different ways, both campuses seemingly are drawing inspiration from the Jerry Springer School of Learning.
In other words: Why have rational debate when you can throw a brick instead?
At UC Davis tonight, Muslim students will host a speaker with a message made for shock TV:
That Israel exploits the Holocaust.
In a press release sent to The Bee, students opposing the speaker dubbed him "a Holocaust Denier."
To be sure, the message of Norman Finkelstein -- a DePaul University professor -- is disturbing.
But how could Finkelstein be a "Holocaust Denier" when he bills himself as the son of Nazi concentration camp survivors?
Maybe it's because erroneously labeling Finkelstein with loaded code words might draw a bigger crowd in opposition?
Remember this theme: distorting language to fight a good fight in a bad way. It's happening on the Sac State campus as well.
Don't misunderstand: Finkelstein seems as illuminating as a blowtorch. I would advise my kids to skip it.
We could go on about his right to speak and college campuses as platforms for controversial views. But this isn't about that. It's about deception and intolerance masquerading as intellectual debate.
Earlier this year, the Davis College Republicans co-hosted a speaker who dubs himself a "former Islamic terrorist." His talk: "Why We Want to Kill You -- The Jihadist Mindset and How to Defeat It."
The speaker, Walid Shoebat, apparently is Palestinian American. But whether anyone's confirmed Mr. Shoebat truly is a former terrorist is unclear.
No matter. Real debate on complex issues was sacrificed for Springer sensibilities by "hosts" with questionable motives.
Meanwhile, on the Sac State campus, faculty battles with President Alexander Gonzalez have lost all proportion, inflamed with hyperbolic language and tactics.
Faculty speak of "drastic" cuts to academic programs. Some lampoon Gonzalez as "King Alex." But a check of the budget numbers revealed this:
The Academic Affairs budget, which encompasses the lion's share of academic programs, is $104 million. There was going to be a $1.6 million cut in that budget, but faculty objected and Gonzalez backed off.
How is $1.6 million out of $104 million "drastic"? Faculty point to a total of $3 million in reductions to Academic Affairs since Gonzalez became president in 2003.
There is dispute over those numbers, but let's say they are accurate: That's $3 million cut from a budget that is now $104 million.
I'm sorry, but have some of you in the private sector experienced much worse? We have in my business.
The impression is of faculty behaving as if their programs are sacrosanct, as if there are no inefficiencies in any programs. And as if the profile of Sac State hasn't improved under Gonzalez.
A strong case could be made that it has.
But on campus, faculty laid a vote of "no confidence" on him and use unfortunate language to inflame a dispute in need of a collegial spirit.
Maybe some believe tenure gives them a license to say anything.
Maybe colleges are islands where some lose sight of how they appear to those of us on the mainland.
Either way, it's not a pretty picture.