Thursday, 1 November 2012

Wanna bet this isn't about racism and sexism?

Have you been following the story about the Queen's U history professor Michael Mason who was facing disciplinary charges because of some of the allegedly sexist and racist remarks he said in class? Margaret Wente jumped on the bandwagon  yesterday (of course), writing a column about it here.

Today I see the Globe is noting (here) how other Queen's professors have backed him up. The line from today's story which nicely sums it up is that he:

faced possible discipline after he admitted to using a series of racial epithets while lecturing, but maintains he was directly quoting others from historical documents to expose and criticize the overt racism that was prevalent after the Second World War – which he says is a common technique. He also directed the term “mistresses” at female students, but explains he only said he hoped those taking the class would become “masters and mistresses” of the material.

But I think the real clincher came in Wente's column when she noted his age, 74.

How much do you want to bet that this whole controversy has nothing to do with the what he said in the classroom, and really is about the university just using the opportunity provided by some student complaints to finally shove out the door a professor who perhaps they feel has been there too long? Who knows (I do not) but perhaps there are personality issues? In academic politics there usually are.

But I am almost certain that what the newspapers are pointing out isn't the real story.


  1. Considering that he was no longer a tenured professor, but rather was retired and asked to come back to teach this one course on contract, I sincerely doubt that the admin was opportunistically shoving him out the door.

  2. Yes, could be. But then again, who knows? Did they think he was going to get grandfathered into teaching it again and again? Was there a history of bad blood between him and administrators/colleagues?

    All I'm saying is that behind every major administrative at a university there is usually a good deal going on, only some of which relates to what is actually being said. Academic politics (not unlike other politics) are inherently Freudian. If you only follow what's on the surface, you miss most of what is actually happening.