There has always been a question of whether academia fosters an institutional hostility toward gun ownership. Well, if this anonymous post written by a professor is any indication, the answer is a resounding, “Yes, it sure does!”
Myrtle Lynn Payne, the pseudonym of the professor who wrote the article titled, “Guns, Pancakes, and Ambiguity” for the “The Chronicle of Higher Education,” makes it pretty clear that she is blinded by her anti-gun ideology when she acknowledges that she doesn’t want to give one of her students a recommendation because the young woman is an apparent firearms enthusiast.
Early on in the article, professor Payne describes her student, “Sarah.”
“Sarah” was a very nice young woman who turned up in one of my classes a year or so ago. Her academic abilities were not strong but she had great energy and was a class leader. Definitely a process, and not a content, type of gal. I did take special notice of her on the first day during a sharing activity we typically do at the beginning of my science lecture courses. Sarah shared that the most notable experience of her winter break was a visit to a gun range where she had fired an AK-47. I gave the usual “very good, moving on” response but was thinking, “Whoa, that’s disturbing.”
Apparently, exercising one’s constitutional right to keep and bear arms is disturbing. Who knew? I wonder if she thinks exercising other constitutional rights is also disturbing, e.g., attending a prayer breakfast or a public demonstration? My guess is the professor wouldn’t have an issue with those activities.
What is actually disturbing, though, is the ignorance of the professor. Consider what she says toward the end of the article. It’s astoundingly stupid.
She seems to be a good kid, Sarah. And I don’t know what she really thinks of gun advocacy and political failures that have cost us all these lives and our sense of safety as educators. I don’t know what she does on the weekends. I also don’t know if she understands emotions, or what real rage feels like. It seems to me no person who has truly experienced the full impact of their own emotions would ever go near a gun.
So what do I do? Do I write her a recommendation because I originally said yes? Do I say no and explain myself? Do I ignore her email?
First off, the insinuation that gun rights advocacy has “cost us all these lives” is insane. Plus, it’s factually not true. There has been a uniform reduction in gun homicides, property crime and violent crime since the expiration of the Clinton-Era ban on so-called ‘assault weapons’ in 2004. As our lawful right to keep and bear arms was restored, albeit partially (the NFA still exists), the U.S. has actually become a safer place to live.
Of course, the drop in crime also coincides with another inconvenient development for anti-gunners, the expansion of liberalized concealed carry laws throughout the country. It is now easier to obtain a permit to carry than it’s ever been in modern times. And the result: crime is still down. Not up.
Second, I can’t think of a dumber statement one can make than this, “It seems to me no person who has truly experienced the full impact of their own emotions would ever go near a gun.” WTF! This statement implies that we’re all ticking time bombs just waiting to explode, that we have no agency, no ability to contain and control our emotions. Basically, we’re all homicidal, suicidal miscreants on the verge of exacting out our deepest darkest fantasies. That’s one helluva crazy assessment to make!
But suppose that were true for a moment. Then, one could argue that we should be forbidden to do all sorts of potentially dangerous activities, which means there ought to be prohibitions on everything from driving a car to chopping broccoli to skiing down a mountain. Any activity where we use a tool that can be wielded against ourselves or others ought to be off limits, at least according to the hoopleheaded reasoning of this professor.
What’s depressing is that Myrtle Lynn Payne is teaching the next generation. And she’s not alone. Don’t forget about Heidi Czerwiec, the University of North Dakota (UND) professor who has vowed to call 911 every time she sees ROTC cadets gathering on campus because it’s “highly inappropriate to conduct unnecessary military maneuvers in the middle of the quad.” Yup. These are the folks that are teaching your children.
While I hope that these two professors are the exception and not the norm, I’m doubtful that that’s the case. I think the observations of Georgetown University professor John Hasnas, a libertarian, are fairly accurate when it comes to the lack of ideological diversity in higher education. He wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed:
In my experience, no search committee has ever been instructed to increase political or ideological diversity. On the contrary, I have been involved in searches in which the chairman of the selection committee stated that no libertarian candidates would be considered. Or the description of the position was changed when the best résumés appeared to be coming from applicants with right-of-center viewpoints. Or in which candidates were dismissed because of their association with conservative or libertarian institutions….
Predominantly liberal faculties identify merit with positions that are consistent with theirs, see little value in conservative and libertarian scholarship, and perpetuate the left-wing stranglehold on the academy.
When I look back at the professors I encountered in college, I’d have to agree with professor Hasnas. The majority were left-leaning, which in many cases but not all equates to anti-gun. So, the question is where does that leave us and future generations of gun owners? Shall we teach children and young adults to keep quiet about their involvement and active participation in the firearms community? Shall we tell them to omit such information from college applications? Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, what can we do to change the anti-gun culture that exists in colleges and universities around the country?