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  • Derrick Walker

Civility in the Classroom

I like to discuss controversial topics because communication is the only path to change and progress. I encourage people to think and challenge what they know as it is the only way to stay vigilant in ones beliefs. With this said, I started a discussion in my public speaking class last week about the accuracy of the phrase “rape culture”. My point was that by the literal definition of culture one could not accurately use the phrase “rape culture” as a culture is something that is widely accepted as a norm. Upon hearing the word “rape” some people immediately became offended, they did not think about what was being said only that someone was challenging anything associated with rape. They sneered and yelled at me when all I was trying to do was have a intelligent discussion in a college setting a place where this discussion should be able to take place.

The professor then asked what was being discussed and after being informed on the subject. He provided insight that neither I nor those who opposed me had considered. The clarification of taking it from being defined as a culture to a sub-culture. I took a second to think about this and realized that his definition was more accurate than mine and I immediately adjusted my view. In a society where we are constantly being told what think, and how to feel about certain things we have created a faction of witch hunters that try to burn alive anyone trying to bring insight or clarification to a controversial topic. So how can there be progress if every time a discussion is had people get upset, if you have thought about your topic and come to your own conclusions you should be able to defend them without getting mad or seeking retribution.

My teacher approached me the next day and said that I was accused of being inconsiderate towards the issue of rape. HOW? because I tried to shed a little insight and clarity into what I believed was a misuse of a word??? Did I talk about rape victims? NO. Yet because some people were mad they tried to get me in big trouble with the school by outright lying about what happened. These are the type of people that prevent progress in society by letting their emotions get the best of them when their intellect should have been enough to defend what they believe. In the end, I ended up being kinda right and kinda wrong and so did those who opposed me, but I guess that wasn't good enough so they had to take it a step further and try to jeopardize my education. That type of vindictiveness is poison to progress and communication.

Towards the end of that discussion some people made comments that upset me because they tried to trivialize me as a person who just talks about stupid stuff. This got to me because my speeches have been about nothing but helping society and humanity. So after having what I thought was a productive discussion that actually ended with a common understanding, I killed myself by making the statement , you guys continue to talk about bullshit while I figure out how to save the world. I apologize for this because, it showed that you guys got under my skin. You got to me and it showed me that I still have some things to work on myself.

My mother says, “Academia is not about intellectual thought or enlightenment anymore, its about pay the money, get the syllabus and do the work”. Not to ponder and expand on subject but merely to swallow what the monopolized curriculum is claiming at the current time and be able to repeat it. The reason someone tried to exact revenge on me is because they were mad that progress and clarity was made. If college students cant have a debate about something without people being immature and yelling or seeking revenge how will we progress. Think if every time racism or discrimination was discussed black people went to the school and complained about the white kids who were just trying to obtain understanding or provide clarification, we would never get anywhere, and the teacher or school then told those whites basically that they cant even have the conversation because one or two people may for whatever reason not like it, how will we progress? One of the reasons race is still a problem is because there is so much misinformation and false stigmas floating around that it would take a lifetime or years spent around the opposite race to know. So as good citizens in a democracy we should try to as narrowly as possible define the dynamics of these topics so that we can be more precise in solving them. Yet, if as soon as the topic is mentioned people eyes fill with blood and they go on the attack how is a progress ever going to be made? Why was I attacked for helping to make sense of something?

Civility in the classroom is paramount to progress and understanding. Respecting the ideas and stances of others is important, however it does not mean that one can not challenge those stances and furthermore does not mean that the person challenging those stances is a villain so long as it is done in a respectful, diplomatic manner.

I would like to thank Pat Breslin at Santa Fe Community College for encouraging me and helping me to realize my potential in this field.

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