MSU professor reassigned after attack on Republicans

A Michigan State University professor under fire from conservative groups for his statements during class has been pulled from the classroom, the university announced Thursday.
MCT Wire
Sep 6, 2013

"Michigan State University is committed to creating a learning environment that is characterized by mutual respect and civility where diverse ideas can be explored,” MSU spokesman Kent Casella said in a statement. “On Sept. 3, university leaders were made aware of several statements made by Professor William Penn in a classroom. Once MSU was made aware of the situation, the Office of the Provost immediately began a review.

“The dean of the College of Arts and Letters and a representative from the provost’s office met with Penn, who acknowledged that some of his comments were inappropriate, disrespectful and offensive and may have negatively affected the learning environment. Penn’s teaching duties have been reassigned to others. Students’ education will continue as scheduled with alternate instructors.”

Penn was unable to be immediately reached for comment.

The move drew immediate praise from MSU Board of Trustees member Mitch Lyons, a Republican.

"This was the appropriate immediate response needed," he said. "We need to ensure that our classrooms have a free exchange of ideas and opinions. This immediate action allows the students to have that freedom while Professor Penn's status is further evaluated."

On Wednesday, Lyons tweeted a link to the video and said, "Check out this rant by a MSU professor. Do u think this has a place in our public university? #Ithinknot."

Campus Reform, a conservative group that monitors what it sees as liberal bias at universities, released the video Tuesday that it says shows Penn on the first day of a creative writing class last Thursday attacking Republicans for having “raped” the country.

“If you go to the Republican convention in Florida, you see all of the old Republicans with the dead skin cells washing off them,” the professor is heard saying in the video. “They are cheap. They don’t want to pay taxes because they have already raped this country and gotten everything out of it they possibly could.”

The anonymous student who made the recording appears to be sitting in the class at Michigan State.

“This country still is full of closet racists,” Penn tells his class during the video. “What do you think is going on in South Carolina and North Carolina? Voter suppression. It’s about getting black people not to vote. Why? Because black people tend to vote Democratic.”

Penn is a noted American Indian writer and scholar who authored several books that often deal with issues of identity and stereotypes. He has won several grants and awards over the years, including an American Book Award in 2001 and Native American Writer of the Year in nonfiction from the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers in 1997.

— By David Jesse, Detroit Free Press (MCT)

Comments

Mystic Michael

Maybe he thinks that he actually did step over the line. And maybe he's just playing the game in order to keep his job. Nobody can know for sure.

One thing is for sure, however: Suspending Penn in order to "...ensure that our classrooms have a free exchange of ideas and opinions" is nothing but a load of disingenuous doublespeak; something one would expect to hear from a Republican member of the Board of Trustees.

Up is down, back is forth, liberty is bondage, etc. etc. As usual, the actual truth is 180 degrees the opposite. Welcome to the world of Orwell's 1984.

PeopleAreAmazing

I see that a good night sleep hasn't changed your mind on this. Let's remember, this course was about "creative writing" - it wasn't a political science course - it wasn't a "indoctrination of the liberal bias theology" course - it was for creative writing. Further, he wasn't removed because of his views - he was removed because the manner in which he managed his classroom, and the manner in which he delivered his views was not conducive to an environment of open and free dialogue - hence, his rant. You can attempt to cover him with any fine linen coat you want; however, under it all remains the professor, with seemingly poor judgement, who crossed a line he never should have crossed , was subsequently held accountable, and is now paying some price for it. The argument that this is somehow something bigger, it fascinating and entertaining - but wrong.

Mystic Michael

Yes, that is the consensus cover story now, isn't it?

I don't know where you got your rigid & narrow notions about how university education is supposed to function (Bob Jones University perhaps?), but it doesn't bear any resemblance to any university that I've ever attended - nor would ever wish to attend. This stifling, doctrinaire attitude of "you can't talk about politics in a creative writing class" is about the furthest thing from the liberating spirit of real education that you could get.

PeopleAreAmazing

I don't think that's what I've said, actually. I'm also not entirely clear how you can so clearly understand from my comments how I feel about university education - I suppose it's that "all knowing" liberal bias starting to poke it's ugly head out again! Yikes! The education approach you seem to advocate is to encourage debasement, disrespect, personal attacks, sarcasm, and ridicule to get your point across. MM, unfortunately, that isn't education - that's bullying. Do you honestly believe that conducting discourse in a respectful manner is limiting? I suppose you do. While you attempt to "wow" us with your words - the fact is - you struggle mightily in the department of "respecting the views of others" when those views differ from yours. Your snide, sarcastic, "holier than thou" approach is consistent with what you advocate as education. You're very quick to become sarcastic toward others - you're also very quick to try and establish a sense of superiority with those whom you exchange comments. This sense of "I'm so much wiser than you" isn't a strength - it's a weakness - and it's displayed here quite nicely when you continue to justify the sea-worthiness of a ship that has already sunk.

Mystic Michael

I'm not going to quibble with you over petty squabbles. You made your position quite clear when you wrote:

'Let's remember, this course was about "creative writing" - it wasn't a political science course....', etc. If you now wish to back off from that line of reasoning, it's fine by me. Just don't expect it to slip by unnoticed.

As for the education approach that I advocate, I've already made that crystal clear in my own words - via multiple posts. If you have any further questions, feel free to review what I've stated earlier.

The fact that you now wish to devote more time & attention to whining about my style of communication than you do to addressing the actual issues tells me that you really have nothing more of substance to add to this dialogue, and that you'd like to save face by putting me personally on the defensive. Sorry to disappoint, but that's not going to happen, as my conscience is clear on that score. I've stated my case as best I can under the circumstances. It is what it is.

Boater

This guy went on a full blown rant about Republicans, Christians and athletes. He is an idiot. He doesn't need to be teaching students at a State University or any University for that matter.

Oh yea.. Orwell's 1984, are you referring to the TSA scanning emails and listening in on our phone calls and reading the text messages OR are you referring to the IRS targeting certain groups?

All brought to complimentary of the leftwing liberals.

ohwell

While I agree with your assessment of the prof. You really need to know what you are talking about with the other stuff though. The TSA had nothing to do with e-mails, phone calls, texts or anything about spying on us. That would be the NSA. You're welcome..... The TSA are the idiots that are pretending to keep us safe in the airports. All the while robbing the passengers every chance they get.

Boater

Ok, it was the NSA, same stuff different Gov't group. The TSA just looks down our pants and through our clothes. Oh, I just remembered, they are disposing of those "see through" machines after they spent $100's of millions of our tax dollars on them. Silly me.

Mystic Michael

If you insist upon "going there", let's at least get our facts straight, shall we?

First of all, the federal agency to which you refer is actually the NSA: the National Security Agency - not the TSA: the Transportation Security Administration.

Secondly, I don't like the NSA running amok anymore than you do. But to imply that it all began with Barack Obama is where you veer off into Wingnut Land. This kind of infringement on our civil liberties has been going on for many, many years. Just because you've heard about it only recently doesn't mean that it began at that point.

Thirdly, the so-called "IRS targeting scandal" was thoroughly debunked months ago. Really. That information is readily available in virtually all of the reputable news sources (read: not World News Daily; not FOX News). The only "targeting" the IRS has conducted was the "targeting" of ALL groups that filed a claim for tax exemption under Section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, as a "social welfare organization". The data shows that if anything, they actually scrutinized a larger number of progressive political groups than they did conservative groups. In other words, they were doing their job. Just as they are required to do.

Lastly, was it "left wing" of President Obama to have negotiated rates with the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies, in order to provide them with a captive market, prior to even announcing his plans for the Affordable Care Act in 2010?

Is it "left wing" of the Obama Administration to be currently conducting secret negotiations with representatives of some 600 multinational corporations as part of the so-called Tran-Pacific Partnership trade pact, under terms that will subvert national sovereignty and the voice of the people? Last time I checked, corporations were actually right-wing puppet masters (the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, ALEC, the US Chamber of Commerce, astroturf Tea Party front groups, etc. etc.) Progressives tend to give them too much resistance - like when insisting that the rights of actual people be respected, etc.

Boater

Oh I get it, It's all Bush's fault! Of course. That is where liberals go when they lose an argument. BDS.

You are wrong when you say the IRS scandal has been thoroughly debunked. Maybe in your mind it has. Obama was going to look in to it, but he hasn't. He's not going to. Either is the DOJ.

Since you brought up ObamaCare, even the unions are shouting from the rooftops at this debacle. You can deny, deflect all you want.

I have to laugh that you brought up the Koch Brothers! Dude, turn off MSNBC and watch/read real news. I bet you will probably be 1 out of the 10 viewers of Alec Baldwin's new show on MSNBC.

Obama is running this country into the ground. The 90,473,000 not in the Labor Force is proof. BO is getting trumped in Russia right now, even the Dems aren't listening to him. But somehow, some way, he will Blame Bush. Just like all good liberals do...

Citizen

I don't see where he claimed it was Bush's fault either... Is 5 to 9 years "many, many years" in your view?

Tri-cities realist

MM, you forgot to mention another puppet, George Soros. Or is he exempt from scrutiny?

PeopleAreAmazing

Next topic - holiday light show!

zwesterhouse

Well one thing for sure. His pension & lifetime health insurance benefits are fully intact and in force. He is laughing all the way to the bank.
He is laughing at all his students and the public because were fools in his mind. Good to see him go.

CES

As a College Professor, I've learned that Teaching in general and especially teaching at the College level is very much a theatrical performance. This guy is a creative writing professor. From what I've read, his point was to get students to write directly and not filter what they were saying in order to make their writing stronger. He was being extreme, but I think doing it on purpose to make his point. Maybe he did in fact say these things with conviction, but could he have been trying to get across the point that unemotional writing can be boring? Could it be possible that the student who made the videotape wasn't listening to the lesson, recording it out of context? I have done things similar to this in class to get people to pay attention.. Teaching at the college level can be very theatrical. I think what was heard isn't necessarily what he was saying.

truthhurts

"I think what was heard isn't necessarily what he was saying." maybe you should be fired to! Teaching at a college level should be anything but theatrical, unless your teaching drama or some other useless career.

Mystic Michael

It was a fair & valid point. Give CES a break, and quit the piling on already!

Vladtheimp

Michigan State University is both taxpayer funded and a business. As taxpayer funded, it and its (our) employees are not (or should not) be free to insult and harass a large portion of the population that provides its funding through their taxes. As a business (it is certainly in competition with other institutions of higher learning for both consumers (students) and employees (professors).

Like the IRS, a state, as opposed to federally funded, institution should be politically neutral to the extent possible; such institution should not be a place where its employees can, without fear of being held accountable, spout partisan political untruths just because they have a captive audience of consumers whose tuition has been paid in advance.

It also shouldn't need to be said that it is hardly the best business model for a business to permit its employees to insult half of its potential customers and expect an influx of future customers. Although private colleges may not be directly taxpayer funded, these days their consumers are largely funded by the federal government through Obama's student loan takeover. I wonder what the reaction would be if Eric Holder's Department of Justice (or a future Department of Justice) spread its tentacles into the issue of partisan activity in the classroom by a university's employees, as a matter of equality and a level playing field. I can hear the screams of outrage by "academia" as I write.

From what I have seen, our secondary and post secondary institutions have enough problems teaching the three R's and simple logic without mission creep into partisan politics and brainwashing. Maybe those brains should first be focused on real education rather than wild liberal rants. Since colleges and universities tend to worship at the altar of "diversity" maybe they should engage in some Affirmative Action to obtain diversity of philosophy and opinion in the ranks of their employees, like they engage in ensuring there is a diversity of skin color among their consumers. http://townhall.com/columnists/r...

Tri-cities realist

The 3 R's... According to prof Penn, would that mean Redicule the Raping Republicans?

And not to toot OUR own horn, but their is more creativity and critical thinking (on both sides) in this forum, than in Prof Penn's lecture, from what I can tell. And to think he makes nearly a hundred and a half large, for rambling on (in a creative manner of course).

deuce liti

As a Christian I don't involve myself with politics.

That said, I will throw this out there: your G.W. Bush twice vetoed stem cell research due to his morals. Yet turned around and murdered thousands of people including women, children and his own countrymen. Hypocrites!

Yes, when u put a person in any level of power with your vote and it systematically leads to war, assassination, etc. Blood is on your hands and you are accountable to God for that.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Vladtheimp

For someone who doesn't involve himself/herself/itself in politics, you sure have your liberal talking points down pat, but I guess it's irrelevant since you don't cast a vote for President and thus don't participate in putting a person in any level of power with your vote leading to war. No blood on your hands - congrats! (and please continue to refrain from choosing a President).

From your statement, I take it when Muslims systematically murder Christians because they refuse to submit to the will of Allah, you don't agree with any political figure taking such actions as are appropriate to protect people of your faith - I guess stuff just happens, and we should lay back and enjoy it. How Pitiful!

deuce liti

Lay back and do nothing? No. I, like many other ministers, try to change people's hearts. By changing the heart condition to live by bible principals, many people have left the military, stopped drinking, etcetera and pursued a better course of life: living for God.

Acts 5:29 "obey God as ruler rather than men." This principal says to obey the laws of men until it violates God's standards.

I would disagree with your statement that this is pathetic. I forgive you though because you don't have the faith and accurate knowledge that I have.

In the end the most perfect of presidents or politicians will not be able to ever end world hunger, violence, disease, or death. The futility of politics and the never-ending party bashing (as presented in this article) is just further proof that this system of man's imperfect rule can never be fixed.

To answer you about muslims killing Christians: a true Christian will die faithful to God. Many have. We would never rely on man to fix man's problems.

Wingmaster

I believe your a fraud. You are on here for entertainment purposes which is fine. Posing as you do is part of your entertainment. Have fun but your not fooling everyone.

Vladtheimp

I appreciate your forgiveness, as I appreciate (1) your foregoing your right to vote for President (since you didn't object to my comment on that) and (2) as a minister who has nothing to do with politics, keeping partisan politics out of your dealings with your flock, unlike your comment on George Bush.

Since you apparently are willing to leave everything up to predestination and fate, on that subject I note that Stephen Hawking once famously said "“I have noticed that even those who assert that everything is predestined and that we can change nothing about it still look both ways before they cross the street.” I suggest that might be a good idea to pass on to those who follow your ministry - especially the chilluns.

deuce liti

Ecclesiastes 9:11 "time and unforeseen occurrence befall them all."

God gave us free will, not pre- destination. The ideas you refer to are from false Christianity; not supported by the bible.

1 timothy 2:4 "all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth."

Vladtheimp

Does not free will include the decision to war with people who pose a threat to our very existence? If not, what are the limitations on the "free" in "free will?" Is self defense not an example of free will?

deuce liti

Jesus said not only to love your neighbour, but also to love your enemy and pray for them (because if they got the truth and slaved for God they would no longer war with you).

Also, he said, "for whoever wants to save his soul will lose it; but whoever loses his soul for my sake will find it." And "they are no part of the world, just as I'm no part of the world.

Using a bible-trained conscience would never approve or partake in war.

Interestingly, I noticed you haven't defended your failing political system. In fact, you said my comments about Bush were liberal. I merely commented about the hypocrisy of his blood lust. I will tell you that Obama is a murderer too, for war and assassination are on his head as well.

Vladtheimp

Interestingly, you avoided answering my question about what limitations you place on "free" in "free will" and why self defense is not an exercise of that power granted to us. Cherry-picking a few quotes from the bible isn't a substitute for a rational answer >p>

You didn't say "failing political system," you said: "this system of man's imperfect rule can never be fixed." Of course any man-made institution is imperfect and can never be made perfect - no argument there. My argument is that the system devised by the founding fathers is the best man-made system we have seen, historically.

I'm glad you included the latest Nobel Peace Prize winner in your definition of murderer- in your view, of course, you would also have to include Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy and Johnson to be consistent - I just noted that the first of the murderers you reflexively came up with was Bush.

Am I correct that in your ministry, whatever it may be, you don't simply focus on Bush and conservatives as you rail against our system and our leaders?

deuce liti

I feel that I explained the limitations of my free will. My limitations are based on love for God and his attributes. I am not a part of the world. Yes I work a job like my fellow ministers and support my family, but I don't partake in the spirit of the world. We don't bash the political leaders in our ministry. I was merely pointing out the hypocrisy of our political leaders because, as brought out in this article and discussions on this forum, people choose a party and then bash the other while never coming to an agreement. I've heard leaders say they won't say yes to anything the president asks, neither party will sit at lunch together. People argue points and cite this or that, but only become more entrenched in their ideas rather than seeking mutually beneficial compromises.

What is truly sad, is that the hypocrisy of false Christianity is so rampant and obvious that the idea of a true Christian adhering to God's standards is a foreign idea. A christian follows the teachings of Christ that were modeled after God's love.
Yet all we've seen in religion mixed with politics, the Pope shaking hands with Hitler, Catholics and other trinitarians using their churches as false sanctuaries during the Rwanda Genocide to lure Hutus or Tutsi in, lock the doors and kill them with machine guns (there are inscriptions there detailing this), and a myriad of other religious warfare. Regardless of how disgusted we are by this, imagine how God feels.

So while you continue to place your faith in men and continue the futility of arguing politics that won't change, I will continue to place my faith in God and pray for His kingdom to come and to finally have his will be done on the Earth just as it is in heaven. Remember to unplug yourself from the self-serving downfall of society every once-in-a-while and look up.

Vladtheimp

So now Catholics and other "trinitarians" are included in your slander - I can see that attempting a discussion with you is useless because unlike you, I am a part of the world. When I join you and Reverend Farrakhan above, looking down on humanity from the Space Wheel, maybe I will be able to truly remove myself from the world.

Rock on, Bro!

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