Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back in the Classroom

"I'm a white lady. I'm an easy target."

Melissa Click

Foolishly, I suppose, I thought that, when I wrote in February about Melissa Click's dismissal from her job as a journalism professor at the University of Missouri, I would never type her name again.

Sadly, that is not the case. I guess I should have known better, given my years of newspaper work. There are certain people who never go away, no matter how much you may wish they would.

And Ms. Click is one of them. She has surfaced again — to blame her dismissal on "racial politics" in a profile published in the Chronicle of Higher Education last weekend.

To read the article online, you have to be a subscriber, and I am not a subscriber, but I have heard enough about the article's contents from those who are subscribers to know that what I have heard about it is true.

Click contends that she was a victim of racial politics. She says she was fired because she is "an easy target."

"I'm a white lady," she said.

Clearly, she is white. Whether she is a lady is a matter of personal opinion. (Before you reach any conclusions on that, be sure you watch her video from last fall. I posted it with my article in February.)

I know it is fashionable these days to blame one's failures on alleged prejudice. Sometimes it's bewildering — like when one claims to be a member of another race or to be of another gender than one really is and blames a personal failure on prejudice against that race or gender.

But Click is not disputing her race or her gender, just using them as the scapegoats for her dismissal. In my mind, that is worse.

I am a journalist who has taught journalism on the college level, and, as I wrote in February, I was glad the University of Missouri dismissed her. I did not think she was an advocate of freedom of the press or freedom of speech, and I believe that people who teach journalism classes should be effective role models in their defense of both.

In calling for "some muscle" in a blatant effort to prevent a student journalist from covering a news event on a public campus, Click clearly demonstrated that she only believes in freedom of the press and freedom of speech when they are to her benefit.

But freedom of speech and freedom of the press exist to benefit everyone.

And any journalism professor who doesn't understand that has no business being a journalism professor.

Race and gender have absolutely nothing to do with it.

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