[lg policy] Linguistic Hygiene: An F (Bomb) in Oral Communications

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at GMAIL.COM
Wed May 19 14:52:37 UTC 2010

An F (Bomb) in Oral Communications

Isaac Rosenbloom was among a small group of students who stuck around
after speech class one day this spring at Hinds Community College to
discuss their grades with the instructor. After seeing that he had
received a 74 on a late assignment, Mr. Rosenbloom testified in a
recorded disciplinary hearing, he turned to one of his peers and said,
"this grade is going to [expletive] up my entire GPA." He says the
instructor, Barbara Pyle, heard him and "went into a screaming fit,"
telling him that she does not tolerate offensive language and
threatening to send him to detention.

"I told her, 'This is college, and I'm 30 years old,'" Mr. Rosenbloom
testified. "'There is no detention.'" After being summoned to the
dean's office, Mr. Rosenbloom sought the assistance of the Foundation
for Individual Rights in Education, the free-speech advocacy group,
which issued a statement defending the right of adults to use naughty
"It is quite absurd that a college has decided that a 29-year-old man
who uses a four-letter word out of frustration after a class should be
officially punished," FIRE Vice President Robert Shibley said in a
statement. "College students don't lose their free speech rights when
they arrive on campus. Will Hinds be sending its students to bed
without supper next?"

While Mr. Rosenbloom is actually being disciplined for "flagrant
disrespect," FIRE wrote President Clyde Muse to tell him that the
college's speech policies are unconstitutional and were "applied
unconstitutionally to punish Rosenbloom for his protected speech
outside of class." The college bans "public profanity, cursing, and
vulgarity." Violators can be fined $25 to $50 or, for a third offense,
be suspended from college.

According to FIRE, Mr. Rosenbloom was banned from Ms. Pyle's course
and given 12 demerits (three short of suspension). In addition, a
description of the case is being placed on his permanent record. An
appeal to President Muse is pending. —Don Troop



 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com


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