Sunday, June 9, 2013

From the mixed-up mind of Gordon Gee

When it comes to life at a university, I am sure most of us have heard the term “ivory tower” used to describe life at such places. It is a term that is often used to demonstrate how life there is not the same as it is in the real world.
However, we recently saw an example of how so-called enlightened people can be just as bigoted and narrow minded as people in the rest of society.
It was recently revealed that Ohio State University President Gordon Gee has some salty attitudes regarding the truthfulness of Catholics and intelligence of people in the South. Unfortunately for him, his comments were caught on tape, allowing us to share in his ugly insights.
Folks here locally might remember Gee from his stint as chancellor at Vanderbilt University. He was known as a colorful character while there, but his recent comments demonstrate how Vanderbilt people should be happy he left their school.
The comments were made last December at a meeting of the school’s athletic council, according to His comments were directed at Notre Dame, which is a private Catholic school that some thought might be going to the Big 10 Conference (of which Ohio State is a member).
However, Notre Dame did not join the conference, prompting Gee to state “those ---- Catholics” can’t be trusted. He also stated: “The fathers are holy on Sunday, and they’re holy hell on the rest of the week. You just can’t trust those ---- Catholics on a Thursday or a Friday, and so, literally, I can say that.”
As he made these comments, laughter can be heard in the background. Since then, Gee has apologized, saying the comments “were a poor attempt at humor and entirely inappropriate,” according to the Associated Press.
He should consider himself lucky that he did not get fired, but he has announced he will retire July 1. For whatever reason, our society is more tolerant of hateful speech toward some religious groups compared to others.
Members of Christianity often have to tolerate more of a sharp sword when it comes to words. This is strictly an opinion, but if Gee had made his comments toward Muslims or Jews, then he would have been quickly fired. It appears Christians have to have a thicker skin than everybody else. This may not be fair, but this is the world we live in, so my advice to members of that group is too strengthen your backbone and deal with it.
Gee also had insults for the Southeastern Conference. When discussing comments from fans of the SEC regarding why the Big 10 still uses that name despite having 14 members in the conference, Gee stated: “You tell the SEC when they can learn to read and write, then they can figure out what we’re doing.”
Ah, yes. The poor, dumb and ignorant stereotype of people in the South remains alive and well. As a culture, we are told that people who live in “ivory towers” have advanced beyond the mundane stereotypes that drive our society, but Gee is walking and talking proof that this is not the case.
The bottom line is the value of people like Gee to a university is not measured in the dopey words they say, but the money brought in through fundraising. If people like him can still rake in the money while making irresponsible comments, it will not matter.
This is probably one of the most cynical examples of how money trumps humanity in our culture. This example should make a cold chill run down all our spines.

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