I suppose Universities by their nature are almost always both hotbeds of left-wing radicalism and bastions of conservative traditionalism. Unfortunately my Alma Mater, the University of Sydney, seems to be trending more towards the latter.
One of my old English Literature lecturers, Professor Barry Spurr, has placed himself in rather a lot of hot water by using his University email address to send messages which insult practically everyone under the sun, with the possible exception of educated upper-class white gentlemen such as his distinguished self. He almost deserves a round of ironic applause for the sheer breadth of his bigotry. You can read it in all of its linguistic glory on the New Matilda website, which has released transcripts of the emails to show his quotes were not taken out of context.
Have a read, then you might want to take a shower. It’s okay, I’ll wait.
Now, from my memories of Prof. Spurr and his English lectures, he did always think he was God’s Gift to Poetry and treat his students with thinly veiled contempt, so this whole kerfuffle does have an element of schadenfreude for me. My strongest recollection is his habit of stopping his own lectures to go on a five-minute rant whenever someone showed up late and snuck in quietly through the back door. Apparently this was ‘rude’ and ‘disrespectful’. It wouldn’t have interrupted anybody’s lecture if it weren’t for the Professor’s fragile ego and his need to impress on us all just how important his analysis of T. S. Eliot was.
(Look, I very much like Eliot’s poetry despite having encountered it through Prof. Spurr’s classes, but… they did use his poetry for the libretto of Cats. I’m just sayin’.)
This probably would have resulted in a somewhat more minor embarrassment for the University of Sydney if it wasn’t for Prof. Spurr’s involvement in the National Curriculum Review. ‘Cause the guy who talks about ‘Abo’s’, ‘chinky-poos’, ‘fatties’, ‘darkies’, ‘harlots’, ‘sluts’ and ‘muzzies’ is DEFINITELY the guy you call on when you want a balanced, non-biased appraisal of Australia’s teaching Curriculum for young and impressionable school students.
Spurr (and I’m going to drop the ‘Prof’, as it’s a mark of respect that he doesn’t deserve) is now playing the part of a wounded victim, saying that the emails were between himself and a close friend and his privacy’s been invaded – despite the fact that the emails clearly contradict the University’s IT terms of service and despite the fact that many emails were sent to multiple high-ranking Academics and officials of the University. The thing that really makes me mad, though, is that he’s now trying to pass the whole thing off as a ‘whimsical game’ between himself and this friend.
Excuse me, did you just say… whimsical?
Dude, there’s a difference between being ‘whimsical’ and being ‘an enormous horrible douchebag’. I should know; it’s in the title of my blog. ‘Whimsical’ is at least 50% of what I do.
Whimsical would be using Eliot’s famous ‘Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock’ to examine the life and times of Mr. Spurr:
He has measured out his life in coffee spoons – a dollop of superiority, a dollop of narcissim, and copious heaped tablespoons of racism and misogyny.
Does he dare disturb the universe? Nope, it all looks like basic run-of-the-mill ignorance and prejudice to me.
He grows old, he grows old – surely he must have been born in the 1800s to hold these views? – and he shall wear the bottoms of his trousers rolled.
Anyway, he’s been suspended from the University, pending ‘investigation’. I can’t really imagine him having much of a professional career after this, no matter what the ‘investigation’ turns up. Who would want to sit in a lecture theatre and look him in the face and wonder what he’s really thinking about them? Even if this was all a linguistical game to him, who’d want to be taught the importance of words by someone who thinks this kind of crap is funny?
I’d like to think that people like Spurr are a dying breed. This is the way the world ends, you see. This is the way the world ends.
This is the way the old world ends; not with a bang, but with the whimpering of washed-up, out-of-touch has-beens.
Time’s up, bigots. Welcome to the twenty-first century.