Well, that didn't take long.
Within hours of the appearance of my column in the Weekly on Tom Moilanen, he has deleted his blog from the Internet. Moilanen's a CSN communications professor who finds racist epithets appropriate speech, who finds great humor in people's disabilities and who has "I’ve fantasized about shoving a corkscrew into some media person."
It's just as well that it's gone, except that it doesn't erase the outrageous, horrific things he wrote under the cloak of being anti-political correctness. Between Tuesday when the column was due and Wednesday night when it appeared online, Moilanen did reach out to me, sort of, but always with a tone that I was making too much out of this and that he was actually the definition of an awesome instructor.
At one point, he told me to call his boss, Angela Holland, at CSN, because he said she supported him. I did so, but it quickly became apparent Tom hadn't brought Ms. Holland quite up to speed. She defended his abilities as an instructor, how all his students love him and all that. Then I read this passage to her about an R-J reporter whose face has suffered some ravages of HIV medication:
She suddenly couldn't really comment on the matter.
Keep that passage in mind, too, when you read this next bit. Moilanen late Tuesday emailed me what would turn out to be his final post. Since it's gone and it's very long, I'll give you a few excerpts:
Sure, I have a naughty side.
But behind it lurks a moral side, at least when it comes to much of what I post here. The idea is to tweak people into doing the right thing, or at the very least, encourage them to more closely examine what's going on, both in and outside of their heads. And certainly some is just silliness. And some could be considered "offensive," if you don't look past the previously mentioned snark. This is a place to spill, a forum for me to dump whatever goofy things are on my mind. I have a whopping twelve followers, although I know a few more people tune in. Big-time I ain't. Yet I'm being treated like I'm Dan Rather, with the power to influence millions.
I've said this before but it bears repeating: More people get in trouble these days for what they say rather than what they do. That's really odd, especially in this country whose number one ideal is free speech. I always thought the potty behavior got you the paddle more so than the potty mouth. And shouldn't it? If a guy says he's going to shoot me, I might pay attention; but I sure wouldn't panic as much as if the same guy pointed a gun in my direction. Or worse, made it go "bang."
When did liberals - the classic anti-establishment crowd - become the establishment? And what gives anyone the moral right to tell someone else what they can and cannot say? Certainly you must know your audience, which means I'm well-aware of when I'm writing a wise-guy blog piece as opposed to teaching school. It's two different hats. Two different worlds. And with what little hair I've got left, I need all the hats I can get.
You realize Carlin was arrested for things he said? I hope so. ... He thought a lot like I do; or really, I think a lot like he did. And I think a lot of him. That's pretty obvious. He upset those on the right, left and down the middle, because he spoke the truth. Nobody wants to hear it, not even me at times. But how can we solve problems if we can't discuss them?
You know what you accomplish with attempted censorship? The forbidden fruit syndrome. One sure-fire way to make someone want to read, listen to, or say something is to demand that they can't. Or shouldn't. So, should Mr. Writer Dude attempt to portray me as a manic unfit to teach because of this little blog? It could conceivably become a big blog, in which case I'd have to say, "Thanks for the free advertising." I love teaching, I love writing, I love when people tell me how they felt about an article, and dagnabit, I love this country enough to make the comments I do. I want to see it healthy, and well, and c'mon; we all know - deep down - that it's not.
This day began very upsetting for me, as I was informed by this columnist he was going to call me out to a very large readership. And, of course, the insinuation was I couldn't tell the difference between this little blog and the classroom, that somehow because I use strong language and say adult things here, I would also there. Or this would undermine that. Or whatever. Not so. A personal blog is just that; it's a fun way to get your stuff out there and maybe get a few jollies out of the deal. That's all.
But my day is ending much better, as I've spoken with the powers that be and I have their support. Man, what a great feeling. I cannot thank them enough. They do know the real me, and thoroughly get the idea that much of this is satirical, protected expression. That voice I use that is not present in this piece? It's a character. And behind that character beats the heart of a decent guy who uses silly, outragegous and sometimes R-Rated material to underscore the wrongs in the world in the hope that somehow, some way, that material might move others to think - and speak - for themselves.
If that makes me a lousy teacher, then why did I also find out today that I was nominated by my department for Part-Time Employee of the Year? Sure was. It's a kick and thrill and an honor and all that good stuff. So again, one of my many hats must be tipped in the direction of my bosses. Heck, I'll tip them all.
And I promise you this: The next time I get behind this keyboard, the bitch, to paraphrase Bernie Taupin, will be back.
Or maybe not. The bitch, evidently, is gone.
Now, a few things:
(a) Is it not bizarre that a communications instructor doesn't know the difference between censorship -- which, by definition, is something the government does -- and having someone respond to his words? Nobody suggested he doesn't have the "right" to say what he wishes, however foul. Nobody is telling anyone what they CAN or CANNOT say. He CAN say anything he wishes. But other people have the right to be offended, to react, to not patronize his store, to picket CSN or to skip his classes. That's not censorship; that's the consequence.
(b) This guy is not Carlin and it's funny to think he is. Carlin did not use foul words for their own sake, he was making a broad sociological point. I'm not sure what broad sociological point is being made by Moilanen calling his customer a coon. Shock for shock's sake is not the Carlin ethos, and we don't live in an era where people can be arrested for saying those words so the circumstances are substantially different.
(c) I guess we can assume that Moilanen actually only loves "when people tell me how they felt about an article" when they shower him with praise, huh?
(d) Did his CSN bosses really know the full extent of his filth when he posted about their support of him? Holland sure didn't, and I doubt he has a good way to explain to the rest of the faculty why it's righteous to savage people for their disabilities or gleefully toss out the worst epithets.
(e) Moilanen seems to, underneath all of this victim-is-me blah-blah, have yet another defense that indicates he knows how inappropriate his writings have been: Hey, I've only got 12 readers! In other words, nobody's reading this thing I'm placing in an arena where I could have potentially millions of readers, so what's the big deal? Again, I worry about a communications professor unaware of the nature of the most important communications medium of our time.
(f) I'm still trying to figure out how brutalizing -- by name! -- a reporter for his appearance in the most gruesome terms qualifies as "underscoring the wrongs in the world." Please, someone, explain that to me?
(g) Does Dan Rather still have any influence?
I suspected he'd try to take down all or part of the blog, so I took some screenshots. It's not necessary to post them all, this one was particularly fascinating:
Click on it to make it bigger, but here's the part I love best:
If it were, Moilanen would be our greatest patriot. In this circumstance, he's done every wrong, whiny thing he complained about. He is his own worst enemy in more way than one.