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Welcome back: MSU prof rants against Republicans

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Welcome back to Liberal U.

Students at Michigan State got a good dose of politics on their first day of class this week from English Professor William Penn, who decided to play the caricature of an academic more interested in spouting party propaganda than teaching students. How’s that $13 grand-a-year investment in higher learning working out so far?

Penn launched his creative studies class with a hate-filled rant, which was recorded on a student’s PDA and sent to Campus Reform.

“If you go to the Republican convention in Florida, you see all of the old Republicans with the dead skin cells washing off them,” Penn said. “They’re cheap. They don’t want to pay taxes because they have already raped this country and gotten everything out of it they possibly could.”

Penn, who has twice won the Stephen Crane Prize for Fiction, went on to insult Ann Romney, accuse Republicans of voter suppression schemes and of not wanting to pay for college.

Of the last point, that would be understandable given MSU English Dept. standards.

The incident reminds me of my own experience in MSU intolerance the middle of the last decade. I was invited to participate on a 4-person panel on racial diversity and Michigan’s Civil Right Ballot Initiative to ban race from admissions. I was the token conservative on the panel (academia’s idea of “diversity” in opinion).

After we laid out our positions on the ballot initiative, my views quickly became the focus of the forum, serving as the piñata for attacks from everyone from the dean of the department to multiple students. Afterwards, a student approached me in the parking lot and thanked me for being outspoken before the mob. He told me he shared my views but would never speak up in such  a forum for fear of being ostracized.

Ah, academic diversity.

In the middle of his remarks, Penn singles out a student who apparently is unimpressed with the tirade. “You can frown if you want,” taunts the prof. “You look like you are frowning. Are you frowning?” Penn goes on to tell the class that “if you are a Republican, forgive me, I absolutely don’t mean to offend you.” I’m sure his kids were reassured.

Henry Payne
Henry Payne is the auto critic for The Detroit News. A 25-year newspaper veteran, Payne is also a Pulitzer Prize-nominated cartoonist with United Feature Syndicate, a former columnist and editorial writer for The News, and a contributor to The Wall Street Journal, New York Post, and other publications. His auto reviews appear every Thursday in the Drive section.