A Response to the Weinstein article criticizing the FSU culture

http://deadspin.com/jameis-winston-isnt-the-only-problem-here-an-fsu-teac-1467707410

I am a bit taken back by an article I read tonight that comes from Adam Weinstein, contributor for Gawker.  He is addressing the Jameis Winston scandal in Tallahassee, but in a more acerbic fashion, makes yet a heavier indictment on not only Florida State University’s football program, but seemingly all of college football in general.

He says that the Jameis Winston scandal “Isnt the only problem here,” and delves into “An FSU Teacher’s Lament.”  Along the way, Weinstein introduces several other Seminole athletes who he seems to use as evidence of a culture of immorality at Florida State.  Wait—immorality?  Let’s park that idea for a moment and come back to it later.

The first player that we meet is termed by Weinstein as

“the blue-chip defensive secondary leader who wrote his personal essay for an openly gay professor on the time in high school he gleefully commanded a posse to bash a girly fag near to death, caved the queer’s face, and ruined his smile.”

We also meet

“the hulking offensive star who brought a friend to help him corner a short, pretty instructor alone in her closet office and scare her within an inch of her life for telling the athletic department he was clowning in class.”

If that weren’t enough, we are introduced to

“the top offensive player who sought tutoring from me on a plagiarized paper while tweaking on uppers.”

What do these players have in common?—Well, they are all starters at Florida State, have longer Wikipedia bio’s than anyone on FSU’s faculty, are all under age 22, and are projected to play in the NFL.

Weinstein is a professor at FSU and is also a former contributor to the left of left publication, Mother Jones, as well as being a current contributor to Gawker.  Now from the outset, Weinstein positions himself and his football loving colleagues in a position of exemption from any critique.  He states that despite what some less cultured professors think, “We love football, and we really love winning, and while we might be pseudo-intellectuals who idolize tweedy, critical theory-spouting professors, we hate it when they denigrate the game’s presence on campus.”  He is claiming his credibility here by saying, “Look I’m an intellectual, I know how people “ought” to act—but at the same time I’m a big football fan.”  Fair enough.

Then the critique begins to flow like soda flows from my Soda Stream—

His first major tirade is against the football culture in Tallahassee in general—although you could certainly compare what is said here to any college town serious about its Saturday ritual.  Weinstein laments,

 “But we’re increasingly flummoxed by the football culture surrounding Tallahassee, one that’s grown malignant with the wins and the scrutiny, like a traditional Islamic country turned radical and defensive, its craziest pilgrims whirling around Doak Campbell Stadium, the black cube at the center of their Mecca. It’s a culture that tells these adolescents that their highest calling is to sacrifice their bodies in the grassy shrine, that all else is distraction. It’s the same culture that’s now undergoing paroxysms of wild paranoia to spin Benghazi- and Trayvon-style conspiracy theories that might explain these obviously baseless allegations against Jameis Winston, the teenager whose prophetic power can reduce old white men to joyful sobbing.”

Isn’t that interesting?  An invoking of the effects of jihad and also a comparison of Benghazi “conspiracy theories”—obviously made up in a Rush Limbaugh-led GOP echo chamber which have no evidence, and are partisan accusations whose sole purpose is to remove our country’s first black president from power.  First of all—now he is comparing the Seminole faithful to radical Islam? And forgive me, but what “traditional” Islamic country that “turned radical and defensive” is he referring to?  Certainly not the “tolerant” ones that tried to take over the world by violence that eventually led to a dubious response from Christendom called the Crusades?  Knowing that Weinstein wrote for Mother Jones, and that he is a USDA choice liberal—I almost want to ask him if he feels the Florida State faithful are somehow less evolved primates than say—the Occupy Wall street cult.  His comparison here is fatuous.

Secondly—he tries to compare those who defend a person who is “innocent until proven guilty” to those who engage in dubious and intellectually fraudulent conspiracy theories when it comes to any policy blunder of Obama.  Now—I am not even going to comment on this because I think it is clear that in this country we do have the right to a trial, and we are innocent until proven guilty.  Weinstein is the same guy that would have probably said

“Dzokhar Tsarnaev should be treated fairly, and we should close Guantanamo Bay because those “misunderstood” multiculturalists are being mistreated by bigots.”

Forget the fact that we actually KNOW that those guys sent people to their deaths or purposefully set off bombs to decapitate innocent runners in Boston.  But now—because someone says, “Hey, lets wait and see if this guy is guilty before posting defaming articles on Gawker,” they are suddenly engaged in conspiracy theory?  What he is really mad about is that we DO live in a post-racial culture for the most part, and the fact that conservative “old white men” are reduced to “joyful sobbing” at the sight of a black quarterback—doesn’t fit the narrative of the institutional left.

Now—what about the other criminals he calls out—and by the way, with a little investigation, it isn’t difficult to see who exactly he is talking about.  Notice, he safeguarded the identities of all the professors in the piece, but he has given a fairly descriptive caricature of each player he indicts–this is the institutional left.

The first is the “gay-basher.”  Now, this is a sick story—no doubt about it.  This player wrote a paper for a creative writing class that told how in high school, he and friends beat up a gay student—just for being gay.  The teacher had a one on one meeting with the player and here is his account:

“It was just me and him in my windowless office on the fourth floor of an empty campus building.  The player submitted his essay and went down the hall for a drink,” and while reading it in solitary, he promptly “freaked out.”

The paper goes on to account how the player organized the beating, and that his teeth were kicked out (literally).  This is horrific.  My question is—where is the evidence that this actually happened, and it isn’t instead just a macho story that has arisen from his own masculine projection theory?  The act is heinous.  The fact that he wrote about it in first person, even if it was fictitious—is also heinous.  I do wonder though how a postmodern like Derrida or Foucault would respond to Weinstein’s critique of the player’s writing.  If objective morality doesn’t exist, and it is up to the sole discretion of the author as to what something means, how can this teacher be offended without asking the student for more clarification (which he doesn’t ask for)?

Weinstein also laments about the Athletic Academic Advising Program which he calls “Handlers.”  He equates them to being guards for “animals at the zoo,” or the overhead for “sellers at the market.”  Now, when he says market, we will forget for a moment that he has basically made a multicultural slur here, and focus instead on his critique.  He accuses these handlers of doing anything to

“keep the players eligible to play, whatever it takes. That includes begging, browbeating, suborning intimidation, and, we all have suspected, writing assignments for the athletes.” 

Quite an indictment.

Or there is this account:

“That’s what happened to another instructor, Lacy, when she informed an athletic academic advisor that she had some problem players, including a star receiver, who were turning work in late, cutting corners, submitting seemingly plagiarized work, and pulling childish stunts in her classroom like flipping the lights on and off.

The advisor’s response was to get on the players’ cases … and to show them her email, Lacy says. So that was why they were now in deep shit. Two of the athletes, clad in team warmups, stormed into her office unannounced and cornered her, yelling at the small, genteel Southerner as she sat between them, her backed pushed up onto her desk. “They’re both just towering over me and arguing with me. They were puffing their chests and pacing quickly, leaning in on me,” she says. They told her, “I thought you were cool.” They called her a liar.

“It just felt very, very aggressive,” she said. “I was very uncomfortable.”

She told them firmly to leave her alone and got them to exit without incident, assisted by another instructor nearby. In relating the confrontation to a mentor the next day, “I got kind of upset,” she says. “I was tearing up a little bit, which surprised me at the time.””

My question is—where is the official harassment complaint that she filed?  Why are we hearing about this late—from Gawker?  Yeah, the players, if this happened, were out of line—completely.  They should have been dealt with.  Why didn’t she turn them in formally, rather than telling her “mentor?”

Weinstein then gives us his own personal dealing with a handler:

“I’ve had dealings with the handlers. My biggest issue was with a gentle giant of a lineman who was new to college, and to reading, and had trouble making it to the morning class. On the few occasions he made it to class (late) and didn’t fall dead asleep, his earnest writing, both in style and structure, was that of an elementary school student. He never turned a paper in on time, but when I contacted the handlers to warn them of his status, a pile of final drafts would suddenly materialize, full of fairly complex, organized thoughts and diction—thoughts that hadn’t made it into earlier drafts I’d seen. I was bombarded with regular long emails from handlers explaining how I should arrange extra meetings with the player and extend deadlines for him. But he couldn’t overcome his absences, and when I informed them through a mentor that he wouldn’t pass and it was too late to drop the class, I was asked if I could give him an “incomplete,” even though he didn’t qualify for one. I said no.

This was a problem: My lineman was already on academic probation for poor performance in his first semester. Should I flunk him, he would lose his eligibility. At the end of the term, when I went online to enter my students’ grades, his name didn’t appear on the roster. He had been administratively disappeared from the rolls—a medical withdrawal, I heard, though I wondered what malady rendered him unable to attend class but capable of playing 40 or 50 snaps every Saturday.”

Here we get the allegation of flat-out cheating, idiocy, and faking a medical illness.  Where is the empirical evidence?  I’m not saying this didn’t happen—and the response by the handler, if it did happen is outrageous.   My problem is he is criticizing people who say, “lets wait for evidence on Winston,” yet he is making allegations here in his piece without any evidence.  How is his “theory” of what happened any different from theirs?  Granted, he was personally involved with this one—but what about the others?

We then get an allegation of drug use:

 “Like when a lumbering receiver appeared at my open tutoring hours to receive help with his paper, a series of rough ramblings connecting entire lifted passages from a marketing textbook, several Wikipedia pages, and an online biography of Nancy Reagan.

A few minutes into my explanation of why plagiarism wasn’t kosher, the receiver’s attention seemed elsewhere. He asked if there was a bathroom nearby; he excused himself. He returned about five minutes later, and his demeanor had changed considerably. His legs were quivering, his arms shuddered, and though it was clear he was making an effort, he couldn’t focus on my laptop and the work we’d started. “Hot in here,” he complained, sweating and stripping off his warm-up top in the middle of a cool basement space where my fellow tutors and I were still wearing winter coats. With 15 minutes left in our session, he rose suddenly, anxious to go to the library and finish the paper, he said.

Through a supervisor, I contacted the academic handlers about the receiver, but never heard a response. This was early last December, less than a week before the police began investigating a sexual assault that allegedly involved Jameis Winston.”

Again, I ask—where is the evidence?  If he was able to document all of this as accurately as he seems to have—why didn’t he contact—say the police rather than a superior, when it is obvious from the other situations that the superiors at Florida State care more about jihad like victory celebrations than they do academic integrity or law?

He makes another interesting statement here:

“If I kept a schedule like these kids do, I’d probably consider popping a lot of greenies. I don’t know what they do over there across campus, in a gleaming behemoth of a new training facility, bankrolled by the booster club that’s now developing a series of strip malls and condos and drinkeries for alumni on the once-artsy industrial flatlands outside the football stadium. (“Collegetown,” they’re calling it.) Whatever our players do takes up so much physical and psychic energy that it’s amazing they don’t ever kill anyone, much less that they make it to class. But most of them are fine. There are dozens of successful, placid ones on the roster every year.”

In a way I want to call his bluff and call him a hypocrite.  We are going to get there momentarily though.

Weinstein goes on to ask,

“We don’t know what our role is in these players’ lives. Do they even need our classes? Do they need to be cultural critics, or cogent writers?”

At this point he is making sense.  Is everyone college material—that is to say, is going to college a right?  Ask any liberal and they will say “yes.”  The only thing that is wrong in America in the eyes of the left, is that there isn’t enough government-funded education.  I find it interesting that Weinstein is dissenting from that view here.

“In Tallahassee, the narrative is that football is salvation, and Jameis is its prophet. He brought back winning, more than we’re used to. He brought back swagger, but not too much. He did it all with an insane arm and a smile and a laugh and he’s just such a nice young man. (That’s a compliment to a black quarterback that’s more than a little loaded in a town whose racist taunts ran FSU’s first black player off the field and into mental torment, which he ended by firing a revolver into his own stomach, here, in 1972.)”  This is a charge of racism that existed in 1972 that the author claims exists today, except Winston is given a pass because of his “goods.”

This is disingenuous.  The writer has already made a racist statement (indirectly) earlier in his piece—but here, he exempts himself from his own adjudication and levels the indictment of death on the elite types in Tallahassee–Racist.

Weinstein goes on to lament,

“But like the on-field play, the excesses of student athletics look different when you teach in these schools: faster, more dangerous. It’s the kind of difference that makes us, in our student lounges and off-campus drinkeries, say, yeah, Jameis Winston is great, gifted, a wonderful kid—but yeah, he could have assaulted that girl. Any of them could have.”

There is certainly a great deal of stereotyping in play here.  I am not going to press about it though, because Weinstein is on the left, and he is immune to any charge of racism, intolerance, bigotry, or sexism.

I am a product of public education, and I have graduate degrees from state-funded institutions.  You want to know what I learned?  Morality is up to the individual—“anyone who claims to have objective truth is tyrannical and engaged in power play (even though that statement itself is a statement claiming to be objective truth).”  I learned that writing is all about authorial intention.  The actual words on the page mean nothing.  It is all about interpretation.  There is no objective truth to be found on the written page.  You can write it, but it cant be used to accuse you.  We are taught that we are all primates who have evolved through the Darwinistic evolutionary paradigm to what we are today.  We are the product of time, matter, and chance—and there is no greater purpose than that.

So—I’m a primate who has evolved.  There are no morals except those which I choose to follow.  I am able to change any words I say even after I say them—and—the best one of all—“Don’t foist your views upon me!”

I do sympathize with much of what Weinstein wrote here; however, he is dangerously close to being fallacious in his logic.

We are the ones who teach our kids that there are no objective morals to be had, and that religion is the opiate of the masses.  Yet—when this logically works out into reality, we get mad and expect them to all of a sudden—develop morality?

Weinstein seems to invoke a lot of “ought” in his analysis of the culture.  Why “ought” these players function in the way he deems “right?”  On one hand, his critique seems to go against the liberal fantasy that says that all people are good, it is their surroundings that let them down.  Here—he seems to point to something much deeper—that there are actually troubled individuals that cannot be helped by education alone.  They need something else.

I notice he didn’t give us a solution.  I think this is indicative of his position.

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