It has recently been brought to my attention that fliers I commissioned to promote my upcoming summer class on partisan politics, POLSC 401 “Democrats vs. Republicans” have created some controversy. I hope to clear the air with this letter.
There are a total of three fliers for the class. They were designed using large images of current congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Mitch McConnell and each has superimposed over the face a provocative question in type in a heavy font. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, the text plays on the bombast and hyperbole of current political coverage, commentary and quotes from the partisans themselves. Although more pronounced when shown together, even individually the fliers grab attention in a cluttered environment and pique the viewer’s interest.
Some have complained that the fliers “only” have inflammatory remarks over the faces of Democrats. If you do not recognize Mitch McConnell as the Minority Leader of the Senate and a Republican, then you should also consider enrolling in my POLSC 325 Intro to American Politics class as well. In truth, several additional designs featuring right-wing commentators were originally made up, since most people associate pundits as the voice of the GOP. But since the class will not specifically be dealing with the media punditry, it was decided to only use politicians.
One faculty member and several students have called into question the appropriateness of the class because their interpretation of the fliers has led them to suspect the course will be some sort of extended right-wing diatribe. While I have no quarrel with anyone’s inability to comprehend satire or their general lack of a sense of humor (we all have our flaws), I do have an issue with the attempt to stifle academic freedom. Ignoring for a moment that this entire argument rests on their interpretation of a flier, it is extremely irresponsible to call for the censoring of a fellow professor because you do not like what you think they might be teaching.
Hopefully this puts to rest the misinformation swirling around about the fliers and the class. To see them for yourself, please visit Flickr.com/photos/prof-unekis and I encourage everyone to take the class. It promises to be enlightening, especially for those on both sides of the political spectrum suffering from an overgrown sense of outrage.