I Hate Being Confused: You Too?

During the heyday of my stay at what was then Pembroke State University,  I served on a number of faculty committees and was active in the American Association of University Professors.

One of the same generation of academics as I,  a Professor of Physical Science who had a Bachelor’s from Harvard and a Ph.D. from U-Cal at Berkeley,  one evening at an informal party (we were talking about some current bones of contention in faculty matters),   said in his ponderous and definitive way,  “A confused opponent is a dangerous opponent.”  I found that interesting and also insightful,  and it has often solaced me,  for it came in handy at times when confusion seemed to be running rampant in my alleged mind.

I also at times find myself being confused by some odd circumstances found in what I read or listen to.  Here are several examples:  An “Ethics Commission” has (in the aftermath of the worms and insects left squirming on the ground by the Easley administration) been formed to deal with matters threatening integrity and what is now termed “transparency.”  Both are considered good things.   But I am somewhat bemused and distracted by the name of the Chair  of this Commission.  His first name is Lester,  his last Merritt.    It seems to be that a chair of such a worthy group would do better if he were known as “More” Merit. . . .

Another matter that bothers me is comprised of two sentences I came across today as I was reading the current issue of Up and Coming Weekly.   One sentence appeared in a story by a FSU/formerly PSU Art Professor who was reviewing two local exhibitions (neither being the Salvador Dali exhibit, which I have plans to see before it departs).

The reviewer compares the nature of one exhibition to the other, noting a key difference between them but concludes, “The difference attributes to the overall aesthetics of each exhibition.”   Can you help me out here?                                      The second sentence I came across that confused me even more was in a story about a production of Snow White by the Fayetteville State University Theatre.  The reviewer points out that this play is a “twisted” version of the Disney production of yore.  The Director of Theatre at FSU is quoted as saying this about it:  “. . . this version of the beloved tale of enchantment features not only a jive-talking mirror, but also a ‘band of happy minors,’ Hall said [naming all seven] . It has a slightly different spin than Disney’s version.”   What kind of dwarves am I expected to see on stage?

My final confusion today,  and it has struck me in similar ways quite often, has to do with the topic of “capital punishment” and the term “death row.”  The “Today in History” feature in today’s paper notes the attempt on FDR’s life on February 15, 1933.  Roosevelt escaped any physical harm, but his host,  Chicago Mayor Anton J. Cermak,  was fatally wounded.   And “gunman Guiseppe Zangara was executed more than four weeks later.”  Must have seemed like a lifetime for poor Guiseppe Z.  In the same issue of the Observer came a story of the death of Viva Leroy Nash of “natural causes,” we are told, in an Arizona prison.  Nash is headlined as the “Oldest U.S. death row inmate.”  Born in 1915, he was first sent to prison in 1930;  an appellate lawyer is cited as saying that, in effect,  Nash had spent nearly his entire life in prison,  the last 27 years on death row.                                                                                          I am confused.  How could our judicial system work so quickly to execute Zandara, even if “more than four weeks later,”  and take 27 years to discuss and review and continue to appeal Nash’s death sentence?  If his lawyers were worth their salt, it seems to me they should have gotten Mr. Nash freed under a Constitutional ruling that he was the victim of “cruel and unusual punishment,” having to live all of these years in a hardcore,  lonely environment, with fear and uncertainty always torturing him.  “Unusual” at least ought to apply. . . .   Shouldn’t it?



2 Responses to “I Hate Being Confused: You Too?”

  1. Daryl Cobranchi Says:

    The difference attributes to the overall aesthetics of each exhibition.

    Either he’s trying to convert “attributes” into a verb, or he really meant “contributes.” At the risk of being thought an easy grader, I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt.

    What kind of dwarves am I expected to see on stage?

    Apparently, young ones. That type of error is really easy to make. Everyone knows that it should be “minEr,” but sometimes the fingers have minds of their own.

  2. Raymond Rundus Says:

    Thanks much, Daryl Cobranchi. Always appreciate getting and reading your comments.
    Hoo, Boy!
    I had originally considered referring to the faculty slayings at the University of Alabama-Huntsville as the ultimate illustration of the actions or reactions of a confused colleague.
    This, we hope, is a complete anomaly. As a Department Chair for nine years of the largest department on the UNCP campus, I often had to deal with complex issues of faculty appointments, reappointments, and especially the time in a tenure-track faculty member’s career when he or she is being considered for “permanent tenure.” (Please be aware here that the term “tenure” is all too frequently used when the proper term ought to be “permanent tenure.” All employed faculty at a college or university are granted “tenure” when hired contractually for a specific salary during a specified term of service, whether that be for a semester, an academic year, or several years. That is, they are presumed to have the same rights of “academic freedom” as any of their colleagues [even those with “permanent tenure”] during their contractual time of employment. The American Association of American Professors is unstinting in its defense of academic freedom for all legitimate faculty-level employees.)
    I have witnessed often the reactions of faculty not granted permanent tenure, and often these are wrenching and unpleasant situations. But I would hope that the Amy Bishop kind of reaction would never recur on a college or university campus.


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