Mizzou: From Hotbed To Hot Mess

A mere 24 hours ago, I was impressed by the determination of the University of Missouri football team.  Not that they were in bowl contention, but that they made the decision to take a risk, a huge risk, and put some skin in the game. The black players decided to strike, to refuse to play ball, and they had the support of their coaches and white players.

Their grievance? “Systemic racism,” they said. Their demand?

“The athletes of color on the University of Missouri football team truly believe ‘Injustice Anywhere is a threat to Justice Everywhere,’” the tweet read. “We will no longer participate in any football related activities until President Tim Wolfe resigns or is removed due to his negligence toward marginalized students’ experiences. WE ARE UNITED!!!!!”

The “injustice” wasn’t quite as clear. There were instances of claimed racism, but that’s not a basis for a claim that it’s systemic.  It appears that the heart of the problem was that Wolfe acted too slowly in condemning the instances. They felt he failed to “respect and value” their voices, whatever that means.


So they demanded his ouster. Among other things.

The idea that Mizzou would succumb to the demands seemed improbable yesterday morning. By midday, not only had Wolfe resigned, but so too Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin. Whether it was the financial hit the school would take by failing to produce a football team to play BYU, which had a direct price tag of $1 million with an indirect cost of $3-5 million, or the lack of support among faculty and administration, isn’t clear. But they gave in.

Was Mizzou a hotbed of racism? The students and faculty thought so, sufficiently to risk their own welfare to fight it. You can’t fault people who are prepared to suffer consequences for their beliefs should they fail to prevail. That there was a significant aspect of silencing voices and ideas they didn’t share was a disturbing, and overlooked, aspect to their claims. But speech isn’t fashionable on campus these days.  At least not nearly as fashionable as the vagaries of entitlement to demands that voices be respected and valued, whatever that means.

Having done what would have rationally seemed impossible, the ouster of top administrators, one might have suspected the next move would be a big party, followed by the next day’s hangover.  But the protest group, calling itself “Concerned Student 1-9-5-0,” for the year black students were first admitted to the University of Missouri, was filled with its mighty power. They toppled a king! They could not be stopped.

Do they read Lord of the Flies at Mizzou?

The problem with “winning” a revolution is that it’s then left to the inmates to run the asylum.  And as expressed by one of the original founders of the protest group, this wasn’t over until “the totality” of their demands were met, which largely meant that Missouri create a big safe space for “marginalized” students that met with their approval, curriculum and teaching staff included.

Then things went from bizarre to worse.

Students at Missouri are similarly unwilling to handle criticism, feedback, or really anything other than validation. In the wake of Wolfe’s resignation, reporters flooded the campus, but students formed a human shield around the black activists who had achieved this victory to rescue them from being interviewed.

“You don’t have a right to take our photos,” said one student to a photojournalist, according to this video taken by another journalist, Mark Schierbecker.

The fuzziness of the clash of empty rhetoric on the part of students and faculty who supported them was astounding.

Not only did this serve to undermine thoughts that maybe, just maybe, things at Mizzou were bad enough to justify what happened, but call into question the outrage that purportedly gave rise to it. The insanity of the claims of entitlement rendered the cause incomprehensible, with the students and faculty fabricating some entitlement to their fantasy rights to respect their childish wishes.

Melissa Click, an assistant professor of mass media at the University of Missouri, ordered a journalist to leave an area where demonstrators had gathered on campus.

As support, or at least acceptance of the notion that the protesters’ cause was more than hurt feelz, and demands made of people who failed to “value their voices,” depended upon the efficacy of their claims, in revealing themselves to be in favor of their own entitlement to non-existent rights at the expense of anyone else’s rights, they gave away any claim to the moral high ground they might otherwise have had.  As explained about their treatment of student photographer, Tim Tai, on assignment to ESPN:

The protesters accused him of acting unethically and disregarding their requests for privacy.

“What is so hard about respecting our wishes?” one protester asked.

And with one inadvertent, foolish question, that encapsulated the grievously wrong expectation that their “wishes” trump everyone else’s rights, interests, wishes, the protestors at Mizzou have tainted their cause.*

The coda comes by way of mass media professor Melissa Click, who takes it from Animal House to Animal Farm:

As the video nears its end, the person taking the video, Mark Schierbecker, emerged from the scrum and approached a woman, later identified as an assistant professor of mass media, Melissa Click, close to the tents. When he revealed that he was a journalist, Ms. Click appeared to grab at his camera.

She then yelled, “Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here.”

Maybe the outrage and indignation of the football team, of hunger striking grad student Jonathan Butler, were justified. Their voices are as worthy of being heard as anyone else’s.  But no more worthy.  What began as claims that the University of Missouri was a hotbed of systemic racism ended with entitled students and faculty expecting hegemony over Mizzou, to the exclusion of any “wishes” but their own.  Just another hot mess of infantile feelz on another college campus.

*After an aid informed Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill that there was media attention at Mizzou (and explained to her that Missouri, indeed, had a university system), she put on her finest TV frock and made herself available for a media opportunity. No one cared.

30 thoughts on “Mizzou: From Hotbed To Hot Mess

  1. LTMG

    Just out of curiosity, how many of the UM football players can correctly spell “systemic racism”?

    Did the UM regents have to pay outgoing president Wolfe a golden handshake larger than the annual salary of the UM head coach?

    The UM priorities are clear: Football 1, Leadership 0.

    1. SHG Post author

      Why question whether the football players can spell? It has nothing to do with anything and say nothing about them and everything about you. I’m really surprised that you would leave such an pointlessly assholish comment.

      1. Guinny_Ire

        I agree with you on your comment and rebuttal. People are angry, for a number of reasons, and they’re posting with emotion. Anyone who reads this, despite your position, please use logic in responses and not emotion. You not only embarrass yourself but if you argument was in fact the right one, you dampen it’s effect.

      2. Rick Caird

        Uh, you may not have noticed that it is a university and a lot of the players are on scholarship. They get that scholarship for playing football. So, are they getting the education they were promised. Why is that question irrelevant?

        1. Guinny_Ire

          It’s off topic that’s why. It doesn’t address the article and the questions it raises. It’s an emotional smear and diminishes his later comments. Most of us are guilty at some time of making them.

          1. Ed Minchau

            No, it’s not off topic. If any they were there on a football scholarship and refuse to play football, they should lose their scholarships.

            1. SHG Post author

              They should lose their scholarships, but that has nothing to do with this thread, which began with the baseless question of whether football players can spell “systemic racism.” This isn’t free association.

      3. Tonestaple

        No, there is a reasonable point to that comment whether the writer meant it or not. The first amendment is really, really, really clear about the right of the people to assemble peaceably and about the right of others to write about it Courts have said you do not have a right not to have your picture taken when you are in a public place, so all of these students and faculty are horrifically ignorant about their rights and the rights of that student-reporter. So have the people involved in these protests managed to learn anything at all about the United States in their 12 plus years of public education? It doesn’t look that way. And I’d say asking if someone can spell a phrase they are using that, given the volume of their ignorance, probably don’t know the meaning of is a reasonable proxy for that.

        1. SHG Post author

          First, I appreciate your effort to explain your reasoning.

          Second, your reasoning sucks. That they are wrong about the first amendment has no bearing whatsoever on whether they can spell “systemic racism.” It is not a proxy at all, no less reasonable.

          Third, there is more than enough to challenge in what is real. Devolving into needlessly offensive idiocy turns attention away from what they did wrong to the stupidity of their detractors. You are entitled to do so. Just not here.

  2. bmaz

    Yes, this is spot on. Who could have guessed there were serious 1st Amendment problems with these “demands” for safe space? Although, to be honest, I was concerned about speech restrictions, I didn’t really seeing the press refusal coming. But, whatever, their feelings are assuaged. Oh, wait, they are not really, now there are the new “demands” that must be “met in their totality”.

    I wonder what other administrative functions at the University of Missouri these high holy protesters and football players should deem themselves to be in charge of? Grading curves? Curriculum? Campus security? Holiday allotment? Allocation of resources among the colleges? Really, with this group in charge, there is really no need for administration or trustees, it can be a fully inmate run asylum!

    1. Levi

      Give it just a little more time and we will return full circle to the original university arrangement, where it was a guild of students paying by the lecture who felt free not to pay if they didn’t like the lecture. Except they may forego all lectures in order to cuddle in warm rooms with blankies and pacifiers, paid for by federal loans with rates matching cash-secuired overnight loans to financial institutions.

    2. SHG Post author

      Ken just did a hell of a number on the free speech implications as well:

      The safe-space-as-sword came during the victory celebration. The proposition was wantonly naked: the university’s public spaces that activists had chosen to occupy were a no-dissent zone, where activists were entitled to be free from differing interpretations of events:


      The “parameters” in question were the public university’s quad, one of the most quintessentially public spaces in American law and tradition. This sentiment — that students could take over a public space, use it to express their views on a public issue, and shut other views out of it in the name of emotional safety — was vigorously enforced by a crowd threatening a photographer and a communications professor shouting for “muscle” to help her expel media.

  3. Jay

    As everyone knows, the quad is a special place where sleep normally takes place….made it sound like the media were breaking into their bedrooms….

  4. Kevin

    It’s to hard to make this stuff up. “We’re in the news, but we’ll control who can report us in the news — by force and muscle.” If the journalism school (supposedly one of best in country) students had any spine, they’d boycott until this professor was suspended or fired.

  5. Fyodor

    I think that it’s plausible that there were both people with real grievances and many more people who joined in and wanted to drink in the intoxicating tonic of moral outrage. They just saw a bunch of teenagers get the president of a major university fired! Who wouldn’t want to be part of that action?

    College football players endure a lot of physical and verbal abuse as part of playing and becoming good at the game. The fact that they were willing to put that at risk makes me think that they felt there was more at stake than regular insensitivity. Similarly, even given the constant stories about this stuff, it’s hard for me to imagine a college student that is so sensitive to criticism that they’d starve themselves to death over it.

    1. SHG Post author

      So this is just the meaningless speculation that filters through the head of some guy who calls himself Fyodor on the internet and it’s worthy writing in a comment in case anyone is asking, “wonder what Fyodor can imagine?” Well, okay then.

    2. bmaz

      “They just saw a bunch of teenagers get the president of a major university fired! Who wouldn’t want to be part of that action?”

      Well I, for one, would not want a part of that simpering, apparently aimless, if not ignorant, bullshit.

      So, yes, count me. Please. Especially when you are slurping your “intoxicating beverage”.

      1. David M.

        You won’t drink of the students’ devotion
        to their feelz? Have some Polyjuice Potion.
        For an hour, you can kick it
        like Professor Click. It
        reveals a new world of emotion.

  6. John Barleycorn

    Give the “kids” a break. A good wheee ride doesn’t actually come along everyday.

    They might not completely grasp the totality nor all the ramifications of their desires but
    I am guessing they will figure it out.

    Hopefully sooner rather than later. But most of them did in fact have a pretty sheltered upbringing not to mention what looks like at least one very under qualified professor to assist them with sorting “things” out.

    And, afterall, when you are on a whee ride sometimes it’s pretty easy to loose sight of what’s really going on and exactallty where you really set out to go in the first place.

    Few among us can say they have never lost sight of the subtle hyprotical nuainces of our disires.

    Hard to say if todays acemidic environment is encouraging this weakness or not. A little early to tell if the importance of having a few qualified navigators in the cockpit becomes aparent to them after this particular whee flight. Results are results afterall.

    Give ‘um a little room and they might even start to connect a few dots.

    I guess it could actually get worse but what the hell, every now and then you got to roll the dice even if you don’t end up exactly where you set out to go with the first few attempts.

    Either way they defiantly seem to have gotten some attention. Way to early to tell if that has anything to do with anything just yet.

    However, they did make the “man” flinch just a little bit. Just imagine what they might be able to accomplish if they are able to shed their “personal safe spaces” for something a little more robust and principled all the way through in the future.


  7. mb

    One of the most salient features of those who openly advocate lawlessness is that most of the loudest ones have no idea what they intend to do with the perverse authority they are demanding, or even that power is what they are demanding. Someone said hurtful things to me, therefore I demand that I be given authority over others and resources at my disposal. Someone failed to immediately give me that, therefore I demand even more, and an apology, and resignations. Heads will roll, because my feelz are hurty. All it takes is to make everyone afraid to talk about what I’m doing, and point them towards anything else. Why would students and faculty members attack the press? Because they are terrified not to.

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