May I suggest that this discussion is focused too much on the individual and less upon the division between Judeo-Christian literature and all other(s) as reported in the original article in the Telegraph. Assuming the professor's emails were intended to be racist and malicious, the article then quotes the owner and editor of New Matilda (where the story broke) writing on his website:
"Can you imagine how a female student, an Asian student, a Muslim student or, God forbid, an Aboriginal student might feel sitting in a lecture theatre listening to Professor Spurr wax lyrical about the power of Judeo-Christian literature?"
Isn't that as divisive, as unfair, as narrow-minded a comparison?
I pity those who group literature using gender, race, sexual propensity, national origin and any other categories; and worse those in academia and journals who insist on measuring literary greatness commensurate with its representation of such groups.
And yes, as Jim points out, the internet is porous and perhaps one day I may have to defend what I have written in this email thread, but that task is simple, as everyone here knows my opinion of the first test of a poet's greatness: I shall simply read Eliot aloud (or Milton or Arnold or any of the other Judeo-Christian poets.) The words speak most eloquently and passionately and intelligently for themselves. If a great poet is female, she is first a great poet and then a great poet who is female.
Sent from my iPhone
> On Dec 20, 2014, at 3:19 PM, Nancy Gish <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Apparently you are right: you don't know what it is.
> I think this insistence on treating his behavior as simply ok is a form of thought police (if we are to use such odious terms), and that the lack of caring is a genuine problem. That he said those things is not speculation at this point.
> And open society is one in which what is wrong can be publically stated, not one that must silence any challenge to vicious behavior. It is open in both directions. Thought policing is the shutting down of any objection to wrong, not simply making a judgment. The Romans were good at it--hence crucifixion.
> And no one had to hack his email: universities, like other institutions, can see what is on their emails. That may be a bad thing--in fact it no doubt is. But that has nothing to do with the hateful content of what he wrote. And I repeat that if he thought it a joke, that is even worse.
>>>> Ken Armstrong 12/20/14 3:01 PM >>>
> In the mid-sixties, I had a German professor of German who could
> barely contain his contempt for his American students and the inferior
> culture from which they arose. Stiff-necked and haughty to a T, he
> didn't conduct a class that was much fun to be in or, IMHO, much
> conducive to learning, often commenting on how dissatisfied he was with
> his students and belittling individuals for failing to meet his
> standards. I'm not sure now whether it was lost on him that he was free
> to operate in that manner in an open society that not only didn't punish
> him for his bearing toward his students, but promoted him to full
> professor. I have no idea what kind of classroom Spurr conducted, but
> I'm pretty sure today he knows he was not operating in an open society
> in which he was free to conduct a private conversation over a medium
> held by the university. Convicting him of anything more than that is
> pure speculation.
> I don't care at all for the "game" he was playing, but I'm not about
> to pretend that I know what it meant in any depth whatsoever for either
> his public or his private life. Virtually any fact in isolation can be
> used against its owner. So I care even less for the abstract judgement
> that his private conversation constituted the prelude to cruelty,
> whether or not he engaged in it (!), and therefore justified his
> dismissal. If that isn't thought policing in action, I don't know what
> is. Is it known whether the party or parties who hacked his email
> account have met with sanctions?
> Ken A
>> On 12/20/2014 1:50 PM, P wrote:
>> Still sad.
>> Jesus would forgive and say 'go and sin no more'.
>> Nancy Gish wrote:
>>> I think I understood it fine the first time--especially later when linked to "needless." But his resignation is hardly sad at all. When anyone says these kinds of things, and even worse when they imagine it a "joke," their resignation is a reason to be glad--to celebrate in fact. The only thing one could call "sad" is that he or anyone ever said those things (and the emails are not really in question or they would not have been made public and he would not have resigned). I would think 20th-century history would have taught us that.
>>> But neither his resignation nor the story as a whole is sad. The resignation is good, and the story is one of good and evil, not mere sadness. Yet he had the presumption to write about Christianity; can anyone imagine Jesus saying, thinking, or validating such language? I have to doubt that he understood Christianity in any spirit that included Christ.
>>> And, Peter, you very often post lines to the effect that I do not "understand" totally obvious things. I teach poetry and rhetoric: I really do get it the first time. Perhaps you might try a refutation on ideas instead of personal comments.
>>>>>> P 12/20/14 1:28 PM >>>
>>> I guess you don't understand the word 'sad'. That is also sad.
>>> Nancy Gish wrote:
>>>> Did any of you who think this is "sad" or "needless" read what he actually said? Did you think what that means for any student in his classes?
>>>> Faculty who say deeply bigoted and hateful things are what is sad, and they have no place in a classroom. Even he seems to have realized how extreme and wrong he was, since he simply accepted.
>>>> How many of you would sit in a classroom with someone who called Christians human rubbish tips or men pricks or white people honkies or Brits "the scum of the earth"? Doesn't that include some of you?
>>>> This kind of language is not a joke and not without terrible damage: it is the begining of patterns of cruelty--whether he engaged in it or not. When humans want to hurt and hate, they start with dehumanizing names. And it would get anyone in any university I have been in (four) dismissed.
>>>> I am astonished to see this treated as somehow a wrong to him.
>>>>>>> Peter Dillane 12/20/14 7:34 AM >>>
>>>> He had his day in court last week suing the website but he settled on the basis they could keep up what was already up and they agreed not to publish any more so one might suppose there was more extravagant stuff to come ; the next day he offered his resignation and it was accepted without comment
>>>> Sent from my iPhone
>>>>> On 20 Dec 2014, at 10:18 pm, David Boyd wrote:
>>>>> It is - a needless loss.
>>>>>> On 20 December 2014 at 03:43, P wrote:
>>>>>> That's sad.
>>>>>> Peter M.
>>>>>> "Rickard A. Parker" wrote:
>>>>>>> The Telegraph
>>>>>>> By Jonathan Pearlman, Sydney
>>>>>>> 2:22PM GMT 18 Dec 2014
>>>>>>> Australia's first professor of poetry resigns over leaked racist emails
>>>>>>> Professor Barry Spurr, an expert on T S Eliot who helped to write Australia's school curriculum, resigns over controversial leaked emails