WARNING: The following article contains explicit language.
What kind of teachers are on offer via America's educational establishment? Doubtlessly, they run the gamut.
But for an indelible example of one end of the spectrum, look no further than a recent course introduction at Michigan's Ferris State University.
During a Zoom class, Professor Barry Mehler really let loose.
It's been said that with age goes self-consciousness, and the professor's living proof.
According to his description, he's just returned from “Rigel 7.”
“The intergalactic internet is all abuzz about this planet,” he notes, where “civilization is collapsing.”
Evidently calling to COVID, the academic raises an alert:
“I don't know whether you people have noticed, but it's dangerous to breathe the air. … [L]ife on your planet is going extinct.”
Having removed his helmet, he issues an expletive-filled lesson:
“I want to introduce myself before we actually meet ‘F' to ‘F,' as we say these days, which everybody knows means ‘f– to f–‘ — which really means that we're all f–ed.”
Barry informs the class there's “no benefit whatsoever from coming to class,” and that he'll not be taking any questions in person.
“[I]'m wearing this f–ing helmet in order to stay alive,” he explains. “So please come. Enjoy the show. I'll be there regularly because I have no choice. You, on the other hand…”
His attendance policy is a might less than strict:
“My classes are all designed to be taught remotely, and everything you need to earn an ‘A' is available to you on our Canvas page.”
But it seems students won't require those resources:
“None of you c–s–ers are good enough to earn an ‘A' in my class. So I randomly assign grades before the first day of class. I don't want to know sh- about you. I don't even want to know your name. I just look at the number, and I assign a grade. That is how predestination works.”
Barry goes on to offer a defiant monologue that would be right at home in Goodfellas.
Tenure trumps all:
“I may have f–ed up my life flatter than hammered sh-. But I stand before you today beholden to no human c–s–er. And working a paid, f–ing union job. And no limber-d– c–s–er of an administrator is going to tell me how to teach my classes. Because I'm a tenured professor. So if you want to go complain to your dean, f– you. Go ahead. I'm retiring at the end of this year, and I couldn't give a flying f– any longer.”
He later plays a scene from the television show Deadwood, which clearly provided the genesis of the above rant.
The professor then presents an object lesson on plagiarism.
As for his “show,” that's something called “More Bad News, brought to you by Camel cigarettes.”
When I was your age,” he says, “more doctors smoked Camels than any other cigarette.”
Following a black-and-white commercial to that point, he pivots to capitalism:
“[P]eople all over the world smoke cigarettes, and we did that. It was one of the greatest accomplishments of American capitalism. We saw it as…a way to make huge profits off of an addictive product that would eventually kill you. Pure capitalism — turning death into profit.”
For those game to see the “show” in person, expect more spacesuit exploits:
“When you see me next week, I'll be wearing this helmet. This helmet is actually 300 bucks. It's got HEPA filters all around it…so that it protects both me and you from this deadly virus that's going around.”
But he hopes it isn't needed:
“You people are just vectors of disease to me, and I don't want to be anywhere near you. So keep your f–ing distance. If you want to talk to me, come to my Zoom.”
At your own risk, watch the video below:
Not everyone was impressed by the professor's panache. As reported by The Associated Press, he's been suspended.
Ferris State President David Eisler said he was “shocked and appalled” by the video, which has been viewed nearly 500,000 times. Mehler, 74, was placed on leave last week and barred from teaching classes while the matter is investigated.
In response, he's threatening to sue.
From attorney Matthew Hoffer:
“The university should be celebrating and defending Dr. Mehler, not summarily disciplining him.”
Per the AP, “[Barry] said the video was a humorous performance intended to get his students' ‘juices flowing.'”
It was juicy, alright.
There was a time when American professors were icons of dignity and class. But the day of the bowtie is behind us.
Personally, I like an eccentric professor. But Barry — being that he's from Rigel 7 — is out of this world.
And now, he may be out of the educational system.
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