Free Speech in the Classroom

Eric Goldman rightly tags a North Dakota legislator’s proposal to regulate professiorial diction as “jingoistic,” which it is. It’s also provincial and (paradoxically) imperialist. How about its administrability? Sure, there are tests of oral proficiency in English. But my mind jumps immediately to Lina Lamont (the great Jean Hagen), and to Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor in Singin’ in the Rain, playfully torturing the diction instructor hired to help Kelly transition from silent movies to talkies. Imagine grad students in North Dakota trying to recite “Moses supposes his toes are roses/But Moses supposes erroneously/Moses he knowes his toeses aren’t roses/As Moses supposes his toeses to be.” Is this what higher education is coming to?

Just because I’ve given myself an excuse to do so, I’ll quote my favorite line from that film: “Peo-ple? I ain’t peo-ple! I am a…’a shimmering glowing star in the cinema firm-a-mint!’ It says so – right there.”