I am responding to your story titled "Student's ‘Gross’ Opinion Plunges College Diversity Class into Chaos," (click the link, it's most terrifying) about the young lady at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst whose opinion caused such turmoil on their campus last week. I totally agree with the university’s handling of the affair, and wish to see the young “lady”, Ms. Dillon, academically disciplined and also serve time behind bars (no more than a few years).
I too, am an instructor of Cultural Diversity Studies at a community college in Boston, the name of which I care not to mention for the purposeful reasonable insights of this communication. And I, too, am incensed by the hostile nature of Ms. Dillon’s opinion and the fact that she had one (as if the two can be different). Not only did Miss Dillon’s naiveté manifest itself in a dangerous outpour of bigotry towards a humble people of non-Caucazoid derivation, but her fellow students’ responses also show that even in a purportedly progressive, forward thinking establishment like UM Amherst, opinions and their innate intolerant nature still exist, even if they are towards fried arachnid consumption.
The Associate Dean of Students massively understated the point when she said “opinions can be a tricky business.” What she failed to say was that human opinions have been the foundation of every act of exploitation, racism, war, slavery, genocide, imperialism, militarism, colonialism, and jismism the world has ever known. And I think Ms. Dillon needs to take particular note of this fact before she thinks of forming another opinion again.
I doubt Ms. Dillon is a seething racist imperialist fascisticalist. More problemastically, she is a naïve young girl who is trying to make her intellectual way through a world wrought with opinions, and simply has fallen into the trap of opinion possession. What she and many young, hapless opinion possessors need to understand is that what can seem like an innocent perception of another people or culture is actually the first step on a slippery slope of intolerant nihilism.
Ultimately the opinions grow and grow broader and more severe, and will only lead to the destruction of other peoples. So what at first seems like a harmless game of opinion making can soon devolve into that actual act of judgment making, and that can easily lead to beliefs of “inferior” and “superior,” and we all know where that can only lead.
The naïve Dillon apparently didn’t like the act of eating tarantulas. Well, well, well, Miss Dillon, guess who else didn’t look benignly on tarantula eating? –Hitler! Indeed, Adolf Hitler despised eating tarantulas, and look what he accomplished: six million Jews slaughtered; 20 million Russians dead; 50 million people in all killed in World War II.
Hitler had opinions, too. He hated tarantula eating and gays! If you don’t want be like Hitler, then stop with the damned opinion making. Opinions: they may start with tarantulas, but end in gas chambers and mass graves. If we do not stop with opinions, no matter how seemingly innocent, then the Miss Dillons of the world will become our next Hitlers.
I weep for Miss Dillon, our future, Cambodian tarantula eaters, and for the sake of weeping.
Professor, Cultural Diversity Studies,
Undisclosed Community College,