Letter to the editor


In response to Sragow video

Throughout the last few days, some people have mistakenly assumed that I want to censor professors’ freedom of speech. Not once have I ever advocated such a thing. In many cases it serves students well for professors to express their own opinions and political experience.

Nevertheless, the role of the professor should be to empower students with the knowledge to choose positions for themselves and to facilitate honest critical reasoning. I believe that an education should be earned from the bottom up, not from the top down.

The following points are at the core of this debate:

1. Professors have the right to express their own opinions in the classroom, but they should be held accountable for what they say.

2. Freedom of speech gives you the right to say unpopular things but hiding behind the banner of free speech does not entitle you to avoid being judged accordingly.

3. I did not prevent Professor Darry Sragow from exercising his freedom of speech by videotaping his lectures. All I did was put a new audience in front of what he said.

4. USC is an expensive school, and parents have a right to know what they are paying for and what their children are learning.

5. Donors have a right to know what they are funding.

6. Students should not have to choose between changing their ideology to earn a higher grade or speaking out during class and risk receiving a lower grade. (Many students are on loans, grants or scholarships that require them to maintain a certain GPA, so this choice is even more unfair to them.)

7. Sragow would have been reprimanded if he instead used derogatory remarks to vilify African-Americans, Latinos, women, gays or other minority groups. Same goes if he inferred that Muslims were sexist.

8. Since USC is a private school, it should have the final say in setting all its teaching standards.

It’s been said that Sragow is part of a program in the political science department where part-time professors of all views are brought in to teach about their own experience. However, I am not aware of any Republican professors that are as far to the right as Sragow is to the left.

Campus Reform, the group working on my behalf, contacted USC’s media relations about my video before we released it to the media. We gave them the video on April 4 and asked for a response within 24 hours. We did not get one. We contacted them several more times and never got a response. We released the video a week later.

I am not afraid of voicing my opinion. I am gifted and well-versed in politics, and I am more than capable of defending what I believe. I could have refuted Sragow’s statements during class. Unfortunately, I have been in classes before where I received weaker grades as a result of expressing opinions that contradict the professor’s.

I do not trust my grade in the hands of a professor who would instruct someone to tamper with my election information in the mail. Likewise, I would not trust a professor who says, “I encourage an open debate and active participation in my classes,” after using class time to berate those he disagrees with as stupid, racists and losers.

What happened in Sragow’s class last semester is not a rare outlier of what happens in many other classrooms across the country. The problem is that if I were to speak out against him it would not have solved anything in the long run.

At best, Sragow would likely have toned it down temporarily, only to return to his prior behavior next semester for other students to come.

I did not want to let that happen. There was a way to hold Sragow in check while at the same time sending a warning call to others of his ilk here at USC and at other universities. I felt that it was my responsibility to take this latter option, and I was prompted to videotape his lectures.

What I did required much more bravery than raising a debate in a small class. I instead took the debate to the national level, shining a light on a broader problem occurring in the United States’ educational system. Instead of changing one classroom, I changed many. But this venture has nothing to do with me. I didn’t do anything besides deliver a message. In doing so, I hope to have inspired future students who find themselves in the same situation.

I did not take Sragow’s statements out of context nor did I present anything but the truth. To attack my character is reprehensible and is a dishonest way of avoiding the content of this debate. If you are opposed to my message then tell me which of the above eight bullet points are wrong. Otherwise, the video speaks for itself.

Don’t shoot the messenger.

 

Tyler Talgo

Sophomore, political science 

 

26 replies
  1. Graham
    Graham says:

    It is actually quite funny that you would say “don’t shoot the messenger” because that is exactly what you are doing. Sagrow is simply point out the glaring issues that the GOP has with minorities and women. He did not make them that way. Irony is great.

  2. TrojanForLife
    TrojanForLife says:

    Tyler, I look forward to voting for you someday. I’m sure the Frankfurt School, in their wildest fantasies, couldn’t have imagined today’s world, where their program for the destruction of Western civilization is the accepted and ruthlessly enforced orthodoxy. Interesting times, indeed.

  3. Eric Turner
    Eric Turner says:

    People: this is hate speech directed at white people and at white men in particular.

    So . . . let me hear you stand up for someone’s right to direct hate speech at white people but not at anyone else.

    Step up, dingbats!

  4. Sean
    Sean says:

    Objection to #7: “Sragow would have been reprimanded if he instead used derogatory remarks to vilify African-Americans, Latinos, women, gays or other minority groups. Same goes if he inferred that Muslims were sexist.”

    The point in itself is valid (although the second sentence seems a little unnecessary and odd), but it doesn’t apply to this issue. Sragow was indeed attacking Republicans, but Republicans are members of a political party and NOT considered a minority group. Blacks, Latinos, women, and gays all have at least two things in common: that they are born with these identities which place them in a “minority group” (i.e. they cannot change this identity and had no choice in becoming a part of their respective group); and they are all currently, or at least were at one point, considered a “minority group” in the first place. Lumping members of the Republican party into this category does not make sense.

    A more correct way to go about making the general gist that point #7 is trying to convey might be to say “Sragow likely would have been reprimanded if he instead used derogatory remarks to vilify Democrats or members of another political party, and Republicans should not be unfairly targeted.”

    P.S. This comment is made with the assumption that all parties involved are intelligent enough to realize that gays do not willingly place themselves in a chosen minority group, as this issue has tediously been brought up historically.

    • sad day
      sad day says:

      Agreement to #5 – Donors have the right to know what their are funding.

      We, the donors, are funding hate. Its that simple. This should not be tolerated.
      To “hate on ” another group is so wrong! Disagreement with national policy, absolutely.
      To teach hate, NEVER.

  5. Jonny
    Jonny says:

    Wow this letter is depressingly arrogant and fails to even take seriously the various other points made about how he might have better addressed his complaint. Now every Professor has to live in fear that anything they say might be taken out of context and used to smear him or her on national TV. A Trojan horse trying to undermine our school does not make you a Trojan. USC had the privilege of being an intellectually and ideologically diverse campus: but you’ve thrown a hand grenade into that. Cost the school donors and opportunities because you wanted to play culture warrior for the week. A self-made man who worships his own creator…

  6. WTF
    WTF says:

    “What I did required much more bravery than raising a debate in a small class. I instead took the debate to the national level, shining a light on a broader problem occurring in the United States’ educational system. Instead of changing one classroom, I changed many. But this venture has nothing to do with me. I didn’t do anything besides deliver a message. In doing so, I hope to have inspired future students who find themselves in the same situation.”

    Do you honestly think you’re a prophet? You were not brave and you are not “gifted” in political science. You wanted to be on television and you got to go on Fox News to spe

  7. #6
    #6 says:

    Going into a classroom with the hope that you might preserve your own “ideology” despite what you may learn from the course and its professor does not demonstrate a hope to be educated “from the bottom up.”

    Also, it’s important to note that your teacher *didn’t* say disparaging things about African Americans, women, or gay people. Actually, your professor highlighted an objective problem with the GOP, which is its history of racism and persistent neglect of minority rights in this country. Your party openly supports voter suppression techniques that blatantly discriminate against Blacks and Latinos; Republicans also just blocked probably the most moderate gun legislation imaginable. You would be better off examining the ideology to which you subscribe and understanding that the GOP has major problems that will hinder its own future. Sragrow doesn’t make the rules, he’s just the messenger.

    • Emily
      Emily says:

      Actually “#6,”

      The left has a far richer and far deeper history of racism in the United States. Please check your own history…take for example, the Dixiecrats/KKK…they were not Republicans but Democrats…and that is just one of many examples.

      But do tell me, how does the present day GOP “neglect minority rights?” I’d love to hear that one.

      And voter suppression? Is that like the black panthers at the voting booths? Oh no…that’s about supporting legislation that requires ID’s right? You know, like every other civilized country in the world? Furthermore, if ANYTHING, it’s not racist, it’s classist. You’re racist for assuming that only Blacks and Latinos will be “disproportionately harmed” by voter ID laws.

      And what does gun legislation (that by the way does NOTHING to prevent tragedies like Newtown) have to do with your baseless and moronic accusations of racism and discrimination?

      Talk about someone who should examine their own ideology.

      • Graham
        Graham says:

        Firstly, your point about the left being more racist than the right it absolutely ludicrous. I believe that is was just earlier this year that Mississippi ratified the 13th amendment. (thats the one banning slavery fyi) Only 148 years late. Now who runs Mississippi? Oh yeah the conservative right.

        Now if you were trying to say that “democrats” have a longer history of racism than “republicans” you are only slightly more correct. Democrats now are not the same thing as democrats in the 1950s or democrats in 1900. The parties have shifted, changed, and realigned so many times you cannot trace one party all the way back to the forefathers. So, yes, you could say that members of the “democratic” party in the 1860s that were members of the KKK are more racist then the “republicans” of the time, but that means absolutely nothing about the current party system.

        How do the GOP neglect minority rights you ask? Well lets look at voter ID laws. Now there is nothing wrong with requiring IDs, but doing so in a manner in which there is not enough time for everyone to get an ID before poll day, is a problem. It takes at least a month or even longer to get a correct ID in certain places and a lot of the voter ID laws passed by the GOP were passed within one month of the election. The next part is it is fairly costly to get an ID. I believe I paid 50 or 60 bucks the last time i renewed my license. For someone who is unemployed or barely making ends meet with a minimum wage job, 50 bucks is the difference between food for a week and no food for a week. So with the monetary obstacles we essentially return the the land ownership requirement from 100 years ago. We already had this debate a long time ago. Every U.S. citizen has the right to vote with out an monetary or other obstacles. That would be one way that minorities are disadvantaged.

        It is actually quite hilarious that you would call #6 racist for “assuming” only “black and latinos” are disadvantaged by voter ID laws and the GOP. I just pointed out that anyone with money issues would be disadvantaged. But if you’re not happy with just evidence towards “black and latinos” being disadvantaged, I’m sure I could tell you about women’s rights to equal pay (Lilly Ledbetter act which the GOP tried to downvote) or a whole host of anti-women’s health laws passed by GOP states. Lets check the list of people disadvantaged by the GOP: “blacks and latinos,” (check) women, (check) poor people. (check) Who does that leave? Rich white men.

        I think that about does it. Please do let me know if you ever need a fact-checker for a paper you’re doing. You could really use it.

  8. sapientia
    sapientia says:

    I heard you got an ‘A’ in the course… so much for #6…

    The university does protect students against arbitrary academic evaluation, but not from encountering opinions and viewpoints that are counter to or even offensive to their own. The appropriate action would have been to complain to the adjunct’s boss — that is the Chair of the Political Sciences department and then the Dean of the department’s college. If you hadn’t addressed it there first, then there was no justification for going straight to the president of the university. This way just smacks of ego… demanding attention without going through any due diligence and thinking you can just circumvent all established processes to jump to the front of the line is no way to operate and leaves you with nothing of substance to support your actions.

    • rajincajin
      rajincajin says:

      haven’t heard any points like this before. glad to know you guys are starting to get creative. but the question of whether he ‘jumped in front of line’ seems rather irrelevant.

      try reading the article first next time?

  9. Chris
    Chris says:

    The saddest revelation to come out about USC in the past week is not that a USC Adjunct said hateful things about Republicans. Its that someone like you attends this University.

    25.
    That’s the number of times you used the word “I” in your Letter; a fact that demonstrates what most of us were already thinking; that this entire charade has been about you and your need for attention. Your 15 minutes are almost up Tyler. I sincerely hope that the next time we hear from you it is on a much more substantive issue with a lot less self-aggrandizement.

  10. Michele
    Michele says:

    Although I do wish that Tyler had challenged the professor, several of his points are valid – and I defy anyone to counter point #7 in particular.

  11. Mike
    Mike says:

    As a young conservative myself, i can confidently say that you are a poor excuse for a republican. Whoever is encouraging you is destroying what it means to be a young republican. You couldn’t take on sragow even if you had the best conservative debate strategist in the country, you would simply screw it up somehow, you looked like a clown on fox news big guy, if you are the future of the republican party, then i fear for the future of our great nation.

  12. John
    John says:

    The other side will call you names for the way you approached the situation, but wont condemn what Prof. Sragow said. That is the issue at hand. They love the bias at the university and will use you as the scapegoat to support Sragow’s bigotry. Don’t let it get to you Tyler.

  13. Alexis
    Alexis says:

    “I am gifted and well-versed in politics, and I am more than capable of defending what I believe. I could have refuted Sragow’s statements during class. Unfortunately, I have been in classes before where I received weaker grades as a result of expressing opinions that contradict the professor’s.”

    Wow arrogant much? If you’re so well-versed in politics, you ought to know that secretly recording a professor and “demanding a response” within 24 hours is incredibly childish and immature.This is not the way to foster a discussion. And don’t for a second pretend that this is about “free speech.”

    Furthermore, you have done all Conservatives a disservice by being a whiney coward, claiming that professors like Sragow would grade you unfairly. This is not a community college, it’s USC. You’ve only been here in this program at the time this was recorded less than one semester! You have no idea what the grading system is like! Don’t make all of USC and all Conservatives look whiney and cowardly like you. Your video would have been much more effective had you recorded yourself arguing with him…since you’re so “well-versed” and all.

    Grow up.

    • pat
      pat says:

      This comment is so off message. If Alexis is a Conservative at USC, she does not identify nor speak for any of us. What Tyler did was right on.

      And his video would be more effective that way? Seems to be pretty effective as is. Go home you delusional RINO.

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