Goodbye Gordon Gee

According to the Columbus Dispatch and other news reports, Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee has announced that he is retiring, effective July 1.

Gee’s retirement comes on the heels of some ill-advised comments about Catholics that were intended as humor but struck many people as disparaging.  Gee insists that he is not retiring because of the comments, but rather because of his age and the University’s need for long-term planning.  Whatever the real reason might be, it’s clear that Gee’s jibes about Catholics — and some of the other curious comments he has made in recent years — have not been well-received by some members of the University community.  His most recent remarks were criticized by the President of the Board of Trustees and he was put on a remediation plan that sought to change his behavior.

Gee, 69, served twice as the University’s President.  My guess is that most people believe that — gaffes notwithstanding — he has left the University stronger and better positioned than it was when he first took office.  He has been a tireless fundraiser, and with his bow tie and constant public appearances he became something of a celebrity.  Speaking as an OSU alum, I wish President Gee well, but I’m also interested in seeing who will be hired to replace him and whether they might take a different approach to what is a very big job.  In Ohio, the President of The Ohio State University can and should be a very significant and influential figure in the statewide community, and it will be a huge challenge to find and hire the right person for a very important position.

Advertisements

Racism, And The Internet Veil Of Anonymity

Cheerios has a funny and touching ad on YouTube, shown above.  A cute little girl asks her mother if Cheerios is good for your heart, Mom reads the box and says yes, and next we see Dad waking up on the couch to discover to his surprise that there is a pile of Cheerios spilling off his chest.

Hard to believe that such an ad would provoke an outpouring of bigotry — but it did, because the Mom is white, the Dad is African-American, and the little girl is biracial.  The ad has provoked so many racist comments, in fact, that General Mills has shut down the comments function on the YouTube web address for the video in order to avoid collecting more hateful invective.

It’s very sad to get such direct confirmation that there are still so many racists in the world, but it should come as no surprise to anyone who does much browsing on the internet.  On many news websites, the comments sections are full of odious, bigoted statements from people who are hiding behind a pseudonym and therefore feel free to bare the dark, twisted kinks of their souls.  Whether it is racism, anti-Semitism, gay-bashing, anti-Catholicism, the repugnant Islamic jihadist lectures that apparently radicalized Tamerlan Tsarnaev, or some other benighted views of latter-day Know-Nothings, the internet is home to some awful, despicable sentiments.  My theory is that the form of anonymity that is available on the internet acts like the hoods worn by the KKK, and allows the racists to indulge their passions without being outed as stupid bigots.

I don’t want the government deciding what should and shouldn’t be said.  I’m a big believer in free speech, but sometimes free speech is ugly, offensive, idiotic speech.  Those of us who use the internet shouldn’t tolerate racist and bigoted comments and should call it out whenever we see it.

Russell Makes The Village Voice

tarotThe Village Voice website has a nice slide show of photos from the Bushwick Open Studios weekend.  There, at number 7 of 46, you will find Russell and his friend, Jon Donaldson, standing in front of their Space Camp artwork in their space at the Loom Building, looking very artistic, indeed.  Congratulations, Russell and Jon!  (I’m also glad to see that Russell decided to represent his status as a Cleveland Browns season ticket holder with his choice of t-shirt.)

The photo above is of one of Russell’s very cool pieces from their show.  He thought their participation in Bushwick Open Studios was great, and we do, too.

Edited to add:  Kish points out that slide number 8 is of a visitor to Russell and Jon’s show checking out the piece shown above.