[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t’s the kind of truth (almost) universally acknowledged that Communism has some pretty attractive ideals, but that maybe about it. Time reveals, practice begets greed and, far from the Utopian state, the reality of it all amounts to the censorship of individuality and free speech (you know, in a really stripped-down kind of way). My Warwick experience this week was something like that.
I chose Warwick from the pile because it seemed to be the ideal kind of university – modern and directly challenging. I picked English because the course allowed me to study some truly relevant writers – the still-alive-and-kicking type. There’s actually quite a few of those. So, in my second year, being admitted onto one of the most contemporary modules was a big deal, a moment of triumph over classic literature snobbery.
Just a shame about the eau-de-communist musk in the air.
The group had formed a casual circle on cushioned seats, notepads out, book open before us. Then, in the middle of the discussion, a term, which I’ll just say was ‘humus’, cropped up, a term which could be seen as literally correct, but contextually inaccurate in the novel (certainly as the author had deliberately “Communism is not class-y” applied a different term). As I set about explaining this, having barely spoken a few words, I was silenced and patronisingly given the Oxford definition of humus.
I was so appalled that I froze and couldn’t defend my own position. I was wrong. I was slow. I didn’t understand the definition of humus, clearly. These were the impressions put across by the tutor. In reality, my opinion simply did not match his, and so I was ‘educated’ (humiliated).
And all of a sudden half the group was nodding along solemnly to his voice, taking sides, because that’s what you do when there is a definite authority in the room.
You can be sure this only made the humiliation worse.
What made my anger greater was knowing that English Literature, as a subject, is subjective, based on individual speculation. The type of subject in which freedom of speech should be most present. For a tutor to cut someone off, overrruling it because they favour their own, is not only rude, but unprofessional, it is their responsibility as shepard to be impartial, to show an example of acceptance – it’s sort of Spider-Man moral (with great power…)
Anyway, it really ticked me off, so I sat down with my hump and an oversize cuppa Joe and wrote about it.