On Football and Other F-words in Mississippi

By August 12, 2010

It’s too bad Isaac Rosenbloom isn’t a football player, as Gary Pettus of the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, MS, would tell it. Pettus’ recent column amusingly compares the odysseys of Rosenbloom—recently cleared of disciplinary charges for swearing outside of class at Hinds Community College in Mississippi—and Jeremiah Masoli, the former University of Oregon quarterback who will be plying his trade at the University of Mississippi after multiple run-ins with the law led to his dismissal from the UO squad.

Torch readers know Rosenbloom’s tale by now: the student was removed from a course and found guilty of "flagrant disrespect" after he swore once after class. With FIRE’s help, Rosenbloom’s punishment was reversed and his Pell grant funding—which HCC’s punishment had caused him to lose—was restored.

As for Masoli, Pettus reports, the promising QB was suspended for a season after pleading guilty to burglary charges, then dismissed from the team for good due to an arrest for allegedly driving with a suspended license and marijuana possession. Off-field troubles aside, Masoli graduated from UO and, with his remaining year of athletic eligibility, plans to enroll in a graduate program in Parks and Recreation at Ole Miss. Since this program is not offered at Oregon, the NCAA’s usual yearlong residency requirement is being waived, meaning that within a few weeks we may see him starting for the Rebels.

Good for him, I say, if he is willing to go such lengths—following all proper NCAA regulations—to continue playing the game he loves, while also pursuing a graduate degree. And, were I a Mississippian, I might well be more concerned with the strength of his throwing arm than the strength of his character (though as both Pettus and another Clarion-Ledger blogger note, he’s hired a PR firm to help with some of that).

Pettus thus spies a bit of a double standard at work here:

Rosenbloom did not F-bomb his instructor directly. He was merely expressing his dismay to a fellow student as they left the class.

As for Masoli, he’s still young, and may deserve another chance. If you have children of your own, maybe you agree.

The problem is that this third, or fourth, chance came a little too easily, especially compared with Rosenbloom’s struggle.

Also, speaking of profanity on campus, I imagine that whenever Hinds, or any college, has a game, its players aren’t exclaiming, "Ye gods and little fishes!" whenever a linebacker pokes them in the eyeball.

It’s the priorities, the double standard, in this state that tempts you, every once in a while, to say, "What the H-word?"

Because the only F-word that really resonates here is "football".

Pettus’ last line is particularly nifty. Is there truth in it? Perhaps some. Is this an apples and oranges comparison? Maybe. Has Masoli had too many chances to shape up? Reasonable people can disagree. What matters to FIRE is that Isaac Rosenbloom has gotten the second chance he needed—though he should never have had to ask for one.

Hinds Community College, too, should be glad it got a second chance and is not currently defending its speech code in court. Hopefully HCC will make the best of it, though as David Mamet scripted in one of my favorite movies, 2000’s State and Main, "the only second chance we get is the chance to make the same mistake twice." Hopefully HCC will prove him wrong and do away with its unconstitutional policy.

Schools: Hinds Community College Cases: Hinds Community College: Student Barred from Class