Hating the ‘hate-free zone’

The Byronic Man recalls his academic career on Worst Professor Ever.

Grad school, year one: A professor puts up a “Hate-Free Zone” sign in the room. Okay, I’m all for meditation, and the concept of universal energy flow, but you know when someone, like, sends positive thoughts to AIDS-stricken regions of Africa, and believes this to be global humanitarianism on par with, say Doctors Without Borders? That’s all I can think about as I stare at the sign. Does the professor believe that racists will enter the room, see an object of their bigotry, then see the sign and figure, “Well, better change my ways”? Should we parachute in folks from the UN to post those around violence-plagued areas, and periodically bark at people, “Read the sign!”? Plus, the signs obviously don’t work, because I’m in the room, and I hate that goddamn sign.

After completing a master’s degree in English, he worked as a stand-up comedian. Byronic Man now teaches at the high school and college level.


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  1. Hey, that’s me!

    The kicker, connected to those ‘hate-free zone’ signs, was a couple of years ago when a student asked me to put up a “Safe Zone” sign in my room. I totally supported what they were advocating, but the sign made me cringe because I felt like ‘Of course my class is a safe zone! The notion that any classroom wouldn’t be a safe zone is insane! What does a sign have to do with it? Students either believe I’m “safe” or not!’

    But I respected the students, and accepted that it might be meaningful to someone, so I put up the sign, subduing my inner crank…

  2. Richard Aubrey says:

    Missed a teachable moment. As in “Grow up. Sheesh.”

  3. My thought, when reading that post, is that he was in the wrong school. I never had any of those experiences at the Jesuit college which I attended. When someone encounters things like that (especially after they have graduated and are no longer in danger of retaliation), you need to name names – schools and professors. Let it be known which schools are bastions of intellectual discussions, and which are a giant waste of time. Let the sun shine upon them, and let parents and students vote with their wallets from an informed position.