Death Threats for ‘Stomp on Jesus’ Professor

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The Florida professor who offended millions by allegedly making students “stomp” on a piece of paper with the word Jesus on it has broken his silence.


No doubt he’s got plenty of time for interviews now that, after a deluge of death threats, his university has decided to place him on leave.

The mid-March kerfuffle at Florida Atlantic University happened when the instructor, Dr. Deandre Poole, who taught an intercultural communications class, asked his students to write the word Jesus on a sheet of paper and then step on it. One Mormon student refused and was suspended by the university. Soon, outside protests came pouring in, including a scathing letter from Florida’s Republican governor Rick Scott. The school then apologized for both the disciplinary action and the professor’s exercise.

So far, we’ve had little but the student’s version of events to go on, but now Poole (photo) has told his side of the story to Inside Higher Ed.

And what do we learn?

• Far from being a Jesus-mocking heathen, Poole is a lifelong church-going Christian and former Sunday-school teacher who describes himself as “very religious.”

• The student exercise, Poole says, involved stepping (not “stomping,” as Fox News and others alleged) on the sheet of paper.

• The exercise was meant to demonstrate that some students would feel inhibited about stepping on something that 15 seconds earlier had been a random, insignificant piece of paper. This would give everyone an opening to discuss symbols and their meaning.

Written By: Terry Firma
continue to source article at moralcompassblog.com

28 COMMENTS

  1. Timely. I hadn’t heard of this until just yesterday. I was at an event and some guy was talking about this. He used it as a springboard to complain that all liberals were the most intolerant people on earth. I couldn’t give an opinion since I didn’t know anything about the story, though I did play devil’s advocate with free speech and university level teaching freedoms, which was not well received!

    Of course, this article makes much more sense. Thanks for posting it. I have something to talk about the next time see that person. I don’t mean to be rude, but I think that individual is a Dunning-Kruger “college alumnus”. I am very interested to see if his opinion will change when given contradictory evidence. I strongly suspect it won’t.

    Mike

  2. Whatever he said, the notion of free speech should be upheld in educational establishments. If he was trying to get his students to critically analyse their reactions to data/situations etc. then well done. I see nothing wrong in setting up a mind experiment like say, “To create paradise I need to fly this plane into a building and kill over 3,000 people – discuss”. He may have been trying to prove a concept alien to the thinking of most of us here, but what have we got to be afraid of in that?

    • In reply to #2 by Philoctetes:

      Whatever he said, the notion of free speech should be upheld in educational establishments. If he was trying to get his students to critically analyse their reactions to data/situations etc. then well done. I see nothing wrong in setting up a mind experiment like say, “To create paradise I need to fly this plane into a building and kill over 3,000 people – discuss”. He may have been trying to prove a concept alien to the thinking of most of us here, but what have we got to be afraid of in that?

      So you’d be ok if he put your picture there and had the students happily jumping up and down on it?

  3. Given the exercise was meant to demonstrate that “some students would feel inhibited”, why on earth was anyone suspended for refusing to participate? This would have been bad enough if it was a non-religious professor forcing people to act against their consciences, but the Christian angle just adds a whole new level of bizarreness.

    It reminds me of something one of my primary school religious education teachers made us do – he told us, in pairs, to each pull out one of our partner’s hairs. On another occasion, we were told to stand with our arms out-stretched, crucifixion-style, and to stand like that for as long as we could. Both of these exercises were meant to demonstrate how much Jesus would have suffered on the cross.

    Kind of a random anecdote, I guess, but maybe there’s a common thread.

    • I believe the student was suspended for behaving aggressively and threatening the instructor In reply to #3 by Jabarkis:

      Given the exercise was meant to demonstrate that “some students would feel inhibited”, why on earth was anyone suspended for refusing to participate? This would have been bad enough if it was a non-religious professor forcing people to act against their consciences, but the Christian angle just adds a whole new level of bizarreness.

      It reminds me of something one of my primary school religious education teachers made us do – he told us, in pairs, to each pull out one of our partner’s hairs. On another occasion, we were told to stand with our arms out-stretched, crucifixion-style, and to stand like that for as long as we could. Both of these exercises were meant to demonstrate how much Jesus would have suffered on the cross.

      Kind of a random anecdote, I guess, but maybe there’s a common thread.

  4. I wonder if when you write the name Jesus on a piece of paper, it becomes the literal embodiment of Jesus or just a symbolic representation. And does the same apply when the name of Our Lord is written on a medium other than paper.

    For example, the computer on which I’m composing this comment. I’ve written Jesus twice now… no, three times. Does this make my laptop holy? If I delete any of this, am I just killing Jesus… darn it, that’s four… all over again?

    I think I understand why so many people on this site write Jebus or doG instead of using the actual names: they’re just being cautious on the offchance that they’re wrong.


    I’ve heard a rumor that some people use the internet to look at images of unclothed members of the opposite sex in order to… well, I’m not really sure but I think it might have something to do with ess ee ex. I apologise for being so graphic.

    While it’s probably safe to say that no one who uses this particular website would ever debase themself by using Mr Berners-Lee’s creation for such horrid purposes, please do bear in mind that any act of onanism committed using a device on which Jesus’s (oh raspberries, that’s five) name has ever appeared will assuredly, if it turns out they’re wrong about God, earn the person ‘shaking hands with William Lane Craig’ a one-way ticket to the Hot Place.

    • *In reply to #6 by Nodhimmi: Flag-burning drove ‘em crazy 35 years ago but these days, its Jesus on the rail, ahead by a length coming down the backstretch (and the rider is layin’ on the whip so it hurts just right). *

      Speaking of symbolism- what if he had done the same with the Stars & Stripes?

  5. If you write the name of jesus on rice paper and eat it would it turn into the body of christ?

    Incidentally. Firefox spell checker showed an error when I type jesus and christ without a capital J and C.

    These christians get everywhere (another error)

    • In reply to #7 by HellFireFuel:

      Incidentally. Firefox spell checker showed an error when I type jesus and christ without a capital J and C.

      These christians get everywhere (another error)

      So does microsoft word. Bloody cheek.

    • I’m with you, I don’t capitalise christian, muslim or jew on the basis that they deserve no respect what-so-ever, but I do capitalise actual first names so I would have gone with Jesus. In my mind I’m saying Hesus just to give him some appropriate less whiteness!

      In reply to #7 by HellFireFuel:

      If you write the name of jesus on rice paper and eat it would it turn into the body of christ?

      Incidentally. Firefox spell checker showed an error when I type jesus and christ without a capital J and C.

      These christians get everywhere (another error)

      • In reply to #16 by alaskansee:

        I’m with you, I don’t capitalise christian, muslim or jew on the basis that they deserve no respect what-so-ever, but I do capitalise actual first names so I would have gone with Jesus. In my mind I’m saying Hesus just to give him some appropriate less whiteness!

        He was as brown as any other person born in that area 2000 years, sort of like a cross between Mel Brooks and Bin Laden. It was the middle ages British church that made him look like one of them.

  6. The USA can kiss its own ass goodbye. Its going down the pan. And its citizens are to blame for letting cynical politicised frauds and bigots use religion to fool the less intelligent portion of the population into a mass hysteria of fearful god praising stupidity.

  7. A Mormon student, who believes Jesus Christ is the brother Satan, begat by an alien overlord from planet Kolob who ascended to godhood through sex magic, takes offense at blasphemy?

  8. It is always interesting to compare different versions of the truth.

    From an article at the Christian Post http://www.christianpost.com/news/fla-university-puts-stomp-on-jesus-professor-on-administrative-leave-93009/

    “Last month, it was reported at various online outlets that Ryan Rotela, a junior at FAU, was suspended for refusing to participate in a class assignment from a textbook for an Intercultural Communications class titled Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach, 5th Edition.
    The assignment called for students to write the name “Jesus” on a piece of paper, put the paper on the ground, and stomp on it. Rotela told local media that he went to school officials to protest the assignment.”

    This article describes Poole’s “leave” in terms that make it sound as though he’s been banished from the kingdom. Don’t know which slant is more accurate.

    An earlier story, Dem Party official makes students ‘stomp on Jesus’ (subtitle is an unattributed quote ‘Gee, I wonder if the instructor would dare do this with the name of Muhammed’), WND (#), 03/21/13, http://www.wnd.com/2013/03/dem-party-official-makes-students-stomp-on-jesus/ provides the following quotation from the textbook, crediting Fox News. Fox introduces the material with their usual journalistic objectivity, “The lesson on bashing the name of Christ is included in a textbook titled, “Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach, 5th Edition.”

    “Have the students write the name JESUS in big letters on a piece of paper Ask the students to stand up and put the paper on the floor in front of them with the name facing up. Ask the students to think about it for a moment. After a brief period of silence instruct them to step on the paper. Most will hesitate. Ask why they can’t step on the paper. Discuss the importance of symbols in culture.”

    Maybe Mr. Morella, a Mormon, didn’t read the textbook or wasn’t listening carefully enough?

    (#) btw, WND strives for journalistic excellence and even provides “YOUR DAILY DOSE OF SPIRITUAL INSPIRATION” which today is from John 4:24.

  9. Christ they’re like wind-up toys aren’t they? I can understand the purpose of the exercise but as an experiment in human nature the results have far exceeded expectations.

    Shouldn’t somebody, not even an atheist (this lecturer would be ideal but he’s on the fatwa list now) point this out to them just how controllable they are? That just the suggestion of doing something entirely benign and at worst an act of symbolic aggression only, will switch them to “kill” mode.

    No wonder they’ve clung to their gun ownership laws so long. They know they’re all cold-blooded killers at heart just waiting for the go-ahead.

  10. It isn’t just “Jesus” on paper that is inviolable. I was taking a class in Yiddish, just because it was the native tongue of my late grandparents, and because I like languages, surely not for religious reasons. (Had to clear that up.) But even though this was a class given only for the language, a number of the grammar worksheets mentioned God, and the instructor told us that since they contained the name of the lord, when we were done with them, we should not just throw them away; we should return them to her so she could properly destroy them by burning. At least this guy in the Florida classroom had Jesus’ name written out. On these grammar worksheets they did what religious Jews do—they printed the conventional abbreviation (equivalent to “G-d). But even that was holy.

  11. J-E-S-U-S —-It’s just a character string, ofttimes denoting the proper name of someone who might be
    Hispanic. Is there no one on this planet with a name such as Jesus Ramirez, Jesus Martinez, etc……???
    Maybe even a Jesus Smith or a Jesus Jones by now!!!!!! Why, the hapless Chicago Cubs even had an
    infielder named Ivan DeJesus!!! And the way he played sometimes made the Chicago Sportswriters
    feel like putting him up on a Cross.

    It’s also an illegal 5 letter word in Words With Friends or Scrabble. But one SHOULD consider initiating a study
    of long words beginning with a “J” tile before competing seriously in this game, so maybe the thought of that name should be mildly construed as somewhat constructive, if only in a recreational vein!!!!!

    Forgive me,—I’ll go out to my garage now and get the pliers to pluck my tongue out from the insides of my cheek. It’s just a bit too warm here in Chicago now for me to get my hat and coat.

    • In reply to #17 by kidchicago:

      J-E-S-U-S —-It’s just a character string, ofttimes denoting the proper name of someone who might be
      Hispanic. Is there no one on this planet with a name such as Jesus Ramirez, Jesus Martinez, etc……???
      Maybe even a Jesus Smith or a Jesus Jones by now!!!!!! Why, the hapless Chicago Cubs even had an
      infielder named Ivan DeJesus!!! And the way he played sometimes made the Chicago Sportswriters
      feel like putting him up on a Cross.

      Do you think some of the Xtian employers of down-trodden illegal Mexican immigrants in the Southern US , might apply this “no-treading on Hesus” principle? – Or does it just apply to pieces of paper??

      • A-F-D,

        Let’s put it this way—if I owned a hacienda or even a small pueblo in a place like Mexico, I wouldn’t
        have a welcome mat at the front door with the word “HESUS” on it!!!!!!

        The Kid

        In reply to #20 by Alan4discussion:

        In reply to #17 by kidchicago:

        J-E-S-U-S —-It’s just a character string, ofttimes denoting the proper name of someone who might be
        Hispanic. Is there no one on this planet with a name such as Jesus Ramirez, Jesus Martinez, etc……???
        Maybe even a Jesus Smith or a Jesus Jones by now!!!!!! Why, the hapless Chicago Cubs even had an
        infielder named Ivan DeJesus!!! And the way he played sometimes made the Chicago Sportswriters
        feel like putting him up on a Cross.

        Do you think some of the Xtian employers of down-trodden illegal Mexican immigrants in the Southern US , might apply this “no-treading on Hesus” principle? – Or does it just apply to pieces of paper??

  12. Now let’s look at what America’s very own Taliban had to say when they contacted Poole.

    “One of the threats said that I might find myself hanging from a tree,” he said. [H]e has had some days that he did not feel safe at his home and so stayed elsewhere.

    Poole has been placed on paid leave because his safety could not be assured on campus.

    Yet again, the love of Jesus’ followers shines through bright and clear.

    Yes, the experiment far exceeded expectations. Poole unexpected created a modern performance art piece.

  13. My Dear Little Brother was, last I heard, head of the philosophy department at FAU, and so perhaps Dr. Poole’s boss — not sure. I had precious few teachers who challenged my assumptions (mostly just Mom), though that should be their primary interest. Using the word JESUS was, in my opinion, entirely appropriate for such an exercise because it is an ubiquitous (at least in south Florida) symbol with strong emotional attachment. I try to imagine what I would have done if I were involved in the exercise. I have no particular problem with ‘desecrating’ any symbol because they represent only what we ascribe them. I might have just sat at my desk and said, “That’s OK Prof — I get where you’re going, but this symbol has no meaning for me”.

    Were I asked to step on a picture of John Lennon or Nelson Mandella I might hesitate before remembering the point of the exercise, but I doubt it. The offended student seems not to have been able to overcome attachment to the value he gave the symbol, which is a perfect demonstration of Dr. Poole’s point.

    }}}}

  14. Disciplinary action? Are these little children at the university? I paid for my post secondary education and was treated like an adult. If I didn’t want to do something, I didn’t. Who cares? Reflect it in the mark and move along.

  15. If I put my Sherlock Holmes hat on, I have to say that this explanation by the professor cannot possibly be correct.
    1. Why would a student be dismissed for refusing? If the Professor was a wonderful Christian he would have understood the unease of the student about this matter and he said the exercise was meant to demonstrate that some students would feel inhibited about stepping on something that 15 seconds earlier had been a random, insignificant piece of paper. So he showed the inhibition. Why would he have a student expelled for showing an inhibition.?
    2. what educated man could possibly believe that people would not find this totally offensive. Suppose we used a picture of his mother instead, or of Martin Luther King.

  16. The bible even encourages questioning and examining your faith, so that as you become an adult you no longer have childlike faith. Anyone opposed to the professors actions obviously needs their faith and personality to mature.

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