Letter to the editor

On the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 6, my office in Clemens Hall was found defaced with the phrases “Fuck Peter Clavin,” “Pussy,” “Bitch,” “Fagboy,” and “your class sux” scrawled on my door and a small cartoon of the late poet Amiri Baraka ripped off and tore into pieces. As much as I appreciate The Spectrum for shedding light on this despicable act I feel as though I’ve been misrepresented on at least one crucial point. For the record:

#1) “He was puzzled as to why his office was targeted with homophobic slurs, rather than racial ones.”

Not so. I’m not puzzled why there were homophobic slurs. My first clue into this mindset involves the concept of “toxic masculinity.” Look it up if you’re unfamiliar. If you have children or actually just care about human life in any form I urge you to do so. I informed the reporter that I teach studying popular culture, history, and politics (via music and literature &c &c) through a class, race, and gender lens – and that I identify as a feminist and teach the class firmly intent on shining a light on these oppressed perspectives. It’s why I proudly wear my “No Feminism, No Future” t-shirt because I believe it is the only sustainable path forward collectively as a truly just society. With all of this mind, I clearly understand how being a male feminist represents a threat to the social of things as it stands in the United States in 2016 “worthy” of homophobic hate speech on my office door.

#2) “Deputy Chief of Police Joshua Sticht…said UPD is currently trying to meet with Clavin to further the investigation.”

Once more, not so. UB’s campus police only ever reached out to me after The Spectrum contacted them (Tuesday, Sept. 13, or a full week after the incident was reported to them by the Transnational Studies Department). It was only on that day they reached out to me via telephone to inform me that I needed to come to the station to file a report. Upon my arrival to Bissell Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 14, I found out this visit was made under deliberately false pretenses. There was no reason for me to go there except for being directed over the telephone that, as the victim, I needed to file a report – which was false. I apologized then to the investigator on Tuesday for not contacting them directly and yet this same investigator told me in person the following day that he was “mistaken,” and that no police report had to be filed by me.

Viewed in this light, this visit served only as opportunity for me to be chastised for “going to the media,” and that “it wasn’t productive” to do so because “all they’re going to do is spin it.” Furthermore, they pressured me to give up potential student names despite the unethical nature of expecting me to identify a “suspect” through classroom interactions and anonymous departmental review forms. Is this how the University Police routinely conducts criminal investigations? Most importantly, why was I called in? To help with the “investigation” or rather to be bullied into giving up some of my student names? To be chastised for publicizing it? To save face for the fact that UB police reached out to exactly no one, beginning with myself, along with the UB administration only until after they were made aware that the Spectrum was publishing a story on this incident – one week after my department had filed the initial report? Why didn’t the UB police department contact the administration? Was that my job or theirs?

I’m puzzled only by the fact this hasn’t happened already what with the increasing amount of vitriol interjected into popular U.S. discourse. My neighbor has a bumper sticker on their car that reads “Trump that Bitch” and I’ve seen an alarming and increasing amount of confederate flags flying freely in my travels this summer adorning houses, garages, and flatbed trucks from Buffalo to Baltimore.

I’ll argue, not very difficultly, this can be directly attributed to the rise of Donald Trump as a presidential candidate for a major party here in the U.S.A. Trumpism as a phenomenon features almost exclusively the mainstreaming of classist, racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, misogynist and ableist hate speech/actions that “some” of these political leaders and their supporters relish in. Many Trump supporters, I’ll argue, are whipped into a frenzy by an exclusive capitalist class that marginalizes them as wage slaves (look up deindustrialization and Reagan’s providing tax breaks for corporations to move operations overseas) and then teaches them that people of color and feminists are your sworn enemies (go back & look up Bacon’s Rebellion). Trumpists then gleefully espouse support for “the people’s billionaire.” If you’re seriously thinking of voting for him I can only ask you do some soul-searching and urge you more importantly to read up on Convict Leasing, the Southern Manifesto, Reagan’s voting record as Governor of California, COINTELPRO, the War on Drugs, the Iran-Contra affair and Mass Incarceration just for starters. If you need any other research tips, please just ask.

Peter Clavin

Graduate Instructor of Transnational Studies