I always knew I would be leaving academia one day, but I never expected that the parting blow would be delivered by way of medical tyranny.
After 18 years of helping college students learn how to write and think by showing them why and where they should seek truth and beauty and goodness, I lost my job because I would not permit someone—some nice nurse, no doubt—to stick a ridiculously long swab deep into my nasal cavity, right near my poor brain, and swirl it around in there so that a sample could be collected and tested for COVID-19. I could have avoided this weekly requirement if only I had taken a full round of experimental, gene-altering COVID injections—and the boosters, of course. Those were my only two choices: the weekly brain swab or the sketchy injections.
At least my dilemma was clear. And suddenly, so was my path. I did not know at the time where it would lead, but I felt a great calm about where to put my feet, one step at a time. It even occurred to me that this unpleasant road, however unjust, might somehow be transformative … in a good way.
Because I declined to participate in either side of the medical ultimatum offered by my employer, I was fired, though not instantaneously. The time from when I was first warned about getting the boot if I did not cooperate, until the boot finally swung into its actual kicking motion, was about three months. It was a long, slow firing, during which I was suspended from my duties without pay. My employer had lots of boxes to check, lots of repetitious requests to verify whether I really and truly understood that I was in noncompliance with Policy #1446, and lots of reminders of how serious were my transgressions.
For my part, I spent those final months trying (and failing) to get a religious exemption and pointing out to my employer the shaky legal grounds of using medical coercion on its employees. In the end, neither of us could convince the other, and I was out the door (although, unvaxxed and untested as I was, I had already been prohibited from setting foot on campus for a long time prior).
While all this was happening, I kept thinking to myself that there must be others in the state-college system going through this same experience. Thousands of faculty members were given the same ultimatum as I; surely there were at least a few dozen, if not a few hundred, who would simply not go along with it.
I was wrong.
Near the end of the debacle, a friend who spoke to someone with knowledge of the statewide landscape said that my case was the only one. As I have thought about it since, however, I wonder how many faculty did not wait to get fired, but simply walked away. How many might have been near enough retirement to let this mandate be their nudge? And how many more might have felt that, for financial reasons, they simply had no alternative but to comply, even against their own better judgment?
Sometimes I wonder whether these totalitarian COVID policies, especially in academia, are not just an efficient means for leftist institutions (which is nearly all of them!) to either purge or subdue their problem professors—those who balk at yet another session of “diversity training” wherein they will be informed of their unconscious micro-aggressions against any and all groups that self-identify as oppressed, those who are dismayed by the coercive power of agenda-driven accrediting agencies whose periodic stamp of approval is necessary to receive continued funding, those who resist the relentless pressure to include false and immoral ideas in their course curricula.
Although there are indeed some fine teachers left behind enemy lines, academia is occupied territory. The rejectors of truth and reality have infiltrated, pseudo-mated, and proliferated. The result is an illusory world of self-important virtue signaling where both the sign and the signifier are untethered from creation as it really is. I’ve known this for years, maybe for my entire career, but it took a COVID mandate, a coercive act of tyranny, to help lead me out of that place. For that I am grateful.