Unnecessary Roughness

palmbeachpost.com, Dec. 21, 2009

The Bad Witch is a teacher in the paying world, most of you already know that. I teach at an SEC Football School: WDE!

I can’t tell you how many times I have watched a game chanting, like Severus Snape, protecting my players against injury. It hurts to watch “my boys” take a hard hit.

Last year, we had an unbeatable team, but we also had a particularly rough defensive lineman. He was often accused of unnecessary roughness. Once, I told him he needed to go easy or he was gonna hit the NFL and wind up paying half his salary in fines.[1]

He told me, “I know, Dr. Momma, but he had my ball.”

Oh, son.

Yesterday’s game got me thinking. About unnecessary roughness.

According to Rule 12, Section 2, Article 8 in the NFL/NCAA rulebook, unnecessary roughness occurs when:[2]

  • a defensive player forcibly hits a “defenseless player’s head, neck, or face”
  • a receiver, after having completed a catch and “has not had time to protect himself, a defensive player is prohibited from launching . . . into him . . .”
  • a “player . . . grabs a helmet opening of an opponent and forcibly twists, turns, or pulls his head.”

On Thursday, I was called into my boss’ office to discuss a comment I made to a student that made him/her feel wounded: I was accused of unnecessary roughness.

This is in a time where teachers of my rank are facing job cuts, pay cuts, and benefits cuts along with loss of dignity, loss of respect from our tenured counterparts, and loss of cultural capital in an anti-intellectual society at the same time our course-loads are increased, our class-sizes are increased, and our curriculum is augmented to include things well outside our specialisms.

I told an affluent Business Major (I assume) that he (again, I assume[3]) had to do his own work, that I couldn’t do it for him. Nevertheless, I was out of line.

I lay bleeding in the ivory tower from a series of rough tackles and I was the one penalized fifteen yards.

No, go with me, fifteen yards is a good metaphor. I had to spend Friday justifying my heuristics. Ones entirely unrelated to telling a kid to do his own damn work (a concept which I always thought stemmed from an appropriate pedagogy, go figure). I’m a solid day behind in my game-plan. All I can do with the rest of the week – seven days until Samhain – is punt. Or Hail Mary.

I’d say I was defenseless when this student filed a complaint. I’d also say I was hit in the “head, neck, or face” – all Phrenological indicators of authority or intellect. I’d say, since this happened on the very day where I thought I had gotten myself caught up, that I was like a receiver “has not had time to protect himself” when this information was launched into me. So, yea, my head was “forcibly twist[ed], turn[ed], [and] pull[ed].”

My ire is further exacerbated because I went to grad school at this same institution and repeatedly received (customarily) scathing emails from two particular tenured professors. I think they had a “stock” of insults and would retrieve a sentiment from bin 1 and a sentiment from bin 2 and combine them to customize their response to students.[4]

One professor has a habit of cutting off students’ testicles. (Don’t worry ladies, if you don’t have testicles, she will find you a pair – likely from a former student – and surgically apply them. She will then proceed to cut them off at a latter date.) After she has castrated students, she will then force said student to fry his and/or her own testicles in hot oil in order to feed them to the incoming cohort of her *new baby* students. These newbies will be lauded and paraded as the epitome of brilliance. (Perhaps this is where she locates testicles.) Once they become addicted to her praise, she will eviscerate them. She makes grown people cry. Regularly. And, she relishes it. Loves the reputation she has given herself.

In the end, she gave me an A (a B on the paper – told me: “This paper earned an A but I’m giving you a B to make you humble” – or some rot – she does that shite). I walked away.


The other professor told me that I was not allowed to express my [feminist] opinions about Robinson Jeffers’ poetry because it flew in the face of generations of criticism.

She also didn’t like the way I talked about Tlazolteotl (“Eater of Sin”) in my reading of Confessional Poetry. I thought it was a brilliant match with Jeffers, a Southwestern poet who relished Aztec lore. (Apparently the idea had not been sanctioned by Harold Bloom.)

She also told me on another occasion that to use feminist theory in the criticism of Modernist American poetry was like using a blunt object to bludgeon a neurological patient.[5] Then she gave me a B.

In grad school, that’s an F.

I walked away from this one too.

Now I’m the teacher. Being told that, “Do y’own damned work,” is unnecessary roughness, after everything I’ve been through this year, is dispiriting. Have student skins grown so thin? Has the academy become Mother Molly Coddle? Have administrators become too lazy to stand up for their staff? Are we so easily replaced in this economy that it’s more economic to throw us under the bus in effort to keep the “paying customers” happy? Yup, yup, yup, and yup.

I think I’m walking away from the academy.

So here’s the Witchy part of the story.

I started this blog in October 2010, my posts were spotty at best. My life was a bit of a shambles but I loved my job. Looooooved it.

I “came out” in June 2011 and started posting more regularly. My life has changed because of it. Mostly for the better. OK, almost everything in my whole galldarned world is better. My family is better. My finances are better. My soul is way mo’bettah. My Bad Witch Twitter account exploded and I had to get three Facebooks to keep all of my worlds from colliding. (Now that I’m “out” I need to streamline them and it not as simple as you’d think.) Requests for training started rolling in and, for that reason, I founded The Open Path Training site. I have a Grove that’s about to open here in my hometown – Lords know what that will bring.

Everything is good. Except my job. I often come home in tears. As busy as I am and as many papers as I have to trudge through, I am procrastinating by telling you my extended metaphorical jeremiad instead. Point proven.

Do you think that it Seems like maybe God is trying to tell me something right now?[6] (Please click the link and read the footnote. You will be happy you did.)

So, Imma batten down the hatches and press through the rest of the semester and see what doors “magically” open up. Stay tuned Bat-viewers.

If you happen to find any extra energy lying around, say in the glove compartment of your car or between the sofa cushions, send it my way. I’ll shine it up and use it to get through the next few plays and, who knows, I may get a touchdown and a field goal before suffering another turnover. It’s going to be a rough third-quarter but Yule (and therefore the end of the semester) is a-comin’. I may not win this game, but at least we can keep the opponent from running up the score. This one won’t end by slaughter rule. I don’t think I can squeeze much more out of the metaphor so I’ll throw-away the pass. (Egad.)

Love and Light,



[1] He’s doing fine, BTW. And he racked up his first NFL tackle over the weekend. No penalties.

[2] Don’t get weird on me. I know that there are issues of facemask and helmets. It’s a metaphor. Go with me.

[3] Due to FERPA, teachers do not have the Sixth Amendment Right of Confrontation.

[4] Ever seen the Shakespearean Insult Generator? It’s like that: http://www.william-shakespeare.org.uk/a1-shakespearean-insults-generator.htm

[5] I actually laughed at that. She equated Modernist American poetry with someone who had a neurological disorder. I often wonder if she “got” her own joke.

[6] Watch the video. Ferreal. This is how The Bad Witch came to know all of the gods: hand-clapping, and dancing in the spirit. And a little guilt about sin on the side. OK, a lot.

Plus, The Color Purple is a great movie; the book (by Alice Walker) has it beat – hands down. And as far as I’m concerned, Shug Avery is the best Bad Witch I ever saw. Can I get an Amen?

“Maybe God is Trying to Tell You Something.” Crouch, Andrae, Quincy Jones, Bill Maxwell & D.Del Sesto. Original Perf. Tata Vega, Jacquelyn Farris & the Christ Memorial C.O.G.I.C. Choir.

6 comments on “Unnecessary Roughness

  1. Fabulous. Just got an email on Facebook from someone who read the blog (she knew me when I was Angie from the Pentecostal Block) and said: “You in church (plus Shug Avery) = http://youtu.be/APY4-7cwx8g

  2. Southern Kitchen Witch says:

    You know that’s my favorite scene. Show it to every class. Even sinners got soul.

  3. mrblack says:

    ouch, that’s too bad – kids have gotten soft these days. I was feeling the same thing with my job a couple of months ago so you know what, I quit and I couldn’t have been happier. 🙂

    • Here’s the thing Mr. B., I don’t even blame the kids. Path of least resistance, right? If it’s easier to moan about a teacher than it is to do good work and still achieve the same grade, that’s what gets done. I’m just not so sure this was the easier path – they just don’t know it.

  4. […] The Wyrd Sister has had over 1200 visitors as of my writing this blog. By the time she turns a week old (tomorrow), she will have shown me that I have options for supporting myself and my family that do not involve enslavement to the Order of the Academy. (See “Unnecessary Roughness.”) […]

  5. […] was traumatic and I shifted my interest to film. (I talked about it more than I should have in  Unnecessary Roughness.  So, I’ve already said too […]

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