It's fun to watch the tizzy at the famously liberal University of Texas-Austin over a new state law that will allow people with concealed-carry licenses to carry guns on public campuses. And the law won't even go into effect until 2017!
The latest: "Campus (Dildo) Carry," a creation of recent UT-Austin alumna Jessica Jin. According to Inside Higher Education:
Organizers note that the rules of the University of Texas at Austin appear to bar anyone from carrying on campus any "visual image" that would be associated with obscenity. So the idea is to strap "gigantic swinging dildos to our backpacks in protest of campus carry," according to a description on the group's Facebook page.
"The State of Texas has decided that it is not at all obnoxious to allow deadly concealed weapons in classrooms, however it does have strict rules about free sexual expression, to protect your innocence. You would receive a citation for taking a dildo to class before you would get in trouble for taking a gun to class," adds the explanation. (This is based on a university regulation barring conduct that would violate state law on obscenity.)
Jessica Jin, who graduated from UT last year, said via email that idea came from her outrage over Friday's shootings at two universities. "I was sitting in traffic yesterday listening to a discussion on public radio about the morning’s school shootings. I felt a lot of frustration at those who were still trying to explain away, or make excuses for, this repeated pattern of violence and said to myself, 'Man, these people are such dildos.' I couldn’t believe that people could still sit there and defend their own personal gun ownership while watching families mourn the loss of their children."
She said she then did some research and discovered that "it is indeed against UT policy to wave dildos around campus," and that, after that, "I just couldn’t help myself."
It didn't seem to occur to Jin that there one of the the two universities in question, Texas Southern, was already a gun-free zone, as was Umpqua Community College in Oregon, where 10 people were massacred on Oct. 1. Steven Jones, the 18-year-old freshman who shot and killed a fellow student at Northern Arizona University on Friday was too young to qualify for a gun-carry licemse in that state, where the minimum concealed-carry age is 21.
But the 24-year-old Jin's new project has certainly given her a chance to air all the fancy intellectual jargon she undoubtedly picked up during her years of classes at UT-Austin:
"Additionally, the dildo has proven itself to be interesting fodder for commentary on what our society does and does not consider 'obscene.' The narratives surrounding sexuality (or just dildos, in this case) and guns are more intertwined than one would expect …. They each have the power to masculate or emasculate at a moment’s notice …. Dildos and guns are in it together for the long haul. What's the ideal outcome? I need this proliferation of dildos to offer people a visual representation of what it would be like if we all carried guns. It should look ridiculous to you. That is the point."
And of course no social justice warrior has earned her stripes without a claim that wingnuts out there are trying to kill her:
The protest organizer, Jessica Jin, said she’s received death threats over the event and has alerted Austin police.
So far, though, no news outlet has reported any actual threats to Jin's life or limbs. The main reaction to her planned penis protest seems to have consisted of the usual social-media rudeness:
Jin’s private contact information has been made available online — a trolling practice called “doxxing” — and the Facebook wall has been host to statements like this from Ron Cox of Oxford, Mississippi: “I’m guessing that the organizer of this event is a huge slut. Should be funny to watch!”
“I’ve seen most of you trolls tromping around campus. If you took as much time taking care of yourselves as you do trying to make meaningless political statements, you may not need the dildos and could actually have a real, living penis waiting for you at home!” said user “Willie Nelson.”
Elsewhere at UT-Austin, longtime economics professor Daniel Hammermesh announced he was quitting the university out of concern for his safety–a full year before the concealed-carry law goes into effect. In a letter to UT-Austin officials, Hammermesh wrote:
"With a huge group of students my perception is that the risk that a disgruntled student might bring a gun into the classroom and start shooting at me has been substantially enhanced by the concealed-carry law…."
It should be noted that Hammermesh is already retired from UT-Austin anyway. I have a feeling that his dramatic departure won't affect his pension benefits.