Suspended Ferris Professor Defends Self In Interview
Dr. Barry Mehler was suspended by Ferris State University last week after an expletive laced presentation to his students went viral. In an interview with the student news site, he says his rant was misunderstood.
Mehler told the FSU Torch that his online speech to the students was part of a decades long show he gave to the students to intro his course, and was taken out of context.
In an exclusive interview, the first Mehler has given since being suspended by the Ferris administration, the embattled professor says it was not an unhinged rant that got him in to trouble but a show he has been giving students for students for over 20 years.
"...in the old days, I would walk into the class, I’d be right in front of you and I’d be so outrageously crazy that when students leave the classroom, they have to think, ‘What was that about? What happened?’” Mehler told the Torch.
Mehler says the idea is for students to get rid of some of their preconceptions about what they've been told.
“Students all walk into my classes and sit down knowing all kinds of things. My objective is to get them to think, how do I know all these things I know?” Mehler said.
That is the reason he starts each class with a Camel Cigarette commercial. Back in the day, everybody “knew” that smoking Camel’s was good for you, but today everyone knows that cigarettes are incredibly harmful. Mehler’s goal is to challenge his students to think about why they have the perceptions and conceptions that they do. He also added that when a student figures something out on their own, they remember it better than when they are simply handed the information.
The video also included profanity and Mehler telling his students that they are "vectors of disease", and that his grades were based on random chance.
Mehler says the profanity was but a small part of his show, and the disease angle is a legitimate concern for people his age (75), since elderly are dying the most.
“This is an issue that’s life and death to me. I’m not exaggerating when I say I’m terrified. Karen (his wife) and I have been in this home for two years now. We do not go anywhere, and we bring no one into our home. So now you want me to go stand in a classroom with 50 students, half of them unvaccinated, with a little mask on?” Mehler said.
Mehler added that he feels his name and reputation have been smeared, and he's also been receiving threats since the video has gone viral and gotten millions of hits online.
To his credit Mehler has kept the video up online, so you can see it in it's entirety below.
Dancing In Michigan, 1900-1940s