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Steve Patterson on Ed Meek: Political correctness or political cowardliness?

Ed Meek Ed Meek, long time Ole Miss supporter and benefactor, now embroiled in controversy.
“Some people’s idea of free speech is that they are free to say anything they like, but if anyone says anything back, that is an outrage.” –Winston S. Churchill
“An unconditional right to say what one pleases about public affairs is what I consider to be the minimum guarantee of the first amendment.” –Supreme Court Justice Hugo L. Black

Steve Patterson

I’m no psychologist. In all likelihood some readers of my occasional opinion pieces would insist that I, myself, should seek treatment from such a trained professional. And that I should do it soon and often!

Nonetheless, permit me to offer a psychological diagnosis, based upon my having earned a gentleman’s C in introductory psychology, having read several psychological thrillers and having seen the movies “Psycho” (twice) and “Silence of the Lambs” (at least a dozen times).

The leadership of the University of Mississippi, in my view, has lost touch with reality. Ole Miss, my beloved Alma Mater, is suffering from a serious case of paranoid schizophrenia. Ole Miss cannot be content with repenting its past and accepting forgiveness for past sins.

Rather, it continuously hallucinates about daunting, frightening nightmares, in the fashion of Charles Dickens’ Christmases past.

The scars and stains of racism are deeply embedded throughout American society. Ole Miss does not own a monopoly! When will the ugly past of racial bigotry, which has rightly plagued our school for generations, be relegated to historical memory?

The recent brouhaha over the social media post by longtime Ole Miss promoter, Ed Meek, lamenting the violence, drunkenness, and overall chaos on Oxford’s square after the Alabama football game should not be condemned, but embraced. His post is a call for law and order on the Oxford square. Absolutely nothing in the post’s language could possibly be construed to have racial connotations. Mr. Meek’s only transgression seems to be the addition of photographs of two attractive young ladies who happen to be of African-American heritage.

Someone says they are offended by Ed Meek’s post. That triggers the social media mob to attack him with their digital torches and figurative pitchforks! In response, the university administration has a fear-induced apoplectic seizure, and seems to join the lynch mob.

We can all question the wisdom of including the photographs, but to elevate it to some kind of racially insensitive missive that represents a festering, bigoted infection in the entire community is absurd.

Racism is wrong. We should never deny that it exists. It does. Wherever and whenever we find it, we must challenge it. Education is the best vaccine against racism. Yes, even an Ole Miss education! Racism is a sure sign of ignorance. Ed Meek is not ignorant.

I don’t know Mr. Meek personally. Over the last four decades I met him socially on a few occasions. We do, however, share several mutual friends. They assure me that he is an honorable, decent, intelligent man. And definitely not a racist. No one can quarrel with his love and devotion to Ole Miss. I genuinely feel sorry for the seventy-eight year old gentleman.

Ed Meek

Meek School of Journalism and New Media, University of Mississippi

The school of journalism at Ole Miss is named for Mr. Ed Meek – The Meek School of Journalism and New Media. He and his wife gave the university $5-million to cover the cost of founding the journalism school. Now, the university, and Mr. Meek himself, are asking that his name be removed, as a result of the uproar over his innocuous post.

What kind of signal would it be for today’s aspiring journalism students, if their school looses its name over the posting of two truthful photographs? What does it say for the First Amendment? And what does it say for a paranoid schizophrenic university that will abandon one of its most loyal alumni out of irrational fear?

Since when did truth become insulting? Since when did institutions of higher learning cease to be bastions of free speech defenders?

Sadly, today we are living in an era of weaponized “sensitivity.” We see examples every day. In today’s psychologically challenged society, folks seem to strive to elevate themselves by finding something to be offended about. Anything qualifies: language, dress, looks, beliefs, any and every damn thing can be offensive to some folks. Including using the word damn!

This hyper sensitivity and political correctness, in its myriad forms, is insidiously and inexorably choking American society, diminishing our freedoms and corrupting our values, rights and principles.

Enough is enough! Political correctness allowed to run amuck is nothing less than euphuism for political cowardliness. Surrender is always easier than standing and fighting the mob.

The anthem of the civil rights movement was: “we shall overcome, someday.” The question today is when will that “someday” come for the University of Mississippi?

Perhaps, as with many things, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sums up this situation best: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

In my view it would be a travesty of justice to embarrass Mr. Meek further.

Find the courage to do the right thing in spite of popular opinion.

If Mississippi and Ole Miss had found that courage years ago, we would not be facing this foolishness today. Do not drink from this cup of politically correct poison!

For a rant on the Ed Meek story:

4 Comments on Steve Patterson on Ed Meek: Political correctness or political cowardliness?

  1. Andy kenton // September 25, 2018 at 6:54 PM //

    If the alumni that puts money in the university stop giving money to the collage and let ole miss figure out how to find it on there own just maybe they change there way of thinking I’ve live in this town all my life and I know mr meek for years and have fished with him he is by no means a racist he is the most kind gentleman you ever meet .the square has gotten out of hand on game day weekends and other times people all out in the streets I guess when someone kid gets run over or killed on the square maybe then something will be done

    • Rebecca Lyons // September 27, 2018 at 4:20 PM //

      Thank You for stating the truth, I do not know this man, but he has given 5 million to Ole Miss, now he is being shamed for speaking freely the truth, he made no racist comments. After seeing the banners hung from railing that weekend, I was ashamed of Ole Miss period and then the issue with Mr. Meek. I am through, so let the so called righteous students and university find a way to fund their studies and causes. Prayers for Ole Miss students, Oxford square and board members they need them.

  2. Chuck Raney // September 26, 2018 at 8:50 PM //

    I have known this man most of our lives. Shame on the University and Shame of the City for allowing the truth to be turned into racism. This is not even political correctness gone nuts but just a case where idiots think they know what the ultra liberals will say or maybe protests in the streets which is what they become good at.
    I support Ed and no one has served the University and community better than he has. Alums should stand up and not let them get away with this.

  3. I too know Dr. Meek. He is a kind gentleman. In order for someone or something to hurt your feelings you have to allow it to happen. Ole Miss has hurt men feelings for the last time. I will no longer allow the University to hurt me.

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