by Kami Cornwall
Today I had an experience that caused me to pause. Actually I was reeling. I was in an ethics class for Graduate students working toward a Master's or PhD in Counseling Psychology. My professor used the word, "charlatan" in a sentence.
I overheard the following whispered conversation:
"I love that word - Charlatan."
"What does that mean?"
"It means...like...fake. You know...like...Joseph Smith was a charlatan."
"Joseph Smith. You know...the Mormons."
"I know, right? Soooo weird."
*more snickering and phrases down on a notepad to each other.*
I felt a wave of anger/shock/frustration sweep over me. A million words piled up behind my lips but I fought, instead, to focus on what my professor was saying. I wanted to explain thing, but then I didn't. I know everyone is entitled to their own opinion and she didn't know much about the subject.
But here, now two hours later, is the big question and especially for those who are supposed to be culturally sensitive to people of all races, cultures, and religions - couldn't she have thought of a better sentence to use the word in? I looked up "charlatan in a sentence" online and the example they gave was, "the magician was so bad, everyone knew he was a charlatan." Simple enough, right?
Would her comment have had the same impact if she had said, "you know...like...the Pope is a charlatan?" or, "you know...like Muhammed was a charlatan?" Is it still funny if we choose a Jewish prophet? Then why is it funny to poke fun of the Mormons? Are we really that "weird?" Considering she didn't even know there was one in the room...I'm thinking maybe my "weirdness vibe" might not be very strong. But then again, maybe I'm just a charlatan.