The New Heresy and the Modern Inquisition

Main Article Content

Amardo Rodriguez


In this paper, I look critically at a new trend on college campuses regarding the banning of certain words, especially the biggest racial taboo word in the USA.  I contend that these new bans impede the rise of a dialogic, democratic, and pluralistic temperament, ultimately promoting and legitimizing violence as good and necessary.

Article Details

How to Cite
Rodriguez, A. (2021). The New Heresy and the Modern Inquisition. Dialogic Pedagogy: A Journal for Studies of Dialogic Education, 9, A74-A96.
Author Biography

Amardo Rodriguez, Syracuse University

Amardo Rodriguez (Ph.D., Howard University) is a Professor in the Communication and Rhetorical Studies Department at Syracuse University.  His research interest is in postcolonial theory.  His most recent book-length monographs, Communication: Colonization and the Making of Discipline and Notes From The Margins: Reflections on Regimes of Knowledge and Power, were published by Public Square Press.  He has also published papers in such journals as, Journal of Race & Policy, Journal of Latino/Latin American Studies, Cultural Studies/Critical Methodologies, and International Journal of Discrimination and the Law.  Prof. Rodriguez teaches in areas related to communication theory and inquiry.  He is also the Book Review editor for the Journal of Race and Policy.


Allen, K. (2020, September 11). Investigation into US professor sparks debate over Chinese word. BBC News. Retrieved from

Anton, C. (2007). On the nonlinearity of human communication: Insatiability, context, form. Atlantic Journal of Communication, 15, 79-102.

Bateson, G. (2000). Steps of an ecology of mind. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Bernstein, W. J. (2021). The delusion of crowds: Why do people go mad in groups. Atlantic Monthly Press. New York.

Bradley, D. (2014, July 15). Eulogy for nigger. The Quarterly. Retrieved from

Capra, F., & Luisi, P. L. (2014). The systems view of life: A unifying vision. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Derrida, J. (1977). Signature, event, context. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.

Dyson, F. (2000, May 16). Acceptance address by Prof. Freeman Dyson. Templeton Prize.

Flaherty, C. (2019, February 1). Too taboo for class? Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from

Flaherty, C. (2020, September 8). Failure to communicate: Professor suspended for saying a Chinese word that sounds like a racial slur in English. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from

Flaherty, C. (2021, August 31). Tracking attacks on scholars’ speech. Inside Higher Ed., Retrieved from

FIRE (2021, August 31). Scholars under fire. FIRE. Retrieved from

Ford, H., & Haney, A. (2018, July 27). Activists look to keep history alive through reenactment of Moore’s Ford lynching. 11 Alive. Retrieved from

Gates, Jr., H.L. (1993, September 20). Let them talk: Why civil liberties pose no threat to civil rights. The New Republic. Retrieved from

Glowacki, L. (2020, October 20). Students decry letter defending n-word at the University of Ottawa. CBC News. Retrieved from

Hanh, T. N. (1991). Old path white clouds: Walking in the footsteps of the Buddha. Parallax Press. Berkeley, CA.

Kakutani, M. (2011, January 6). Light out, Huck, they still want to sivilize you. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Kennedy, R. L. (2003). Nigger: The strange career of a troublesome word. New York: Vintage Books.

Kennedy, R. L. (2019, February 8). How a dispute over the N-Word became a dispiriting farce: Since when is reading James Baldwin out loud in class an academic crime? The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from

Kennedy, R. L., & Volokh, E. (2020, December 11). Quoting epithets in the classroom and beyond. Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 20-38. Retrieved from

Kononenko, I., & Kononenko, I. R. (2010). Teachers of wisdom. Pittsburgh, PA: Rose Dog Books.

Koppelman, A. (2021, January 19). Is this law professor really a homicidal threat?, The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from

La Grassa, J., & Aziz, T. (2020, November 1). Some students and faculty outraged after U Windsor prof uses N-word during class. CBC News. Retrieved from

Lorde, A. (1984). Sister outsider: Essays and speeches. Trumansburg, NY: Crossing Press.

Loury, G. (2021, June 27). The bias narrative versus the development narrative: Thinking about persistent racial inequality in the United States. Quillette. Retrieved from

Lukianoff, G., & Haidt, J. (2018). The coddling of the American mind: How good intentions and bad ideas are setting up a generation for failure. New York: Penguin Press.

Manyguns, L. (2021, August 30). Lower case as Indigenous evening support resistance. Mount Royal University. Retrieved from

Marshall, G. (2014). Don’t even think about it. Bloomsbury. New York.

McWhorter, J. (2019, August 27). The idea that Whites can’t refer to the N-word. The Atlantic. Retrieved from

McWhorter, J. (2021, August 24). The performative antiracism of Black students at the U. of Wisconsin. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Morin, A. (2017). 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Do Not Do: Raising Self-Assured Children. New York: William Morrow.

New, J. (2015, April 9). Film and free speech. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from

News Desk (2015, February 14). Copenhagen, speech, and violence. The New Yorker.

Retrieved from

News Staff (2020, September 11). Duquesne University Professor on paid leave after using racial slur during online class. KDKA-TV. Retrieved from

O’Connor, A. (2007, February 25). In bid to ban racial slur, Blacks on both sides. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Perry, A. (2018, August 21). Good teachers use the N-word. The Hechinger Report. Retrieved from

Richmond, V. P., & McCroskey, J. C. (2009). Organizational communication for survival. Boston, MA: Pearson.

Roy, N. (2018, December 18). The rise of mental health on college campuses. Higher Education Today. Retrieved from

Scales, A., Strossen, N., & Volokh, E. (2020, October 1). Letter regarding violation of Prof. Tim Boudreau’s academic freedom rights. Retrieved from

Schneider, C. (2021, June 24). Central Michigan professor driven from classroom after quoting racial slur in court decision. The College Fix. Retrieved from

Scranton, R. (2019, September 18). Narrative in the Anthropocene is the enemy, Stories won’t save you from ecological destruction. Literary Hub. Retrieved from

Singal, J. (2017, July 18). Stop telling students free speech is traumatizing them. Intelligencer. Retrieved from

Steinberg, S. (2006). Introduction to communication. Cape Town, South Africa: Juta.

Thayer, L. (2009). Communication! A radically new approach to life’s most perplexing problem. New York, NY: Xlibris.

Thayer, L. (2011). Explaining things: Inventing ourselves and our worlds. New York, NY: Xlibris.

The Echo (2018, November 30). Faculty respond to professor’s use of N-word by calling for institutional change around racial justice. The Echo. Retrieved from

Tully, T. (2021, May 3). Debate erupts at N.J. law school after White student quotes racial slur. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Volosinov, V. N. (1994). Language and ideology. In Janet Maybin (Ed.), Language and literacy in social practice (pp. 44-57). Tonawanda, NY: Multilingual Press.

Wood, P. (2017). The article that made 16,000 ideologues go wild. Minding the Campus. Retrieved from

Young, V. A. (2020, October). Banning the N-word on campus ain’t the answer—It censors Black professors like me. Caut. Retrieved from