Berkeley Instructor: ‘Rural Americans’ Are ‘Bad People Who Have Made Bad Life Decisions’

November 12, 2019 Updated: November 12, 2019

An instructor at the University of California-Berkeley stirred anger after he called Americans who live in rural areas “bad people” who deserve “uncomfortable lives” on Twitter.

Jackson Kernion, according to his website, has been teaching multiple philosophy courses as a graduate student instructor at UC-Berkeley since 2013. In the now-deleted Twitter post published on Nov. 5, Kernion explained why he thought it is plausible to shame rural Americans.

“I unironically embrace the bashing of rural Americans. they, as a group, are bad people who have made bad life decisions,” Kernion wrote. “Some, I assume, are good people. But this nostalgia for some imagined pastoral way of life is stupid, and we should shame people who aren’t pro-city.”

Before turning to critique the rural American lifestyle, Kernion wrote in another post about affordable healthcare for rural Americans. He said he believed it would mean they have to be subsidized by “those who choose a more efficient way of life.”

“Rural healthcare should be expensive!” he wrote. “And that expense should be borne by those who choose rural America!”

“It should be uncomfortable to live in rural America. It should be uncomfortable to not move,” he added.

America’s rural communities, which tend to be older and poorer than urban areas, usually face more challenges than their urban counterparts in accessing health care, internet, and other services. 

A survey conducted by Harvard’s School of Public Health, NPR News, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reports this May that four in ten rural Americans have encountered problems affording medical bills, housing, or food in the past few years.

Kernion tried to back his points with economic arguments about not making rural life “artificially cheaper.” Still, it didn’t take long for that discussion to escalate into shaming the rural American population.

The next day, Kernion wrote on Twitter in what appears to be an apology that he “made a bad post” and would “reflect on it.”

“My tone is way crasser and meaner than I like to think I am,” he wrote. He eventually deactivated his Twitter account altogether.

UC-Berkeley has yet to make any response regarding the internet backslash.

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