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Thou shalt not criticize Republicans
February 15, 2005 2:43 PM   Subscribe

"80 percent or so of them (professors) are Democrats, liberals or socialists or card-carrying Communists." So says Ohio Senator Larry A. Mumper, who has introduced an "academic bill of rights for higher education," which would prohibit professors from "persistently discussing controversial issues in class or from using their classes to push political, ideological, religious or anti-religious views." The text of the bill is adapted from an organization founded by Marxist-turned-conservative activist David Horowitz. Similar bills have been introduced in other states. Is this a genuine attempt to foster "intellectual diversity", or a "trojan horse" to force universities to adopt a quota system for conservative professors?
posted by googly (130 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
This has problems on so many levels I don't know where to begin. First of all, it's laughable that this ass Mumper is calling this a "bill of rights" that basically is restricting free speech. I don't know how else to describe it. I'm not saying there aren't some professors that don't have a political agenda but so does just about everyone else kids are exposed to. I don't think at 20 yrs old, someone is unable to formulate value judgements based on a variety of sources. Does Mumper think these kids are a bunch of drones just believing anything said to them? I recall watching a bunch of drones fall for the WMD (cough) argument. Would I like to see some accountability as a result of the lies? Yes. Would I legislate them into silence because of it? Hell no, this is still America....I think.

"These are young minds that haven’t had a chance to form their own opinions," Mumper said.

OH but your legislation will make sure that path will be unfettered? This is insane.
posted by j.p. Hung at 2:59 PM on February 15, 2005


"card-carrying Communists"? wtf?

Are we living in the 50s or what?
posted by Windopaene at 3:00 PM on February 15, 2005


religious or anti-religious views

Ah college, that one place in the world where you are free to speak (a little bit, but not too much, but it better be more than nothing) about religion (according to some lawmaker in Ohio).

I believe that was my last institution's alma mater. Hell of a large shield though, when you convert it all to latin.
posted by mathowie at 3:02 PM on February 15, 2005


Where do I sign up for this card?
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:03 PM on February 15, 2005


I encountered a lot of extremely leftist professors in college (late 70s, early 80s) who didn't even pretend to be fair-minded. I occasionally took a hit or two for requesting they teach the course, rather than act as not even sub rosa agents provocateur.

That said, this bill is idiotic. It's inherently subjective, and thus unenforceable.

Moreover, it's also inherently non-conservative, because it flies in the face of ideas in open competition. It's Babbitry, when you get down to it. Noise and nonsense.

Which doesn't mean that the academy is largely left. It is. But legislation like this is simply silly, at best.
posted by 1016 at 3:06 PM on February 15, 2005


Give me that Orwellian reality tunnel please...my reality check seems to be bouncing.
posted by alteredcarbon at 3:06 PM on February 15, 2005


"card-carrying Communists"? wtf?

I second that. wtf? better yet: if only!
where do you get the damn card these days?
posted by matteo at 3:06 PM on February 15, 2005


You can't simultaneously foster intellectual diversity and supress it at the same time. This bill is newspeak for "supress the beliefs of intellectuals."
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:07 PM on February 15, 2005


Is this a genuine attempt to foster "intellectual diversity", or a "trojan horse" to force universities to adopt a quota system for conservative professors?

Well, having a balanced number of "conservative" and "liberal" professors by itself might foster "intellectual diversity", but suppressing anyone who is "persistently discussing controversial issues" will go much further in doing away with it.

Like levying fines on broadcast outlets based on "obscenity", enforcement of this would require a definition of "controversial". Somebody has to make that definition, and if they have the power to stop discussion of opposing viewpoints, well...there's your answer.
posted by davejay at 3:08 PM on February 15, 2005


Senator Mumper needs to be repressed himself. Or better yet, ignored.
posted by m0nm0n at 3:14 PM on February 15, 2005


which would prohibit professors from "persistently discussing controversial issues in class
What the fuck else are they going to discuss? That 2+2=4?
Granted, this would be news to quite a few undergrads, but universities are not primary schools. Not so far, at least.

Someone really ought to start making those cards. Better than the damn wristbands, at least.

On preview: Most of the professors are liberals because its the nature of their profession. To question established ideas, to come up with new, sometimes even revolutionary ones. To change things. They cannot be CONSERVATIVE. It's like asking football teams to have short skinny shy guys to balance out the hulks. Wtf?
posted by c13 at 3:17 PM on February 15, 2005


It's like asking football teams to have short skinny shy guys to balance out the hulks.

c13, we've had our differences before, but I consider that to be the PERFECT analogy. College is not trade school, and no one, I repeat, NO ONE will get through it without encountering ideas that they find offensive. It's just not the nature of the game.
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:22 PM on February 15, 2005


Where he said communist, I think he means liberals now or gays or not Republicans.

Yeah, how dare schools and colleges teach controversial subjects? How dare they discuss the Holocaust in an attempt to avoid ever having one happen again.

Senator Mumper (which rhymes with Mister Humper, funny that) is not, I hope, representative of the people of Ohio and I hope his dumbass is thrown out in the next election.

Now I'm off to the designers to start working on my Communist cards.
posted by fenriq at 3:23 PM on February 15, 2005


persistently discussing controversial issues in class

There go the entire philosophy and economics departments, with the rest of the fine arts, most of the social sciences and the law school following right behind.

Ridiculous.
posted by box at 3:26 PM on February 15, 2005


"80 percent or so of them (professors) are Democrats, liberals or socialists or card-carrying Communists."

True enough, given that it's an "or" list and it includes the category *Democrats*. What a great trick. His only mistake was not to just keep adding words: rapists, pedophiles.....
posted by TheWash at 3:27 PM on February 15, 2005


Most of the professors are liberals because its the nature of their profession.

I am not so sure I agree. After the tide started turning liberal (probably for the reasons you state) it became self sustaining. It would be quite difficult to march into many liberal schools today spouting conservative ideas and expect to win over a lot of friends toward tenureship. Regardless, the senator is attacking a nonexistent problem. If students can not make up their own minds by college they never will be able to. I think he just wants to keep up a drum beat which eventually will lead to more conservative professors getting appointed and tenured.
posted by caddis at 3:29 PM on February 15, 2005


I encountered a lot of extremely leftist professors in college (late 70s, early 80s) who didn't even pretend to be fair-minded. I occasionally took a hit or two for requesting they teach the course, rather than act as not even sub rosa agents provocateur.

Had the same experience and couldn't agree more, though I wouldn't want similarly opportunistic brainwashing/megalomaniacal Righties abusing their academic positions to make things "fair & balanced" either. I don't want my educators merging personal politics with academic lessons any more than I want politicians forcing Jesus down my throat. And discussing "controverial issues" is obviously not something to repress, though I doubt Mumper can get his head around that.

I wonder what Mumper has to say about Susan Rosenberg:
At Hamilton College--an elite liberal arts institution in Clinton, N.Y.--you can take courses in Roman civilization, Shakespeare and the "Emergence of Modern Western Europe, 1500-1815." All well and good. You can also take something called "Resistance Memoirs: Writing, Identity and Change." That last course--a month-long, half-credit seminar--is scheduled to begin next month. Its teacher is Susan Rosenberg, formerly of the Weather Underground.

Remember the Weather Underground? Its self-described revolutionaries, mostly middle-class, dedicated themselves to supporting radical black causes and tearing apart American society in the 1970s and early 1980s. In 1970, they blew up a townhouse when a bomb detonated prematurely and killed a few of their troops. Kathy Boudin, Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn and other high-profile members of the group spent the next decade or so running from the police and, some of them, continuing to pursue careers in criminal violence.


Though it sounds like Rosenberg withdrew anyway.

D'oh--I just stumbled on a letter about Rosenberg at Hamilton from, of all places, the aforementioned SFAF. Synchronicity.
posted by dhoyt at 3:29 PM on February 15, 2005


Smart "Liberals" want to teach, Smart "Conservatives" want to make money. This has alot to do with the foundational premises of modern day "Liberalism" and "conservatism".

When people argue about bias in fairly open, non-excludable institutions or systems, like academia, or perhaps Mefi, I often think that what they are really complaining about is the inability, or unwillingness of individuals who share similar ideas to participate in a meaningful way. Take for instance, Science. Those people whose beliefs are not validated by science, primarily because scientific results are directly contradictory with their beliefs, or there are precious few Creationist Scientists, tend to argue that science is biased against them. The scientists are "godless" and they have an agenda to secularize society. They do not participate in the debate they are attempting to refute.

The same thing is true with the concerns about bias in academia, or activist judges, etc. Why be a judge when you can be a more profitable lawyer? Is making alot of money worth defending some corporation that spilled a bunch of toxic chemicals?

Answer those questions, and then you'll understand why there are ideological differences among various occupations.
posted by Freen at 3:29 PM on February 15, 2005


Those people whose beliefs are not validated by science, primarily because scientific results are directly contradictory with their beliefs, or there are precious few Creationist Scientists, tend to argue that science is biased against them. The scientists are "godless" and they have an agenda to secularize society. They do not participate in the debate they are attempting to refute.

Agreed.
posted by caddis at 3:34 PM on February 15, 2005


Does this mean that a place like Bob Jones University would have to balance out its faculty with liberals?
posted by R. Mutt at 3:36 PM on February 15, 2005


This is a logical extension of what began with the "Patriot Act", as was foreseen over two years ago.

Wikipedia/Academic_Freedom.

This article says the fight is already all-but-lost: freedom of academic expression on American university campuses is already virtually dead."

This is also an interesting paper on Academic Freedom in the USA. The author concludes:
"In conclusion, academic freedom in the USA is a matter of internal policy at colleges and universities. Academic freedom in the USA is not a constitutional right belonging to professors. Academic freedom can be a contract right granted to professors by the administration of a college or university, but contract rights are privately negotiated, not imposed by the Constitution.

In saying that academic freedom appears to be an unnecessary concept in law of the USA, I am not expressing my personal opinion of what the law should be, but only what the law really is. In an utopia, a strong case could be made for giving the most intelligent and the most creative individuals adequate resources and freedom. But the USA is not that utopia.

ASIDE: There is a long history of discrimination against, and open contempt of, intellectuals in the USA, as documented in Richard Hofstadter's book Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (1963). This disdain for intellectuals even appears in common English-language phrases, such as "it is [only] of academic interest", which means that something is of no practical importance, or the image of a university community as an "ivory tower" that is disconnected from "the real world". In fact, experiments done by scientists and engineers in university laboratories are just as real as those done in industrial laboratories. Phrases like "academic interest" and "ivory tower" are only labels to denigrate and marginalize intellectuals.

posted by spock at 3:42 PM on February 15, 2005


...would prohibit professors from "persistently discussing controversial issues in class or from using their classes to push political, ideological, religious or anti-religious views."

Isn't evolution a controversial issue in Ohio?
posted by mr_roboto at 3:42 PM on February 15, 2005


Is this a genuine attempt to foster "intellectual diversity", or a "trojan horse" to force universities to adopt a quota system for conservative professors?
posted by googly

Is this a puzzled inquiry, or a rhetorical question?

posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:45 PM on February 15, 2005


Stepping back for the moment from the viceral reaction to the inane reference to "card-carrying communists" & what may appear to some as another attempt at Republican thought control, it may be worth a dispassionate discussion at what is at least in part behind this movement.

My stepdad taught Educational Psychology at Univ. of Tennessee for 23 years (1962-84) & had some perspective on some of this issue. By any measure he's what any here would classify (if we're grouping types) as a liberal Democrat - I don't think he ever voted Republican in his life - so his opinion had no conservaticve ax to grind. On numerous occasions he bemoaned what he saw as essentially the creeping takeover of academia by those who in the 60's would have been considered of the more radical fringe, who had co-opted the "system" through becoming tenured professors more or less immune from peer review or censure, and who he viewed as largely undisciplined & unprincipled academically who were there to espouse their own agenda. By censure I mean accountability for defending and justifying what they are teaching, not political censorship.

It may well be true that a plurality or majority of professors are Democrats, liberals or socialists - no big deal as long as they are conscientious and what they teach is CRITICAL thinking. This requires presentation and open discussion of the pros and cons of the various arguments of a position, not indoctrination.

Whether legislation is advisable or not, I think few would object to a prohibitition against professors discriminating against their students, and most would support the desirability of "free-flowing" debate. Such may be stifled, however, in an atmoshere in which students' exploration and presentation of thought is belittled by the teacher. This happens, overtly or covertly, with some professors, who are more concerned with political correctness than fostering inquiring thought. If professors, of whatever political persuasion, can't be relied upon to entertain free debate without applying their own value judgements on it, then it would seem there is cause for concern.

It's interesting to me that Joan McClean & Georgia Nugent's statements in the article can be read & interpreted in several ways, depending if you want to believe that (1) they are stalwartly defending academic integrity & freedom from political intrusion (in which case it would seem they would welcome free discussion of controversial issues) or (2) that as academic staff and administrators they are looking to preserve the status quo, which may have a darker underbelly than they are willing to acknowledge. Regardless, I think few would argue that open and free discussion on campus, unfiltered by political agenda or political correctness, and unstifled by threat of reprisal (expressed or implied) is what is desirable.
posted by Pressed Rat at 3:47 PM on February 15, 2005


Hmm, why would so many economists be critical of George Bush's fiscal policy, so many Arabists and political scientists critical of the war, and so many biologists upset about his stance on stem-cells and evolution?

There's really no question that these scholars have been turned left by Communists.... Or George Bush.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 3:50 PM on February 15, 2005


Most "higher education" puts a high value on teaching "critical thinking" as opposed to a particular ideology. Critical thinking is useful (for people of any ideology) in evaluating information regardless of the alleged ideology of that information or how it is presented.

Politicians make statements and sponsor bills in an effort to further their political careers. Ya'll realize that "Senator Mumper" is a STATE senator not a U.S. Senator, right?
posted by spock at 3:50 PM on February 15, 2005


This, if it actually passed, should be immediately struck down for being blatantly unconstitutional:

(G) Faculty and instructors shall be hired, fired, promoted, and granted tenure on the basis of their competence and appropriate knowledge in their field of expertise and shall not be hired, fired, promoted, granted tenure, or denied promotion or tenure on the basis of their political, ideological, or religious beliefs.

If religious organizations cannot hire professing members of their own faith for their schools, isn't this construed as state interference in religion?

If professors, of whatever political persuasion, can't be relied upon to entertain free debate without applying their own value judgements on it, then it would seem there is cause for concern.

And how, exactly, can that be regulated by law?
posted by tweak at 3:51 PM on February 15, 2005


everything 1016 said. i've been twisted and turned in both directions academically because i like economics a lot but also became very taken with critical theory and cultural anthropology. yes, legislation is idiotic and there's clearly more going on there than just a desire to foster openmindedness. that said, there ARE departments and faculty commonly that are very, very out of touch with the fact they likely alienate some of their students with, as 1016, their blatant acknowledgement of not even trying to be even handed. and frankly, this fits in for me with the whole "i'm pretty leftist too, but jesus, you're making even me see why a huge percentage of the population can't take us seriously." i do think it contributes to a backlash, which is unfortunate. how this will change though? i'm not sure. though, i will say the danger of the humanities market completely collapsing likely has something to do with the fact there's a lot of insular ivory tower "yes'm consumption is evil evil evil" etc coupled with embarrassments like the sokal hoax and together they lead to scary people like her and those she represents assuming higher education is a lot of "theoretical garbage." i don't agree with her, but i can see why people outside of its realm grow increasingly annoyed at the mystery of academia. my old boyfriend had a marxist professor who would give failing grades on papers and exams if you didn't agree wholesale with some of his beliefs (for instance, that orality is superior to written text, other culturally loaded issues). it wasn't a case of, "well you didn't give supporting evidence to refute my claim, and you didn't indicate you even heard my claim or the reasons i cite for it." you could do those things, and you'd still fail.

i had a prof who was basically lecturing in retaliation to profs like my ex's. my experience and his was that no one's hearing anyone else or learning how to hear anybody else and debate in a civilized, intellectually rigorous manner.

education isn't about herding sheep into an echo chamber and telling them to ignore any other message and dismiss everyone else as "uninformed," whether the chorus is left or right.
posted by ifjuly at 3:51 PM on February 15, 2005


"card-carrying Communists"? wtf?

I second that. wtf? better yet: if only!
where do you get the damn card these days?


Right here. You also get a button!

This happens, overtly or covertly, with some professors, who are more concerned with political correctness than fostering inquiring thought.

From my experience, the college participants with the biggest "agendas" were students of all political stripes, and they wasted more of my time in class than any professor ever did.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:56 PM on February 15, 2005


i'm with freen....i go to Umass amehrst, in the super liberal pioneer valley, and the buisiness and management schools are still heavily conservative. the poli sci is right down the middle. social sciences and arts are full of us commies. suprising?
posted by es_de_bah at 3:56 PM on February 15, 2005


On the other side of the fence, I know of a Biology Professor who found herself censured for taking an anti-GMO stance based on a very well arguable position. She didn't engage in hysteria, but foresaw the result of last year's British environmental impact study that found GMOs result in increased use of pesticides and herbicides rather than a shift towards friendlier agricultural practices.

There is a heck of a lot you can do within a university to make a person miserable even with tenure. Start with no graduate students, no grants, no higher-level courses, and a tiny office located in a separate building from the rest of the department. I was suprised she stuck it out for more than 10 years.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:58 PM on February 15, 2005


If religious organizations cannot hire professing members of their own faith for their schools, isn't this construed as state interference in religion?

As written, it covers only "state institutions of higher learning". It has no effect on private colleges and universities.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:03 PM on February 15, 2005


It would be quite difficult to march into many liberal schools today spouting conservative ideas and expect to win over a lot of friends toward tenureship.
But caddis, universities are not social clubs. It should not matter if you win friends in the first place.

Secondly, if I went to a physics seminar and started talking about aether turbulence or some such, would you find it surprising that my reception would be less than warm?
So why should we waste time discussing creation (for example)? AGAIN?
To reiterate, yes, free-flowing discussion is good, but people are also interested in moving forward. So they get impatient when someone brings up something that was discussed and dismissed long ago.
posted by c13 at 4:04 PM on February 15, 2005


Is this a genuine attempt to foster "intellectual diversity", or a "trojan horse" to force universities to adopt a quota system for conservative professors?
posted by googly

Is this a puzzled inquiry, or a rhetorical question?


Its a rhetorical question, and a way of framing links to two opposing views on the topic. Mostly, its a way of highlighting the Orwellian nature of the language that is being used here. If one reads the text of the bill on its own, without knowing who wrote it or where it came from, then it almost seems reasonable - after all, who doesn't support academic freedom? But its also clear that Mumper (and others) see this as a means for censoring political beliefs that they disagree with.
posted by googly at 4:08 PM on February 15, 2005


Pressed Rat, as reasonable as your response is, I still believe that there shouldn't be any legislation regarding this, and the government has no business sticking their nose in it. To me this is like legislating what kinds of pants are allowed to be worn. Talk about communist..... Is that the kind of "prohibition" you are talking about? Your last sentence makes no sense. I think most most would argue that those things are indeed desireable.
posted by Eekacat at 4:08 PM on February 15, 2005


There needs to be an 'airwaves' bill of rights. Too many soft headed people with 'unformed minds' listen to talk radio and all they get is the Fascist (communist?) view point.
posted by UseyurBrain at 4:09 PM on February 15, 2005


ifjuly, I am a very happily married man, but were I a single fellow, I'd buy you coffee or whatever tomorrow, wherever you may be.

I am conservative in my approach to life. I take the
Falkland imperative, whiich says taht "If it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change" very seriously...note that it does not preclude change, only that unexamined change is perhaps unwelcome.

It doesn't mean slavery was wrong.

Or that racial discrimination was wrong.

Or that management abuse of workers was wrong.

It means only that the need for change is eternal, and that any attempt to stay it is doomed. But, and a big but this is: that unneeded, rash, unthought out change is usually worse than none.

Joseph Shumpeter, for anybody who thinks consevervatives and capitalists are stuck in time:

"Capitalism is by nature a form of change and never is, never can be, stationary."

Warm hugs from a righty, ifjuly. Hope you don't mind.
posted by 1016 at 4:09 PM on February 15, 2005


tweak--

I'm not advocating regulation by legislation - if I came across that way it was not my intent. What I am interested in is my kids being taught HOW to think, not WHAT to think.

While we're at it, however, taken at face value what's wrong with:

"Faculty and instructors shall be hired, fired, promoted, and granted tenure on the basis of their competence and appropriate knowledge in their field of expertise and shall not be hired, fired, promoted, granted tenure, or denied promotion or tenure on the basis of their political, ideological, or religious beliefs."

and how is it unconstitutional?

(as an aside, aren't parochial institutions exempt from somwe of the restrictions on pblicly funded schools & on that basis can't they hire who they want?)

Again the real issue doesn't seem to be the requirement, but how it's administered & by whom & how fairly.
posted by Pressed Rat at 4:12 PM on February 15, 2005


It would be quite difficult to march into many liberal schools today spouting conservative ideas and expect to win over a lot of friends toward tenureship

Horseshit, except maybe at some liberal arts colleges or backwater institutions where tenure isn't based on meaningful production of anything. There, where tenure isn't based on relatively explicit standards of academic production, you might find it, but there you'd likely find tenure being granted and denied for all sorts of stupid reasons.

Look, I teach polisci, a field where conservatives aren't exactly thick on the ground (except for political-philosophy people from Chicago), and at, well, it ain't Harvard.

Why would I or any other colleague possibly give a shit what a new colleague's political beliefs are? I care about how useful someone is to me, and to the rest of the folks. If my colleague thinks like me, that doesn't get a class taught that I can stop teaching because I don't like it. If my colleague thinks like me, that doesn't help me coauthor a paper. If a colleague thinks like me, he's no less or more a resource than otherwise. Whether or not I agree with someone is tiny potatoes compared to whether or not they're useful to me.

The only place where this would come into play is that if it can be avoided, you don't want to have an office next to an asshole -- of any political persuasion -- for the next 30 years. I suspect strongly that in the few anecdotes of people being canned "for their beliefs," they're actually being canned because they spent all their time blogging about stuff instead of getting articles written or otherwise being useful, and/or because they're insufferable assholes.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:19 PM on February 15, 2005


All of those things were, of course, wrong, hideously wrong...which is my point...some people thought otherwise during the day...and others, not so much..."conserving" the status quo is not all of what conservatism is about...it's about, for me anyway, conserving human dignity and promoting a culture of life.

Just by way of clarification.

And, I realize my name is a bit ambiguous...for anyone who cares, it's "ten-sixteen", not any other likely variation thereon.
posted by 1016 at 4:23 PM on February 15, 2005


Yes, 100% of current US presidents are Republicans or paedophiles.
posted by Wataki at 4:27 PM on February 15, 2005


Haven't you guys heard? The incredibly beleagured radical underdog conservatives, who only control ALL THREE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT, feel that they're under seige from, get this, college professors. So they bitch and moan about how liberal colleges are and how they're hotbeds of Marxism, blah blah blah and it really just lets them feel like they're being attacked. The conservatives, that is.

When in reality they're just looking for an adversary. Someone they can rail against.
posted by bshort at 4:28 PM on February 15, 2005


Freen, that was (bookmarkably) insightful.
posted by notsnot at 4:32 PM on February 15, 2005


I think the "bill" is a provocation disguised as a bill (you know, like contracts, full of legalese even when no legal reference is actually needed) and designed to polarize and divide.

The "article" that seems more revealing to me is the following

D) University administrators, student government organizations, and institutional policies, rules, or procedures shall not infringe the freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and freedom of conscience of students and student organizations.

That's loaded with appeals to freedom ; it's interesting, all the above should not be free to infringe on others freedom, but are students expected not to infringe on the respective rights of the above institutions ?

It's the classical appeal to students, to revolt against the oppressive academia who took away all their freedom !@# Academia ate my balls and then some ! That's not ALWAYS the case.

It's the same demonization, liberals did that, republicans did the other, baby Jebus cries, baby Budda cries more.

There's also the following which is a riot :

Knowledge advances when individual scholars are left free to reach their own conclusions about which methods, facts, and theories have been validated by research

WHAT ? They already are free to reach their own conclusion, as much as they want ! That doesn't mean they have a right to have all the others agree with their conclusion. Also researching a topic isn't like putting a stamp on it and saying "this is the WORD of God Research, BEHOLD !

It's pure insanity disguised behing a glassing of nice appeals to freedom...it quite disgusts me.
posted by elpapacito at 4:33 PM on February 15, 2005


"persistently discussing controversial issues in class or from using their classes to push political, ideological, religious or anti-religious views."

First of all, isn't one of the primary points of education to come up against contrary or unusual points of veiw and think your way through them?

Second of all, like all people who want to restrict speech, he dosen't seem to realize that it cuts both ways. How's he gonna feel when some far right guy is called to the mat for being controversial?

Also, Horowitz was a putz as a leftist and he's a putz as a neo-con. He's got a lot of putzish qualities is what I'm saying.
posted by jonmc at 4:35 PM on February 15, 2005


NTM, even as a kid I always found debates about "what to teach our children" a little insulting. It assumes that we all believe everything we're told and are unable to formulate our own beliefs.

And if you are too stupid or lazy to do that, well, then you get the world you deserve.
posted by jonmc at 4:42 PM on February 15, 2005


The damage has already been done. Yesterday the ROTC boys stood at the back of the class and shouted down the only two minority students in the classroom when they tried to defend Barak Obama. The class is PSCI 341- Politics of Sub-Saharan Africa. The prof lost it and started crying. I couldn't believe it.

These two jarheads were so pumped up on the O'Reilly factor that they actually believed they were the victims. They claimed, "This class is impossible for us to pass because we're not black, and we're not women." The professor replied, "This class is cancelled. See you all next week."

Out in the hallway I heard them jabbering about "all the great things whites have done for Africa." "Yeah," I replied, "like apartheid. That was awesome." That earned me a shove into the drinking fountain.

I don't know what to do. I live in the USA, in the midwest. I like living here. But my home has become so divided, and so conservative. Violently so, even.

If you're a conservative, I want to see you on the line. I want you to own up to the damage conservatism, neoliberalism, racism has done to this country. I want you to admit that it was compassionate progressives who gave the vote to women, gave the vote to blacks, and ended Jim Crow. *so mad I'm shaking right now*
posted by Baby_Balrog at 4:44 PM on February 15, 2005


The funny part of the initial quote is that it uses the word "or." So, yes, 80% of them probably are one of the above. It's like saying that 100% of us are men or women. Technically true and obvious, and yet irrelevant. Is this guy related to Yogi Berra?
posted by ilsa at 4:46 PM on February 15, 2005


How exactly is one to parse this:

(Democrats) [and] ( liberals or socialists or card-carrying communists)

or

(Democrats) [and] (( liberals or socialists) or card-carrying communists)

or

(Democrats) or ( liberals or socialists) or (card-carrying communists)

If he meant the third, he's out of his mind. That's not too unlikely.

And yeah a "Bill of rights" that reduces rights. How exactly does he expect this too pass constitutional muster? I mean collages are either run by private organizations, or state governments. They ought to be able to do whatever they want.
posted by delmoi at 4:49 PM on February 15, 2005


Baby_Balrog, that is a disgusting tableau you describe, to be sure...but how do you blame O'Reilly (whom I find obnoxious)...if one of the ROTC boys (are you sure of that...and were they USMC?) actually shoved you into a fountain you have every right to press assault charges...

Believe me, though, on campuses east to west, north to south, conservatives take much worse. I did. No lie.

By the way, Democrats in the south were the staunchest opponents to civil rights.
posted by 1016 at 4:50 PM on February 15, 2005


If you're a conservative, I want to see you on the line. I want you to own up to the damage conservatism, neoliberalism, racism has done to this country. I want you to admit that it was compassionate progressives who gave the vote to women, gave the vote to blacks, and ended Jim Crow. *so mad I'm shaking right now*

And you're also so mad that you sound like them. The whole first paragraph of what you said is basically "I demand that you tell me what I want to hear!"

I'm not saying that you're wrong, but firstly, two loudmouths does not a takeover make, and if that's all it took to make the prof cry, then maybe he needs to find a less stressful profession. Meet stupidity with smarts (backed up with balls).

Is this guy related to Yogi Berra?

Please, ilsa, don't insult my favorite old-time ball player and philosopher by associating him with this yutz. :>
posted by jonmc at 4:51 PM on February 15, 2005


Also, note how the people with contrary and unusual ideas in academia who also know what they are talking about, and have rational justifications for their contrary and unusual ideas tend to get Nobel Prizes? A look at the history of academia might lead one to belive that it is a system that rewards contrary and unusual ideas.


Oh wait.... I forgot, those contrary and unusual ideas, they were turned out to be not only correct, but demonstrably so.

on preview: notsnot: Thanks.
posted by Freen at 4:52 PM on February 15, 2005


1016: Read up on the Republican Southern Strategy, and one Strom Thurmond's switch from Democrat to independent to Republican
posted by Freen at 4:54 PM on February 15, 2005


1016: Progessive liberals by any other name, are responsible for most of the good things about the world around you. Name something that society does that is a good thing, like a 40 hours work week, health insurance, workers compensation, health standards..... Liberal progressives....

Sure, they screwed up. Communism what a total cock up. Thats why you need Liberals and Conservatives. Change what must be changed, and leave alone what isn't broken. A 2 party system tends to moderate the more outrageous legislative flights of fancy.

"Conservatives" these days seem like they are breaking alot of things that don't need fixing... and Fixing alot of things that ain't quite broke.....
posted by Freen at 5:08 PM on February 15, 2005


>>>which would prohibit professors from "persistently discussing controversial issues in class

What the fuck else are they going to discuss? That 2+2=4?


I have just finished a Business Law unit.

The lecturer would constantly drop completely irrelevant comments into his lecture such as how badly we treat refugees, and that if Australia had a constitution like America then this sort of...

WTF???

Business Law, moron. Want me to spell it out for you?


(My point: I can see what davejay is saying. His idea enforceable: almost definitely no. Are the majority of university teaching staff left-leaning: hell yes! Do I let it bother me: no. Can see what davejay is getting at: yes.)
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:12 PM on February 15, 2005


Thats why you need Liberals and Conservatives. Change what must be changed, and leave alone what isn't broken. A 2 party system tends to moderate the more outrageous legislative flights of fancy...."Conservatives" these days seem like they are breaking alot of things that don't need fixing...

Bingo. I've been saying for along time that Bush & his crew are conservatives like Elvis was a black belt. And that's what's truly needed to blast us out of the muck we've been in is an alliance between progressives and genuine conservatives (not the crypto-fascists, corparists and religious fanatics disguising themselves as such). I.F. Stone suggested the same thing in an interview just before his death, IIRC. (sadly I have no link).
posted by jonmc at 5:14 PM on February 15, 2005


Conservatives still can't tolerate the idea that all the smart people think differently than they do.

I wonder how long before voucher systems are setup for those terrified conservatives to send their kids to Bob Jones Univ instead of State U.
posted by Ynoxas at 5:16 PM on February 15, 2005


Conservatives still can't tolerate the idea that all the smart people think differently than they do.

And they wear the wrong shoes, too. That attitude is exactly what allows the neo-cons to prosper, Ynoxas.
posted by jonmc at 5:20 PM on February 15, 2005


What jonmc said.

Complete tosser comment.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:22 PM on February 15, 2005


See, it's not that they aren't smart, it's that they want different things, and have different priorities. See my comment upthread for a better explanation.

Smart conservatives make money. Smart Liberals Teach at Universities. Some think that making more money, and a well functioning market system is the way to make their lives, and the lives of those around them better, others think that educating people, social justice, equal rights, and everything else those wacky professors keep talking about, are more likely to make their lives and the lives of the people around them better.


I'm a liberal, but i'm also an economist. I think what's needed is a healthy dose of both. But Neither side is smarter than the other. One side just has more of a business sensibility, win at any cost, strange bedfellows for a wealthier elite, type mentality than the other....
posted by Freen at 5:36 PM on February 15, 2005


j.p. Hung - it's laughable that this ass Mumper is calling this a "bill of rights" that basically is restricting free speech

I think "Ass Mumper" needs to be the insult of the 21st century!
posted by papakwanz at 5:36 PM on February 15, 2005


You know, thinking back to my college days, there were all those DAMN LIBERAL discussions by COMMUNIST biology professors trying to force all those LIBERAL laws of nature down our throats.

Pressed Rat, I'm not going to argue constitutionality because I think it is absurd to legislate something like this.
posted by Eekacat at 5:37 PM on February 15, 2005


Freen, you're my real daddy, aren't you?
posted by jonmc at 5:41 PM on February 15, 2005


Name something that society does that is a good thing, like a 40 hours work week, health insurance, workers compensation, health standards..... Liberal progressives....

Beware the sweeping statement. Is this, for example, a good thing or a bad thing? From a leftist perspective, I mean.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:43 PM on February 15, 2005


And if you are too stupid or lazy to do that, well, then you get the world you deserve

Whoa man hold your horses ! Being lazy is one thing which gets one to consequences of laziness (bad ones usually)
but being stupid, one doesn't have a choice in being stupid. REAL stupid people is born stupid, they can't help
that...and I'd further distinguish between stupid and ignorant, but you didn't make that point.

Why do I pay attention to that remark ? Because damn I'm probably the most stupid being on earth, but I don't
deserve to be slammed and reduced to irrilevance because of that !
posted by elpapacito at 5:44 PM on February 15, 2005


I just left a liberal graduate program in northern California. I'm mightily liberal, myself, and there was a lot of it in the department. There is also a kind of liberal conservatism there that I see as the source of a lot of damage. There are among the several tiers of professorial bureaucracy some potent strains of fascism under the guise of liberalism. This small percentage of individuals put a poisonous face on liberal academia for the general public. It is from their misguided attempts to enforce the status quo of the late 70s and early 80s on the methodology of the current generations that the so-called anti-PC movements have gained currency and strength.

There is no way to regulate this group by law, except to constrain their physical movements. Bullies will always find a way through the cracks; they're in every occupation. Add this to the impressive list of reasons in this thread that this proposed legislation is a bad idea.
posted by squirrel at 5:47 PM on February 15, 2005


elpapacito: I'm not talking about mentally disabled people or even slow people. Hell, I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer myself.

True stupidity, IMHO, is akin to laziness, in that it's to some degree wilfull, an unwillingness to menatlly engage with difficult ideas. It could probably be explained by others better than me, but you get what I'm driving at.
posted by jonmc at 5:47 PM on February 15, 2005


jonmc, I live in Northern Virginia, just across the banks of the Potomac from DC...it is liberal heaven...as a conservative, I am given crap all the time....but I respect and admire many of my liberal friends and colleagues...'cos that's the real world...unlike that of Ynoxas....
posted by 1016 at 5:48 PM on February 15, 2005


Uncanny hengeman, like others on this thread said before, university is not a trade school. They are not training you to be a lawyer, that's the job of the Law schlool. University is about education, part of which is the ability to take ideas from one area and apply or relate them to a completely different area. On the other hand, if you indeed are in Law school, I see your point.
posted by c13 at 5:52 PM on February 15, 2005


squirrell: This: (There are among the several tiers of professorial bureaucracy some potent strains of fascism under the guise of liberalism. This small percentage of individuals put a poisonous face on liberal academia for the general public. It is from their misguided attempts to enforce the status quo of the late 70s and early 80s on the methodology of the current generations that the so-called anti-PC movements have gained currency and strength.) is dead on target. A dictatorsip of virtue is still a dictatorship.

There are plenty of people with whom I agree whole heartedly on the issues, but who's attitude and intolerance of dissenting veiws is so off-putting that I can't bear to be associated with them. I just imagine them running the world and putting me in the gulag. And I imagine that attitude has done a lot of damage to some good causes over the years.

But freen is ultimately correct. The left and right, at their best, actually complement eachother, the pragmatism of true conservatism leavening the idealism of true liberalism.

1016: and I admire plenty of genuine thoughtful conservatives. I raise my Czechvar in your general direction, my elephantine freind ;>. I just cringe when I hear a fellow liberal say shit like that, since it reinforces every negative stereotype people have of the left and makes everything that much harder.
posted by jonmc at 5:53 PM on February 15, 2005


Come to think of it, Bismarck cooked up social security.

And Health Insurance, at least company provided, was a response to wage controls during the war -companies needed something to attract workers, this was a way to do it. Raw capitalism at a hard time. (Or am I wrong on that one?)

Health standards- meaning- what? Pure Food & Drug Act? Teddy Roosevelt. He of San Juan hill and other dubious foreign adventures? (But also our man of the National Park Service)

I'm not trying to be snarky, I'm just saying, there's a lot of paradox in politics.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:00 PM on February 15, 2005


jonmc, I'm about three sheets to the wind, (and it's only about 9 PM in Virginia!) but I lift a glass of bourbon in your precise direction to wherever that may be..to your honesty and integrity. Way appreciated.
posted by 1016 at 6:03 PM on February 15, 2005


it's the same time here in Queens, 1016, and thanks. And believe it or not there's a lot of us libs who feel the same way. It's just that the current political in this country isn't really concucive to sane, civil rational consensus seeking.
posted by jonmc at 6:07 PM on February 15, 2005


A friend (who happens to be a military historian) sends the following:

I think that people are actually looking at this one the wrong way round: it's not academics who are liberal, it's the liberals who are academic. One of the thing that sets liberals appart from rightists is that they are interested in the academic cutting edge, as opposed to traditional ideas.

Think about it... pick a left-right wedge debate in US politics and think about where the arguments come from. [note, in the following examples read in 'the vast majority of' to every blanket statement about a field (I'm just too lazy to type it out each time)]

- Teaching of evolution in schools: Liberals believe the scientists, rightists believe religious groups. Which side are the scientists going to support?

- Capital punishment: Liberals listen to the criminologists who say that it doesn't deter crime. Rightists listen to political pressure groups who say that it does. Which side are the social scientists going to support?

- Global warming: Liberals listen to environmental scientists who say it's happening. Rightists listen to oil company spokesfolks who say it isn't. Which side are the scientists going to support?

- War on Terror/Middle East: Liberals listen to the political scientists and military historians who say the government is screwing up. Rightists listen to the government who say things are going swimingly.

So I think it's inaccurate to say that academics are predominantly liberal. Academics are what they are and believe what they believe, based on research (except for a few bad eggs we happily criticise). The left agrees with -them-, not the the way round.
posted by jb at 6:10 PM on February 15, 2005


Whatever the case may be, the vast majority of individuals simply refine politics views instilled in them long before they get into educational environments in which politics become an issue. It's a reality polisci folks and consultants call "political socialization," and the dominant influences are, in descending order: family, peers, media, education.

That being said, I'm originally from Ohio, and that state is friggin' weird, at least the bottom 2/3rds. They need all the education they can get.
posted by hank_14 at 6:18 PM on February 15, 2005


Pressed Rat:

As written, it covers only "state institutions of higher learning". It has no effect on private colleges and universities.

According to the wording of the legislation:

Sec. 3345.80. The board of trustees of each state institution of higher education, as defined in section 3345.011 of the Revised Code, and the board of trustees or other governing authority of each private institution of higher education that holds a certificate of authorization issued under section 1713.02 of the Revised Code shall adopt a policy recognizing that the students, faculty, and instructors of the institution have the following rights:

So it seems that in fact, any accredited college or university would be subject, not just state universities. I do not understand how they can do this constitutionally, especially regarding religious schools that require their professors to "profess" the same faith.

Here is the sticking point, again:

"Faculty and instructors shall be hired, fired, promoted, and granted tenure on the basis of their competence and appropriate knowledge in their field of expertise and shall not be hired, fired, promoted, granted tenure, or denied promotion or tenure on the basis of their political, ideological, or religious beliefs."

It seems like state interference in religion if the state can regulate religious institutions in terms of who they hire.

As for the question of enforcement or administration of such laws, I can't imagine how this would be practical or affordable, for one. What are they going to do, install compliance monitors at each school, or set up a reporting system for students to turn in teachers breaking the rules. The problems with either thing would be tremendous.
posted by tweak at 6:19 PM on February 15, 2005


I always found debates about "what to teach our children" a little insulting. It assumes that we all believe everything we're told and are unable to formulate our own beliefs.

Yeah. That is the heart of the problem here. Who cares what political persuasion the professor takes as long as real discussion of issues is allowed and all viewpoints at least considered so that ideas can be discussed on their merits. Some liberal prof, or conservative prof, is not going to turn junior into a communist all on his own. If he opens junior's mind to other ideas, like socialism or whatever, good. Junior will be flooded with pro-capitalism, pro-christian, pro-status-quo ideas from all quarters and if a little left wing radicalism slips in that will only help junior THINK. Isn't that what mom and pop are paying upwards of $50K a year to teach junior, how to think?
posted by caddis at 6:28 PM on February 15, 2005


"Faculty and instructors shall be hired, fired, promoted, and granted tenure on the basis of their competence and appropriate knowledge in their field of expertise and shall not be hired, fired, promoted, granted tenure, or denied promotion or tenure on the basis of their political, ideological, or religious beliefs."


Boy, this sure seems like a full employment act for lawyers, and from the anti-plaintiff's litigation party at that.
posted by caddis at 6:30 PM on February 15, 2005


jonmc: Freen, you're my real daddy, aren't you?

Well, No, not biologically, at least not yet...
posted by Freen at 6:53 PM on February 15, 2005


The lecturer would constantly drop completely irrelevant comments into his lecture such as how badly we treat refugees, and that if Australia had a constitution like America then this sort of...

This sort of thing just baffles me. I mean, I usually have to cut out half the interesting (to dorks like me) stuff just to get through the really vital stuff. And this guy has enough time to wander off into talking about refugees?

I dunno. I can only think that people who have a habit of digressions that far from the course's subject aren't really very interested in the disciplines they work in. I mean, my God, that time you spent blethering about yadda you could have been talking about chaos theorems and maybe even the Plott conditions!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:55 PM on February 15, 2005


ok to recap , some state senator is trying to censor academia in the name of freedom of thought.

anyone miss this basic premiss or did i miss something?

i only point this out because some here seem to be missing that simple point.

do any of you really mean to say you like any part of this idea? (and i do mean this one since that was what the post was about ) as opposed to your own particular idea.
posted by nola at 7:05 PM on February 15, 2005


JB: You may very well be correct. I think perhaps it is a two way street.
posted by Freen at 7:06 PM on February 15, 2005



do any of you really mean to say you like any part of this idea?


Nope, not me, and I don't think anyone else has either. I think we're all just exploring the surrounding issues that led to it.
posted by jonmc at 7:10 PM on February 15, 2005


Academics are what they are and believe what they believe, based on research The left agrees with -them-, not the the way round.

Damn good point jb.
I would argue however that controversial subjects in college made me spill my beer.
...more of a pointing out really.
But no one expects the Spanish Inquisition. Especially when it's too religiously controversial to talk about them.
And whats all this about drinking?
(sorry, just joining 1016)
posted by Smedleyman at 7:15 PM on February 15, 2005


When the GOP has resorted to going after college professors, it's pretty damned apparent that liberalism has lost. That, or the GOP likes to bitch about anything and everything under the sun.

'Democrats are a bunch of whiners' pfft. At least they whine when they lose.
posted by Arch Stanton at 7:17 PM on February 15, 2005


nola: Oh heck no. This bill is a terrible idea that will go absolutely nowhere.
posted by Freen at 7:21 PM on February 15, 2005


ROU, one person's digression is another's interconnections. Any time a professor has half the class riveted with his far-reaching pulling-it-all-together analysis, the other half of the class won't make the same connections and be bored or offended. I get bored and offended in some lectures, too, but I remain opposed to legislation that would seek to quantify and penalize digression.
posted by squirrel at 7:24 PM on February 15, 2005


I think that people are actually looking at this one the wrong way round: it's not academics who are liberal, it's the liberals who are academic. One of the thing that sets liberals appart from rightists is that they are interested in the academic cutting edge, as opposed to traditional ideas.

Jb, you've truly made my day. Who is this friend of yours?
posted by c13 at 7:24 PM on February 15, 2005


tweak--

Your point's taken & perhaps there are real constitutionality issues there - that's what I get for following the thread & munching on tidbits perhaps somewhat out of context without taking time to read the bill (you know, Mefi is getting to be a vice instead of a habit -what I'm supposed to be doing is preparing a rebuttal to a govenment outsourcing program for my mgmt.).
posted by Pressed Rat at 7:50 PM on February 15, 2005


jb's post is dead on.

That attitude is exactly what allows the neo-cons to prosper, Ynoxas.
posted by jonmc at 7:20 PM CST on February 15


I don't understand why my statement bothers you, or anyone for that matter. What attitude, precisely, do you suggest to prevent them from prospering? How much worse does the current climate have to get, and how much more does the progressive left have to abandon of its core issues to attract Joe Sixpack away from hating queers and arabs?

This last election has proven to me that the American public (in the aggregate) are stupid, scared, superstitious, irrational bigots.

More people are motivated to turn out to the polls to stop "queers from getting married" than to install competent leadership and remove a morally and intellectually bankrupt administration who is hell bent on fiscally bankrupting the treasury.

Education tends to do one of two things to people. For some, it broadens the mind and expands their horizons. It teaches them critical thinking skills, and allows them the ability to understand and appreciate the differences around them, and make choices at every level of their life using logic, intelligence, and wisdom. For others, this new world of strange and different information scares them, and makes them retreat into their shell of protective safety. Their goal becomes trying to force others to adopt their personal philosophies, beliefs, and morals, so as to make their existence as comfortable as possible.

What is your proposed solution Jon? Turning liberals into "conservative light" is not acceptable.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:22 PM on February 15, 2005


From the Dispatch link: Mumper said he’s been investigating the issue for months and has heard of an Ohio student who said she was discriminated against because she supported Bush for president.

Oh cry me a goddamned river. 1 offended student does not a state-wide bill justify.

What I find most interesting about this is that this organization, "Students for Academic Freedom", was started by a waffling putz trying to make the headlines again, not students. First they fuck us (students) over during the election and now they're trying to change the atmosphere on campuses?

Ohio is at the top of the list for most private colleges per state, and even in my cornfield this is going down as bullshit. How exactly will this be enforced? Will they appoint a watchdog for every professor on every campus?
posted by somethingotherthan at 8:32 PM on February 15, 2005


What attitude, precisely, do you suggest to prevent them from prospering?

Are you really that dense, Ynoxas?

Do you not see that a statement like yours which basically amounts to "I'm smarter than you, so just do as I say and everything will be fine," is offputting, obnoxious and pompous? You sound like Artie Ziff from the Simpsons.

I'm not talking about changing policy merely the way we present it to people. Or are you more attached to you feeling superior than you are to actually communicating your policies ina way that might actually get things done?

How much worse does the current climate have to get, and how much more does the progressive left have to abandon of its core issues to attract Joe Sixpack away from hating queers and arabs?

The easiest way to convince Joe Sixpack (and the fact that you're using that term speaks volumes) to back off on gay marraige is to present it as a "who the fuck cares?" proposition. Trust me, you'd be suprised at how few people besides fundies actually give a shit.

As for the Arab question, that's a little more complicated. Pre-9/11 most Americans had convinced themselves that such a thing couldn't happen on US soil, and post-9/11 they're afraid to be that complacent again. Someone has to allay those fears while convincing them that our current actions are making things worse. And it's worth noting that, for the most part, it's Joe Sixpack's kids that are dying in Iraq not the professors, so that's where the "support the troops, not the war," phrase that some are apt to make fun of comes in.

And maybe, just maybe, not starting off by basically calling everyone who might disagree with you stupid is a good first step.
posted by jonmc at 9:02 PM on February 15, 2005


Or to put it more simply, the American Left needs to get in touch with it's populist impulse or perish. And we can't afford to perish.
posted by jonmc at 9:08 PM on February 15, 2005


Ynoxas, it's extraordinarily arrogant and condescending to believe that Americans, because they don't share your political beliefs, are stupid -- and it sounds very much you're like one of the authoritarian left that others in this thread have decried. Consider this: liberalism is traditionally a tolerant ideology. You, clearly, are the furthest thing from tolerant in your views of other Americans' beliefs, and the last two sentences of your penultimate paragraph describe you quite well.

(And what jonmc said.)
posted by vitia at 9:13 PM on February 15, 2005


A similar bill has been introduced in Indiana. Here's a story from the Indiana University student paper about it.

Does this mean that a place like Bob Jones University would have to balance out its faculty with liberals?

Not to mention Liberty University, Oral Roberts University...
posted by SisterHavana at 9:14 PM on February 15, 2005


Wait a minute, why is Ynoxas not being tolerant? He may believe that americans are stupid (rightly or wrongly), but how is that being intolerant?
posted by c13 at 9:20 PM on February 15, 2005


But freen is ultimately correct. The left and right, at their best, actually complement eachother, the pragmatism of true conservatism leavening the idealism of true liberalism.

Conservatives are pragmatists now? Somebody must have forgotten to give bush the memo. Anyway, the terms are all fucked up these days anyway. "Left" and "right" are better terms then "liberal" and "conservative" because they are have no real meaning. In truth the republican party seems to have a reactionary-religious revoluionary agenda more then anything else. In literal terms they are liberals in that they want to undo and change everything.
posted by delmoi at 9:22 PM on February 15, 2005


c13: well, he is claiming that those who do not believe the same thing he believes are stupid.

I'm not sure thats really intolerant, more insulting actually. In a certain sense though he is correct, some conservatives are stupid. In a more accurate sense though that is a meaningless statement, as any sufficiently vague set of human beings will necessarily contain individuals of sub-average intelligence. The concept that all conservatives are stupid is clearly fallacious as well. We'll just go have a chat with Milton Friedman to clear up that little problem. I'd like to rephrase Ynoxas' statement to something more like this "The vast majority of americans determines their positions on social and political issues in a way that is incomprehensible to me".

I happen to agree. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why people would want to stop gay people from getting married. It seems to be based on homophobia. I don't think that homophobia is stupid, i think it is a judgement error, a very serious one at that. An error that i hope can be corrected, not by telling people that they are stupid, but perhaps by showing them the problems with their position. You know, doing that whole leadership, education, guidance by example thing.

However, i must say, this state senator fellow must not be so sure of the strength of republican "conservative" thought if some measly college professors can seriously challenge it by teaching something else......

On Preview: Delmoi: I tried to make a distinction between actual conservatives and the republican pseudo "Conservatives". Perhaps i failed. the current administration is about as far from pragmatic as is imaginable.
posted by Freen at 9:39 PM on February 15, 2005


vitia: yes, I am saying, with all my heart, that people who support the current administration and their policies, people who want to deny gays and lesbians equal rights and protections under the law, and people who want to turn the US into a theocracy, those people are STUPID.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. I don't know how to be more clear.

And I'm tired of the liberal namby pamby attitude jonmc is promoting, of having to be nice and sweet and kind and understanding to all these stupid people to get them to join our team.

The right has done a damn fine job recruiting the "average american" by calling liberals stupid, evil, godless traitors. What's wrong with returning fire once in a while?

Saying the average american doesn't respond to fierce rhetoric is bullshit.

I want some rabid attack dogs on my side, like the right has. The rise of Limbaugh, Coulter, O'Reilly et al proves that the average american responds to that claptrap and not thoughtful reasoned discussion.

Why? I leave that to the reader to figure out.

Why is it the right is allowed to prevail through mean spirited, deceitful rhetoric while the left is supposed to temper their message and be careful not to offend, as I so boldly do above?

On preview: Freen, I do not care if I insult these people. They insult me daily. Where's the call for conservatives to be more understanding and accepting of my opinions? Where's the rebuke for calling me a godless traitor? Where's the careful consideration of my viewpoint?
posted by Ynoxas at 9:49 PM on February 15, 2005


Arrogant, condescending, insulting, fallacious..
But not intolerant. Germans were intolerant of Jews.
This Mumper guy is being intolerant. Tolerance or intolerance implies some sort of action. Its not the same as having or stating an opinion.
We really should be more careful with terms here. Just saying...

On preview: well....
Why is it the right is allowed to prevail through mean spirited, deceitful rhetoric while the left is supposed to temper their message and be careful not to offend

Maybe because Left is not Right. Because otherwise what's the point?
posted by c13 at 9:54 PM on February 15, 2005


Just to clarify - my previous post was actually from my SO, who studies military/intelligence history (thus the examples about the war).
posted by jb at 9:55 PM on February 15, 2005


Well, OK, scratch 'tolerant.' But I agree with JonMC's point: to label somebody "stupid" because they didn't vote for your guy is a failure to understand their motivations (and, again, incredibly arrogant). I'm way, way left on the Political Compass -- like, around -8/-7 -- but I talk politics with folks on the right, plenty of whom are plenty smart, and voted the way they did because they put importance on different things than I do. But if Ynoxas wants to say, "Well, people who disagree with me are assholes, so I'm gonna be an asshole too!" -- well, I guess you gotta do what you gotta do.

As far as the original issue goes: lefty college professor Michael Berube said it pretty well a while ago: "I’ve been too damn busy making sure that my department doesn’t hire any conservatives this year."
posted by vitia at 10:13 PM on February 15, 2005


jb: There are people with research on both sides of those issues. Stop being so condescending.
posted by drscroogemcduck at 11:28 PM on February 15, 2005


>>>which would prohibit professors from "persistently discussing controversial issues in class
What the fuck else are they going to discuss? That 2+2=4?

I have just finished a Business Law unit.
The lecturer would constantly drop completely irrelevant comments into his lecture such as how badly we treat refugees, and that if Australia had a constitution like America then this sort of...
WTF???
Business Law, moron. Want me to spell it out for you?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 2:12 AM CET on February 16
My experience exactly, but in Econometrics.This is what econometrics looks like. My class looked like this. After a run-down on the day's news, we would get some lengthy trolling about US foreign policy, followed by additional bullshit wich would rang from ranting about the weather to ranting about his fellow peers.
It was very frustrating. I would arrive half an hour late and catch up the two or three minutes of actual lesson I missed. The guy didn't finish his curriculum.
To this day, I highly regret I didn't learn more in econometrics. I eventually took to studying out of reference books, for econometric skills are essential in the job market.

Note: It didn't matter whether he was a liberal or a conservative. What mattered was that instead of teaching, he was trolling. Laws won't change much. What would change something is never having an assured tenure and having the professors audited in class.
posted by ruelle at 12:55 AM on February 16, 2005


jb:I think that people are actually looking at this one the wrong way round: it's not academics who are liberal, it's the liberals who are academic.

Let me say that relatively smart academic, the ones I've met, don't even get suckered into the artificial distinction between left and right..such distinction is a relic that is used to polarize people into believing certain ideas or preposition are to be opposed ONLY because they come from the "opposite" side..anything coming from a XYZ should be looked with prejudice and suspicion.

One of the thing that sets liberals appart from rightists is that they are interested in the academic cutting edge, as opposed to traditional ideas.

Could be, but again I guess this is yet another artificial distinction made to politically polazire people..that is to say, you're liberal if you believe in progressive-transformative ideas, you're republican if you're for family values and tradition.

SO I guess that if you drive a SUV (made with progressive, untraditional technology) you're against families ? Your supporting of corporativism (which is untraditional, was "born" well after Christ and families) is antirepublican ?

Teaching of evolution in schools: Liberals believe the scientists, rightists believe religious groups. Which side are the scientists going to support?

That's astroturf dude ! While you may find that some "scientist" may sympathize with what one political group says, you'll find that intellectually honest scientist don't reject opposing theories and preposition -because of- their "coming" from opposing political stance..indeed they don't even bother to look from which "stance" the idea comes from, because they look at the idea and not at the stance !

The left agrees with -them-, not the the way round.

So does the right, believe me ! Both sides would get whatever -APPEARS- to support their preposition from academia then make astroturf of it, package and ship to ordinary Joe and Janes with absurdities like "don't donate your organs because most of the people who would use your organs smoked/were drunkards etc so they don't deserve them ! "...so by dint of endless repetition they'll have simple people believe theyre right...the last wave had people believe dissenting is treason !
posted by elpapacito at 1:14 AM on February 16, 2005


Just what this country needs - more perfessor Instacrackers like Glenn Reynolds who talk out their ass.
posted by nofundy at 5:37 AM on February 16, 2005


BAD IDEA: would prohibit professors from "persistently discussing controversial issues in class

GOOD IDEA, DEPENDING ON THE DETAILS: or from using their classes to push political, ideological, religious or anti-religious views."
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:52 AM on February 16, 2005


vita: As far as the original issue goes: lefty college professor Michael Berube said it pretty well a while ago: "I’ve been too damn busy making sure that my department doesn’t hire any conservatives this year."

Should have a warning for the satire impaired.

Pardon me for making pratical sense, but I have some solutions that will satisfy most people. Give student reviews of teacher performance some administrative weight. Treat the syllabus as a contract between teacher and students. That way, everybody knows what to expect going into the class from the reading list.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:16 AM on February 16, 2005


And I'm tired of the liberal namby pamby attitude jonmc is promoting, of having to be nice and sweet and kind and understanding to all these stupid people to get them to join our team.

nambypamby my ass, Ynoxas. I'm just saying that you're pointing it in the wrong direction. You're approach boils down to saying "I think you're an idiot. I know what's best for you. Vote for me."

Be as fierce as you want but point it where it belongs and maybe try not to alienate the people who could actually benefit most from a Bush ouster.
posted by jonmc at 6:37 AM on February 16, 2005


Why is it the right is allowed to prevail through mean spirited, deceitful rhetoric while the left is supposed to temper their message and be careful not to offend, as I so boldly do above?

Listen, be an attack dog on Bush, Rice, Rove and company all you want and I'll cheer you on.

But you didn't attack them. You basically called the American people stupid bigots. Well, don't be surprised if their response is "Fuck You, Frank."
posted by jonmc at 6:40 AM on February 16, 2005


I think Jonmc is right. Go for the leaders, the ideas, but not the supporters....
posted by Freen at 7:12 AM on February 16, 2005


jonmc: you cannot deny that the right has had resounding success by calling individual citizens who support a liberal platform stupid, evil, and traitors. They have succeeded using fear, intolerance, and hateful rhetoric.

Why is it that the conservative supporters should be immune from criticism? You're saying I can call Bush stupid, but not his rabid supporters?

I cannot wrap my head around this.

All you are suggesting is implying they are stupid instead of just stating it directly. "Well, I'm not saying you're stupid, but you support stupid policies, so....". How is that any better or superior? It's just namby pampy, as I pointed out before.

Tell me again why the SUPPORTERS of a stupid policy are not stupid.

Let's say a senator wants to tax everyone with blue eyes an extra 20% on their income taxes. This is a stupid idea. If he garners millions of brown-eyed supporters, why are they not also stupid? Why should I have to reach out to the brown eyes and try to convince them, gently, without being too forceful or offensive, that their stance is without merit? They are stupid, and they need to be told they are stupid, loudly and often, by people who know better.

How can only the leaders be stupid, and not their supporters?

Hell, a case can be made that the leaders have stupid, intolerant policies SOLELY to garner support from their stupid, intolerant constituents. See any of the "stupid law" posts that find their way here once a week.

Like this one.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:55 AM on February 16, 2005


Tell me again why the SUPPORTERS of a stupid policy are not stupid.

I'm not neccessarily saying some of them aren't, Ynoxas. (This is putting aside the great mass of people who feel so removed from politics that they've disengaged entirely). But constantly harping on how stupid you think they are, and conversely, how smart you think you are, is not gonna do a thing to change any minds or win any votes.

Or is feeling superior more important to you than actually getting policies enacted?

NTM, the Limbaughs and Hannity's of the world (or at least their staff) scours the mediasphere (including the net) for shit like what you said so they can "prove" that liberals are elitist know-it-all snobs. I'd really prefer not to blithely supply them with ammunition, thank you very much.
posted by jonmc at 8:13 AM on February 16, 2005


This is a win-win situation. If the bill passes and is enforced, traditional liberal arts scholarship might actually have a chance at revival. If the status quo triumphs, well, nobody does a better job than left-wing campus idiots at transforming vaguely liberal and anti-materialist 18 year olds into 22 year olds committed to making money and electing Republicans.
posted by MattD at 8:24 AM on February 16, 2005


This Mumper guy is pretty funny, but his "action" won't change anything. His type needs a "college professor liberal" strawman to rage against. There's no way he'd really benefit from the removal of that type of person from the mix.

The lecturer would constantly drop completely irrelevant comments into his lecture such as how badly we treat refugees ...

Guess what? Lecturers are just human beings, and sticking them in front of a group of people is going to result in human dialogue coming out from time to time. I had some professors that kept to the material all of the time and their classes were boring. One of my favorite professors had a few spare minutes since we were getting ahead of the other course section so he told us some interesting stories about his favorite actor, Marlon Brando. Another time, he talked about the Beatles for a while and worked it into an explanation of directed graphs.

If you let people have personalities in their professional work, then some character types will express themselves.
posted by mikeh at 8:25 AM on February 16, 2005


Give student reviews of teacher performance some administrative weight.

Go to a small liberal arts college. Given the unholy alliance of money, research, and prestige, this is unlikely to ever happen at a large University.

Treat the syllabus as a contract between teacher and students. That way, everybody knows what to expect going into the class from the reading list.

Most places do this, but many students still whine about it unless they are completely spoon-fed.

I have a slightly different vantage point on this, since I'm in an academic computational field that's only ever tangentially involved in these political debates (with their requisite and thoroughly retarded "left" and "right" labels). It is true that most of my colleagues lean left, although there is a strong streak of libertarianism in the field. But I really don't buy the "academics are liberal 'cuz they're smarter" canard. Academics are mostly obsessive misfits who like explaining their pet subjects to others, but once you get outside their chosen fields they aren't necessarily more informed than anyone else. This is true of many of my colleagues, many of whom are reflexively liberal (sorta like MeFi). They don't really put a lot of thought into their positions. Sadly, this makes it somewhat difficult to have intelligent political discussion, because too many of them are on the same page, and don't challenge each others' beliefs.

But we're not here to discuss those particular beliefs anyway, which is what makes the senator's bill so odious. I don't see where political beliefs have any bearing on who gets hired, but there is a growing number of conservatives who feel otherwise. A faculty member in my department was recently harassed by the campus "conservative" publication because he had donated heavily to the DNC and John Kerry's campaign. They accused him of misusing state money (it's a public institution) and indoctrinating students. He teaches classes on compiler optimizations -- what's he indocrinating them in, OCaml? Is Java now a tool of the liberal elite? Give me a break. Academia is perhaps not as politically diverse as it should be, but these witch hunts are despicable.
posted by casu marzu at 8:52 AM on February 16, 2005


Or is feeling superior more important to you than actually getting policies enacted?

Honestly jon I think that's all I have left.

I felt a real, honest sense of loss after the last election, like a family member had died.

I expected another Bush electoral win. I was dismayed, even depressed, at him winning the popular vote as well. I have completely lost faith in americans as a group. That was the one thing I was able to hold on to, that even though an electoral win would put him back in office, at least "most" people didn't believe his horseshit and could see through the rhetoric and the smokescreens and see that yes, yes, yes, they are indeed worse off than they were 4 years ago, both personally and as a nation.

But any feeling on my part to give people the "benefit of the doubt" evaporated on election night.

The results of the gay rights amendments/referendums prove that people are not NEARLY as progressive as many typical liberals believe they are.

I have a friend who, like you, doesn't want to blame the people. He wants to blame the media and those in power. I do not understand this from him, nor from you. Why is Bush to be held culpable for his ridiculous policies, but his supporters waving flags and placards everywhere he goes aren't?

The people are to blame. And if they supported the buffon in power, then yes, I am smarter than them.

In fact, I only know one conservative I would consider to be really smart, and he is only a conservative because he is so heavily influenced (brainwashed) by his church.

I truly consider being progressive a form of intelligence test. If that makes me a bad person in anyone's eyes, I can't say that matters to me.

I am smarter than some redneck with a W sticker on his truck who hates "sand niggers and queers".

I am smarter than some housewife who wants to homeschool her children because they need to know about Jesus more than they need to know about mathematics.

I am smarter than some peon in a cubicle who spouts off conservative rhetoric he learned on FOX at the watercooler and the office party trying to impress upper management of how he is "one of them".

I am smarter than someone who heard one time that Iraq was behind 9/11 and couldn't be bothered to even make a cursory or feeble attempt to find out something more about that claim.

And all of those people are Bush supporters. And I am smarter than them. And I won't apologize for it.

I am just not smart enough to understand how someone could be in favor of the current administration. I have no respect for them, and so I do not care to grant them false praise or good hearted appreciation.

They are to blame for the mess we are in. They had an opportunity to fix it in November, and they were too fucking stupid to do so.

I don't know what else to say.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:48 AM on February 16, 2005


And your facile oversimplifications ("redneck," "Houswife," "peon") tell me that you are not as smart as you think you are. Are you "progressive," because you think it's the right thing or because it's how you show off your good breeding and refinement?

There's a Yiddish phrase my girlfreind uses that translates roughly to "Talk to you, talk to the wall." I see what she means.
posted by jonmc at 10:30 AM on February 16, 2005


I truly consider being progressive a form of intelligence test. If that makes me a bad person in anyone's eyes, I can't say that matters to me.

Then you should be intelligent enough to distinguish between genuine intellectual conservatives and the "Conservative" demographic that uses the symbols of real conservatives as content-devoid shibboleths.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:13 AM on February 16, 2005


KirkJobSluder, I thought the humor of the Bérubé piece would be pretty self-evident, but maybe you're right -- folks like Mumpers might read it and say, "See? I told you so!"

Re your other suggestion about more administrative weight to student reviews of academic performance: yes, that works in theory -- but if you look at sites like ratemyprofessor.com, you'll see that some students will easily condemn the prof who didn't give them an easy 'A', so putting that into practice might involve some complications. And one of the most important pieces of wisdom I've taken as an instructor actually came from my battalion sergeant major, when I was an NCO: he said of soldiers, "They learn from the sergeants that they don't have to like." I think that often, too many academics are concerned about being liked, and too many students are concerned about whether they like their instructors. I think valuing pedagogy is an excellent thing (and the tenure model means that pedagogy is often less valued), but figuring out precisely how to quantify that valuation is the difficult angle. So yeah, I'm with you: but how do we do it?
posted by vitia at 1:27 PM on February 16, 2005


look i know where jonmc is coming from.
and i agree that we can't abandon our principles just because the going is tough. that being said, at what point would you grant that Ynoxas is right?

and wtf are we talking about here? again it amazes me that you ppl have drifted so far from the simple fucking point of the post . . . if the above mentioned post does not put you in mind of idiocy i don't know what will.
posted by nola at 2:29 PM on February 16, 2005


nola, the law suggested in the original post is idiocy, and we all know it, and furthermore, it has zero chance of ever being enacted and we all know it. It was panic-mongering. But we took the opportunity to riff on related topics.
posted by jonmc at 4:47 PM on February 16, 2005


jon, you couldn't be more wrong. I'm among the most lowbrow there are, born on the "wrong side of the tracks" and a recovering evangelical baptist. The fact that I've done ok for myself as an adult belies my upbringing.

I overcame my very poor, racist, chauvinistic upbringing, and I think these other yahoos should too. I am in the top 10% of my county in earnings and education, but yet my county voted for Bush 3:2.

The day after the election people were stunned I was not thrilled, as everyone at work had merely assumed I was a Republican because I am a white executive. I also work in healthcare which is heavily conservative. I am literally one of perhaps 5 true progressives in my entire company.

And I don't know about your neck of the woods, but around here, higher income brackets are almost exclusively conservative. The fact that the republicans have won over the "rednecks" "peons" and "housewives" is precisely my point, but I must not be able to properly convey it to you.

nola, jon will never concede I am right at any level because, ironically, he requires absolute agreement with his point of view.

How very progressive indeed.
posted by Ynoxas at 6:35 PM on February 16, 2005


I overcame my very poor, racist, chauvinistic upbringing, and I think these other yahoos should too. I am in the top 10% of my county in earnings and education, but yet my county voted for Bush 3:2.

That dosen't neccessarily surprise me either. Freud would call it "overcompensating." The "recovering evangelical" part is no big shock as well, since you're as preachy and self-rigteous as any holy-roller I've ever encountered.

nola, jon will never concede I am right at any level because, ironically, he requires absolute agreement with his point of view.

Please. I just ask that you do a little better than "people disagree with me because they're all big dumb dooty-heads."
posted by jonmc at 8:18 PM on February 16, 2005


this whole thread is beyond stupid , and you all are big dumb dooty-heads.

p.s. enjoy the bold new world we are moving into, where progressives halt in the name of backward thinking, and liberals who once challenged the systems and powers that be, can't be bothered to call bs on anything , for fear of offending ppl . obviously jmc you don't live anywhere near a neo con. because if you did you would know the phrase of the day is "shoot first , ask questions later" or my fav. "the only good neo con , is a dead one" god bless america. kisses xxooxxox
posted by nola at 11:12 PM on February 16, 2005


I just finished reading through this thread, and while I agree that the Sen. from Ohio is a moron and should be ignored, I noticed that the term "stupid" has been bandied about a bit.

It kinda depends on what Stupid means, really.

One of the best definitions I've heard, unfortunately unattributable, is this:

Stupidity is the love of one's ignorance.

It suggests that stupidity is willful ignorance, and I think, form my experience with people I would consider stupid, that it is spot on.

A lot of the people that supported and continue to support the current administration could be said to be stupid, using that definition. I'm not necessarily saying everyone who did, is, but certainly there are many, many people that cast their votes with information that was poor or incorrect (i.e. any of the major media outlets).

A lot of the people in the academic arena are well-read, critical thinkers, and trying to encourage the free exchange of ideas. These people are not stupid.

There are also those that are not critical thinkers, who just spout whatever political beliefs as if they were gospel truth, and discourage dissention; these people are stupid.

I would argue that, given the nature of academia, considering the research and debate that takes place, there are more of the former group on campuses than the latter.

And people that don't agree with me are just big dumb dooty-heads. :p
posted by exlotuseater at 4:02 AM on February 17, 2005


jeez, nola, a couple of comments ago, you said you "knew where I was coming from." *sigh*

I also refused to be lectured on stupidity by someone who can't be bother to type out the word "people."
posted by jonmc at 8:40 AM on February 17, 2005


yes i did say that, you made a few loose points that i thought may or may not be the beginnings of an argument.

then you lost me with all the bs about freud.

saying that talking to you reminds me of your girl friends Yiddish saying is an understatement.

so "jeez" right back to you.
here is what i'm hearing from you. conservatives and progressives need to have a meeting of the minds and work out our collective future together. one way not to do that is to treat ppl of differing viewpoints as intellectual inferiors. sounds fair enough to me.

what i'm getting from ynoxas is , the mass of ppl in this country do not have a view point they are just bigots and don't deserve the time of day.

those are two separate arguments that are not mutually exclusive.

while i have said in the past i agree with jonmc to a point
i also agree that we are getting beyond civility with a large group of ppl in this country, as evidenced by the point of this post "the bill" jon if that story does not scare you a
little what will? like it or not jon this group has thrown our country into chaos, look at what has gone on in the last 4 years . . .the word "stupid" would come to mind if not for the word "horror".who on the right should we be talking to jon? because i think we should start talking with them soon before we spend another 200 billion on an evil war and kill another 100,000 civilians. . .ect, ect. and if you say thats not real "conservative" i'm going cry. because at that point we are arguing semantics, it is like saying the nazi party got a bad rap, cause a group of extremist took over.
posted by nola at 9:52 AM on February 17, 2005


who on the right should we be talking to jon?

what i'm getting from ynoxas is , the mass of ppl in this country do not have a view point they are just bigots and don't deserve the time of day.

It's not the committed right or the neocons* that I'm talking about, nola. It's more the people who wobble back and forth, those who are alienated from politics so much that they don't participate, and those young people who are still forming their political outlook. Those three groups i just mentioned comprise and awful lotta people, and that's who I'm talking about when I say we're alienating people with the casual "stupid" talk and smug attitudes. As a matter of fact, I guess where I part company with Ynoxas is that I believe that the people i just described plus the Kerry voters actually comprise the mass of this country. I could be wrong sure, but no harm in hoping.

*although there's the occasional conservative I see where I wonder whether he could've been a liberal if somebody had approached the right way at the right time.
posted by jonmc at 11:35 AM on February 17, 2005


However, Sometimes it's usefull to get into a rolicking debate witha true believer. Then you get to see what all the talking points are going to be, and develope adaquate responses, as well as pre-emptive framing that can be very usefull when it comes to talking to non-political people about politics.
posted by Freen at 1:17 PM on February 17, 2005


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