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Monday, May 8, 2017


I'm hoping that enough mainstream, liberal academics will just stand up and declare an end to the reductio ad absurdum we have been seeing in recent academic freedom cases and mass bullying of people who are slightly out of step with whatever the prevailing wind has it.  The kind of thinking in some of these cases might make conservatives of people who would otherwise sympathize to make the profession more inclusive.

Here is one quote from the Chronicle of Higher Education that made me see red:

"Most of the people who responded did not have the conceptual competence to engage with the post," she said, "as is evidenced by the reaction to my use of the word ‘violence.’ " She said her use of the term was a reference to the scholarly concept of structural violence, which describes "a range of systemic harms that go beyond direct interpersonal physical contact."
I guess by that logic her own statement is violent, since it is part of the structural elitism of academia.  You get to say someone is not smart enough to understand your technical jargon, not having the "conceptual competence." I know I feel violently offended by that on behalf of everyone who has ever been made to feel stupid by some pedantic professor.


Ellavon said...

That quote is so bad I laughed until I coughed.

At my university that sort of harmful bullshit is still at the periphery, but it is indeed creeping in fast, in terms of administrative "initiatives" as well as in conversations at faculty council and in classrooms.

Thomas said...

The good news in this case was that ultimately the two most important institutions: Tuvel's college (department) and the journal itself ("a majority of [its] associate editors" notwithstanding) stood by her. If that example can be followed going forward much will have been won.

(I suppose you can't blame him, but it does seem as though Jesse Singal should have made sure that the apology Hypatia posted to Facebook was the journal's official position. I certainly assumed that it was. In a certain sense, this was a tempest in a tea-cup. If Scholz's position had been known from the start, there would have been much less to worry about. I think people would have been much less agitated about some FB-posts if it didn't look like the journal had caved, which, it turns out, it had not.)