On not being a whining twat

The main lesson to draw from the BBC Director General’s amusing biting habit appears to be that his bitten colleague, Anthony Massey, is a bit of a cock: trying to enforce "the whole [employer's] disciplinary process" is reasonable if you’re discriminated against or persistently bullied, but is an lame thing to do to someone over a single mostly-harmless incident.

Still, it pales into insignificance compared with the Republicans’ wonderful attempts to force academics to respect the stupid beliefs of the fundie, Fox-watching community. "The law would give students who think their beliefs are not being respected legal standing to sue professors and universities" – did someone say frivolous lawsuits…?

(left-wing PC often pisses me off as well. But at least it’s founded on obviously-true principles such as ‘discriminating against people on the grounds of race and gender is not only bad, but also easy to do accidentally through modes of speech and jumping to conclusions about people’s character, so we should try and stop it’. Right-wing PC is broadly founded on principles such as ‘it hurts my feelings when you point out how stupid my views are, so we should try and stop it’.)

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13 thoughts on “On not being a whining twat

  1. If the law does match your description (which even Crooked Timber suggests is not the case) it is certainly a bad idea. But academic bias is rife on American campuses, and threatens to ruin the US education system. It’s right to look at ways of tackling it.

    Did you see what happened to Larry Summers? What is still happening? If you think the criticisms of Lancet are innumerate, you really should read what he said, and then read his critics. If it can happen to the President of Harvard, it can happen to anyone.

  2. Yeah, this isn’t just about having students’ beliefs respected. If the only problem were lack of respect, I doubt the politicians would be getting involved. The problem is persistent bullying.

    > left-wing PC often pisses me off as well. But at least it’s founded on obviously-true principles

    You’re a funny man, Mr B.

  3. I thought that was a classic, too. The principle of political correctness is not really about discrimination against groups or about language, but about the "axiom of equality": that in all people at all times you’ll get identical outcomes and behaviour, and if it turns out there are more ingenious male mathematicians or fewer charismatic Asian celebrities, then that can only prove sexism, racism and the need for more PC.

  4. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to think that serious academic bias doesn’t exist in this country’s universities. I have yet to see evidence of that. That certainly isn’t the case in the US, unfortunately.

    Check out this piece for a huge range of examples.

  5. Forgive me for pissing myself with laughter at your cited essay’s most brilliant turn of phrase:

    "…and nothing, not even David Horowitz’s indefatigable activism, is going to change that soon."

    Not to go all ad hominem on your ass, but anyone (I’m referring to the author of the essay you cited) who doesn’t immediately recognize the clownishness of a David Horowitz is, well, a whining twat.

    Conservative students may wish to attempt to argue with their professors, if they feel they are being fed lefty falsehoods. But why argue when you can smear, threaten, and sue?

  6. Sorry, that was all addressed to Peter, but I’m too overcome with whining twattishness to be able to express myself clearly.

  7. S2: left-wing PC pisses me off *when it gets silly*. A lot otf ‘discriminating against people on the grounds of race and gender… through modes of speech and jumping to conclusions about people’s character’ is real, and exists among people who wouldn’t think of directly discriminating against someone because of their skin colour, gender, etc. This is worth being aware of.

  8. > anyone (I’m referring to the author of the essay you cited) who doesn’t immediately recognize the clownishness of a David Horowitz is, well, a whining twat.

    That would include John Bryant, would it?

    > Conservative students may wish to attempt to argue with their professors, if they feel they are being fed lefty falsehoods.

    If the only problem in American universities were what students were being told in the classroom, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. It’s a culture of persistent intimidation, sometimes — especially where Israel is involved — leading to violence. I thought that was the sort of the thing the Left were supposed to oppose.

  9. John – maybe you can asnswer this. Why are the insults chucked about by the ‘left’ always based on the female genitalia. I lose count of the c-words on sites like u75 and the t-word on your site.

    I’m an admirer of said genitalia so don’t like to see the word used as an insult.

  10. Laban, it’s probably for the same reason that the insults chucked around by the ‘right’ are always based on the ‘p-word’ for female genitalia.

    (At least I assume that’s what they’re alluding to, because it would hardly be an insult to compare someone to that most noble and wily and ruggedly individual beast, the household moggy, would it?)

  11. "That would include John Bryant, would it?"

    Okay, you found someone who associates with Horowitz who is not, as best I can tell, a whining [insert gender-neutral term]. Horowitz is still a self-aggrandizing publicity hound who is contributing to a climate where anyone to the left of Joe Lieberman is seen as a dangerous subversive or even a traitor, and is in favor of the government intervening to make sure more Republican professors are hired. I thought this was the sort of thing those of a libertarian bent were supposed to oppose.

    As for the "culture of persistent intimidation," I’d say that’s a bit overheated. Having spent more years than I’d care to number at the very university where Ward Churchill happens to be tenured, I never witnessed any such thing – though of course it’s improper to generalize from personal experience. Horowitz’s evidence has been less than compelling.

  12. > … the government intervening to make sure more Republican professors are hired. I thought this was the sort of thing those of a libertarian bent were supposed to oppose.

    Well, that depends. I believe in accepting the consequences of your actions. If the universities want to refuse to take any government money, then, yeah, they could also refuse to take any government influence.

  13. "the consequences of your actions"

    The whole thing, then, comes down to whether one believes that American university hiring committees are biased toward liberal professors, and thus taking action to keep the universities liberal, or whether bright, talented conservatives self-select themselves out of academia and into think tanks, big business, et cetera. I’ve seen little persuasive evidence for either, but the latter makes more sense to me, especially in light of the fact that hiring committees don’t look for party affiliation, and it would be near-impossible to discern in most disciplines. What does conservative art history look like, for example? Or liberal mathematics?

    If what Horowitz claims to see (hiring committees vetting applicants for ideology and purging the conservatives) is really happening, then yeah, it’s wrong. Perhaps if he undertook a serious investigation, rather than puffing up any tangential bit of hearsay to bolster his case, he might appear less clownish. But as of this moment, it’s completely unsubstantiated.

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