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Freedom? What freedom?

Some of you may not have heard that the Philosophy department at the University of Colorado has been subjected to a bizarre and extreme administrative takeover designed to force a more welcoming atmosphere towards women. The accusations involved are all unstated or vague (or covered by the veil of secrecy that attends intra-university complaints of harassment). I am not even saying that no professors in the department have done anything wrong. (The one publicly available report accuses some unspecified number of "ogling" female students.) But the sanctions are terrifying and, if applied, some of them are arguably illegal.

A team of feminist activists from the American Philosophical Association was dispatched to evaluate the situation, make recommendations, and submit these to the university's administration. According to this blogger, the administration says it is implementing most of them. I haven't been able to find out whether the ones I'm going to highlight here are among those that the administration is implementing. My cynical guess is that to some degree this point will be left nicely ambiguous so as to keep the philosophers in constant fear.

Here are just two of the most outrageous recommendations:

1) Members of the philosophy department should be forbidden to socialize with undergraduate or graduate students outside of business settings. Presumably this means no having a few students over to your home for dinner. What about one graduate student who happens to be a friend? Who knows, but the language is sweeping. Think I'm making it up? Nope. The language is absolutely clear:

Department members must entirely avoid arranging situations where sexual harassment might happen or where people might think that it is happening. This means no alcohol served at any events connected with the Department (and this must extend beyond only "sanctioned" departmental events), and no evening socializing.
Because of its history, the Department should recognize that it is inappropriate for faculty to socialize with graduate and undergraduate students outside of departmental events, which should be held during normal business hours.

(All emphases are in the original document.)

The report writers are especially exercised about informal meetings in bars (p. 7). But they don't go quite so far as to try to forbid faculty members from going to bars, so I suppose this just means that if any two members of the department, or any faculty member and student, happen to show up at the same bar at the same time, they have to pretend not to know one another.

I must say that it is darkly amusing that the task force complains that faculty are too nit-picky in raising "what-if" scenarios and trying to find ways to evade their draconian rule-making (p. 7). Well, yes, ladies, if you attempt to set up absurdly sweeping prohibitions on the normal human behavior of adult professionals, including prohibiting private social interaction, you will get a certain amount of pushback!

2) But it gets worse, if possible. The recommendations also contain a prohibition on criticizing feminist philosophy when talking with anyone connected with the department. Again, I'm not making this up; it's there in black and white:

If some department members have a problem with people doing non-feminist philosophy or doing feminist philosophy (or being engaged in any other sort of intellectual or other type of pursuit), they should gain more appreciation of and tolerance for plurality in the discipline. Even if they are unable to reach a level of appreciation for other approaches to the discipline, it is totally unacceptable for them to denigrate these approaches in front of faculty, graduate or undergraduate students, in formal or informal settings, on or off campus.

You gotta love the transparently insincere (and logically absurd) attempt to be inclusive--"non-feminist philosophy or feminist philosophy or any other intellectual or other type of pursuit." Taken literally, this would mean that nobody could criticize any "pursuit" at all to anyone else in the department. But let's not kid ourselves. It is impossible to take the "or any other type of pursuit" stuff literally. This is quite clearly a sweeping prohibition on criticizing feminist philosophy to other philosophers, whether in private or in public, on campus or off campus. How could such a prohibition be enforced? Lacking the ability to place microphones in the private cars and homes of faculty members, presumably the enforcers will rely on tale-bearers, as Communists have always done.

This brings me back to a discussion we were having in the comboxes on my post, below. The question arose as to whether state universities should be prohibited to engage in racial discrimination under the 14th amendment and under jurisprudential precedents that treat them as state actors. I pointed out that the implications of not treating public universities as state actors are wide-ranging. This is another such example: I really think there is a 1st amendment lawsuit just waiting in the wings if some philosopher at the University of Colorado is actually punished for criticizing feminist philosophy "in formal or informal settings, on campus or off" to someone other than his auto mechanic--e.g., to a colleague or student. I hope someone in the department puts up a sign on his office door saying, "Feminist philosophy is completely intellectually bankrupt and valueless." I'm sure FIRE would be extremely interested if a state school attempted to punish a professor for such "denigrating" comments. Fresh from their victory on behalf of Mike Adams, they are no doubt raring to go. But such cases do depend on treating a state school as subject to 1st amendment considerations when it comes to constraining free speech--hence, not as a purely private entity.

You may not have much sympathy for philosophers. And I don't know any of the philosophers at the University of Colorado and have no "dog in the fight" as far as defending the propriety of individuals and their actions. But the recommendations of the APA are terrifying. That they should think that anyone should be trying to exercise this type of control over anyone else is stunning in its brazenness. I daresay that even a private Christian school would not attempt to make these kinds of totalizing demands, at least not explicitly: No socializing with any students, no criticizing of such-and-such an approach to philosophy even in private conversations.

Freedom? What freedom? Who cares about freedom? This is the Brave New World.

Comments (61)

I find the salvo against demon rum amusing and revealing.

I know! I couldn't believe it! I used to attend a Bible college where students and faculty _did_ have to agree as part of the covenant or whatever it was called to "abstain from the use of alcohol as a beverage." (I belonged to churches with this requirement until I was in my twenties.) I know quite well the pietistic culture into which such a prohibition can fit, and even be part of an overall pattern with its own sober attractiveness. But to see these neo-Puritan feminists doing it...hilarious. In a weird way.

Someone needs to ask the Brazen Biddies whether it might be easier, indeed safer to forbid men to be in the same building with women. This can be accomplished in one of the following ways: (a) (Preferred) Make one department for males and one for females. The one for females can engage in "women studies" to its heart's content, and marginalize itself into a parody of scholarship, while the other one will do all the heavy lifting as regards actual, you know, pursuit of truth. (b) Make all classes online. Forbid anyone associated with the department ever actually meeting with anyone else from the department. (3) Abolish the department. That way there will be NO departmental events, and ipso facto no harassment at departmental events.

See, this is the perfection of the university concept: nobody getting together and thus no risk of infecting anyone with (oooohhhhhh!, horrors!) an IDEEEAAA.

We can certainly extend their notion of forbidden liquids, too: There was a kid who plagiarized last year: forbid the use of INK in the university. There was another kid who slipped on some water in the cafeteria: forbid water in the university.

Wait, are you suggesting that we should perhaps segregate schools by sex? What are you, some sort of crazy conservative Puritan who's afraid of sex?

Shhhh. That's wasn't supposed to come out, MA. Let them think it's to protect women from ogling.

It just occurred to me that this report constitutes denigrating comments against the "in vino veritas" approach to the discipline. Perhaps the authors of the report need to gain more appreciation and tolerance for other approaches.

Well, even aside from alcohol's loosening of inhibitions leading to speaking truth more readily, it is generally, if not universally noted that alcoholic beverages loosen the tongue so that people are just plain more sociable. They (supposedly) get along better, interact with more life and connect better. (All of these can be contested, or at least can be qualified, of course.) What the biddies assume is that there is NO NEED to consider whether the goods intended by the convivial setting of getting together outside the classroom, with drink, might offset the risks to some persons overstepping boundaries against offensive behavior. Nor do they consider the possibility that with training and attention to the problem, people could even learn to imbibe within moderation and STILL interact sociably without giving offense to women.

In other words, their reaction is like using a chain saw to remove an appendix. Normal people would see this right off. That the department didn't see fit to just LAUGH IN THEIR FACES and tell them to take a flying leap shows that they are either inhumanely restrained, or stupid. Not sure which.

Yes, Tony, exactly so. I can't see why a series of strongly-worded, cautionary memos about the personal and professional dangers of excessive drinking and fraternization with younger students, circulated by email, would not have been sufficient. Get the faculty to sign and return the documents if you must. They won't have any recourse if real problems arise later.

But there's the rub. The "problem" they're seeking to address is not a real problem to begin with. Feminists are notoriously authoritarian and lacking in any sense of perspective. That these institutions continue to take their orders from them--when they enjoy essentially no popular support outside of their own little conference halls--is a source of bottomless consternation.

This is just one more manifestation of an ongoing and rapidly worsening condition. The cultural left is close to achieving almost complete hegemony over the major institutions in our society. This consolidation of power and control has accelerated at an exponential rate in the last decade, and we now are witnessing, with increasing frequency and intensity, Soviet-style authoritarianism, deception, and injustice.

I think our biggest problem is that we have failed to realize that the left is a unitary and transnational phenomenon. There was and still is a tendency amongst American conservatives to suppose that the American left is in its essence different from the Maoist left or the Soviet left or the "kill 'em all" Che Guevara left. That is because the representatives of the American left, as we "know" them from mid-century on, are all nice urbane liberal mainline-protestants who wouldn't hurt a fly. That might have been true 40 years ago, but it isn't true today. If Mao, Stalin and Che were man-eating tigers, our Barack Obamas, Brian Leiters and feminist "philosophers" are tiger cubs. Anybody with any sense sees exactly where this going.

Every time leftists get control of an institution- be it the Russian government or the APA- they become extreme authoritarians and they wield tyrannical power to whatever extent they think they can get away with. They don't go further here in the USA because they know they can only go so far before the previously established cultural and institutional norms stop them from doing so. But they keep pushing at the boundaries of those norms- at an increasingly accelerating rate- so as to maximize their ability to wield tyrannical power against non-liberals. The American left, every time it gets its hands on the levers of power- displays the exact same tendencies as the worst 20th century Communist authoritarians.

The cultural left is close to achieving almost complete hegemony over the major institutions in our society. This consolidation of power and control has accelerated at an exponential rate in the last decade, and we now are witnessing, with increasing frequency and intensity, Soviet-style authoritarianism, deception, and injustice.

So, what do we do about it?

So, what do we do about it?

I'll play.

1) Prayer

2) I think we can all appreciate what's happening with Vox Day in Science Fiction, and learn from that. So, going off what I see from there:

a) Don't pull punches. Don't start things, don't even respond disproportionately, but stand up for yourself to the fullest possible extent.

b)Make your case clearly. Be as transparent as possible - don't hold back any information that might be relevant. If somebody on the other side is being a hypocrite, call them out on it.

c) Be very public about it. Remember, half of the country is actually on your side. I think the biggest mistake conservatives make nowadays is think they're outnumbered. The left is loud, but even if they do have numbers, they don't have as many.

Oh, and perhaps most importantly: Don't apologize for your views.

MA, you left out the other side of the coin that goes with prayer: sacrifice. Heaven knows I am not good at this myself, but it still needs to be said. We are contending with the forces of Hell, and sometimes we aren't going to get anywhere just by prayer. We have to be willing to suffer for the Truth as well.

Point acknowledged, Tony.

Marc,

) Don't pull punches. Don't start things, don't even respond disproportionately, but stand up for yourself to the fullest possible extent.

Oddly enough, Vox would probably disagree with you there. I'm pretty sure Vox believes in escalation, and he certainly believes in starting things. See the ongoing debacle with the Hugo Awards, which was specifically prompted by Larry Correia and company intentionally trying to cause trouble, largely to prove a point.

>2) I think we can all appreciate what's happening with Vox Day in Science Fiction, and learn from that. So, going off what I see from there:

Vox Day is a virulent racist as well as a misogynistic jerk. If you expected people to be quiet about his campaign to get himself nominated or what his nomination says about the Huge nomination process then you are delusional. And I don't mean that he is a private pseudo-racist like Sterling, he is an actual "darkies are inferior and have no place in our society" racist. His nomination has convinced me that the Hugo awards needs a special nomination committee.

consider these quotes

>…it is not that I, and others, do not view [Jemisin] as human, (although genetic science presently suggests that we are not equally homo sapiens sapiens), it is that we simply do not view her as being fully civilized for the obvious historical reason that she is not.
>The laws are not there to let whites “just shoot people like me, without consequence, as long as they feel threatened by my presence”, those self-defense laws have been put in place to let whites defend their lives and their property from people, like her, who are half-savages engaged in attacking them.
>Unlike the white males she excoriates, there is no evidence to be found anywhere on the planet that a society of NK Jemisins is capable of building an advanced civilization, or even successfully maintaining one without significant external support from those white males.

http://amalelmohtar.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/racist-asshole-2.jpg

http://amalelmohtar.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/racist-asshole-1.jpg

Vox Day is a true champion of Christian values, n'est pas? If Colorado is targeting people like him then more power to them.

Okay, okay, twweeeet. I know pretty much nothing about Vox Day, and an old friend on the phone one day said to me, "You hate him," which I assume means that I _would_ hate him, by which I assume he was referring _not_ to VD's posts about apologetics. If you get my meaning. I've pretty much studiously avoided using my time (which I still consider somewhat valuable) to read any of his stuff except one post on his reasons for being an Arian rather than an orthodox Christian, and I intend to keep it that way, and have absolutely no desire to have my thread on the University of Colorado turned into a debate about VD's merits or demerits.

Take it that MA's point was an _illustration_ and leave it there for the sake of the argument, gents. Frankly, when it comes to the University of Colorado one point I would make is that *no matter* what they did this report is insane. If their actions were really bad (e.g., if some professor insisted that a female student sleep with him for a grade, or if someone actually assaulted a woman) then all of this nanny-ish attempted control on at-home conversations is ridiculously _weak_ as a punishment, besides being not to the point. And for everybody innocent, it's Soviet-style absurdity to the hilt. As usual with leftists, they get their "solutions" *precisely wrong*. It's like the anti-Goldilocks. They can't come up with an appropriate response to a problem to save their lives.

And, no, Dunsany, it wouldn't matter what their opinions were. Minimally reasonable people don't set up these kinds of stupid rules (you can't socialize, Johnny, with so-and-so outside of business hours, and the two of you can't have a drink together, and no criticizing feminist philosophy) in response even to really odious opinions, opinions considered odious, whatever. There are plenty of responses that make sense to odious opinions, but those aren't among them.

Crude, Vox probably does disagree with that one to an extent, but I DO think that he said you shouldn't start things.

And yes, Vox is a polarizing people and I do doubt Lydia would like him. He is also an Arian. But yeah, my point was not to endorse Vox Day but rather to endorse a certain strategy that I think worked. For what it's worth, I disagree with the man far more than I agree with him.

I'm pretty sure Vox would say that it was Scalzi who started the whole Hugo thing, and I'd actually agree with him there. But honestly, that's neither here nor there.

Philosophers should be geeks. Then, their response would be simply, "Girls? What are these girl-things of which you speak?"

Seriously, instead of not critiquing feminist philosophy, they should start criticizing non-male philosophy. Who knows, perhaps dogs, secretly, do philosophy.

The Chicken

I believe Marc is right about one thing: Vox's (and Larry Correia's) strategy worked. It helped that they actually concocted a plan and worked on it, rather than satisfied themselves with complaining in relative privacy. They used their respective positions as popular authors and the format of the Hugo awards to raise a little hell, and raise a little hell they did - in the process illustrating the hypocrisy not only of the leftists, but of a pretty major industry in general. (Well, major for now - it's on the decline.)

As for the OP, I'm sad to say that my general opinion of academia is 'burn it all to the ground'. The APA in particular is an intellectual joke at this point, and the best thing Christians can do is undermine respect for such organizations - and academia in general - in their own communities. If they want to be jokes, then the least we can do is laugh at them. Loudly.

I hold no brief for the APA, but being married to a professional philosopher (perhaps you didn't know that, Crude?) I am not at all likely to agree that we should burn all of academia to the ground. I still think that good things can be and in some cases are taught in philosophy classes and many other classes in higher education. I also have many professional philosophers for friends who do a darned good job. My sympathies are with any normal philosophers who just wanted to do good work in the University of Colorado, and even though (as I said in the OP) I don't actually know who they are or what their work is (and deliberately avoided looking it up for purposes of this post), it is more than a purely theoretical possibility that there were such. Nobody in the department was looking to be taken over by an APA Committee of Harpies. Obviously. So just being cynical and saying, "Who cares?" is not going to do it for me, here. There are people trying to do good work in the academy, and the Committee of Harpies would like to stop them from doing it with this kind of totalitarian junk. As for what to do about it, if they try it on you, I think Mike Adams has had a good approach: Sue the bastards. And he won, too. He more or less told them that they were going to take his freedom of speech from his cold, dead hands, and he won. I'm cheering for FIRE on this one, and I hope some of the UC philosophers are in touch with them, too.

The whole "Higher education is a joke, anyway, who cares about a bunch of philosophers?" response really does invite the "First they came for the philosophers, but I did nothing, because I was not a philosopher" routine.

If you want a really practical recommendation, Crude, how about if you donate some $$ to the Alliance Defending Freedom or FIRE or one of those other free-speech-on-the-university-campus pro bono groups that ends up representing conservatives so often. You never know. Some day you or one of your kids or someone close to you who works for or attends a college somewhere in the US of A might need their services.

Lydia,

I hold no brief for the APA, but being married to a professional philosopher (perhaps you didn't know that, Crude?)

Sure I did, the famous Tim McGrew. I've even seen him show up on Dangerous Ideas now and then. In fact, I thought -you- were a professional philosopher? I seem to recall your name on academic papers. Maybe I was mistaken.

So just being cynical and saying, "Who cares?" is not going to do it for me, here.

I'm not saying 'who cares?' I'm saying we should actively be attempting to undermine it and be rid of it. When an organ goes sufficiently cancerous, so long as it isn't vital, it becomes reasonable to stop talking about 'how to save it' and instead 'how to eliminate it.'

Tough talk from a guy who doesn't even reveal his RL identity and has no stake of livelihood in it, I grant you. I know the distance from which I speak about these things, the relative safety I have, and that the stakes differ drastically for you and others. But still I offer my opinion.

My sympathies are with any normal philosophers who just wanted to do good work in the University of Colorado, and even though (as I said in the OP) I don't actually know who they are or what their work is (and deliberately avoided looking it up for purposes of this post), it is more than a purely theoretical possibility that there were such.

Why did you avoid it? Why not look who they are?

Part of my problem with the talk about 'normal people who just want to do good work' is that it so often cashes out to mean 'people who will keep their mouths shut or even go along with a purging. And really, it's not always easy to feel sympathy for those people. Often, but not always.

As for what to do about it, if they try it on you, I think Mike Adams has had a good approach: Sue the bastards. And he won, too. He more or less told them that they were going to take his freedom of speech from his cold, dead hands, and he won. I'm cheering for FIRE on this one, and I hope some of the UC philosophers are in touch with them, too.

Yep, a good case. Good for him, I'm glad he did it. But keep in mind what the results were: 7 years of legal wrangling, 50k and a promotion, according to what I've read. And was the lesson 'we better not do this again' or 'we better do this with more skill and grace next time'?

How about the case of Guillermo Gonzalez? Or the Ball State ID incident? The APA problems in general, which go beyond this incident? The problems of academia in general, which likewise go beyond this incident?

What I liked about the Hugo award incident was that it involved some conservatives thinking of a way to actually make headway on a given issue with an organization and process. So what can be done with the APA, which we know is riddled with nasty problems?

Lydia,

The whole "Higher education is a joke, anyway, who cares about a bunch of philosophers?" response really does invite the "First they came for the philosophers, but I did nothing, because I was not a philosopher" routine.

Not really. For one thing, 'academia != higher education'. Education is glorious. Academia? It really depends on the time and place, and in our time there's a substantial amount of 'joke'ness to it. What, you disagree? And that's before going into the question of whether the modern academic system - or even the public school system - is as necessary as it may have been in the past.

If you want a really practical recommendation, Crude, how about if you donate some $$ to the Alliance Defending Freedom or FIRE or one of those other free-speech-on-the-university-campus pro bono groups that ends up representing conservatives so often. You never know. Some day you or one of your kids or someone close to you who works for or attends a college somewhere in the US of A might need their services.

There is no lack of causes worth my time and attention, Lydia. As near as I can tell, those organizations are fighting a losing battle with a bad strategy, even if their causes are laudable. Perhaps there are better alternatives.

I disagree. I think they have a worthy cause and a worthy strategy. And I think of individuals, not just of grand causes. You and I doubtless have different priorities. ADF has won cases for specific individuals whose careers have therefore not been ruined by bad guys who were trying to ruin them.

I say the same of academia. You are right that there is plenty of joke-ness there. There are also men and women of good will teaching the young good things. I care about everything of value. In the words of Gandalf,

The rule of no realm is mine, neither of Gondor nor any other, great or small. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, those are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail of my task, though Gondor should perish, if anything passes through this night that can still grow fair or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I also am a steward. Did you not know?


I have plenty to say about strategy (for example, making alliances with civil libertarians and "right liberals," as has been done in the formation of these legal defense organizations), but no doubt you will just say that it wouldn't work in some grand winning way, so you're not interested. You'll just shift ground, as in effect you have just done in your last couple of comments, from, "You have nothing practical to suggest; you just want to moan and groan pointlessly" to "You have nothing practical to suggest that I agree with." Whatever. If you think I care much about your personal opinion of me or my ideas, you are mistaken.

(I am a professional philosopher in the sense of publishing in professional journals but not in the sense of getting paid for doing philosophy. I have no institutional affiliation.)

Lydia,

I disagree. I think they have a worthy cause and a worthy strategy. And I think of individuals, not just of grand causes. You and I doubtless have different priorities. ADF has won cases for specific individuals whose careers have therefore not been ruined by bad guys who were trying to ruin them.

They are doing great work, and I'm sure they are worthy of support given your priorities. But no, it doesn't really address the concern I have - or, for that matter, the concerns raised by this thread, I really think. The problem here is not specific and isolated cases of abuse in an otherwise benevolent system. It's a systematic set of abuses provoked by a ravenous culture, that is partly abetted by 'normal people who just want to do their jobs' keeping their mouths shut - because they just want to do their jobs.

I say the same of academia. You are right that there is plenty of joke-ness there. There are also men and women of good will teaching the young good things.

You leave out this part: they're teaching them for a salary. They get paid to do what they do. That doesn't mean they're terrible people - money is quite nice, and often deserved. But it does introduce a factor which illustrates part of the problem here, and with the education system in general.

I have plenty to say about strategy (for example, making alliances with civil libertarians and "right liberals," as has been done in the formation of these legal defense organizations), but no doubt you will just say that it wouldn't work in some grand winning way, so you're not interested.

Or maybe I'll say it's good but we should do more, or maybe I'll point out a flaw with an approach, or maybe I'll think they're doing brilliant work on one front, or maybe I'll say they're doing good work but I think they could do better here. What's wrong with that?

You'll just shift ground, as in effect you have just done in your last couple of comments, from, "You have nothing practical to suggest; you just want to moan and groan pointlessly" to "You have nothing practical to suggest that I agree with."

No, I pointed out that your preferred method of approach didn't seem to actually address the problem as I saw it, and I explained why that was the case.

Lydia, I have to ask you. Why do you always seem to react to criticism in this way? I've aired my opinion, I've praised some actions in this thread, I've pointed out the shortcomings of others. You really give off the impression - "Whatever."s and 'I don't even care what you think.'s aside - that you regard criticism of approach and attitude of conservative acts and organizations, even from a conservative, as some kind of betrayal, or at the very least a kind of pointlessly petty action that shouldn't be done because it can't possibly go anywhere. That's a great recipe for stagnation and defeat. You may not care that I say as much, but unfortunately, it's the case whether or not you care.

(I am a professional philosopher in the sense of publishing in professional journals but not in the sense of getting paid for doing philosophy. I have no institutional affiliation.)

Wonderful, then you're as much a philosopher as any academic ever could hope to be.

Lydia, I have to ask you. Why do you always seem to react to criticism in this way?


From "The Trouble With Tribbles."

Nilz Baris: Captain Kirk, I consider your security measures a disgrace. In my opinion, you have taken this entire, very important project far too lightly.

Capt. Kirk: On the contrary, sir. I think of this project as very important. It is YOU I take lightly.

Crude suggests that academia is a joke that should be laughed at, frequently. Few if any folks around here disagree with that. The question is whether something deserving of ridicule is also deserving of homicide by fire.

There is certainly an edge of trollishness in these comments. Lydia is admirably impatient with trolls.

Keeping in the theme, when someone recommends that conservatives ostentatiously throw off the "reform if you would preserve" mantle of Burke, on the grounds that some institution or other has become an intellectual joke, my response is somewhat along these lines:

http://www.reactiongifs.com/picard-facepalm/

I wonder how someone would react if the APA were to say this:

If some department members have a problem with people doing non-Christian philosophy or doing Christian philosophy (or being engaged in any other sort of intellectual or other type of pursuit), they should gain more appreciation of and tolerance for plurality in the discipline. Even if they are unable to reach a level of appreciation for other approaches to the discipline, it is totally unacceptable for them to denigrate these approaches in front of faculty, graduate or undergraduate students, in formal or informal settings, on or off campus.

There is certainly an edge of trollishness in these comments.

I'm going to be frank here: I interact with Crude quite a bit and no, there is not. Crude's position is that there's basically no way to save the institution, it's too far gone, so it would be better to get rid of it.

You can disagree. But Crude has put up detailed arguments, explained himself several times, and hasn't engaged in any personal attacks. He hasn't been trolling.

Paul, what you just said is essentially "Crude said something that a few of the blogmasters, myself included, would probably disagree with strongly, so he's trolling".

For the record, I actually am not sure if I agree with Crude, mostly because I dislike giving up anything as a lost cause. Also, how are we even defining academia here? If we're not defining it as higher education in general, then what are we defining it as?

Lydia,

Here's a quote for you in turn: Methinks the lady doth protest too much. ;)

Paul,

Crude suggests that academia is a joke that should be laughed at, frequently. Few if any folks around here disagree with that. The question is whether something deserving of ridicule is also deserving of homicide by fire.

Not homicide by fire. Yes, I know, you're exaggerating for effect - but let's be clear what I'm ultimately suggesting here: that we don't just make a joke about academia here and there, but we cease to take it (the institution, not education) seriously whatsoever. We not only rob it of respect, but also of our concern, to the point where we don't really mind if it metaphorically burns to the ground, and in fact we'll be all in favor of doing exactly that when it comes to (say) public funding, etc. This also means thinking about what to replace it with, and that is no small undertaking. On the other hand, modern technology has made that easier than it used to be.

There is certainly an edge of trollishness in these comments. Lydia is admirably impatient with trolls.

Lydia is impatient with everything she dislikes, and she's the one who's decided to try and both make and take everything personally. Naturally, I react in kind, and that's inevitably going to reduce to the usual wagons-circling and howls - instead of, you know, interacting with the arguments and the criticisms. Wait, no, let's pretend that donating 20 dollars to a legal organization is the best we can each do here.

What's Wrong With the World, indeed.

Keeping in the theme, when someone recommends that conservatives ostentatiously throw off the "reform if you would preserve" mantle of Burke, on the grounds that some institution or other has become an intellectual joke, my response is somewhat along these lines:

Stop hitting yourself, Paul. ;)

And if I can get religious for a moment: the idea that some organizations are too precious to abandon and actively undermine is the dead opposite of Protestant thought. Not that we're all Protestants here, but the irony isn't lost on me.

Modern academia, much like the public school system, is not a precious institution that we are honor-bound to maintain (and in their current form, no less) now and for all time, and that we should treat with a certain amount of respect and sanctity no matter how far they fall. You fight and you try to preserve and reform, but eventually you can hit a point where that attempt at preservation has become foolhardy, and there are better alternatives on the horizon.

Now, that's on topic, it's relevant, and it's politely stated. Do you guys care to drop the 'Lydia is upset, quick everyone attack the source of her ire!' game and discuss things? Because if we're just going to burn the thread down and mock, well, I'll play that game too - but I came here for reasonable conversation. If I want petty sniping, I've got other places I can engage in such at will.

I believe Marc is right about one thing: Vox's (and Larry Correia's) strategy worked. It helped that they actually concocted a plan and worked on it, rather than satisfied themselves with complaining in relative privacy.

That is a trollish comment, MarcAnthony; unless Crude had other unnamed targets in mind and the barb merely in artful.

When commentary frequently contains an undercurrent of "why do you pansies even bother," trollish is a fair description of it.

Marc,

Thank you for that, I appreciate it. I don't care if people disagree with me, really. Hell, I don't care if someone puts up an argument that shows me to be wrong, or to be approaching this in the wrong way - I'd like to know. I think what I see in this thread - the implied idea that the APA, for all its faults, is still a precious thing that we should respect and preserve while lamenting and fighting against its excesses - leaves something to be desired, to put it mildly. It's not as if I think any organization experiencing a problem should be consigned to the metaphorical flames (once again, if I thought that way, how Catholic could I be?), but there does come a time when you should really cut your losses and formulate a new plan.

Here's one way to think about it. How many people around this blog thing the Southern Poverty Law Center or the Democratic Party are, gosh darn it, good institutions that we can yet save?

Paul,

That is a trollish comment, MarcAnthony; unless Crude had other unnamed targets in mind and the barb merely in artful.

When commentary frequently contains an undercurrent of "why do you pansies even bother," trollish is a fair description of it.

Come on. Seriously? Do you realize that that quote applies to -myself- as well as anyone else? I explicitly said I'm an anonymous nobody of no accomplishment. I have no trophies to show you. (Unless donating to a cause counts, in which case I'm apparently some kind of proud culture warrior, kneel before me.) Yes, some times people merely talk and don't act - and sometimes that is because they don't know what to do anyway.

If that quote is really the source of serious ire on your part, I don't even know what to say. Which is unfortunate, because my not saying anything will probably be sufficient to establish me as a troll when standards are that delicate.

You came here for reasonable conversation by posting a one sentence taunt? See my TNG link above.

Look, Crude, I have no problem with state legislatures getting more active and aggressive to rein in public institutions. The power of the purse is no puny power. Nor do I have any problem with extensive discussion and thinking about what to replace the modern university with, should its suicidal purpose be consummated. I've even entered that discussion in the past:

http://www.whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2007/05/the_university_reform_of_you_w.html

The thing I have a problem with this Concern-Troll Two-Step, from taunts and barbs to embraces and soft caresses. "Hey, I came to this reputable place just to have a reasonable conversation but you idiots keep getting in my way."

Let's take a step back. Crude, would you kindly state your objection to Lydia's approach in the OP?

Paul,

You came here for reasonable conversation by posting a one sentence taunt?

Spare me. I asked a question, I made a reply, and I've interacted. I'm not the one who decided to get personal and snarky. You took 'acting is better than complaining in private' to be trolling - adjust your troll-meter, it's broken.

The thing I have a problem with this Concern-Troll Two-Step, from taunts and barbs to embraces and soft caresses. "Hey, I came to this reputable place just to have a reasonable conversation but you idiots keep getting in my way."

Concern-troll? I asked questions. I stated my problems with some of the replies I received. I pointed out (with Marc's prompting) one case of an overrun organization actually receiving some creative pushback.

It's not as if I think I hold the precious secret to a successful conservative future in my hands, you know. I do have opinions, I have criticisms, and I try to make some points. My theme is, I suppose, 'We've made mistakes.' and 'We may be looking at things wrongly.' Yes, that makes me negative, but a troll? Really?

Let's take a step back. Crude, would you kindly state your objection to Lydia's approach in the OP?

You act as if I think Lydia's criticisms of the situation are off-base (I don't think they are, as far as they go) or that I'm opposed to FIRE (I'm not.) I simply think that it's an incomplete response.

I said some of this before, but I will say it again. First off, the big victory - and it is a victory - where that man is concerned came in the form of a 7-year drawn-out lawsuit, a 50k award, and a promotion in an institute that doesn't like him. That's great. But it's not much of a victory. It's doubly not one since, let's be frank - legal action prompts legal-minded responses, where people make sure to cross their t's, dot their i's, follow the letter of the law and happily break the spirit.

It's not that such responses are bad, or aren't worth of engaging in. I support lawsuits in cases like that, and I'm glad for the victory. But I do not think it is sufficient, and I don't think it addresses the real problem we face with these organizations, this academic culture.

I explicitly said I'm an anonymous nobody of no accomplishment.

And I took that to be the ol' "hang a lantern on your problem" strategy. Say it yourself before someone else does and the problem goes away.

For the record, I am animated not by "ire" but by mild irritation. I object to several devices of yours in this thread, of which I'll enumerate two:

(a) Your elisions back a forth between "academia" and "the APA," such that the defender of the former may be conveniently construed as a defender of the latter. You did state: "I'm sad to say that my general opinion of academia is 'burn it all to the ground.'" That's a pretty strong statement, and one with which any common conservative not yet on board with anarchism and firebombing can disagree -- without, mind you, giving a rip about the APA.

(b) Your implication that the repeated exposure or demonstration of academic hypocrisy and tyrannical liberalism is mere idle talk. It's not. Let's call it education.

I simply think that it's an incomplete response.
I do not think it is sufficient, and I don't think it addresses the real problem we face with these organizations, this academic culture.

I agree with you. Reform should be more robust than exposure and defensive legal action. Given the fiscal climate in many states, the opportunities may be ripe for diligent, vigorous legislators to take on some of the tenured radicals. How would you recommend they best go about this?

Paul,

And I took that to be the ol' "hang a lantern on your problem" strategy. Say it yourself before someone else does and the problem goes away.

Or maybe it's a frank assessment and realization of my own state of affairs. Likewise with my criticisms of academia - yeah, I'm clearly not risking much of my own when I make these criticisms, and I acknowledge that straightaway. Yes, that takes away the opportunity for someone to nail me with a barb, but it also keeps me grounded when I discuss such things.

(a) Your elisions back a forth between "academia" and "the APA," such that the defender of the former may be conveniently construed as a defender of the latter.

Paul, you are honest to God being too clever by half here - or more precisely, too analytical by half, and in the process are trying to play mastermind against rhetorical moves according to a grand strategy I am not making. The APA is part of academia, but that doesn't make any defender of academia into a defender of the APA. I do hold up the APA as an example of the rot of academia, but thank you, I know how to distinguish between concerns a person has about one versus the other. I am not out to trick anyone here.

"I'm sad to say that my general opinion of academia is 'burn it all to the ground.'" That's a pretty strong statement, and one with which any common conservative not yet on board with anarchism and firebombing can disagree -- without, mind you, giving a rip about the APA.

Please, for the love of God. Anarchism and firebombing? Part of me knows this is supposed to be intentional exaggeration, but considering you're splitting hairs so fine, you may want to walk this back a bit. I explained why I meant by 'burn it to the ground', and there was neither firebombing nor anarchy suggested.

(b) Your implication that the repeated exposure or demonstration of academic hypocrisy and tyrannical liberalism is mere idle talk. It's not. Let's call it education.

I did not say that exposure or demonstration was mere idle talk. I asked 'Well, we have this education. What shall we do with it now?' That is a fair question.

Given the fiscal climate in many states, the opportunities may be ripe for diligent, vigorous legislators to take on some of the tenured radicals. How would you recommend they best go about this?

Are you asking me how to legislatively go after professors with tenure, specifically? If so, that seems oddly specific, and I'm not even convinced they are the central problem here.

Here's a very small first step I'd take with regards to academia: letting people know that college may not be a good idea for them anyway. Removing some of the glory and appeal, culturally and socially, of a college degree, full stop, as opposed to having certain knowledge. This isn't a solution to the academia problem, but it's certainly a step forward.

Do you disagree?

Not at all.

I didn't mean go after particular professors. What I meant was using the legislature's financial authority to force some concessions on the part of wayward universities.

The APA is part of academia, but that doesn't make any defender of academia into a defender of the APA.

Then what did you mean by the following?

I think what I see in this thread - the implied idea that the APA, for all its faults, is still a precious thing that we should respect and preserve while lamenting and fighting against its excesses - leaves something to be desired, to put it mildly.

Unless I missed something, no one defended the APA at all. A couple of us objected to the recommendation of burning all of academia to the ground. It is precisely this sort of language that I've been mimicking while arguing with you, and precisely because I think it is excessive.

Paul,

Then what did you mean by the following?
Unless I missed something, no one defended the APA at all.

I said there was an implied idea that the APA, despite its faults, is ultimately an organization that we should respect and preserve.

Let's make a distinction here: no one defended the APA's actions in this case, and I haven't said they did. But I'm not talking about defense of the APA's actions, but instead of the organization as a whole. So you tell me Paul - and perhaps Lydia can do the same - whether or not you think the APA is an organization we should respect and preserve. Was my sense wrong?

By the way, so long as you're zeroing in on things, let's zero in on something else:

Here's me:

The APA in particular is an intellectual joke at this point, and the best thing Christians can do is undermine respect for such organizations - and academia in general - in their own communities. If they want to be jokes, then the least we can do is laugh at them. Loudly.

And here's Lydia's response:

The whole "Higher education is a joke, anyway, who cares about a bunch of philosophers?" response really does invite the "First they came for the philosophers, but I did nothing, because I was not a philosopher" routine.

Now, I zeroed in on the APA. Lydia paraphrased me as talking about 'higher education' and 'a bunch of philosophers'.

Who slid between 'the APA' and 'academia' there, Paul? It wasn't me. And if I took Lydia's response as a defense of the APA -as an organization-, do you really think I was manufacturing that view with no basis? The quotes say otherwise.

Paul,

Let me explain my position a little, the angle I work from, to hopefully disabuse you of some notions.

When I ask a question like 'So what should we do about it?', that's not my taunting you, mocking you for merely talking about a problem as opposed to 'doing something'. It is a serious question: I am asking you what response you think there should be. I'll further ask what you think the problem really is, what the source of the worry is, how to deal with that source, if it's possible to deal with. Maybe sometimes the issue is a flash in the pan, maybe it's an absurdity that should be overlooked other than to note it, maybe it was handled in the very report being discussed. And yes, sometimes even if someone has a suggestion of what to do, I may criticize it, I may point out a flaw with the response or suggest an alternative.

My worry is - and I see this on a number of conservative websites - that there is this habit of reacting to problems with acknowledgment. Finding it sufficient to identify the problem, complain, but really just kind of shrug or say 'Well hopefully we win the next election' or the like. I did that too for a long time, for the record.

But when I look at the liberals, they are constantly seeking the smallest, most incidental ways to advance their views. They throw ideology into everything from TV shows to video games to questions on exams. They rage and rail against this and that and demand protest, anger, letter writing, support. They have their little twitter campaigns, their facebook army, and more. A lot of it seems pointless, but on the other hand, their cultural successes come from somewhere. And the point is, they always seem to ask themselves, 'How do I deal with this thing I want changed?' and half the time they do SOMEthing.

So, I ask what we should do, and see if anyone has ideas, or motivations, or this or that. I also try to do what I can, in my small ways. I write letters of support. I throw a little money here and there. Meager things, incidental things, and not very often at that. But I do try to think, 'What can I do? What gesture can I make?' My sphere of influence is small, but I try to have an effect. And I do have, I think, a (again, small) effect.

Perhaps that's a good move, eh? Or maybe not - you tell me.

Fair enough, Crude.

Just to (hopefully) wrap this little dispute up: In this thread I don't see any idea, implied or directly stated, "that the APA, despite its faults, is ultimately an organization that we should respect and preserve." Had you confined your "burn it down" remarks to the APA specifically, I for one would not have objected. What I object to is a broader spasm of Vandalism, compassing all of academia.

Paul,

What I object to is a broader spasm of Vandalism, compassing all of academia.

Let me tell you why I have the opinion I do of academia, and I do sincerely apologize if this is a derail. But hey, I think it's worth explaining given the dust I've kicked up.

First of all, I think the academic system is woefully outdated and inefficient. We now live in a world where buying a computer that can fit in your pocket and can hold a massive library of books, complete with pictures, is a several hundred dollar affair. The ability for people to educate themselves, at their own pace, outside of a rigid and structured educational environment - and to do this without going into debt - is tremendous. At the same time, the social pressure to get a degree - even a useless degree* - is tremendous. I oppose this.

Second, I think academia is largely comprised of either outspoken liberals, or meek people who let the liberals rule the roost because they just want to keep their jobs and do their work. There are exceptions, but they are exactly that - exceptions. In terms of the culture and values explicitly and implicitly promoted, academia is at this point largely hostile to conservative views, or even to challenging intellectually trendy liberalism. I oppose this as well.

Third, and arguably most importantly - in spite of this bias, in spite of this manipulation of students to go into debt for degree they do not need and an education they'd be better off procuring themselves for a fiftieth of the cost - there is also a culture of respect for academics, where we take academics at their word. In fact, we're often judged as being hostile to learning if we question those academics - to think that (say) macroevolution has not been proven to out satisfaction, or that perhaps a two-male household isn't ideal for children, or otherwise. Note: it's not a case of rejecting these things in the teeth of evidence that is culturally frowned upon, but rejecting these things when the evidence offered is little more than 'well academics at large say you should believe this'. I oppose this as well.

Maybe I'm wrong. Try to convince me of as much if you like. But at the end of the day I see an archaic system that made more sense when books were rare or material things that couldn't be duplicated for near free and available to everyone within seconds, when lectures were something you couldn't record on video and put online, and when the culture of the university was something other than a perpetually 'progressive' sham. Yes, I realize that there are conservatives in academia. I read their books and admire their thought. I wish them well, and hope they succeed in live and continue.

But I cannot bring myself to decide that academia is nevertheless a good thing that should be supported and sustained on the basis of those exceptions. Just as, I imagine, the existence of some very good public school teachers does little to make typical home schoolers want to support the public school system, as opposed to avoid it completely, intellectually undermine it (which they do by necessity just by promoting home schooling) and contribute towards its reduction and, in large part, elimination.

Do you see where I'm coming from, Paul? Is this really vandalism?

(* I remember fondly during the Occupy Movement, watching someone complain bitterly that they were tens of thousands of dollars in debt and working at a terrible job, and how unfair it was that they couldn't find something appropriate for someone who had a PhD in puppetry. Or the joke, "What do you say to an english major? 'Yeah, I'll have a big mac, a large order of fries, and a cherry pie.')

I said there was an implied idea that the APA, despite its faults, is ultimately an organization that we should respect and preserve.


Yes, your sense was wrong. That's what I meant by "I hold no brief for the APA." I immediately went into saying that my brief is for good philosophers doing good work. They shouldn't have to be fighting these legal battles. The APA is increasingly an irrelevancy.

I believe that we should have academia with good colleges. Unfortunately there are too few of them. Meanwhile, unlike you, I believe in good men doing good work where they find themselves--even in universities that have a huge amount of rot and trash. The one nice thing about big, secular, anonymous schools is precisely the separation among disciplines and classes that allows one, usually, to do one's own good thing in one's own classes, so long as one has the support of one's chairman. Unlike many of the K-12 public schools, that is. There is far less standardization of content and demand that individual teachers engage in brainwashing. Since young people aren't going to stop going to these schools tomorrow, it's not a bad thing for the professors to be good professors. They do quite a lot of good when they are. Meanwhile, let a thousand flowers bloom. I'm certainly very interested in all the alternatives to 4-year college that are springing up, but I'm not going to take the attitude that I hope all the present universities die tomorrow. For many reasons, not least of which is that it would mean loss of livelihood for many good men doing honorable work with integrity. That is no ignoble concern. Meanwhile, the APA itself can go hang. I don't see it doing any good to anybody.

Crude, to finish the metalevel, I still retain a vivid memory of the time I wasted with you as a commentator before I realized your time-wasting tendencies. One thread in particular, possibly two. You go on and on and on, and nothing ever makes you happy, because you have some dream of some perfect strategy, and nothing we say can ever meet what you think is that vision.

MarcAnthony said good things above about keeping our individual integrity. I have added things about making common cause with civil libertarians and fighting for freedom of speech. Yet you imply that there's more to be said, something to be done, and leave us either to agree with you or to die of exhaustion from going back and forth with you about your preferred idea. (Apparently mocking formal college education in America and doing everything one can to make sure it dies out is a better and more strategic plan than defending freedom of speech legally in the huge institutions that actually exist and aren't going away any time soon!)

I'm not going to play that game anymore. Hence my shortness with you, specifically. You always start out playing this, "I'm not unreasonable. Somebody just dialogue with me" game, and next thing I know I have 120 comments on a thread that mostly consist of talking about Crude, talking about whether Crude's ideas are the only ones anybody should be paying attention to, talking about whether someone was rude to Crude, talking about whether everybody else's ideas are losers, because only Crude knows anything about _real_ strategy. Go pound sand. You're boring. I know how this works now, and I'd rather it didn't happen to this thread on top of all the others it has happened to. We have a history.

And, please, don't now spend ten comments talking about _this_ comment. I post it only to make it clear why I am so short with you. I'd much rather have less traffic on my threads and do without you, because when you're here, it's all about you. What a drag.

Vic Reppert, good question: Well, the ladies of the APA committee tried to pretend that they _would_ say something like that about Christian philosophy, by including all of that "any other pursuit" stuff and "non-feminist philosophy" in what they wrote. But the very sweeping nature of it defeated the purpose. It's clear that they didn't mean that nobody should criticize any "pursuit." And even as far as approaches to philosophy, we can make up ridiculous ones. How about the "I hate women" approach to philosophy: "My philosophy is based on the approach that we should do everything we can to get women out of philosophy and to subject them once more to a patriarchy in which men can beat them if they get uppity." There should be no problem with "denigrating" that "approach."

So it's clear that they didn't mean it. But they _worded_ it in such a way that, if you challenged them with the reference to Christian approaches to philosophy, they could point to the wording and say, "Why, yes, that would be included in what we said." It's a lot like discrimination in hiring. Officially, discrimination on the basis of religion is against policy and even illegal, but in practice, it happens all the time. Sometimes they bother with plausible deniability, and sometimes they don't.

Lydia,

The APA is increasingly an irrelevancy.

Wonderful. I agree with that much.

I believe that we should have academia with good colleges. Unfortunately there are too few of them. Meanwhile, unlike you, I believe in good men doing good work where they find themselves--even in universities that have a huge amount of rot and trash.

I 'believe' in good men doing good work as well. The only thing I don't believe in is the idea that the existence of those good men suffices to provide a good reason not to take exactly the attitude I've outlined about academia.

Crude, to finish the metalevel, I still retain a vivid memory of the time I wasted with you as a commentator before I realized your time-wasting tendencies.

Lydia, I am tired of your perpetual posturing, your unprovoked snark, and your 'I don't even care what you have to say, oops, I better keep saying this over and over' responses to me. What's more, this idea that I'm 'never happy' or after a perfect strategy is inane. What I've been dissatisfied with are some particular suggestions and arguments (while being quite happy with others), some of these being yours, and I've said as much. Just as before, you dove for the option of taking the disagreement personally, then getting absurdly huffy over my pointing out one problem or another. The fact is, you grit your teeth when flaws are pointed out with your perspective. It's a problem you have that you should get over, because frankly it cripples you.

I don't demand a perfect strategy, and that would be absurd to expect. I do think conservatives made and make mistakes, that we should always be looking for how to respond to problems, and perhaps welcome fresh analyses of them. In other words, I'm not interested in being an audience member who just yells 'Yeah!' without reflection whenever a criticism is made.

I post it only to make it clear why I am so short with you. I'd much rather have less traffic on my threads and do without you, because when you're here, it's all about you.

The only reason threads are about me, Lydia, is because you make them about me when I show up, and you dive for the personal barbs when you get riled. I'd rather make them about topics, ideas and criticisms thereof. But don't worry - you want your threads to be a litany of 'you go Lydia!'s and 'great idea Lydia's, rather than, you know - discussions of the topics? By all means, I'll give you that. Just do me this favor: when I show up in someone else's thread and have something to say, please butt out if you're incapable of keeping it from descending into another litany of 'I don't like you Crude', 'Crude you're boring', 'Crude you talk about yourself' 'Crude I want to talk about something else'. Because frankly, odds are I'll just ignore you, what with my desire to talk with mature adults of a conservative bend.

Graciously, I now vacate this thread and will stay out of your future threads. There may be an echo in yours, but apparently that's precisely what you're after.

>irst of all, I think the academic system is woefully outdated and inefficient. We now live in a world where buying a computer that can fit in your pocket and can hold a massive library of books, complete with pictures, is a several hundred dollar affair. The ability for people to educate themselves, at their own pace, outside of a rigid and structured educational environment - and to do this without going into debt - is tremendous. At the same time, the social pressure to get a degree - even a useless degree* - is tremendous. I oppose this.


1. Most people are not smart enough to become autodidacts. If that sounds elitist that's because it is. It is also true. You are also discounting the importance of interacting with other students. I went to a fairly elite college, and the conversations and I had with other students taught me almost as much as my classes did. It's hard to quantify something like that, but it is quite valuable.

2. There is no necessary reason for students to have to go deeply in debt for their degrees. America is unique in that regard, and it was largely created by the existence of our federal student loan system and conservative opposition to more government control of education.

3. Academia and research universities provide a great deal of economic and cultural values for the United States. You might be able to read Dante at home using the internet, but scientists need research universities in order to pursue various kinds of research. Non-scientists also produce works of some value thanks to the university system, but they also produce a lot of nonsense.

4. This mostly seems to be you upset that the big mean liberals don't like you and your racist friends like Vox Day. Grow up, not all ideas are intellectually respectable.

The interesting thing is that the institution of tenure was supposed to protect academics from precisely the kinds of pressure the Harpy Committee wants to exercise as described in the main post. For example, they are taking the position that no one should be permitted to denigrate feminist philosophy in front of students. But any academic who knows about tenure will tell you that that is _exactly_ the type of academic freedom tenure was designed to protect--the freedom to criticize this or that approach to the discipline that happens to be favored by those in power.

Tenure makes it the case that, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, many academics are more free from the pressure of political correctness than many people in the business world. There are plenty of corporations that are so strongly on the diversity bandwagon (and that buzzword is now largely about promotion of the homosexual agenda) that conservatives who work for them have to walk in constant fear of their jobs. And they never get tenure.

It's my opinion that those among the professors at the University of Colorado who are tenured should lean on that good and hard. They should continue, in a reasoned and academic fashion, to criticize feminist philosophy whenever and wherever they otherwise would do so, and they should bring it out into the sunlight and challenge it, sue if necessary, if they suffer punishment from the university as a result of exercising their academic freedom in this way.

For all the problems with academe (and I admit that they are legion), that is not an option open to, say, an employer of Stryker. (Stryker being a big lefty-owned company in my own town.)

I think the academic system is woefully outdated and inefficient. We now live in a world where buying a computer that can fit in your pocket and can hold a massive library of books, complete with pictures, is a several hundred dollar affair. The ability for people to educate themselves, at their own pace, outside of a rigid and structured educational environment - and to do this without going into debt - is tremendous.

Two problems. First, the notion that there is a unitary, one thing to be called "academia" is problematic. Putting an enormous state-run university like Ohio State, with effectively no morals and grave limitations in the way of principled intellectual integrity, in the same category (for these purposes) as a small, private college (like a Bible college) with no tenure and no "publish or perish" mentality, and in the same category as the private for-profit college with strictly "practical" degrees and mostly adjunct teachers and no research grants, is not realistic. Tarring the whole kit and caboodle of everything that goes on past high school as partaking of the sins of "academia" won't work well.

Secondly, the notion that people can "educate themselves" now with resources on the internet (and other free public venues) assumes a particular notion of "education" that may be germane to what many of the public universities are trying to do but isn't necessarily true education. My alma mater, as an example, claims from principle that a true, deeply founded liberal education requires not only brick and mortar classrooms, but a student body that lives as a community together (and, for their college studying years, apart from the distractions of other communities, by and large) side by side sharing meals and work and sports etc, because the ongoing 4-year discussion requires a build-up of personal trust in speaking your mind openly, and being heard with an open mind, that cannot happen elsewise. There are human limitations to building such a community solely by means of electrons. (Try as we might at "places" like W4).

Maybe it would be more efficient in the long run to "tear down" the entirety of "academia" (whatever that would mean, since it doesn't mean actually tearing down the buildings themselves) and re-start from scratch, but the rebuilding from scratch would require immediately rebuilding places like Thomas Aquinas College anyway. Which sort of suggests that it's not the whole of academia that needs to be torn down, or that the "efficiency" expected would have local pockets of inefficiencies that you would have to be clear were outweighed by the efficiency of getting rid of all of the pockets of degeneracy. And that kind of judgment call can never be more certain than as a probable truth, which means that men of good judgement will _legitimately_ disagree, because future contingents are estimatable with different weights on factors.

Thank you for that eminently wise comment, Tony.

"Putting an enormous state-run university like Ohio State, with effectively no morals and grave limitations in the way of principled intellectual integrity,.."

A little harsh, don't you think? Yes, OSU is big and football-driven and known for its partying, but it has first-rate math, music, and engineering departments which have had little moral or intellectual integrity problems of which I am aware. Now, the sports department is another thing.

The Chicken

The reform of higher education is a difficult issue, and nothing but the most sweeping reform at the level of administrations would have prevented what happened in the main post. You have to have administrators who will tell the APA committee to go pound sand rather than calling them in and pledging to enforce their ridiculous recommendations.

But take the matter of cost: From what I have seen, I think highly of the relatively new Patrick Henry College. When it first came into existence, something on the order of ten years ago or so, I thought that I might be sending one or more children to PHC. But the cost quickly ballooned and became impossible. The most I could now consider doing would be some distance learning courses for transfer. Does this have to mean that PHC is doing something wrong, that the education there "shouldn't" cost so much? I have no strong reason to think so. I admit to being a little surprised, and maybe they are, too, at the _speed_ with which the tuition and fees rose from the inception of the college. But I think they are completely honest when they say that they already subsidize part of the cost of each student and this is just what is left over. Probably part of the reason is a very honorable commitment they made (I remember reading about it) not to go into large debt as an institution. If they've stuck to that, then all building on the campus has had to be paid for out of revenue or, if they have one, from an endowment.

My point here is just that there are no simple answers. It may well be that even the best colleges, Christian colleges, will be extremely expensive and will "tempt" students or their parents to go into debt. Caveat emptor.

Meanwhile, as the Masked Chicken points out, individual departments of Sprawling State University, with their tradition of relative departmental autonomy and professorial academic freedom, tacked onto a huge school with all its infrastructure, offer things that a small, tightly knit Christian college like PHC cannot offer: High-level specialization in various non-humanities disciplines, technical expertise, resources for equipment, travel, and research, usually a wider range of academic freedom for professors, and prestige for possible future graduate work or employment. Of these, only the last is a purely sociological phenomenon that we, perhaps, should want to reform or get rid of.

This goes together with what Tony raised: Academia is not a natural kind! To a far greater extent, public K-12 schooling in the United States is indeed a sociological natural kind. Charter schooling has loosened that up somewhat over the past few decades, but now Common Core will be re-imposing greater standardization. A plethora of micro-managing court cases also greatly constrain K-12 public schooling and teacher freedom in ways that do not apply to college education. So the dismissiveness with which, I admit, as a home schooler I am inclined to treat K-12 public education in America simply cannot be readily ported over even to secular, much less to non-secular, college academia.

Someone needs to ask the Brazen Biddies whether it might be easier, indeed safer to forbid men to be in the same building with women.

It has nothing to do with safety or even academic integrity. It has everything to do with preventing those professors from getting a girlfriend 15-20 years younger. All of their talk about power disparities, etc. is just so much sociological babble that really means "he should have to date women my age."

but it has first-rate math, music, and engineering departments which have had little moral or intellectual integrity problems of which I am aware.

Chicken, I will provide a little context to the meaning behind my phrasing for low "principle intellectual content". When I learned math, I learned from the Classics. Now, math is about as far removed from morality and religious content as you can get at a university, right? Yes, it is, but "as far as you can get" isn't the same thing as "completely removed". Knowledge, and the idea of what it is to be an educated person, suffuses the entirety of the academic institution, for better or for worse, because it regulates the whole of teaching pedagogy. In the Classics, in geometry and algebra, you start with definitions (moderns do that too), and two additional sorts of premises: axioms and postulates. Axioms (as all Aristotelians and Thomists know) are self-evidently true. Things like: the whole is greater than the proper part. By knowing the meaning of whole, part, and the comparative "greater than" you KNOW the statement, that is, you rightly and properly have full certainty of the proposition. Postulates, on the other hand, are not self-evidently true, they are examples of "let me suppose this for the moment and we will see what follows from it." It is something the prover *asks for* for the purposes of the pursuit of the moment, he never suggests that it is known as fact.

The moderns, in teaching math, do not have 2 separate categories after they deal with definitions. They say that all the other premises are postulates. They don't deal in axioms. (Nota Bene: there are things that masquerade under the name "axiom", such as the axiom of choice, but in virtually every text book you will see at the beginning a clear declaration that all premises that are not definitions are merely assumptions "for the sake of this particular pursuit." They explicitly deny that any of the "axioms" are definitely true.

What has this to do with "principled intellectual content". Merely this. The modern approach springs directly and most definitely out of the modern skeptic attitude (Humean, largely, with doses of Dewey and others) that there is no objective knowledge and that it is meaningless noise to claim that there is objective truth (even if one were to admit we cannot even know it). The modern university system is bent on saturating the student with the pre-ordained program of disbelieving in truth. IN A UNIVERSITY !!!!!

And, of course, they don't let on that this is the overall religious attitude (for it is no more provable that there is no such thing as truth or knowledge than they think religion is capable of being proven) that imbues their teaching pedagogy, until *after* the student has well and truly imbibed the poison. There is no 'truth in advertising' sign on the front door, that says "abandon hope, all ye who seek after truth". So, under the guise of an institution of learning, they set out to destroy an ability to accept truth, in an institution devoted to "opening the mind to new ideas" they close off the students to the wisdom of 5000 years, in supposedly non-religious universities they teach their own religion and denigrate others.

That's why I had that little comment about "principled intellectual content".

Not all professors do this intentionally. Some even fight against it, in small ways. But taken as a whole, they are never more than little pockets of resistance, largely ineffectual, in a sea of repudiation of the Truth. When I was in graduate school, I could not find one single professor with whom I felt I could openly discuss whether X, Y, or Z premises laid out might be *true* as opposed to assumed, and by and large the presentation of the material left no room for even asking the question. They would generally have said "that's not a right question, like 'What color is softness.' "

Church document Militantis Ecclesia states that “Religion must permeate and direct every branch of knowledge.” Pius XI, Representanti in Terra #57: "This norm of a just freedom in things scientific, serves also as an inviolable norm of a just freedom in things didactic, or for rightly understood liberty in teaching...every Christian child or youth has a strict right to instruction in harmony with the teachings of the Church, the pillar and ground of truth." He goes on to say (#60): "Hence every form of pedagogic naturalism which in any way excludes or weakens supernatural Christian formation in the teaching of youth, is false. Every method of education founded, wholly or in part, on the denial or forgetfulness of original sin and of grace, and relying on the sole powers of human nature, is unsound." #79 "From this it follows that the so called 'neutral' or 'lay' school, from which religion is excluded, is contrary to the fundamental principles of education." Christ said "everyone, when he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher." (Luke 6:40)

The large universities turn out secular humanists because they are designed to.

I am not convinced that modern university systems do not, in many cases, act from an underlying axiomatic system, with postulates tacked on. The axiom of non-contradiction is used a great deal in deductive proofs in some branches of mathematics: assume x has property y and show that this leads to a contradiction. The triangle inequality is, likewise, used in differential geometry. These are not postulates, but axioms. In the sciences, many of the axioms of Aristotelian logic are used all of the time. Then, again, one runs into the Godel Incompleteness Theorem and Tarski's Theorem-T, so that simply having an axiomatic system may not be enough to generate higher-order results.

On the other hand, exactly what are the axioms for music? The closest one can come to an axiomatic system would be a system of aesthetic axioms, which would allow one to decide which, of two compositions is, "better," although the aesthetic space might be multi-dimensional.

The other problem with axioms is to know when something is a self-evident assumption. For a long time, Euclid's Fifth Postulate was considered axiomatic.

Yes, there is creeping subjectivity in all areas of the Academy, but too much historical inertia keeps us from pretending that we created the universe, although, even in modern physics, some would like to contend that God didn't, either.

The Chicken

Interestingly enough, I just had a discussion about Euclid's 5th postulate. For a long time, Euclid's 5th postulate was called a "postulate". Many people asked why it should have been a postulate rather than an axiom, because they felt like maybe it belonged with the axioms. But axioms tend to be simple, because the truth of the proposition is supposed to be *evident* right from the moment you put the terms together as a single proposition, and that doesn't usually obtain for complex sentences. And then along came Lobachevski, and we have even more reason to think that maybe it shouldn't be an axiom.

The axiom of non-contradiction is used a great deal in deductive proofs in some branches of mathematics: assume x has property y and show that this leads to a contradiction.

All sane people, including in the math and sciences, do actually use the principle of non-contradiction. Of course they do, there is no way of operating without it. That doesn't prevent them from trying to teach as if the specifically mathematical foundations of math are all postulated rather than axiomatic. And it doesn't prevent the professors of philosophy, teaching those same math students, from teaching that there is no such thing as premises that are known with certainty.

"And it doesn't prevent the professors of philosophy, teaching those same math students, from teaching that there is no such thing as premises that are known with certainty."

Like that premise?

The Chicken

Exactly.

This is timely and somewhat ironic for me. I was reading upon the reactions - academic reactions - to the infamous Mark Regnerus study (which caused quite a stir in 2012 in the sociology world, and probably forever tarnished his reputation as a sociologist ... Darren Sherkat going as far in saying Regnerus was a "fake" sociologist due to his religious and conservative leanings) and it's a sharp reminder on why I did not pursue a doctoral degree, specifically in sociology (the ironic part for me).

GoldRush, it's funny how the "enlightened" attitudes of academia are so forthrightly for freedom of thought and freedom of expression, but what it works out to is that some are more free than others. Those who want to study X, but not accept the liberal tenets of X as currently stated, have a tough time even making it into grad school much less completing their degree.

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