I am not a mainstream USA social scientist. Longtime readers -- and this blog was of course started in 1874 -- know that I'm an Irish Studies scholar, with a particular emphasis upon literary censorship from 1927-1967. So this isn't exactly my field. But it is some of yours, mes amis -- so I axe you, most sincerely:
I just read the most extraordinary paper by two sociologists — Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning — explaining why concerns about microaggressions have erupted on many American college campuses in just the past few years. In brief: We’re beginning a second transition of moral cultures. The first major transition happened in the 18th and 19th centuries when most Western societies moved away from cultures of honor (where people must earn honor and must therefore avenge insults on their own) to cultures of dignity in which people are assumed to have dignity and don’t need to earn it. They foreswear violence, turn to courts or administrative bodies to respond to major transgressions, and for minor transgressions they either ignore them or attempt to resolve them by social means. There’s no more dueling.
Indizzle. In American history, the turn of the 18th century to the 19th marked a profound transformation of honor culture to dignity culture. Evidence abounds. According to a transcript of a conversation between one Georgia slave to another in 1801:
Slave 1: Hey, I think we just jumped from an honor culture to a dignity culture.
Slave 2: Fuck yeah!
Slave 1: Good news about that no more dueling shit.
Slave 2: Absolutely! Dueling is clearly the most salient feature of American culture during this particular historical epoch.
Slave 1: These moral issues are so easy to demarcate! What a boon to future sociologists!
Slave 2: We can only pray that this shit helps to elucidate the behavior of American undergraduates two centuries hence.
Slave 1: If at any point in the 21st century any of our descendants get into any sort of scrapes involving busted chifforobes, they will be able to go straight to the courts or administrative bodies, because nothing will scream Jim Crow more than "culture of dignity."
Slave 2: Fuck.
Fast forwarding to the future:
Campbell and Manning describe how this culture of dignity is now giving way to a new culture of victimhood in which people are encouraged to respond to even the slightest unintentional offense, as in an honor culture. But they must not obtain redress on their own; they must appeal for help to powerful others or administrative bodies, to whom they must make the case that they have been victimized. It is the very presence of such administrative bodies, within a culture that is highly egalitarian and diverse (i.e., many college campuses) that gives rise to intense efforts to identify oneself as a fragile and aggrieved victim. This is why we have seen the recent explosion of concerns about microaggressions, combined with demands for trigger warnings and safe spaces, that Greg Lukianoff and I wrote about in The Coddling of the American Mind.
This thesis is extremely persuasive, accepting, arguendo, that history, rape, and racism ended in America sometime around, oh, 1963.
Getting annoyed now; I'll return to the evisceration later --
But is this article really publishable as good social science? It's utterly terrible at every level.
I suppose it's a sign of, well, something, that wingnuts are just not pissing me off very much nowadays. I think this is because one could legitimately argue that as of late the most venerable and august Conservative Thinkers among us include Erick Erickson and Jonah Goldberg. That's not even me making a joke. The 2003 Right Blogosphere swallowed the GOP entire, and now it's farting out Trumps, or Cruzing out Trumps, and is now even too dumb and too gross to wipe up Santorum.
Here is my favorite thing so far about the GOP primaries: whenever you get even vaguely intelligible policy proposals out of a GOP candidate, it is entirely an accident caused by the candidate not knowing or caring about the issue in question.
But on the Trump Side we have a stray nutty-bananas bigot academic from a thoroughly harmless, decent, and now-humiliated tiny liberal arts college; this cramped Grima-soul is eager to plump for Trump:
The small private college in Iowa last week was distancing itself from Sam Clovis, a tenured professor of economics who is currently on leave so he can be national co-chair of Donald Trump's presidential campaign. After Clovis was quoted defending the Trump campaign's proposal to bar Muslims from entering the United States, the link between Clovis and the college attracted attention.
A statement from the college said, "We find the view that a particular religion should be discriminated against to be repugnant to the values held at Morningside College. When he was on campus, Dr. Clovis was a staunch defender of the Constitution and a strong advocate for religious freedom. His recent comments appear to be at odds with his earlier views. We find his recent position to be outrageous and disappointing." (The college says it has one student who self-identifies as Muslim.)
There is a fantastic academic novel to be written here, maybe to be entitled Fuck You! I Own Many Casinos and Golf Courses, Lucky Jim, And Also Fucking Wonderful Yachts.
But this is the punchline: Clovis bravely defends Trump on the grounds that ethnic cleansing only means an ethnic knob polishing, but when it gets down to brass knuckles:
Trump is unlikely to join the campaign against accreditors, Clovis said. "I'm not sure tinkering with accreditation is where we want to go," he said, adding that his work at Morningside with its accreditor (the Higher Learning Commission) has left him thinking that the regional accreditors do important work.
Clovis is an idiot, but he is nevertheless an idiot with an actual job.
Trump's higher education policy proposals, as amorphous and silly as they are ever likely to be, are miles better than any of his GOP rivals. Sure, this is likely because he doesn't give a poo-plated golf-ball shit, the tacky dimwitted spookheaded inarticulate ill-kempt dishonorable pervert Wookie.
But Rubio is, with a straight face, making Deeply Serious Proposals to make it easier for crooks to rip off veterans and taxpayers.
Launching an immediate war against Iran is of course desperately necessary, and the wisest possible current use of taxpayer dollars. Perhaps you worry that such an enterprise might be expensive. Fret not and shut your carping, you chickenshit unAmerican traitor what throws like a girl. Wars are cheap, and anyway, this one's already paid for. How?
The UW System could face a budget cut resulting in $300 million in lost revenue – although the number is still uncertain – as well as sweeping changes that might imperil the engrained traditions of shared governance and tenure.
That's Scott Walker, giving Andrew Cuomo lessons as to higher education reform.
They're coming for your soft ass, professoriate.
Nothing so far from Althouse, though I'd imagine the U-Mad law school ranks among the least defensible public expenditures in the entire cheesehead republic. Her colleagues would be right to hate her.
Yes yes it's been awhile, thanks. I reassure you that I yet cling to this awful thing called life. It's just that sometimes, apparently, one is obligated to yell at real-life as opposed to strictly internet assholes, and this is a time-consuming process.
Should students about to read “The Great Gatsby” be forewarned about “a variety of scenes that reference gory, abusive and misogynistic violence,” as one Rutgers student proposed? Would any book that addresses racism — like “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” or “Things Fall Apart” — have to be preceded by a note of caution? Do sexual images from Greek mythology need to come with a viewer-beware label?
Colleges across the country this spring have been wrestling with student requests for what are known as “trigger warnings,” explicit alerts that the material they are about to read or see in a classroom might upset them or, as some students assert, cause symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in victims of rape or in war veterans.
This is fantastic.
Sincerely: the whole point of literature is to provoke arguments about precisely these issues. As soon as literature ceases to make everyone ask hard questions, I'll stop teaching it. If you're not annoyed, I'm not interested.
That said, when I teach my Banned Books class, I do preface the term by pointing out that we will be talking about dirty and terrible issues. But then again, I also tell students that a Banned Books course involves reading entire books. That frightens off more of them than any smut warning.
At any rate I'm far more sympathetic to feminist "trigger warning" arguments than to the far more common right-wing "trigger warning" arguments, even if in the end I might disagree. Everyone has triggers, you know? And anyway it's surely not feminists who are cutting funding for the liberal arts.
Here is a fun instance of Stupid Administrator Tricks. An art professor at a New Jersey community college gets hauled in to talk to administration and security for posting a social media picture of his young daughter wearing a Game of Thrones t-shirt -- and then he's suspended:
Citing numerous concerns about their president’s commitment to shared governance, the faculty union at Bergen Community College in New Jersey voted “no confidence” in her leadership. They say they are being denied regular access to the president, that changes to the promotion and tenure committee violate their rights, and that at least one of their colleagues was forced into a bizarre situation over a "Game of Thrones" T-shirt....
Francis Schmidt, a professor of art and animation, is one such case.
By all accounts, including his own, Schmidt is a bit of an eccentric. The longtime professor posts cat pictures to social media and loves fantasy stories, especially HBO’s popular “Game of Thrones.”
So it came as no surprise to many of his Google+ contacts that he enthusiastically posted a picture of his young daughter doing yoga in a T-shirt with the new “Game of Thrones” season tagline in January, upon release of the trailer. The T-shirt reads, “I will take what is mine in fire and blood,” and Schmidt’s cat lurks in the photo background.
But one contact -- a dean -- who was notified automatically via Google that the picture had been posted apparently took it as a threat. In an email, Jim Miller, the college’s executive director for human resources, told Schmidt to meet with him and two other administrators immediately in light of the “threatening email.”
Eventually they briefly suspended him and made him talk to a shrink. Before he sicced his direwolf on them, or something.
It's a wild story all around. Professors obviously have a lot more labor protections than do workers in other jobs, but still, you have to be careful about who you make friends with on social media if they have any sort of power over you. You never know what sort of wacky stunt they might pull. Even if you're posting on Google +, where you can have a reasonable expectation that nobody will ever see it.
MAS. I suppose another title for this post could be "The Night Is Derp, And Full of Stupid."
Inside Higher Education has an essay from an Australian academic, a woman, young as far as the professoriate goes, about how she is not happy about how her students tend to call her by her first name, informally, and how she would like to see more formality in terms of how she is addressed.
Her name is of course Katrina Gulliver, just as mine is "Andrew Haggerty" where the Internet ends. She raises a lot of interesting points, and you can agree or disagree with her about some things, but this I have to say is absolutely iron-clad dead-on-balls correct:
To add to the confusion, in most departments there is the species of (white) male professor, who wants to be seen as “cool” (you know the one, who shows up dressed like he’s come to mow the lawn), who invites all the youngsters to “call me Dave,” resting safely in the comfort of assumed male authority. If you’re one of these guys: you are not helping the rest of us.
(For those who are going to slam me for being uptight, watch your privilege).
I've talked about this before, but what the hey. I am a relatively large human male individual in the higher education, community college-class, profession. No student has ever in my experience ever attempted to intrude upon my personal space in an attempt to intimidate me.
Every single female colleague or friend of mine in the teaching profession, from pre-K to the doctoral level, has told me she's had this experience at least once.
This is on a very fundamental level, "my privilege." I will never have to face certain shit that my counterparts who are women will have to deal with. I can't solve this problem on my own, and I don't have to wear a hairshirt or anything, but I can at least admit it and not be a dick about it.
Now, the thing is, the thing is...
Read the comments to Gulliver's essay. Reading her piece, she tries hard to be self-effacing, joky, but still firm about her thesis, and she still gets a lot of shit:
So, you don't respect your male students, you don't respect your male colleagues, and you refer repeatedly to rank and status in this essay. Sorry, but it doesn't sound like everyone else's attitude is the problem.
Gulliver is just saying, very politely, that she'd like to be spoken to on her own terms as a professional.
And this is in the comments to an Inside Higher Education article!
Oh, and yeah, "Dave" totally exists...
Anyway, part of my opening icebreaking schtick is that I tell students that that can call me "Mr Dr or Prof" -- I don't care, but I spent time and money for the last two, so I like them better. It's a joke that fits my persona in the classroom, but, well, it's also my privilege.
A University of South Carolina textbook has one student whistleblower outraged over its accusations that President Ronald Reagan was sexist and conservatives view people as incapable of “charity” and "lazy."
The mandated reading includes sections such as “Conservative Extremes in the 1980’s and Early 1990’s,” which claims Reagan “ascribed to women primarily domestic functions’ and failed to appoint many women to significant positions of power during his presidency.”
Anna Chapman, a sophomore at the University of South Carolina, told Campus Reform “I can not even tell you how angry I was when I read that.”
I'm rather sorry the statement in that last sentence is not literally true.
The rest of it is also sketchy.
The excerpts sent to Campus Reform make no mention of Reagan’s appointment of Sandra Day O'Connor, the first female Supreme Court Justice; his appointment of the first female U.S. Representative to the United Nations, Jeane Kirkpatrick; Elizabeth Dole, the first female appointed to Secretary of the Department of Transportation; or that over 1,400women were chosen by Reagan to fill powerful, policy-making positions.
This is cute.
For openers, O'Connor was nominated for reasons that the 21st century GOP would consider tyrranical. For closers, my link beats yours.
“Conservatives ‘tend to take a basically pessimistic view of human nature. People are conceived of as being, self-centered, lazy and incapable of true charity,’” the text states.
Wealthy individuals are also a topic of scorn throughout the course reading, which argues that “[the] wealthy find that having a social class of poor people is useful.”
“First, poor people can do the ‘dirty work’ for rich people that the latter don’t want to do,” such as dangerous or menial jobs. “Second, having a poor social class emphasizes that the wealthy are higher in the social structure. . .and allows them to look down on classes below them.”
And this is wrong?
Anyway this textbook sure is Anti-American and is surely the Number One Reason cheerful young wingnuts don't go in for professions like social work, opting instead for more Helpful gigs like pretending to be oppressed for fun and profit.
The University of Missouri did not investigate or tell law enforcement officials about an alleged rape, possibly by one or more members of its football team, despite administrators finding out about the alleged 2010 incident more than a year ago, an "Outside the Lines" investigation has found. The alleged victim, a member of the swim team, committed suicide in 2011.
This isn't totally fair, and it's not scientific, but I'm irritated and I don't think this is an exercise altogether devoid of productive instruction: here are the results of a search for the term "rape" at the NCAA homepage. And the first entry there is pretty good, actually, and it's just swell to learn that as early as 2012 the NCAA considered it important to broach the topic of student-on-student sexual harassment at its national conference. And this stuff looks nice. But come on, hugely expensive investigations over crap like tattoos, with much moralistic preening, and meanwhile rape victims without a hope of justice are commiting suicide?