Wednesday, June 05, 2013

The McGinn Sexual Harassment Case

Colin McGinn will resign from the University of Miami at the end of this calendar year as a result of allegations of sexual harassment.

Real or imagined? Dunno. If I were guessing, I guess I'd guess real. If it were bogus, one would expect him to fight it. Yet apparently he does have his defenders.

I can't even tell you have many bogus accusations, quasi-accusations and intimations of sexual harassment I've encountered in philosophy. Lots. In fact, we actually need a new category: sexual harassment harassment: i.e. harassing someone by falsely accusing them of sexual harassment, or making it clear that you think they ought to be (falsely) accused. Perhaps interestingly, these bogus accusations and intimations have always been of the "hostile environment" variety. In fact, it's always been possible for reasonable observers to see that the charges were bogus--even if some were too cowardly or blinded by bad theory or unwilling to look at the facts to admit it. Also perhaps interestingly: I have never personally encountered an accusation of straight-up, ordinary, sexual harassment (i.e. not "hostile environment" harassment) that I knew to be bogus. And in both of the cases I personally know of, the accusations of straight-up sexual harassment were true, and the harassment egregious.

I personally know of exactly one case of sexual harassment in academic philosophy--and it was clear-cut, no-doubt-about-it, and clear as the nose on your face. It was as close to a paradigm case of sexual harassment as you're ever likely to see. There were several women involved, all harassed over a period of a year or two by the same asshole, and all willing to testify. But by the time they'd all figured out that each was not the only victim, and that they really needed to do something, the university's six-month statute of limitations had run out. The sonofabitch is still in the same department, and there's every reason to believe that he's still harassing people.

I also personally know of one case from English, which was a case of straight-up psycho stalking...

Anyway, it's tough to know what to think about cases like the McGinn one. We're normally urged to remember that accusations generally are often false...  OTOH, it's common to hear people insist that we're supposed to give presumption to accusations of rape and sexual harassment... My general policy is to suspend judgment, but the little I've heard of this case makes my gut incline me to give some credence to the accusations... I'm not sure what we ought to think here, but I know how I'm inclined to think.


Blogger Dark Avenger said...

A few thoughts:

1: I was substitute teaching at Willow Glen Elementary School when the Clarence Thomas hearings took place.

Willow Glen is a well-to-due area of San Jose, CA. Not exactly a hotbed of leftist or 'feminist' thought.

Several of the teachers, all women, of course, followed the hearings and although I never talked to any of them about it, it was clear that this was an important issue for them.

As for this current case, if there were text messages sent of a sexual nature, there will be traces and evidence of them, and that would be more probative than what anyone could and would testify to.

Sexual harassment for us straight-non-harassing men is like the Weeping Angels in Dr. Who, it only takes place out of sight 99% of the time.

5:33 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Yeah, it does tend to happen in the shadows... No males in my current department would tolerate anyone sexually harassing any of the females if it were known of. Such a person might actually be physically thrown out of the building and prevented from returning. There would be no tolerance for it whatsoever. Although, perhaps interestingly, there has nevertheless been one completely bullshit accusation of "hostile environment" harassment, based on a completely innocuous public comment by one of my colleagues. And he's not even ill-tempered and prone to publicly call bullshit on bullshit like I am. He's a really nice guy. He was pure victim... But I digress...

Thing is, the harasser in the case I mention in the post *admitted it* to a male graduate student! So it *didn't* happen entirely in the shadows! But the student was too much of a cowardly, careerist chickenshit to say anything or testify about it. The whole thing was astonishing to me. I'd have been fucking beating down the door of the fucking Provost's office had it been me... But all this kid cared about was the possibility that it would somehow hurt his career. Which, incidentally, it wouldn't have.

Fuck, don't get me started on the pusillanimity of fucking academicians. Between the actual sexual harassers, the loons who see "hostile environment" harassment everywhere, the feminists who use such charges as tools to get their way, and the cowardly careerists who look the other way... My God, it makes you want to take off and nuke the whole fucking site from orbit.

Pardon my French...

9:15 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home