Friday, February 07, 2014

The CU Philosophy Department Sexual Harassment Debacle

I'm trying to ignore it.

Sexual harassment exists in philosophy--clear, unequivocal, no-question-about-it, paradigmatic sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment harassment also exists in philosophy--that is to say, false/exaggerated charges of sexual harassment are leveled at people, often by those who disagree with them politically.

My own view is that actual sexual harassment needs to be dealt with straightforwardly and mercilessly. That is, inter alia, by making it clear to people that that shit will not be tolerated, and by breaking the tweed wall of silence. In my experience, people frequently know or suspect who the culprits are, but their friends protect them and others often don't want to get involved.

In my experience, the extremist feminism that frequently runs rampant in the discipline fails to target actual offenders, and focuses instead on targeting people perceived as weak, and/or people who are considered ideological/philosophical enemies/opponents.

I've never personally seen a single actual sexual harasser busted by the lynch mobs. In the only case of actual, unequivocal harassment in which I knew what was going on, I had no standing, was asked by victims not to get involved, and had nothing to offer anyway.

I have seen extremist feminists go after a lot of innocent people, and I was in a group that was the main target of unofficial accusations of "hostile environment sexual harassment" in grad school, basically because I refused to take crap from the feminists. (Incidentally, it all eventually blew over and most of us ended up on friendly terms years later, in case that's interesting. Although I probably could have been more diplomatic, and although there were some philosophical points at issue that I now think I was wrong and they were right about, there is no doubt that the accusations were bogus and ideologically-driven.) And I've seen other bogus accusations leveled when I wasn't involved.

At any rate, the point of all this was to post this link to The Laughing Philosopher about the CU incident.

I'm largely in agreement, especially about the totalitarian, anti-philosophical demand that people not criticize nor even discuss certain purely philosophical controversies. Utter madness.

I don't know what happened at CU, but, in general, I'm pretty disgusted by everything in this vicinity. I'm disgusted by sexual harassment, I'm disgusted by false charges of sexual harassment, I'm disgusted by people who are committed to pushing the so-far-as-I-can-tell-unsupported (and, I suspect, ideologically-motivated) view that sexual harassment is worse in philosophy than it is in other disciplines, I'm disgusted by the protected status afforded to feminism in the discipline, I'm disgusted by the fact that people--mostly dudes--can't keep it in their damn pants even just long enough to do their damn jobs, and I'm disgusted with the fact that people are so eager to want to impose a kind of puritanism in response. I'm disgusted by the whole damn mess.

Of course, it's easy to just say "a pox on all your houses" when you're not responsible for actually getting in there and solving the problem...

And none of this should suggest that I think everyone here is equally bad. I detest the actual harassers more than any of the others, just for the record.


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