Sunday, November 01, 2015

Stripping A Professor Of Tenure Over A Blog Post

Seems to me that Friedersdorf is pretty much exactly right about this.


Blogger The Mystic said...

Somehow, the most bothersome part of the whole article to me is that Abbate is painfully moronic and incompetent as an instructor of philosophy.

I used to think graduate students were held to a very high standard. I now know otherwise, but I'll be damned if it doesn't still suck every time I see it.

11:46 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I disagree, actually.

This is a tough position to be put in when you are young and inexperienced. it's the kind of thing that's even a little tricky when you are old and experienced.

I had a student once advocate in class the view that wives should be subordinate to their husbands. My reaction was to just say something like "yeah, but we're only considering non-insane views here." And this was when I was all grown up and a professor.

I think that Abbate has to be cut some slack. She may not have handled the situation optimally, but even *I'm* not sure what the optimal way to handle it is...if there even IS one...

None of that's to defend the insane treatment of the blogging professor in question, of course.

1:06 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

Well, I'm always one for being on the side of mercy, but in my estimation she's way below not having handled the situation optimally. I'm kind of surprised we disagree here.

She initially stumbles around with some counter-arguments to the kid's position, quibbling with statistics and being drawn into his game despite the fact that the visit to her office was supposed to be about Rawls' principle of equal liberty, and that's forgivable. Whatever. Everyone gets caught off-balance every once in a while.

But what's pretty outrageous, to me, is that she appears to regain her footing by climbing onto the exact same Neo-PC mumbo-jumbo that is usually critiqued rather harshly on this blog. Again, forgetting Rawls and the point of the discussion completely, she starts telling him he can't make his argument because it's insensitive to the feelings of gay students. She even lords her status as an ethics professor over him as though this grants her the authority to judge his opinion unacceptable for discussion.

And that's exactly what he expected her to say, and that's exactly why he recorded her in her office saying it. It is an embarrassingly terrible position for a graduate student of philosophy to take, and it seems highly unlikely that it's a sort of innocent mistake. It's certainly not simply a sub-optimal response. It's not only terrible, but exactly the kind of terrible predicted of lefty philosophers by angry righties.

Isn't she doing exactly what you've been on about other people doing for...a long time now? Falling into the trap of forgetting the original point of the discussion, she tells him he can't argue against gay marriage with his statistics not because they're incorrect (though she suspects they are) or irrelevant, but because such an argument (at a Catholic university, even!) is "homophobic."

Is that not le terrible?

6:33 PM  

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