Carol Platt Liebau: It's Academic

Friday, September 07, 2007

It's Academic

In this column, Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson denounce the outrageous behavior of both the prosecutor and the Duke faculty in the Duke lacrosse case.

It's interesting that, although Mike Nifong has become an objection of national scorn, we hear so little about the professors who just as eagerly jumped on an opportunity to ruin the lives of three innocent young men. Duke President Richard Brodhead -- who couldn't move fast enough to fire the lacrosse coach based only on the baseless allegations of the accuser -- hasn't, to my knowledge, had a word to say about the faculty's rush to (politically correct) judgment.

The entire incident highlights the profound pathologies that characterize American higher education. The mindless leftism of most professors combines with the cowardice of too many administrators (who themselves no doubt have taken the resignation of former Harvard President Larry Summers -- who dared to defy the herd mentality of the faculty lounge -- to heart) to create on college campuses an atmosphere of liberal intolerance and qualsi-totalitarian insistence on adherence to "accepted truths."

12 Comments:

Blogger Chepe Noyon said...

This is "puffball" commentary -- all fustian and no substance. What, precisely, does this piece say? If you strip away the verbal fireworks, you get this slim statement of fact:

"Mr. Brodhead hasn't criticized some people."

All the rest is idle bombast.

10:26 AM  
Blogger LarryD said...

KC Johnson has a post on Duke's Undergraduate Judicial Code. Its' migrating from "presumption of innocence" to "presumption of guilt".

10:33 AM  
Blogger Chepe Noyon said...

Gadzooks! That judicial code looks awful! They should be ashamed of themselves!

Of course, it's STILL a lot better than the US treatment of foreign nationals. At least Duke doesn't torture people.

3:08 PM  
Blogger stackja1945 said...

At http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duke_University we read In 1924, tobacco industrialist James B. Duke established The Duke Endowment, prompting the institution to change its name in honor of his deceased father, Washington Duke. Duke was repeatedly sued by business partners and shareholders who alleged that he had engaged in shady, self-serving business deals.
Duke Uni seems to be also into shady, self-serving deals.

Now cn speaks of "bombux".

Who's spinning what?

6:25 PM  
Blogger Chepe Noyon said...

Now cn speaks of "bombux".

Who's spinning what?


What on earth are you talking about?

7:16 PM  
Blogger Dr.D said...

Contrary to what CN has said, this is not "puffball commentary." It points to things that the average American is totally unaware of in the workings of American higher education, things that will be of considerable interest to many.

A judicial system that operates on a presumption of guilt is a typical totalitarian judicial system. It would not surprise many to find this in a Communist society, but most would be surprised to find that this is so common in an academic setting. The Leftist leanings of the academic world are not widely appreciated in American society at large. Having spent about half of my career in academia, I have seen many of these Leftist ideas up very close, and it is astounding just how oppressive life will be if we ever fall under that sort of government as a nation.

8:36 PM  
Blogger Chepe Noyon said...

DrD, you write:

It points to things that the average American is totally unaware of in the workings of American higher education

I think you'd be more precise to substitute "makes wild unsubstantiated claims regarding" for "points to". If Ms. Liebau wishes to make a point regarding the culture in universities, then she should make that point the way any rational person does: by offering evidence and reasoning. Instead, we get baseless accusations.

A judicial system that operates on a presumption of guilt is a typical totalitarian judicial system.

A university is not a judicial system. You're complaining that the gossip network didn't have the rigor we require of a judicial system. People gossip, and seldom are they fair. It's sad, but hardly worth complaining about. I will ask you, would you prefer to have the presumption of innocence strictly applied to all public discourse? Would you have it applied to this blog? Imagine the effect it would have!

8:15 AM  
Blogger Carol Platt Liebau said...

Coyote here.

I published Chepe's comment because I allow greater leeway in criticizing those who post than those who comment. This leeway has limits.

Calling for statistics and "facts" from those with whom one disagrees while claiming one's own assertions are self-evident has become a familiar refrain. I continue to note whether those who talk the talk also walk the walk.

On the judicial system comment, there must needs be a distinction between public and private universities. With regard to private ones, from a legal standpoint, there is a contractual relationship that has terms and implies good faith and fair dealing. From a moral standpoint, our culture holds to notions of fundamental due process (e.g., notice and an opportunity to be heard). What is required for due process depends on the circumstances but cannot be dismissed on moral grounds by stating that the proceedings are not governmental judicial proceedings. The proceedings are judicial insofar as a person is being judged and will suffer consequences (punishment, disgrace) if found guilty.

From an educational standpoint, when administrators override fundamental due process concerns, these administrators provide a clear lesson to all about what they, and the institution they lead, stand for.

9:31 AM  
Blogger Chepe Noyon said...

Coyote, I have Occam's Razor on my side here. Ms. Liebau would have us believe that Mr. Brodhead and the faculty at Duke are deserving of special treatment -- that is, criticism. Because she is asserting that they are not normal, the burden lies upon her to provide evidence in support of that claim. There is no burden upon me to provide evidence that Mr. Brodhead and the Duke faculty are normal people.

On the point about the judicial system, I see there's a misunderstanding. The original post was not about the Duke disciplinary system; it made no mention of that. Instead, it referred explicitly to the informal gossip at Duke ("the herd mentality of the faculty lounge"). I was referring to this, and made that clear when I wrote, "You're complaining that the gossip network..."

And in fact I did state explicitly my disapproval of the disciplinary system: "That judicial code looks awful! They should be ashamed of themselves!"

Misunderstanding cleared up?

9:47 AM  
Blogger stackja1945 said...

cn asks "What on earth are you talking about?"
well a google search gives answer
at http://www.word-detective.com/011502.html

And there we have the critical clue -- "bombast" is padding, fluff pretending to be substance. The root of "bombast" was the Greek "bombux," which meant "silk or silkworm," and when "bombast" entered English in the 16th century it meant "cotton," or, more specifically, the sort of "cotton-wool" used as padding or stuffing in upholstery or clothes. Since the 16th century was apparently every bit as afflicted by longwinded balderdash as ours, "bombast" almost immediately acquired the figurative meaning of "fancy or pretentious language on a trivial subject," and we've been inundated by verbal "bombast" ever since."
All Greek to me.

9:59 PM  
Blogger Chepe Noyon said...

Yes, and the Indo-European root of bombast is *bomb, which refers to insects, which is all very interesting, but utterly irrelevant. I suspect that you were insinuating that I write with bombast, in which case I would suggest 'altiloquence' as the better word to use.

10:24 AM  
Blogger stackja1945 said...

cn speaks of pomposity.
Ah, vicissitudes again.

6:43 PM  

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