July 22, 2006

Drinking the vitriolic acid here at the University of Wisconsin.

Glenn Reynolds quotes one of my readers who commented on this post yesterday. The quote, from Telemacchus, is:
Enough. I've read and re-read all the material on the Barrett case and then discussed, thought some more, and discussed again. In the end, we're going to act locally because our unease coming out of this just won't ease. As the father of an inbound freshman who completed SOAR and is a month away from moving into the dorm, we're pulling the plug on UW here, and actively calling back some of the schools we turned down. Yes, it is because of this Barrett class, not this one nut alone, but of the even scarier indifference and lack of systemic accountability involved throughout this process. It really is a truth teller as to what is in store for us the next 4 years, and so, we are opting out. My wife and I are both highly educated and of a fairly liberal bent ourselves, but clearly this 9/11 incident has legs and is indicative of a deeper core cancer at this institution.
Here's what I said to Telemacchus back in the comments:
If you really feel that way, you should write to Farrell and others. I suspect they are reading this. (They are a bit inept if they are not.) But you should write. Write an op-ed or a letter to the Cap Times, the State Journal, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. And the Isthmus. Taking the strong action you describe is quite meaningful. You should want it to be felt.
Is having the quote on Instapundit more powerful?

Telemacchus goes on, beyond what Glenn quoted:
How shameful that UW, a former great school, has allowed the winds of the far radical left to blow into and take root in the fertile fields of the Wisconsin heartland. Remember shame? It was once a useful social tool for folks to police their own ranks, clearly a lost concept here at UW. For all the swirl here, this dilemma does lend itself some of the more old fashioned solutions. Resignations are in high order here. Names must be taken. Asses must be kicked. And we will move on.
Please note that I am not endorsing all these statements. I believe the University of Wisconsin is a great institution. It's a huge place, people! Even if Barrett represents a problem that's bigger than one part-time instructor's despicable plan to teach an idiotic conspiracy theory, it only relates to part of the university and not, for example, to the sciences. Yet I understand the urge to punish the university for something you find so offensive and the decision to steer clear of a place that feels wrong to you. The university, in not firing Barrett, cites free speech values, but Telemacchus is also speaking. Free speech is a marketplace, and to choose a different university is to act in that market. I was encouraging students to shun the class as a way of participating in the marketplace of ideas. Shunning the whole university is a much stronger move.

I worry about the extremity of the "old fashioned solutions" Telemacchus advocates. His idea that this is a problem of "far radical left" politics should make us all wary of backlash. There is a huge difference between teaching ridiculous bogus science in a religion course and teaching humanities and social science courses with what is or could be perceived as a political slant. How is what Barrett is doing left-wing politics? You could say that no one on the left is openly complaining about him, but that doesn't mean they like or even accept what he is doing. Why would anyone who cared about left wing politics want to be associated with Barrett? He's obviously wrong! It would only make your beliefs seem like a load of lies and idiocy. I think people on the left and the university are simply trying to isolate and endure him as he passes through the system in his one semester. Do you hear any university lefties praising him? Do you hear anyone here praising him? I think not. You're only hearing the most minimal statements, all designed to encapsulate him so that he can pass through the system doing the least harm. These bland statements are like the milk you're supposed to drink if you swallow vitriolic acid. Refusing to fire him is like following the do-not-induce-vomiting advice. I think they are right that firing him would do more damage than passing him through the system.

But they do need to figure out how to avoid drinking any more vitriolic acid.

IN THE COMMENTS: Mary asks how we know Telemacchus is not a fictional character telling a fictional story. I acknowledge that I had the same question. I invite Telemacchus to email me and identify himself.

104 comments:

Ron said...

Some 'induce vomiting' kind of advice might have got me through several courses...should course paks come with sickness bags?

I certainly understand your remarks, Ann, about UW being huge, and Barrett, even if indicative of larger problems, is only one guy, but what if there were 5 or 6 Barretts? In different departments, or what if there were a truly odious department? I would think you would have a limit of some kind. Thoughts?

retired randy said...

Just because he didn"t drink the same koolaid as fascist neocons doesn't make his statements any less credible than say President Bush inferring Saddam was behind 9/11. Take it all with a grain of salt and see if it helps. If it doesn't, maybe you should do your own Google search to find the truth instead of spewing hatred and intollerance for freedom of speech. You have read the Constitution, right?

PatCA said...

I think the strong reaction is not so much directed at the fault an individual university but at the rot of the humanities everywhere.

JohnF said...

The question is, I agree, not Barrett alone, but what icebergs he is the tip of?

What derangement infects the administration (or whoever makes these decisions) that they hire him in the first place, and, even if that was through ignorance of his lunacy, lack the common sense to fire him later when the facts came out?

I think the reaction to pull out of the school comes much more from that concern than from Barrett himself.

Dirty Harry said...

"Do you hear any university lefties praising him? Do you hear anyone here praising him? I think not."

They're paying him, Ann. I know of no higher compliment.

Want to make me feel wanted, desired, loved, accepted, and "praised?" Nothing does it like a check. Nothing does it like a job. It's the strongest form of endorsemnt. UW is subsidizing this. They'ree making it possible.

What would be the equivalent of a right-wing Barrett? Would that person be paid to spread his drivel by UW? It's a dumb question, because we all know the answer is, "no." So, let's stop pretending this is about free speech.

jlr said...

Letting this person "go through the system" rather than be made famous is one solution that ignores the effect it has on the students who stumble into this class, and on the faculty who are teaching those students in other classes.

Another solution is for the univeristy to recognize the mistake, pay the instructor (I assume he signed a contract), but set the class size to zero. He can then lecture to an empty room and enjoy his academic freedom. And no students will be harmed in the process.

Gerry said...

"How is what Barrett is doing left-wing politics?"

Sometimes, one only needs to look where the preponderance of a particular form on inaity comes and finds fertile ground.

Spend time on Infoshop, or look at the photos from any A.N.S.W.E.R. rally, and you will find that it is on the far left that Barrett's views are more common.

But if that does not satisfy your "how", and you need a theory--- America is the prime system of capitalism, and as such is the prime bad guy, and must always be opposed. It's aggression, even in defense, must be attacked to keep it in check. America is controlled by corporations like big oil, who needed a pretext for war. Remember the Reichstag Fire? This is what fascists do; they stage terrorist acts on their own soil to give cover for their assault on liberty.

None of those are thoughts I share. All of those are (far) leftist impulses. That is why what Barrett is doing fits so comfortably with the far-left. It is why you find not only him having these delusions, but sacked far-left blog-comment-abuser Deb Frisch as well (she was into 9/11 Truth).

Add to it a refusal of the left to police their own. Some think that some, but not all, of the nuttery may have validity. Some think that it doesn't matter, because it means however many believe it will side with them over the Republicans in elections. Some think that it is bad, but it would be worse for them to stifle dissent by shunning. And some think the last thing the left needs, when it is has been losing elections by such small margins, to be picking a fight among themselves. So the cancer goes untreated.

Bissage said...

Mary: Count me among the suspicious.

Bruce Hayden said...

What I am going to say is not pleasant. But I see a rot in academia. The Barrett case is just one of almost a half dozen instances that have popped up in the last year in higher education that show that the institution is in need of major change.

Just to remind everyone:
- Wisconson: Barrett
- Colorado: Churchill
- Arizona: Deborah Frisch
- Harvard: President Lawrence H. Summers forced to resign over slight hint of political incorrectness.
- Dartmouth: Proposed new constitution which would limit ability of insurgents to get on board of trustees, combined with executive committee members extending their terms of office (see Powerline for all the gory details)

Of all of these, only Colorado and Arizona have resolved well, to this point.

The rot is, to some extent, an arrogance, on the part of the schools, and, in particular, their faculty. Not all of them, but as noted at Harvard, enough of them at some schools that the problem is becoming evident.

Three of these schools are flagship state universities, and the other two are heavily endowed Ivy League institutions. The commonality, besides their prestige, is that they are all in a position for the faculty and administrators of the schools to become a law unto themselves. The schools are being run by and for them, regardless of the greater good, whether that be society or other university constituants (such as the alumni at Dartmouth). In all of these, there is a basic unaccountability to any except themselves.

Combine this with the moral relativism voiced by retired randy, and you have institutions out of control.

Ann Althouse said...

Mary: You're right that we don't know who Telemacchus is and whether he's inventing a story. I invite him to email me and identify himself. I will keep his identity secret (unless I'm coerced by some legal process!).

Ann Althouse said...

You know some of this "iceberg," "rot," and "cancer" talk partakes of the rhetoric of conspiracy. Ironically.

Ken Mitchell said...

The University of Winsconsin _implicitly_ has accepted the Barrett idiocy within their ranks; silence implies consent!

And let's take it easy on the "free speech" concerns; everyone has a right to speak his mind, but not a right to an audience, a lecture hall and a bully pulpit for despicable ideas. You're right; it would be different if he were teaching religion, where belief is all that matters.

Dave said...

Agree with Bruce.

Nahanni said...

Money talks.

If the revenue from loss of student enrollments and transfers to other colleges and alumni donations starts to hurt the university. If the people of Wisconsin demand that the state investigate the University over this I can assure you that you will see the sack of bullshit named Barrett walk.

tommy said...

I think they are right that firing him would do more damage than passing him through the system.

I disagree with that. Giving him a platform from which to speak, and the ability for the rest of his life to add to his resume that he instructed and taught this at UW gives him the sound of legitimacy at the University's expense that they can never take back.

Danny said...

I think it's pretty obvious Telemacchus isn't actually a parent of an incoming Wisconsin freshman. I'd go ahead and say it's someone on the right who wants to perpetuate the paranoid theory that there is a "cancer" destroying the quality of university faculty at UW-Madison. My guess: a conservative student here at UW.

Telemacchus conveniently creates the most influential role possible in this situation: a "highly educated" and "fairly liberal" parent of a child about to enter UW. He seems to think he can exercise complete control over his child and the entire admissions process by "pulling the plug on UW". Hey Telemacchus, have fun breaking the "decision" to your "child". Your "unease' will quickly turn to nausea as you triumphantly pick up the phone and begin the process of "actively calling back some of the schools [you] turned down".

PatCA said...

Bruce,
Don't forget the Ivy League Taliban, who was agressively recruited by Yale after they denied entrance to some qualified Afghan women!

And I'm using "rot" based on my personal observation. I see formal and cultural mandates that limit speech and thought. The object is power over others, not truth.

Oddly enough, the left's own theory of "competing truths" begets its opposition. If there is no truth, who can say that the US is evil and socialism is good? That war solves nothing and we need only give peace a chance?

It was my graduate school training in the humanities (art is a white male system of oppression) that revealed that the so-called left is an empty suit, or at least as empty as any other ideology.

JohnF said...

BTW, isn't it "Telemachus," not "Telemacchus"?

Perhaps there ARE a couple of other iceberg tips floating around here...

The Proprietors said...

Ann - "rot" and "cancer" are not the language of conspiracy. They're the language of something organic, unplanned. And therefore more dangerous in a way.

They also describe a more convincing and plausible phenomennon than a conspiracy. They're the end result of a sad turn in the thinking of a great many individuals - like a market gone bad, in a way.

Retired Randy's comment far above serves as a perfect example, in several ways.

tjl said...

Ann said:

"I think they are right that firing him would do more damage than passing him through the system."

I think this view is correct. If Barrett is fired, he instantly becomes a media commodity and liberal darling. Imagine the adoring talk-show hosts, the book deal, the reverential articles in the New York Times and Vanity Fair.

If Barrett stays, he remains a campus laughingstock ( there are always a few such eccentrics). Perhaps his mania will grow more florid over time, and an ever-crazier Barrett will begin wearing robes to class, ordering burqas for female students, and threatening hecklers with decapitation.
Ridicule is a potentially stronger sanction against him than dismissal.

The Proprietors said...

By the way, I am pretty sure that more left leaners allow themselves to suspect this stuff than we know. Many certainy believe Cheney et al would be capable of considering it.

There are two different bases for rejecting it: evidence and inherent implausibility. That is, inherent implausibility based not just on the unlikelihood of any big conspiracy, but also based on a different view of what our "ruling classes" are really all about.

It's that last thing that really separate me from some of my left leaning pals. Left leaners who are willing to suspect almost anything of the ruling classes believe they're wise and worldly and properly cynical. Whatever else, even if they can't change the world, at least they're not suckers, they believe.

But then they give themselves over to a whole other way of being suckers.

Bissage said...

Hey, I know where we can get some Hickory nuts.

Too big?

Bruce Hayden said...

Ann,

At least when I used the term "rot", I did not mean to imply that there was a conspiracy here. I don't believe that there is. Rather, I think that it is just a culmination of a number of like minded individuals of our generation entering academia to improve the world, then working their way up through the system, until they now have control of the levers of power.

Christopher Althouse said...

Let me just say that I recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin and never once felt that left views were being imposed on me by the professors, even at times when we were dealing with political issues and the professors were on the left. At a lesser school like the University of San Francisco, which I also attended, I felt that many of the professors regularly indoctrinated their students and would give lower grades to those who didn't absorb left politics.

The Proprietors said...

The rot is in the left, some of it, not just in certain wings of academia. Those wings serve as the think tank, but they're not the main problem.

Maxine Weiss said...

"Do you hear any university lefties praising him? Do you hear anyone here praising him?"--Ann

No, but you are giving him attention, which is a kind of homage.

You are also giving him something more precious...your time.

Pick your battles.

But, you also pick what's worthy of time and attention.

Peace, Maxine

Don said...

why does the person who hired Barrett still have a job?

somross2 said...

It also seems unlikely to me that a parent, a month away from an event so long planned for that is so complicated and time-consuming to arrange (admission application, housing application, FAFSA, financial aid application, possibly loan application, a visit or two, summer orientation over, courses already chosen) would pull the plug unless the prospective student got cold feet for some reason. I think a month away the parents are often more excited about the student's prospective experience than the student is.

brylin said...

Ann, You have mentioned that Barrett will "pass through the system" several times over several posts on this subject.

What makes you so sure of this?

My sense is that he will remain there gaining more and more notoriety until something is done to Farrell and the University itself through the political system.

Why is your sense better than mine?

brylin said...

A further point: Consider that any "passing through the system" will occur after the November election. Either there will be an effect on the election or not. If there is, then momentum for University change is set in motion at the political level. If there is no electoral change, what is the motivation to take any action against Barrett?

brylin said...

Or to shorten the question: Why isn't political change required for Barrett to pass through the system?

vnjagvet said...

I would not fire Barrett lest he become a martyr. I would order that he modify his course to eliminate the wholly gratuitous and irrelevant material on the WTC. Not because it is unsubstantiated by an credible evidence, but because it is not even arguably germaine to a basic course on Islam. That is certainly within the discretion of the those at UW who are responsible for academic quality control, and that discretion should be exercised.

That can and should still be done by the Department Head, and if not by that person, then the next academic officer up the line until it is accomplished.

IMHO, there is no legitimate excuse for not doing this.

Even if Teleman is mythical, his point is a good one. UW should take that advice.

foster said...

One article which briefly looked at another aspect of Barrett's conspiracy-minded world view unfortunately did not receive much attention. In the Isthmus (Madison free paper), two of Madison's best known Leftists said that they had personal experience with Barrett's use of antisemitism. These two Leftist are known as extremely anti-Zionist in their outlook ( both supported the Rafah sister-city nonsense for example ). Despite this, Barrett accused them of being part of "World Jewish Conspiracy to Control the Press", yada, yada, yada. It's surprising to me that this aspect of Barrett's hatred has not received any other media attention.

OhioAnne said...

" ... but Telemacchus is also speaking. "

Am I the only one here who wondering if Telemacchus is a "character" adding his (fictional) voice to a controversy?


I applaud your skepticism, Mary. I hope that you are applying the same skepticism to the "unnamed sources" quoted in the NYT articles on secret airlines, prisoner, wiretapping, and financial transactions.

Could he fictional? It's always a possibility.

However, it doesn't automatically follow that he is.

I am an academic advisor for a college in another state. We routinely get students applying to college and registering this late (and even later). Unless his financial aid is tied specifically to that university (a scholarship, etc.), he still could have time to make changes there.

If he had already applied to other universities, he may actually have no trouble at all. Universities are businesses like any other. If an inactive account suddenly expresses an interest in becoming active, you make it happen. Your funding only increases from the state with each new student.

A new freshman will be taking classes that tend to have the most sections offered so he could find a class to take although perhaps not at his preferred time.

Of all the things listed, the one that sounded most difficult to me to make happen was moving into the dorm - and getting the previous deposit back.

Brian said...

Bruce said:

"The schools are being run by and for them, regardless of the greater good."

Bruce, I think you're absolutely right. And, you would have been right had you made the same statement thirty years ago, fifty years ago, or one hundred years ago. Also, if you deleted the words "schools are," and inserted the words, "Congress is," "large government agencies are," or "large corporations are," your statement would be just as accurate.

I don't see this as a sign of rot, academic or otherwise. Simply a recognition of the fact that human beings entrusted with power tend to want to preserve their power. Something that happens across the entire political spectrum and has been happening long before you and I were born.

PatCA said...

"And, you would have been right had you made the same statement thirty years ago, fifty years ago.."

I agree with you. But the walls of prejudice came down, or were forced down, because people came to believe in their hearts that prejudice and exclusion are wrong. The mandarins of today's academy, by and large, are not that inclusionary. They do not want all points of view heard because they believe and act as if the other side is evil. They have not brought us equality--they have simply replaced one object of bigotry with another.

sy said...

It seems to me that Ann's contention that Barrett does not represent the far left wing is non sense. Anybody see Alan Colmes claim he was agnostic on the possibilty that the world trade centers were brought down by conspiricy? Never liked H&C much anyway.

BigDirigible said...

Hmm. Lost sight of the real target again, haven't we?

The problem isn't Barrett. He's a fruitcake. The world is full of fruitcakes - keep them away from sharp objects and all is well.

The problem here is Farrell. The fact that he can't spot a fruitcake when one falls on his foot, doesn't think that it's important to give more substantial fodder to the students, and rails against his critics when they tell him he should do better - those are the problems.
___

I don't see why anyone should worry about making Barrett a "martyr". So he appears on TV, and maybe becomes the latest 5-minute darling of some weirdo political faction - that doesn't matter. He won't be acting as a one-man Ministry of Truth for some freshmen - that's the important thing. Isn't it? Assuming the course is "Intro to Islam" rather than "Propaganda 101".
___

Telemacchus may be legit, or may not be. I'm assuming that someone had his choice of colleges narrowed down to a short list, and any of those might be appropriate ... in which case T's story isn't too farfetched.

Svolich said...

Bruce, you might also include UC Irvine. The students frequently refer to it as "UC Islam" and "Jihad U".

We have Prof. Mark LeVine, who thinks that Israel created Hamas. He's written "America, in short, has become a criminal nation, and it must be stopped. (Yes, there are many other criminal nations, but aside from Israel how many even have the pretense of democracy? Russia? The Sudan? China? India is perhaps one; and given its sordid occupation of Kashmir it shouldn't surprise that a US-India-Israel axis of occupation and Islamophobia is one of the most prominent features of the world's geo-strategic post-9/11 landscape.)"

At graduation this year, muslim students wore sashes under their robes reading "shahada" - arabic for suicide bomber.

The Jihad movement at UCI gets almost no notice. Every once in a while a story leaks into the mainstream, but it's VERY infrequent. In the meantime, you have students wearing Hamas T-shirts running the research reactor. One day it's going to get very ugly.

If it really is just one loonball at Wisconsin, I agree, it's better to let him teach his class and not renew his contract. The response in the blogosphere is the result of our experience. We don't think it's one loonball, we think this is just the one that got the press.

As to changing Universities at this late date - if aren't getting financial aid and you've been admitted, it's AMAZING how fast a registration office can move. True at both private schools and state schools for out of state students. Money talks, out of state money shouts.

J Bowen said...

Of course somebody had to mention "free speech", and one even mentioned the Constitution.

OK, we have a law prof running this show. Professor Althouse - does "free speech" or the US Constitution have any relevance to this at all? IANAL and certainly not a professor, but I *can* read English and I say no. Not even within a penumbra or emanation.

And I can get "free speech" anywhere - if that's the only standard for universities then why go there? If a professor starts teaching 1+1=3 in math classes, must we tolerate it on the grounds of free speech?

IMO "Telemacchus" has legitimate quality control objections, and if higher management at the school sees no problem with the situation, that does not inspire confidence in quality of other schools either. (although thanks to AA herself we can have some confidence in the law school).

I'd think that a significant number of Muslims would be offended to be characterized as a group as being willing to believe crap like this. Will there also be weeklong sections about other popular Islamowacko beliefs like the blood libel and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion? Are there no Muslim groups complaining that Barrett is making them look like idiots and paranoiacs?

And vnjagvet: I hope that the "Telemacchus" who inspired this turns out to be for real. But if not, his conduct is worthy only of lefties. Heaven forbid that the sane among us have to resort to the lefties' "fake but accurate" stunts that have lionized liars like Menchu.

G said...

Christopher Althouse,

Your comment illustrates why UW should take action now. Large institutions do not become tainted over-night, they evolve slowly. If you wish to prevent UW from turning into U. of S.F., it's easier to crack the nut than kill the tree.

G. Hamid

(Sorry, I couldn't resist the "nut" reference.)

kmg4 said...

They are mere anti-American nuts, who are about 8-10% of the US population. Why can conservative Orange County take action against the UCI jihad right under their noses.

GrandpaT said...

This is not a new phenomenon, but has certainly become much worse recently.

Back in ought-sixty when I graduated from the U of Ill, a prof was fired for the use of extremely indecent language and improper sunject matter in class. These days there are no such things as indecent language nor improper subject matter. The prof in question quickly found a new gig at Antioch College, whaich was then one of the few that catered to the fringes. Now it seems that all the 'humanities' departments compete for the wildest, the ones that go farthest to reject the notion of humanity.

I have children and grandchildren in various colleges at the moment. From my discussions with them, I wouldn't waste a minute on what passes for the common wisdom on history, literature, philosophy, or ethics. Both my parents were journalists, my mother (one of Mr. Hearst's sob sisters) having attended the U of Mo during World War One, my dad (erstwhile managing editor of Barron's and the WSJ) having come to the second-oldest profession by way of sports reporting. Knowing them, and seeing contemporary j-school products, I would say that today's communication majors have fallen the farthest from having any clue about the nature of the damnded human race (c.f. H. L. Mencken).

Barrett is the natural end-product of long process of removing rational thought and the teaching thereof from the attributes of a university's liberal arts curriculum. Surprise! You reap what you sow! Actions have consequences! Causes produce effects!

Perhaps in a generation or two, when no one will pay to have their childrens minds scrubbed clean of any idea of right or wrong, the great universities will remember their roots and return to teaching Truth, Justice, and the American Way. Or at least Western Civ. Meanwhile, there's George Mason or BYU. Better yet, go down to Barnes and Noble and buy a Bible and one each of their $10 paperback classics for your younguns. It's a helluva lot better deal than paying tuition.

snowonpine said...

I'm amazed that all this talk of letting Barrett "pass through the system" has not elicited one comment about the obvious imagery here.

Bissage said...

Here it is 5:25 e.s.t. and still no Telemacchus.

This sort of thing has happened before.

Elizabeth said...

You know some of this "iceberg," "rot," and "cancer" talk partakes of the rhetoric of conspiracy.

Thank you!

Jim C. said...

Re Telemacchus, I think it is reasonable to expect him to identify himself to Ann, at least privately.

"Even if Barrett represents a problem that's bigger than one part-time instructor's despicable plan to teach an idiotic conspiracy theory, it only relates to part of the university and not, for example, to the sciences."

How do we know for sure? If this utterly blatant garbage manages to get through here, it's fair to ask if less blatant stuff is getting through elsewhere.

"You could say that no one on the left is openly complaining about him, but that doesn't mean they like or even accept what he is doing."

Granted, a person can't explicitly condemn every bad thing that other persons in their group say or do. But has "qui tacet consentire videtur" been abandoned completely?

"You're only hearing the most minimal statements, all designed to encapsulate him so that he can pass through the system doing the least harm."

Least harm to the system (bureaucracy), not the students.

"I think they are right that firing him would do more damage than passing him through the system."

More damage to the system (bureaucracy).

Internet Ronin said...

Humorist Robert Benchley is said to have arrived at the conclusion that, like it or not, we end up becoming the kind of person we despise the most.

Comments like this from PatCa reminded me of that notion:

The mandarins of today's academy, by and large, are not that inclusionary.... They have not brought us equality--they have simply replaced one object of bigotry with another.


Many of those leading the universities and governmental bodies of our nation today were children of the '60's & '70's, horrified by the rigid rules and hypocritical behavior of those in power.

Bissage said...

Mary: Superb.

Internet Ronin: Perhaps to be Teer is to see in new ways."

Indeed.

knoxgirl said...

If Barrett is fired, he instantly becomes a media commodity and liberal darling. Imagine the adoring talk-show hosts, the book deal, the reverential articles in the New York Times and Vanity Fair...

So what? Who buys into that except for the people who already support him?

I don't see how anyone can believe that his having a position at a (once?) respected institution is better...

David Walser said...

I don't know whether Telemacchus is a real person or not. I do know that the concerns he expresses are real. Our youngest child will start her senior year at high school this fall, then it's off to college. While she as excellent scores on her entrance exams (ACT of 33, I don't recall the SAT scores) and a real 4.0 GPA, there are a lot of elite schools I'll not allow her to attend. (Unless she can pay her own way for everything, Dad gets some say.) The U of W would not be on the approved list for a number of reasons. This Barrett incident is just the most recent example.

I want my daughter to get an excellent education. I also want her to come through that process with her head on straight and her heart in the right place. Frankly, what goes on at many college campuses scares me. I think a lot of parents feel the same way.

knoxgirl said...

I think they are right that firing him would do more damage than passing him through the system.

I'm not following... what's the perceived damage?

David Walser said...

The school has said that they are honoring Barrett's contract, in part, because of his private assurances that students will not be graded down if they disagree with him. How can this be squared with Barrett's recent public comments (on H&C and elsewhere) that he knows Muslims had nothing to do with 9/11 and that the US was behind the whole thing? I don't recall any of my professors granting me full credit for answers that they knew were wrong! It's one thing to say that different answers are acceptable when the question is still open. It's another thing when the professor considers the question settled.

DRJ said...

I agree with David Walser that professors like Barrett and administrators like Farrell will hurt liberal college applications and admissions.

Two years ago, our son was admitted to a top Ivy League college. During the application process, we learned more details of the liberal ideology and professors at this college. As a result, our family agreed that our son would not attend the Ivy League college due to the radical and intolerant attitudes of the faculty and administration. Instead, our son enrolled in and is currently a student at the honors college in our state's largest public university. The two colleges have significantly different academic reputations and our decision probably shocked many people.

Several people we know are making similar decisions and, like the New York Times, perhaps someday liberal colleges will realize that supply and demand still exists - even in academia.

Danny said...

I think it's important to note that Barrett is an adjunct at Edgewood, a small christian college here in Madison. There he teaches a similar course called “Human Issues: The Challenge of Islam." Edgewood, unlike UW-Madison, was well aware of his 9/11 conspiracy theory prior to hiring him and haven't initiated any sort of review of his teaching credentials.

Glenn Howes said...

I spent 7 years on the UW campus getting my doctorate, and I have always told anybody who would listen that you don't go to UW-Madison for an undergraduate degree. It's much better academically to go to a smaller state school where you have the opportunity to make real contributions to your department as an undergrad. I received a BS from the Univ. of North Dakota, and I was able to do real research and have a more collegial relationship with the faculty then any undergraduate at UW could hope.

On the other hand, Madison is a great place to kick back, bike, eat, drink, socially experiment, and burn through your parent's money.

tjl said...

Re Ann's "I think they are right that firing him would do more damage than passing him through the sytem," Knoxgirl asked,
"I'm not following... what's the perceived damage?"

What could be more damaging to the country than the George Clooney Barrett pic, sure to open to raves at Sundance?

Axing Barrett would give him a stature that he would never attain as an $8k-a-year untenured lecturer whose contract is unlikely to be renewed.

Erick Ryan said...

I don't consider this definitive, but Barrett certainly seems to be a man of the left:

"He spent a year in Seattle working for a group that advocated a nuclear arms freeze, and volunteering for former U.S. Sen. Gary Hart's 1984 presidential campaign."

Fenrisulven said...

retired randy: doesn't make his statements any less credible than say President Bush inferring Saddam was behind 9/11.

Bush never implied such a thing. Its amazing how your kind continues to impale your own credibility, with your own sword, while attacking Bush's.

houstonian said...

Could we please stop saying this is a free speech issue? Everyone has the right to say what he wants without censorship from the government, but not to say it without consequences.

Would UW hire a history professor who believed the Allies faked the holocaust to justify occupying Germany?

Would UW hire an African American studies professor who believed that africans wanted to be slaves?

Would UW hire an astrophysics professor who believed the moon landing was faked, the sun revolved around the earth, and that stars were angels lighting the night sky?

Of course they wouldn't have done any of these things, and rightly so. So why hire an islamic studies professor who refuses to believe that islamic terrorists committed 9/11?

Firing him would have made him a martyr, keeping made UW look like an academic lightweight. Which is worse?

The Contra Crunchy said...

Ann, no one likes outside scrutiny, whether it's a company being audited, a teenager whose mother is looking under his bed, or a university being scrutinized by a bunch of ordinary Joes. We all work hard to acquire authority in our profession and having outsiders call it into question provokes a natural defense response. Every institution would rather handle its problems internally than air their dirty laundry.

The anger you're seeing in this and related cases like Ward Churchill I think includes a lot of pent-up consumer frustration with a system so conspicuously broken on so many levels.

Bottom line, unless you are majoring in sciences or engineering, or going on to a profession like medicine that truly requires mastery of a complex discipline, there is very little learned in college that should not have been learned in high school. Hell, I'm an alum of a prestigious old New England university, I'm a made member of the family of academic elitists, but as a business owner and entrepreneur I can see where it just doesn't make sense anymore. Thanks to the GI Bill we got into this mentality that any job worth doing requires a sheepskin and frankly that's a load of bull-something.

The next twenty years are gonna be real interesting I think.

Porphyrogenitus said...

Greetings:

First, I grew up in Madison (Sheldon Street, then University Heights followed by Adams Street, &tc, &tc.) and went to the UW, though I failed to graduate (mostly fecklessness on my part and the fact that I enjoyed taking classes but procrastinated on foreign languages, a requirement). I had only a few professors who I would call ideologically-driven to the point of detracting from the coursework.

HOWEVER, I'm not sure at all that I agree with Ann that the banal, minimalist statements by people at the UW are just meant to "pass" Barrett through the system quietly and with the least harm. I think that instead they're largely intended to cause the *controversy* to pass quietly and with the least attention to the University. Barrett will become a permanent teaching fixture, either there or elsewhere. The system will adopt him as one of its own, and protect him - as it is doing now.

Statements claiming "academic freedom" and "inquiry" in such cases are driven primarily by that: A desire to shift the terms of the debate from the subject at hand to grounds more amenable to those raising such claims. Note that they are typically selectively invoked claims, an academic version of Liberating Toleration.

They will boundlessly tolerate and even pay for people like Barrett teaching theories such as this and grant them the prestige of an institution such as the University of Wisconsin under which to hold forth on such things.

ANyhow, I donno about the rest of you all, but this course is enough for *me* to induce vomiting.

josil said...

if barrett is a question of free speech or academic freedom, then the UW administration is obliged to invite (or, at least, not bar)proponents of nazi racial theories or equally repulsive ideologies. but there's something about academia--its otherworldliness and detachment from the rest of society.

M. Simon said...

The trouble with academia is the bifruction.

Most of the hard science guys are grounded in the humanities. It does not work the other way around.

Which is why so much irrationality prevails.

We could fix the humanities by requiring a minor in science and/or math.

Let us hear it for an end to innumeracy.

Michael said...

It's interesting that "free speech" has become the all-purpose excuse for allowing anything at a university.

Assuring a certain minimum standard of quality has evidently ceased to be a priority.

Jason Coleman said...

Hello all,

I'm wondering. Does anyone here realize that Barrett also feels that Pearl Harbor was an "inside job".

Take a listen to his statement in this CNN interview. You'll skip over it if you don't pay close attention, but it's there, he says 9-11 was:

"a new pearl harbor, an inside job".


Just thought that was worthy of note. Wondering if Ann has any comment about that.

CNN: Interview here

http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/07/21/Sept.11.prof.ap/index.html

Click the link in the third para for the interview.

--Jason

ed said...

Hmmm.

1. You know some of this "iceberg," "rot," and "cancer" talk partakes of the rhetoric of conspiracy. Ironically.

It's only irony if there isn't a conspiracy. We all know that the left has completely dominated the universities and use their positions as a club. When liberal professors speak it becomes issues of freedom of speech an academic independence. When a conservative student speaks somehow those same principles never seem to apply.

2. *shrug* Telemacchus perhaps is busy arranging a different school. Maybe he's had his say and isn't particularly interested in nailing his rear end on this blog. Or perhaps he doesn't actually care about anybody else's opinions. Or perhaps he's a made up character.

Frankly I couldn't care less because I agree with him. Right now I'm investigating online education because of my working schedule. But in a few years I'll be looking to go back to school full time. And I'm personally not all that enthusiastic about attending, or applying for, UW. I'm 41 years old. I'm way too damn old to be verbally sparring with some liberal professor or worrying my personal views will somehow impact my grades.

If there's even the hint that any of that is a possibility, then I'll pass. UW might be a great school, but with Barrett as an example, it very well might be a bag-o-crap. Why should waste my time and money taking the chance when there are other schools that want my money?

And that last sentence really is a question.

ben wallace said...

Ann: I thought I remembered the language telemacchus used in that post. This is a comment from telemacchus from July 5 (which seems as bizarre as things Barrett says):

"If ever there was an example of why we need to take back our campuses from the radical left, this is it. It is with much trepidation I am sending my daughter off to Madison at a cost of a very hard earned $32K a year. Having just finished SOAR orientation there with her, I have to say that as a dispassionate and neutral observer, that I saw nothing but lesbians and minorities artificially placed in every single position of authority around the entire place, Deans, Counselors, Chief of Campus Police, etc. It was beyond all statistical probability. How a colony of Ex- and wannabe hippies all set up shop in the middle of the heartland surrounded by an entire state of people from hard-working German and Scandanavian stock, is beyond me. They all seemed very qualified and competent, but there was clearly a heavy and very left hand manipulating all power structures through the organization. What that heavy left hand is going to do to my daughter after 4 years makes me shudder. There is no balance in environments like this, and freedom of speech is only valued when it is the radical left freedom of speech."

Slopoke said...

I thought you suggested to someone if they liked a professor so much (Downes, I believe) they should see his(?) defense of Barrett. How can you then say that none of the lefties at the universtity are supporting him?

ben wallace said...

slopoke: downs is conservative and so are most of the people from CAFAR who signed that statement.

yashu said...

This reminds me of something similar that happened at UC Berkeley several years ago-- as I recall, an instructor in an Arabic language class favorably discussed the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (suggesting the text might not be forgery!), a student complained, blog outrage followed, etc. Someone at the Volokh site received an email from the instructor, where he remarked that in the class he did not take a position on what remains an open debate (!). (Wow-- at least he didn't take a position! Ugh. And Barrett, on 911... does. Ugh ugh.) Don't know what eventually happened there. The Robert Simon blog posting on the matter is here:
http://rogerlsimon.com/archives/00000314.htm

Danny said...

Using Kevin Barrett to argue the existance of a hyper-liberal "cancer" afflicting university faculty is no different than using Fred Phelps to argue that the existance of a hyper-conservative "cancer" afflicting clergy. It's a lazy and inaccurate cheap shot.

Palladian said...

Really, Danny? At what respected religious institution is Phelps preaching this fall?

Actually, there isn't much difference between Phelps and Barrett, they both basically say that 9/11 was America's doing. Well, except for the fact that Barrett is going to be "teaching" his "theories" at a major university and Phelps is going to be standing outside a funeral somewhere.

James Mabry said...

I believe the University of Wisconsin is a great institution. It's a huge place, people! Even if Barrett represents a problem that's bigger than one part-time instructor's despicable plan to teach an idiotic conspiracy theory, it only relates to part of the university and not, for example, to the sciences.

Sorry, but that's just nuts. Any institution that tolerates the kinda crap this Barratt spews simply can not be great. Maybe once was great. Maybe still good. Whatever. But to put the University of Wisconsin and great in the same sentence is not morally possible anymore.

Danny said...

The point is that, in internet arguments, both Barret and Phelps are sloppily used as examples of the left and the right while, simultaneously, the left and the right want to distance themselves from Barret and Phelps.

Joel said...

Wow, Ann do you practice a lot of yoga to reach such convoluted positions?

PatCA said...

Too true, Ronin. The circle is unbroken.

Danny said...

But to put the University of Wisconsin and great in the same sentence is not morally possible anymore.

Player please! 42% of Americans think the government is hiding something about 9/11. By your "logic", any University that employs one of these... 130 million Americans cannot possibly be great.

dick said...

Danny,

Phelps is a democrat!!

David said...

"it only relates to part of the university and not, for example, to the sciences"...really? Doesn't the claim that the WTC damage could not have been caused by the aircraft impact have to do primarily with matters of structural engineering and metallurgy? Is it acceptable for a "great university" to be so compartmentalized that clearly false claims can be made in one department without drawing on knowledge that exists in other departments?

ben wallace said...

If the university is so out of touch with political reality, then one would expect more than 1 Democratic legislator to sign the Nass letter to the provost (which is how many Democrats signed that letter). Governor Doyle even recognizes that attacking the university is counterproductive. UW is a robust institution that will not be undermined by two lectures (or about 2 and a half hours) devoted to several theories of 9/11, only one of which is the inside job theory. Far too few attempt to separate out Barrett's activism from Barrett's teaching record, the latter of which is fine.

Moreover, conservative politicians who feel that Barrett should be fired should consider which ideological perspective will be hurt more in the long run by a decline in academic freedom. Firing someone like Barrett in the short run could have the effect of allowing liberal unveristiy officials to purge conservative ideas which have perpetually been attacked by the left from the ranks of universities.

Abraham said...

Danny, if the University hires one of those 130 million knowing that they will teach as fact that which is false, then YES, THEY ARE NO LONGER GREAT. I fail to understand why this is unreasonable.

Danny said...

What if UW signed the four month contact without knowing about Barret's 9/11 views? I've never interviewed for an instructor position at UW but I'm pretty sure they don't grill candidates on the subject of 9/11. Maybe that's a question only "great" universities ask...

Jason Coleman said...

Sorry to come round again, just thought I'd also point Althouse readers to the website for the organization that Barrett is the founder of.

I think some of Ann's readers will be quite interested with what's there.

http://mujca.com/
It's the Muslim Jewish Christian Alliance for Truth.

It's interesting in a train-wreck sorta way.

--Jason

Joel said...

Ben Wallace,

You seem to be operating under the illusion that this is a political debate, whereas my perception is that it is a debate of what Americans want reality to be. Not political reality ( i.e. perception) but objective reality (i.e. able to withstand the scientific method executed by a disinterested third party)


The negative effects on "conservatives" is secondary to the positive effects on the stock price of truth, wisdom, and knowledge in American academia. I know this is kinda foriegn to blogosphere debate champs, but it is still kinda important to people who spend tens of thousands of dolllars to send thier children to university.

Fenrisulven said...

Must pause and reflect that millions of Americans pay tens of thousands of dollars for this... any feel like they're getting ripped off?

Bissage said...

ben wallace: Kudos on your 9:52. Telemacchus has been impeached and discredited.

Karensky said...

Ann and all of the breathless ones mulling the existance of Telemachus there is a blogger goes by the handle Michael J. Totten from Oregon who travels the Arabic Muslim world like Michael Yon and Bill Roggio. Michael is currently in Beruit and his blog is blocked, can't raise it for the past several days. Earlier, last Friday through Sunday he had a guest host who goes by the handle Telemachus. This Telemachus stated that he was a newspaper editor and was most eloquent in his subject matter and banter dealing with not small thoughts and ideas. Judging by Ann's recollection of Telemachus' dialogue it seems to be one and the same.
Should Telemachus be the same I can see that he would least likely send a letter to the editor but actually write his own editorial, it was not specific as to what section of his paper that he is editor of. All in all, breathless ones; Yes Dorothy there is a Telemachus and no Dorothy his IRS name has not been revealed.

As to the Barret kerfuffle sweeping it under the rug is the easy way out. I disagree that paying him hush money is the right thing to do. Someone posited that if he were percieved to be a "right wing nutjob" he most assuredly would be tossed out before his feet hit the floor. That is concretely correct. If this guy were teaching the superiority of caucasion culture over say Mongolian the booming voices of indignation could be heard here in South Florida. No Ann, he should be canned and let the arguement begin. You are not advocating the easy way out for of love of University are you? My U right or wrong?

Pogo said...

Bissage finds that previous post by telemacchus discredits him. I disagree. (The prior post discusses his dismay at the degree to which PC culture was enforced at UW Madison.)

1. It suggests that in fact he was looking at this school, and had already placed his daughter there. This makes his later claim at rejecting the school even more plausible.

2. He identifies himself as being of "a fairly liberal bent". The prior post might seem on its face to argue against this, unless one rejects a libertarian approach (often social liberalism with fiscal conservatism and small government) as valid for "a fairly liberal bent". I don't.

So, is telemacchus' claim real? I don't know. The prior post neither impeaches nor discredits him. But it does mean he is not a lefty, because lefties aren't allowed to disagree with the Party.

Mark in Texas said...

ben wallace said

"Moreover, conservative politicians who feel that Barrett should be fired should consider which ideological perspective will be hurt more in the long run by a decline in academic freedom. Firing someone like Barrett in the short run could have the effect of allowing liberal unveristiy officials to purge conservative ideas which have perpetually been attacked by the left from the ranks of universities."

The interesting choice of words is the threat that conservative ideas might be purged from universities. I guess that the possibility that conservative individuals might be purged is not much of a threat since that has already happened.

What I find interesting about Professor Althouse's opinion that the best thing to do about this malign individual is for the University to hold its nose and wait for him to go away is that it is quite similar to the method used for decades by the Catholic bishops to deal with priests who were pedophiles. I don't think that this approach is going to work any better for UW and academia than it worked for the Catholic Church.

Unless Barrett is fired, the reputation of UW will suffer in the same way that Peter Singer's presence at Princeton detracts from that university's reputation among all but the edgy and fabulous set.

Ann Althouse said...

Karensky: "Telemachus" is a character in classical literature and not an unlikely pen name to be chosen by more than one person. My commenter actually spelled it "Telemacchus," anyway.

Eviscerator said...

Ann Althouse said...
You know some of this "iceberg," "rot," and "cancer" talk partakes of the rhetoric of conspiracy. Ironically.

This is not how I understand the concept of conspiracy theorizing. The idea of a conspiracy is that of a relatively select few individuals with amazing, almost supernatural, abilities to make events happen. Simply citing beliefs and discourse is not enough. A conspiracy theorist must be talking about specific identifiable events that are not as they seem to the general public. Conspiracies imply that there are specific, willful forces at work behind the scenes making it impossible for "normal folk" to make any meaningful difference in the world. And as a result we are all in thrall to a world that we have no ability to influence.

All this cancer talk is simply referencing memes that have leaked their way into leftist culture to the point that the 7-11 cleck spouts ideas that are identical to professors at distinguished universities.

Sorry Ann but I think you've got the concept of a "conspiracy theory" a little bit confused with something else.

Eviscerator said...

Ann Althouse said...
You know some of this "iceberg," "rot," and "cancer" talk partakes of the rhetoric of conspiracy. Ironically.

This is not how I understand the concept of conspiracy theorizing. The idea of a conspiracy is that of a relatively select few individuals with amazing, almost supernatural, abilities to make events happen. Simply citing beliefs and discourse is not enough. A conspiracy theorist must be talking about specific identifiable events that are not as they seem to the general public. Conspiracies imply that there are specific, willful forces at work behind the scenes making it impossible for "normal folk" to make any meaningful difference in the world. And as a result we are all in thrall to a world that we have no ability to influence.

All this cancer talk is simply referencing memes that have leaked their way into leftist culture to the point that the 7-11 cleck spouts ideas that are identical to professors at distinguished universities.

Sorry Ann but I think you've got the concept of a "conspiracy theory" a little bit confused with something else.

Bissage said...

Mary: Thanks for the support.

Pogo: Thanks for your challenge.

Telemacchus was offered up as the sort of parent UW wants to attract to prove that other parents have, will or should lose faith in UW because of this Barrett kerfuffle. I agree with ben wallace that the comment by Telemacchus from 7/5 is "bizarre." This, of course, implies that Telemacchus is bizarre (or that he and his wife are not “highly educated and of fairly liberal bent”) and that his 7/21 anecdote is of little probative value. What he thinks and does is of very little use as we attempt to predict what others will think and do. That’s what I call impeached and discredited.

I agree with you that the historical facts from 7/5 and 7/21 are pretty consistent. I think it more likely than not that Telemacchus is sincere, for what its worth.

I regret the triumphalistic tone of my 6:50. My intent was to compliment ben wallace for doing valuable research that had not occurred to me. However, in my hast I broke one of my own commenting rules, that is, to be nice.

Telemacchus: I think you overreacted. One bad apple doesn't spoil the barrel. Does anyone really think UW is a hotbed of dangerous radicalism? It is a fine school and everybody knows it. Again, I think you overreacted.

But my opinion is beside the point. You, your wife, and your daughter should do what's best.

Godspeed.

Ace said...

Just because he didn"t drink the same koolaid as fascist neocons doesn't make his statements any less credible

Um, his statements are false.

Thus, they have no credibility.

than say President Bush inferring Saddam was behind 9/

He "inferred" no such thing.

freewilliam said...

Is it possible that the UW already has a contract with Barrett and is trying to avoid paying him a 6 figure out of court settlement by breaching his contract. I mean, is it not plausible? Who hasn't seen some government entity shell out such settlements for expediting something like this?

Porphyrogenitus said...

This sent to me by Jane Z, also a UW Grad and who worked there from the '80s to the early '90s, but doesn't have a Blogger account. She asked me to post it:

"Groan. I followed the links all the way to Porphy's comments. Course content needs to be based on valid scholarship and questions . . . not to mention that the course content needs to be relevent to the course title. The department / faculty failed miserably in its guidance and supervision of this hirling. A lecturer should not be able to willy nilly stray from course objectives! Some kind of quality control is the responsibility of the department. Idiots. The department is "Languages and Cultures of Asia" and cross-listed (so who was responsible for hiring Barrett?) http://lca.wisc.edu/facstaff/profiles.htm Dept Chair appears to be Ellen Rafferty. Course is a 300 level, but indicates open to freshmen. Apparently formerly taught by Memon (was there an existing syllabus?)
370 Islam: Religion and Culture. (Crosslisted with African, Relig St) I; 4 cr (H-I). The emergence and development of Islam; schism; theology; asceticism; speculative and popular mysticism; literatures in diverse Islamic languages. P: Open to Fr.

Fools can have free speech in the public square, but that does not justify such broad latitude for teaching an academic course. (maybe he gets by with it because of the 'speculative' part of the course description description)
Heck did you see that story of the mom, invited as all the moms were to bring her child's favorite book to read in the classroom, was scheduled to do so, and was turned away when she brought the Bible?"

From me, as for "Retired Randy" calling people "fascists" who "spew hatred" for exercising *our* freedom of speech to criticize the hatred and falsehoods that Barnett is expressing, well; res ipsa loquitor. He simply illustrates my point regarding "Liberating Toleration".

Unlike him, I *am* familiar with the Constitution, and it includes the freedom of us to criticise Barnett. It, however, does not claim that anyone to teach falsehoods under an academic rubric. Barnett, and Retired Randy, are free to spew their venom from whatever soap box they desire. But there is no right to collect money from others for it, just as "freedom of speech" doesn't require the UW Biology Department to have professors teaching Creationism, or that, if they did, criticism of such a hire would constitute a threat to "academic freedom".

PrestoPundit said...

These parents have been living in a cave if they don't know that ever other University in the country is in no different shape than the U. of Wisconsin.

I'd wager that you can't study at any University in American and not likely run into at least 2 or 3 like Barrett in one subject or another.

Jim C. said...

Mary said...

"... quite similar to the method used for decades by the Catholic bishops to deal with priests who were pedophiles. "

I object, not based on offense at minimizing the pedophile cover-up's, but on non-comparables.

Barrett is one man, one brief contract, no denial of his course contents -- admirable in this discussion's openness, in fact.


There certainly was no public notice given of the course's content. One can think this amounts to a hush-up.

I hope you would you not consider a priest who openly admitted and defended his pedophilia admirable.

And as for "one man, one brief contract", well, that's what individual victims of pedophile priests thought.

There's been no transfer of a man in his position, from campus to campus (and I doubt there will be).

How do we know this is the first place he has taught his insane theories? Perhaps, like pedophiles, this is just the first time he's been caught.

There's been no systematic "breeding ground" for his alleged bad behavior; Barrett seems to be one of a kind.

As he's a convert to Islam, I think it's plausible he originally picked this garbage up from some radical mullah who teaches lots of people. At least I hope it wasn't from an average mosque. And I'm talking about him and extremist Muslims like him, not all Muslims.

"One of a kind"? Barrett himself says lots of Muslims believe this.

And finally, no "abuse" victims coming forward making claims of long-term traumatization.

Perhaps such "victims" don't realize how they've been abused. Perhaps they need their consciousness raised. Or perhaps, like sexual abuse victims, they fear the abusers will retaliate or they won't be believed. I'd say if such fears do exist, in this case they're perfectly plausible.

Give it up, Texas Mark. That one was offensive.

Not nearly as offensive as a deluded, hate-filled nut like Barrett being allowed to air his insanity and have people defend him.

I think the comparison to the way the Catholic Church handled pedophilia is closer than you care to admit.

Mark in Texas said...

Hit a nerve there, eh Mary?

Perhaps my post came across as too harsh. Let me state that I am at least as well disposed towards the Catholic Church as you seem to be towards the academy and UW. However, the Catholic Church is the worlds oldest functioning bureaucracy. Bureaucracies tend to have certain charactaristics in common, such as a tendancy to sweep bad actors under the rug if they can get away with it.

In the long run, this turned out to be a bad thing for the institution.

UW has demonstrated that they prefer to sweep problems under the rug as well. How many other less publicized problems have they succeeded in hiding?

The initial story in the Boston Globe was about a single priest. Eventually it turned out that the problem was a lot worse than almost anybody had believed.

I don't think that you want your beloved university to experience the same sort of loss of confidence.

Karensky said...

Anne, sorry about the disparity but I have been unable, as in do not have enough internet savvy to track down cached discourse, the point I made was that this Telemacchus, Telemachus fellow is most likely one and the same. As you said it is such an unusual reference, as is my moniker, that it is too, too much of a coincidence. What bothers is that Michael J. Totten's blog is down with a denial of service. I suspect this is because he is in Beruit. Whether it is the local govt. of the Israeli govt. is not of importance. Oh well, it is all a tempest in a teacup whether or not Telemac(c)hus contacts you or not. I still posit that the poster is a real human with real intent.

Ann Althouse said...

Karensky: I didn't say it was unusual. I said "'Telemachus' is a character in classical literature and not an unlikely pen name to be chosen by more than one person." You missed "not."

Mary said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kenwood Park said...

A couple of posters are getting close to the crux of the matter: how a UW lecturer gets hired -- not faculty, but ad hocs. And that takes it back to . . . Steve Nass, as he and other legislators are to blame.

We could blame Telemachus/Tellemachus and the rest of the public who put the likes of these legislators in office. We could blame them for paying for the UW -- but they don't, as only 11 percent of the operating budget of the Madison campus comes from state taxes anymore (and it's dropping fast at other campuses having to ramp up tuition, donations, etc.).

But nope, with the massive third-of-a billion dollars of budget cuts to the UW in the last couple of years alone, atop decades of stick-it-to-the-UW from the former gov, the number of UW teachers who are faculty is so few these days that this is not your dad's or mom's UW.

Do the math: There are only about 1800 faculty for 45,000 students at UW-Madison. There are fewer than 700 faculty for 28,000 students at UW-Milwaukee. So 2500 faculty simply won't stretch to teach almost 75,000 students -- unless you want to see all of them in those huge large lecture classes all the time. No 20-student seminars, so that students can be guided through major papers, no small-class labs in the sciences to train students to make your life-and-death decisions.

(The proportion actually is better at the smaller campuses, especially in the smaller towns, where it's far harder to find people with a master's degree (all that parttimers need -- and in some fields, they don't even have that) willing to take the pay (far lower, from $2200-$2800 per course, at campuses other than UW-Madison, where the math computer per course is beyond belief by comparison.)

So most of the teachers that UW students get are not faculty -- it's gotten so bad even at the grad level that grad students find out that they didn't have enough faculty (since they call all of them "professor" without knowing the difference) to put together a committee to graduate. Same goes for undergraduates doing honors theses and needing faculty for committees. Same goes for faculty besieged to do independent studies, one-on-one with students.

(As for faculty governance that requires numbers on committees to plan curricula and other such matters, those committees are collapsing. Literally -- the committees are being collapsed, or merged, so that there are enough faculty to go around.)

So most of the teachers in the UW are parttime ad hocs -- at least at the two largest campuses that have more students than all the others combined. And ad hocs, hired for a semester here or there, don't go through the grilling -- two days of interviews, teaching, presentations, etc. -- that is done for every faculty hire. Actually, for three to five candidates for every faculty hire. There are not enough faculty left to put together similar search committees for every ad hoc hire.

Bottom line: the solution to improving the process by which teachers are hired in the UW is to hire more fulltime faculty in the UW. Put Dr. Barrett through the faculty hiring process. He might make it through, but only after a lot of questions and debate about the quality of his research, such as the forthcoming book that he edited. (Yes, forthcoming -- the book hasn't come out yet that is under attack by the conservatives. Doesn't that make them thought police?)

Instead, Nass and his ilk are using this (and any excuse they can find, such as the reason claimed for the massive budget cuts this biennium to all campuses -- a Madison admin on leave for a sexual harassment charge . . . but when the charge was summarily dismissed, legislators didn't restore the funding) to further cut the UW budget, and thus the number of faculty.

Academic freedom is not the problem. It's funding of academe in a state that once prided itself on education -- not just K-12, which has taken ever more of the tax dollar, but higher education as well. Actually, compare the UW's situation to K-12 and imagine a school in which the majority of teachers are substitute teachers. Telemachus/Tellemachus would be screaming to his school board, not to the other teachers or the principal, in that case.

So put the blame where it belongs, if blame you think there ought to be, for the course staffing in this UW case.