October 2, 2006

"UW should promote discussion rooted in scholarly analysis, not the grassy knoll."

The Badger Herald -- one of the UW student newspapers -- reconsiders its position on Kevin Barrett (the part-time teacher here who believes that the government perpetrated the 9/11 attacks). Initially, the paper supported the UW's decision to allow him to teach here, based on his assurances that he would have open debate as he covered the 9/11 conspiracy theory in his introductory course on Islam. Although the editors still believe he won't use his course to indoctrinate students, they are "troubled" by a lecture he gave on campus this weekend, sponsored by the UW Folklore Department.
UW’s sponsorship of Mr. Barrett’s lecture ... lends his views instant credibility by being hosted by a top-flight research university. To be sure, UW in no way endorses Mr. Barrett’s views, but by facilitating the speech, the university did give tacit approval of his theories as a matter of serious academic debate.

One is left to wonder what standards UW applies when determining which lecturers are to be allowed the use of taxpayer-funded facilities to voice their beliefs. Would the geography department allow a speaker to present his opinion that the world is flat? Would the history department sponsor a speech by someone that denies the Holocaust occurred?

Ultimately, it is UW’s duty — as an institution of higher learning funded in part by taxpayers — to promote scholarly research and vigorous academic debate. Mr. Barrett’s conspiracy theories thus far have failed to flirt with either principle.

If his conspiracy theories were published in an academic journal, instead of existing solely on a crudely constructed website, perhaps the lecture would be appropriate. Until then, UW should promote discussion rooted in scholarly analysis, not the grassy knoll.
I don't quite understand this argument. If the subject can be covered in the course, why is it beyond the pale for a lecture? The argument may be that the problem comes when you reveal that you believe in something. But the students in his class know he believes the theory. So perhaps the important line is drawn when the teacher openly says what he believes. But take your example of a geography department hosting a lecture about how the earth is flat. That would, of course, make the geography department look ridiculous. But, in your argument, it would be fine for a geography teacher to take up the students' time with the theory that the earth is flat.

41 comments:

Too Many Jims said...

"Would the geography department allow a speaker to present his opinion that the world is flat?"

Would the University allow a "Distinguished Lecture" on global warming to be given by an actress/celebrity?

Fenrisulven said...

Would the history department allow Ahmadinejad to present his opinion that the holocaust is a hoax?

reader_iam said...

Yeah, Ann, this sort of seems backards to me. If anything--and this is my quickie react, not something I pondered--it seems to me that it would make more sense to worry more in the classroom context and less in the lecture one.

Can't an argument be made that ("open-to-the-public, I assume) lectures are exactly the forum for airing controversial ideas? Getting those ideas and the people who support/advocate them right out there, open for all to see and evaluate? To me, the answer would be another lecture, of an opposing point of view.

Back in the day, for a number of years, my university sponsored a speakers forum which could get very controversial. (Perhaps it still does, for all I know). In fact, I rather think that was the point.

I remember the furor when William Shockley came to speak. He was a Nobel-prize winning physicist and the father of the transistor, but later became obsessed with eugenics and thus became known for his racial views. He was asked to speak at the university at around the height of the furor over his eugenics advocacy--but certainly not because the school approved, much less advocated his views.

The arguments against his appearance at lecture, as I recall, were similar to those in the article you reference here.

You know, I though Shockley's views were noxious before and after the lecture. But I have to say that the experience--the lecture itself, the protests leading up to it, the teach-ins/discussions in response, the fallout--was quite illuminating. And, to my way of thinking, part of the value that universities offer to the community.

In short, and simplistically put, it was a rather marvelous example of how the "the answer to offensive speech is MORE speech." It depends on how the larger university community responds, what it DOES (and I don't mean shut down the noxious speech).

Now I will say that I consider a general and public lecture or forum a substantially different context than an ongoing class. But I won't go into that.

Shanna said...

When this first came up, I thought a lecture or even better a panel would be the best place for this conspiracy theory crap. Particularly a panel with opposing sides with actual engineering knowledge is more appropriate then teaching a ludicrous theory in a class on Islam.

TW Andrews said...

I guess I could see (though not necessarily agree with) an argument that asserted it being ok to teach the following: "Some people believe the Earth is flat--let's take a look at the evidence they use to support that belief", but that it would be inappropriate material for a lecture.

But I think said course would be better suited for the psych dept. than the geography department.

David said...

There was a time when the earth was thought to be the center of the universe and if you sailed to the edge you would fall off. Investigation ultimately proved these 'facts' as false. That is a good study of scientific inquiry.

It is entirely different if scientific discourse is derailed by this professor who discounts established fact.

The real story will be the possible tie-in between the collapse of the tunnel ceiling that recently made the news and the collapse of the concrete roadway in Canada over the weekend.

Poor design and construction are credible reasons for these fatal failures. Much more credible than the fairy tale scenario put out by an Islamic apologist academic.

Pogo said...

The Badger Herald is waking up to the notion that UW’s sponsorship of Mr. Barrett’s lectures suggest its content had been vetted by UW Madison and then approved for an Intro to Islam course.

This tacit approval is increasingly being seen as an embarrassment, no doubt. The students make a poorly-argued stab at rejecting the lecture but not the topic. Or something; it's hard to tell. More importantly, they are discomfited, and find their school at risk of becoming a joke.

The wound to UWM is now an ulcer.

charlotte said...

...by facilitating the speech, the university did give tacit approval of his theories as a matter of serious academic debate.

Yes, it did, and Barrett and supporters are using his association with the university to "credential" his intellectual seriousness. Further, by allowing Barrett to present the 9-11 conspiracy as "theory" in the classroom, the university is telling students that a wholly unsubstantiated paranoid illogical blood slander is grist for the academic mill and worth a week or two of their learning time.

The school is also telling students that it's value neutral to the university whether they believe a crackpot theory their lecturer will present to them in a positive light, and there's no avoiding the fact some UW students will be converted to Barrett's way of "thinking." The rest of us are being shown what the provost considers to be the university's academic and social responsibility: no holds barred for the kooky gutter Left.

MadisonMan said...

UWM is UW-Milwaukee.

It's too bad there aren't any students of Barrett's here -- no one here really knows the complete content of the class. The Provost's office is apparently satisfied that the content is appropriate.

I agree with iam -- the presentation as part of the Folklore Department's forum is tailor-made for the UW-Madison. To use that to argue against a person teaching a class is distinctly odd.

David Walser said...

Ann,

I'm not reading the editorial in the same way you are, so I don't see the issue you do. The Badger Herald acknowledges that it supported the Administration's decision to allow Barrett to teach the Intro to Islam course. The editorial questions whether it was a good idea to allow his lecture AND, to my reading, tacitly questions whether it was a good idea to allow him to teach. You read the editorial as continuing to endorse Barrett's teaching while questioning the wisdom of sponsoring his lecture. Since all of the editorial's points against sponsoring the lecture apply equally well to Barrett's to teaching, I think my reading makes more sense. Indeed, if the editorial had explicitly withdrawn the Badger Herald's endorsement of the decision to allow Barrett to teach, I think your question about the validity of the editorial's argument would go away.

Of course, the editorial was ambiguous on this point. That may be because there are good reasons for refusing to withdraw Barrett's teaching position that do not apply to refusing to sponsor his lecture. However, it seems to be the lecture caused the light to go on in the minds of the editorial writers. If they had it to do over again, I doubt they'd endorse Barrett's being allowed to teach. It seems the change in position is not brought about by any differences between sponsoring lectures and teaching positions. The change comes from learning and from seeing the world from a more realistic perspective. Overall, that's a good thing.

TW Andrews said...

He was asked to speak at the university at around the height of the furor over his eugenics advocacy--but certainly not because the school approved, much less advocated his views.

The arguments against his appearance at lecture, as I recall, were similar to those in the article you reference here.

But I have to say that the experience--the lecture itself, the protests leading up to it, the teach-ins/discussions in response, the fallout--was quite illuminating. And, to my way of thinking, part of the value that universities offer to the community.


This conflates two seperate things--the marketplace of ideas, which is an unambiguously Good Thing--and the evermore popular marketplace of facts, where truthiness is slowly chipping away at the foundations of rational thought.

In your example, the questions surrounding eugenics aren't factual, they're moral. It's like the difference between asking "Did the Holocaust occur?" and "Were the Nazis right to perpetrate it?"

The first is a question of fact--no responsible history department is going to debate it. The second question, on the other hand, doesn't assert an objectively proovable falsehood, but rather a morally abhorent assessment of the Holocaust. It posits an idea which needs to be confronted.

Responsible teaching institutions have no business sponsoring lectures of the first sort (unless the speaker has genuine evidence to be presented and discussed). Lectures of the second sort should be encouraged, because open discussion--as with your example--is what makes the marketplace of ideas work.

If Barrett wanted to give a lecture called "9/11 - We Got What We Deserved", I think that would be fine. It's a stupid position, but not one which misstates the facts. The conspiracy BS he's teaching--unless he has real and unaddressed evidence of such a conspiracy--has no place at an institution of higher learning.

altoids1306 said...
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altoids1306 said...

Would the history department sponsor a speech by someone that denies the Holocaust occurred?

This will happen, in the US, within 10 years.

Leptopus said...

I suppose this is a trivial point, but I think it's sad that the newspaper derides the professor for having a "crudely constructed website". Having a facility with HTML doesn't mean you ideas are right, and I think it shows something about the casualness with which people reason today that they bothered to include that line.

I see their larger point, that an academic journal actually does provide some respectibility for an idea, in that it shows that others think it worthy of spreading, while a website just shows that you think it worthy of spreading. But the fact remains that good layout does not imply truth, and bad layout does not imply falsehood.

Being a strong supporter of the President, I think the real problem isn't a lone professor speaking nonsense. The real problem is the number of people who seem so cut off from reality that they believe MIHOP.

Robert Fovell said...

IMHO, TW Andrews has it exactly right. The oft-quoted Moynihan observation is again relevant here: "Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts."

The quandary is that Barrett and other conspiracy theorists, through myopia, narrowness of mind, bias owing to preconception, or (they might argue) special and uncorrupted insight, insist they are the only ones properly addressing those facts.

So, the issue is -- where do you draw the line? Do you effectively censor the involuntarily or willfully clueless for their own good or ours, or do you let them say their piece, confident that -- in the long run -- the truth will out, and it is our attempt to edit or direct the debate that is the more damaging?

Jim said...

The obvious solution to taxpayers' rights not to have to support pseudoscience and fake history is to get rid of the public university. What is it that UW at Madison does that can't be done by a private university like the University of Chicago?

buck turgidson said...

madisonman wrote:

...no one here really knows the complete content of the class.

That may be true, but, I believe, it is irrelevant to the issue at hand. Something that seems to have escaped the Badger's attention also seems to be missing from the arguments here. Consider Ann's comment:

Although the editors still believe he won't use his course to indoctrinate students, they a "troubled" by a lecture he gave on campus this weekend, sponsored by the UW Folklore Department.

Geez, people! The lecture was sponsored by the Folclore Department! "Folklore" is a good way to describe almost any conspiracy theory, particularly one that Barrett subscribes to.

I don't hold my breath waiting for the Badger editorials to make sense--in my experience, journalism students are not capable of rational reasoning. However, I would have expected more here.

To answer fenrisulven's typically odious question, yes, a history department might sponsor an Ahmadinejad lecture and if he happens to include his anti-Semitic tirades and Holocaust denial statements (not quite an accurate description of what he actually said, but we'll let this one slide), they will not censor it. There may be--and should be--people in the audience who will openly question his sanity and conscience, but that's the nature of the discorse. (Note the potential mini-scandal at Columbia over the invitation to Ahmadinejad from a dean that was subsequently withdrawn by Bollinger.)

Wurly said...

Buck T. beat me to my point, if Barrett's cause has now been taken up by the Folklore Department, what credibility does he really have left?

As an aside, does Barrett have any credible claim to expertise in Folklore? If not, why is he giving a sponsored lecture?

Leland said...

I think a discussion about the world being flat is entirely appropriate in the Geography department, or a concept that the holocaust doesn't exist being discussed in a History class or lecture. After all, those fields discuss those issues. It seems a good challenge to test such students with an opposing view point and have them explain why it is illogical.

However, the real analogy is: Is it appropriate for a class or lecture on religion to discuss the civil engineering concepts of building demolishion.

DRJ said...

The editors of The Badger Herald have come face-to-face with the real world. The public platform UW-Madison provided to Kevin Barrett to teach his conspiracy theories isn't solely a free speech issue. It's also a slippery slope that has resulted in public ridicule of the university. I think that's what this editorial finds objectionable.

Juliet said...

As an aside, does Barrett have any credible claim to expertise in Folklore? If not, why is he giving a sponsored lecture?

His dissertation was on Moroccan legend, so folklore is more his area of expertise than modern Islam. What doesn't make sense (our snarkiness aside) is what the academic study of folklore has to do with 9/11 "truth."

Richard Dolan said...

Reading that editorial, my first reaction was that the editors could stand some editing themselves. What a poorly written mess, offering a string of cliches banging into each other, and the whole thing compounded by repeated invocations of the taxpayers as a kind of off-stage Greek chorus just itching to break into the drama.

The editors seem to think that silly and foolish talk should not be dignified as a university sponsored lecture. However common sensical that notion may seem, the problem is that it's a bit late in the day for standards of that sort: universities today are the natural home for all manner of silly and foolish talk, particularly on those frequent occasions when the inhabitants of the fever-swamp are engaged primarily in talking to each other. A quick scan of the symposia sponsored by the MLA is enough to prove the point.

The only significance of Barrett -- a remarkably tiresome nut even by the admittedly demanding standards of nuttiness prevalent in academia -- is that he calls attention, in a public way, to the university as the natural home of such antics. That makes university administrators anxious, and academic boosters squirm. It should. And it provides politicians with an easy target that they can rail against, without ever having to do anything useful to improve matters.

The editorial ends, as it begins, mired in cliche: "If his conspiracy theories were published in an academic journal, instead of existing solely on a crudely constructed website, perhaps the lecture would be appropriate." The editors are evidently casting around in desperation for anything to provide content to their preferred standard -- the duty of "an institution of higher learning funded in part by taxpayers [is] to promote scholarly research and vigorous academic debates." If it's silly and foolish nonsense that the editors want to target, however, they are on the wrong track in suggesting that publication in an "academic journal" serves the purpose of distinguishing the serious from the idiotic. While the MLA can always be counted on to mistake the one for the other, it is hardly alone. Almost any academic journal of sociology can provide hours of unintended humor on a rainy day, for example.

Perhaps it is symptomatic of the real problem that, in seeking to protect UW's brand from being diluted by insultingly dumb lectures being given with its sponsorship, the editors never take their own subject seriously. They evidently think the university should sponsor only serious efforts to get at the truth, through close and careful observations of the world around us, made without a determination to force those observations to fit or support some preconceived agenda. To separate efforts of that sort from Barrett-like exercises in the opposite requires judgment and discernment. Who will provide it? If you're looking to university administrators, get ready to be disappointed -- their highest objective is the avoidance of controversy, thus their devotion to political correctness come what may.

The university is usually portrayed by its supporters as a community of serious scholars engaged in pursuing and transmitting knowledge and a shared cultural heritage. It would be nice if that community took its own standards seriously. A convenient place to start would be by getting rid of the fraudsters and jargon-meisters in their midst. As members, albeit junior ones, the editors would have done better to trust in their own ability to bring judgment and discernment to bear, rather than seeking to dodge the issue by invoking "academic journals" as the touchstone here.

Daryl Herbert said...

Let's separate out academic speech into two categories:

1 - expert academic research

2 - everything else

The school should not discriminate based on viewpoints of either #1 or #2.

The school is paying for #1 and has a right to demand it will meet minimal standards of academic quality.

The school is not paying for #2, and should not care at all about the quality.

For Barrett's opinions on 9/11:

1 - He should have to admit that he's not being held to academic standards on his claims.

OR

2 - He should be held to those standards, and removed from the university if he fails to meet them.

This seems like a perfect solution, preserving the freedom of professors to hold unpopular opinions. The only thing they can't do is claim to have Claim X backed by quality research if that is not the case.

bearbee said...

Will the Department of Animal Husbandry allow a speaker the opinion that Barrett is a turd..... and that he is flat?

charlotte said...

This seems like a perfect solution, preserving the freedom of professors to hold unpopular opinions.

Daryl Herbert,

How is Barrett's 9-11 conspiracy libel presented in an Intro to Islam merely an "unpopular opinion"? What's next to teach kidz in kollege- a course on southern lit that presents the "theory" or "opinion" Bush and Cheney sabotaged the dikes in New Orleans during Katrina in order to kill off Dem-voting blacks and to get Halliburton construction contracts?

I went to school with hateful gossip-mongers who made up terrible things about people to discredit them, mostly out of envy but sometimes just for malicious fun. Lies about people can be devastating to reps and last over the years. Asserting that Bush and Cheney orchestrated mass murder for political profit and cash rewards without logical, tangible proof is the most heinous of character assassination, not to mention how it slanders our country and suits a twisted enemy's agenda while we're at war.

Should another university prof be free to present to a class on American Foreign Policy his theory/ unpopular opinion that Barrett and his supporters are acting as propaganda merchants for the Taliban in exchange for opium and child brides? The proof: Barrett is a converted Muslim who likes poppy seed buns and who we suspect liked watching the Olsen twins on Full House.

Bruce Hayden said...

Daryl Herbert

I would suggest that it be broken into three categories:

1) Research
2) Classroom teaching
3) Everything else

The problem is with both #1 and #2, but I think #3 should allow both Barrett and Shockley.

#2 should depend on context: Barrett's theory should be fine for folklore, but not for history, geography, or civil engineering (unless it was used as a case study on how the discipline can be misused).

The problem in #2 is that esp. in state supported institutions like this, the taxpayers are a bigger (IMHO) stakeholder than the profs are - after all, they are the ones footing part of the bill. And the other big stakeholders are the students, who may be harmed by totally misleading information.

Free Speech has a place here, but unfettered Free Speech by the faculty, regardless of relevance and context, in a classroom setting, puts one stakeholder, the employees, above the others, who pay for it.

I find a big difference between an Ann Althouse playing devil's advocate on one side or another in her Con Law classes, and someone teaching fiction as fact.

And if Barrett wants to publish his theories, then fine. I would back that up in many cases. My problem with him is his use of the classroom.

Indeed, one of the positive experiences of law school was finding that some of the profs who had pushed everyone's buttons on the left (like questioning Roe v. Wade) turned out to be quite liberal in their publications. They had been able to keep their own biases out of the classroom, and put them into their legal research. Note though that legal research seemingly has more room for politics than do many other disciplines because to some extent, law review articles seem to be a vehicle for activism.

dick said...

With regard to the question as to whether Barrett has any knowledge of the subject, the same question can be asked of Noam Chomsky. Supposedly he has a great knowledge of linguistics. Obviously he does not have a great knowledge of politics and history. He gets huge amounts of money for talking and writing about a subject he knows very little about. I think the same reasoning should be applied to him that is being discussed here for Barrett and neither should get a venue.

buck turgidson said...

Obviously [Chomsky] does not have a great knowledge of politics and history.

And Dick obviously has no evidence to back up his point.

Actually, Chomsky is quite knowledgeable about both politics and history, and, to top it off, he was a math major undergrad, before turning to linguistics.

In one-on-one debate on foreign policy with virtually anyone over the last 30 years from the State Department, Chomsky is likely to beat the pants off of them--and he has done so repeatedly when the challenge was met.

This does not mean, however, that Chomsky should be a State Department spokesperson. Nor should either Krystol or either Pines, despite their expertise, or Alan Derschowitz. All these people are entitled to present their opinions to the public and sell them whatever books they want to publish.

It is your choice whether to read them or not and whether to agree with anything that you find in them.

Barrett is a fool and a self-made fool at that. He demonstrates this virtually every time he opens his mouth--but so does George W Bush, yet W is the President and Kevin Barrett is an adjunct professor.

There is a drastic difference in consequences between these two men expressing their opinions, yet, a rather large fraction of the population of this country stands agape when crap pours out of W's mouth. The same cannot be said of Barrett's pontifications. (Well, perhaps it's closer than I would like to believe--W's approval ratings have been bouncing between 32% and 44% and it seems about 34% of Americans believe that they have not been given the complete truth about 9-11... Hmm... does that mean that 68% of Americans are gullible idiots?)

charlotte said...

Yes, Buck Turgidson, most of us are really stupid Americans. How can you stand it?

GPE said...

Um, that would be the "top-flight research university's" Folklore Department, yes? Hmmmm. Wonder if we'll see the Vatican host a symposium on rewriting Genesis based on Darwin's theories in the near future.

Revenant said...

Actually, Chomsky is quite knowledgeable about both politics and history

Pity he never let any of that knowledge make it into his books, articles, or speeches.

But then again, had he done that he wouldn't have been able to get rich telling gullible left-wingers what they want to hear. So maybe he really IS as smart as people say he is. :)

and, to top it off, he was a math major undergrad, before turning to linguistics.

I'm sure that bit of information has some fascinating relevance that you will eventually get around to discussing with us. But in any case, math and generative grammar have a lot in common, so it is hardly surprising that Chomsky has degrees in both math and linguistics.

tjl said...

As long as the University makes clear that Barrett's talk is presented under the auspices of the Folklore Department, what is there to complain about? Barrett's theories can take their rightful place alongside the Yeti, the Tooth Fairy, and the Great Pumpkin. Free Speech combines with Truth in Packaging, and everybody goes home satisfied.

Pogo said...
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Daryl Herbert said...

Catherine:

How is Barrett's 9-11 conspiracy libel presented in an Intro to Islam merely an "unpopular opinion"?

I don't know how exactly it was presented to the class. He may have presented it as an opinion.

Bruce:

I agree that classroom teaching should be put in a third category, somewhere between the other two in most respects, but also demanding minimal standards of civility where the other two do not.

For instance, I survived putting up with professors making a Bush-bashing joke here and there. I don't consider that a big deal. But if a prof had racist views, berating students in the classroom in a racist manner would be totally out of bounds.

Cedarford said...

I would add something - a university system has to start with the recognition that time is precious. That only "X" hours are allocated for degrees that will be contrasted in depth and value with other universities also limited to "X" hours of classroom time - enriched perhaps by students attending external invited lecturees in...

There are certain disciplines where wild theories carefully introduced can enrich learning - law, philosophy, poly sci, cosmology, religion...even debate where great learning can happen discoursing over a deliberately preposterous proposition.

But in any discipline, a university HAS to weigh what is being lost that could be tought instead of wild theory, unbacked conspiracy logic. In many the call is quite simple. Organic chemists are not given two years of potions and alchemy training - just in case there is some "truth" somewhere, to it. Med students are not tought about theories of skull bumps predicting psychiatric disorders. History students do not have an obligatory core class in holocaust denial theory.

But the temptation is always there to "excite" students and faculty with some wild-ass Ward Churchill type spouting pseudo-science or conspiracy theory. Or a "rebel" academic who prays for a "million Mogodishus" to be visited on American soldiers. That temptation must always be weighed against what the students lose in alternate learning by favoring the wild-ass, and what the university loses in reputation if they go too far in that direction.

David - Poor design and construction are credible reasons for these fatal failures. Much more credible than the fairy tale scenario put out by an Islamic apologist academic.

Just to be clear, aside from some ignorant 9/11 families, some opportunistic lawyers, and 20-20 hindsight people who say all skyscrapers should be designed against any bombing or anthrax attack or fully loaded plane flying 500 mph into it - the WTC buildings and the Pentagon functioned exactly as designed. Allegations of poor design or construction are false.

My house is well constructed. It could be utterly destroyed by a runaway fuel tanker truck smashing into it. Adding a half million in fireproofing, fire systems, and concrete barriers could make us "safe" from that low-risk threat. But any construction is based on risk-reward-expense premises.

After 9/11, large buildings erected here and abroad have in fact NOT been made "high speed crash with a fully-loaded large jet-proof".

The small band of people that advocate that silliness of "invulnerable buildings" and all existing buildings "have poor construction/design" are generally ignorant of engineering and physics. Same people who insist that a type of body armor or HUMVEE armor can be developed that will make people "perfectly safe" from a 155 howizer shell IED exploded 3 feet away.

Revenant said...

But if a prof had racist views, berating students in the classroom in a racist manner would be totally out of bounds.

Berating students in the classroom should be totally out of bounds regardless of the professor's views and motivations. It is unprofessional and interferes with the professor's ability to teach.

Mike said...

Actually, far and away the most cost effective "construction technique" to protect skyscrapers from future 9/11 style attacks would be to install and anti-aircraft battery on the roof.

Cedarford said...

Mike - Actually, far and away the most cost effective "construction technique" to protect skyscrapers from future 9/11 style attacks would be to install and anti-aircraft battery on the roof.

Again, ignorance of engineering and physics talking. At it's core, a proposal that each bridge, major dam, refinery, chemical plant, skyscraper, school, power plant, goverment center be equipped with a multimillion dollar fire control radar/multimillion missile center manned 24/7 with people with the training and responsibility to down what they judge is the one hostile jet among all the thousands of others flying about they - on each building or structure - maybe 90,000 -100,000 such facilities - are tasked with "Fire. No Not Fire." life and death decisions.

Such a defense would be beyond stupid. And doesn't account for gravity. A plane shot down over a city will land somewhere in that city's metro area.

The solution is far easier and mirrors what we eventually did after wasting billions having fighter jets fly donuts over cities.

Screen (which could be saner), marshalls on some flights identified as of risk because of suspicious Muslims. Cockpit doors. Arming some pilots. Most important - every passenger and crew now knowing it is death to let a Muslim Jihadi into the cockpit. Trying to work overseas to ID and kill or capture such Muslim Jihadis.

Multiple security barriers.

No "death lasers" or abandonment of social security so we can spend 4 trillion establishing anti-air missile or AAA capability on top of 90,000 -100,000 targets rather than take more sensible measures against Muslim Jihad air attacks.

Mr. Forward said...

"Actually, Chomsky is quite knowledgeable about both politics and history"
Buck

"Pity he never let any of that knowledge make it into his books, articles, or speeches."
Revenant

Good one Revenant, although Chomsky should get some credit for his voiceover work for Beavis (or was it the other one?)

Mike said...

Cedarford: "Again, ignorance of engineering and physics talking."

I teach physics at the UW. You?

Cedarford: "Such a defense would be beyond stupid."

Of course it's beyond stupid. Sheesh.

Cedarford: "And doesn't account for gravity. A plane shot down over a city will land somewhere in that city's metro area."

The problem only called for saving the building.

UW Student said...

Dude, the freakin Raelians spoke here some years ago. And that guy who thinks that HIV and AIDS are unrelated. UW does this all the time. The Badger Herald should quit their whining.