February 23, 2007

"We have to be very careful. We want professors to speak with what they see as their truths."

Says UW Professor Donald Downs, who is a strong voice for free speech here on campus. "We're here to push the envelope. … Academic freedom has to be very strong and vibrant."

ADDED: Speaking of context, consider the academic freedom case of Kevin Barrett, whom the university supported last fall, as he turned part of his course on Islam into a study of the theory -- which he believes -- that the U.S. government perpetrated the 9/11 attacks.

70 comments:

Internet Ronin said...

According to UW pharmacy student Qoua Her, who is Hmong, called Kaplan’s comments a “clear symbol” of the cultural and historical ignorance throughout the university.

“Ignorance exists everywhere,” she said.

So it would appear.

Steve Donohue said...

I completely agree with that. I don't want professors to feel they are guarded in what they say at any time. BUT...

I'm in an anthropology class right now where the professor spends at least 20 minutes of each class talking about politics (and I don't have to tell you what his politics are.) The worst part is that he's not even that intelligent about it! He bungles basic facts, he doesn't know names, and he has no conception of history. If I were talking with my uncle, or a commenter on my blog, that wouldn't be so bad. But I'm paying lots of money for this guy to teach me about anthropology, but he uses us as an audience to get off about how President Bush wants the world to end or some such nonsense.

What's the solution to that? And why do some many professors- especially the ones outside of political science- get so hot and bothered by the prospect of bashing some ghoulish caricature of President Bush every chance they get?

tito said...

And what, pray tell, does the good Prof. Downs mean by his reference to "their truths." I didn't realize truth "belonged" to anyone.

LutherM said...

The concept of Freedom of Speech has to include the right to make stupid comments without governmental interference - and the last time I heard, UW is still a governmental institution.

Pogo said...

It's unclear what happened. If he said what they reported, well, what an idiot.

But the paper uses these lefty code words to suggest "but hey, he's one of us":
"he is known for his work with social-justice issues on campus".

Further, I am always extra-cautious when reading any article that contains the phrases
"A group of concerned students..."
and
"inconsistent with the core values and commitment we have to diversity ".
Because, well, it's usually signals WARNING! Pure bullshit ahead!.

Simon said...

tito said...
"And what, pray tell, does the good Prof. Downs mean by his reference to "their truths." I didn't realize truth "belonged" to anyone."

It's rather like Pat Moynihan's aphorism that everyone's entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts, isn't it.

MadisonMan said...

The quotes do look awful. I wonder what the sentences before and after the quotes were. Context matters.

rightwingprof said...

"what they see as their truths"?

So we're now moving one step further and relativizing the relative? What they see as their truths? So what if I see as my truth (my truth, your truth, his truth, all oxymorons) that my neighbor is Satan and I shoot him? Should I get a pass because I saw it as my truth, so to speak?

What utter drivel.

CB said...

Jeez, where to even start?

"what they see as their truths" Seriously, WTF?

It's telling that academics are the only professional group that need the concept of "academic freedom" to hide their incompetence behind. Can you imagine if a lawyer spent his billable hours spouting off-topic nonsense, then claimed he was protected by "legal freedom"?

Todd said...

Given the quotes, it's hard not to imagine the guy as anything other than a flaming racist, no matter what the context.

That said, racist speech is free speech too.

Of course, this guy's colleagues also have the freedom to distance themselves from such vileness. I'm surprised at Downs, who seems to be condoning the content of the speech, in addition to defending the right to it.

Tim said...

"...their truths."

My truths about about this utterly facile sentiment are unprintable.

MadisonMan said...

I wonder if he was wearing the Think. Respect. button while lecturing.

Pogo said...

Actually, I can imagine that a law professor might be describing the vile and hurtful, ignorant and racist feelings behind the anti-Hmong murder, as in, "Suppose there are people who believe XYZ..."

In fact, I'll bet he was doing precisely that, describing certain Hmong stereotypes, not agreeing with them. If one cannot even discuss stereotypes, well, we're down the lefty crazy tunnel again.

Nasty, Brutish & Short said...

The problem is that the Professor does not understand what truth is. There is only one truth. He's confusing truth with opinions. People can have different opinions, and people can disagree about one thing or another. But that does not mean that the truth is not what it is.

Peter Palladas said...

Some, at least, of the Mong Leng consider the usage of 'Hmong' in reference to all groupings of Hmong/Mong people to be culturally marginalising, derogatory and racist.

Add that to the pot and stir vigorously.

Mike said...

Call me gullible, but I have a hard time believing that, in context, these statements were as bad as they appear to be here. What is the topic of this course?

Pogo, the Badger Herald is not a lefty paper. At least it didn't use to be.

Professor Downs is stating that it is important that professors must be allowed to say what they believe to be true. Nothing wrong with that statement. Where I think the concept of academic freedom goes off the rails nowadays is when professors stray off topic, as in Steve's case, or where they spout utter drivel, as in the Kevin Barrett case, but the department doesn't step in and put a stop to it.

Kevin Lomax said...

I really think it comes down to context. It was a Legal Process class and I could imagine a discourse on the ignorant ideas and attitudes motivating something or other that could include the quoted comments. They sound like the thoughts of a yokel yahoo not a professor who came in during the 70s and should at least know that even if you believe such things you shouldn't bring it up in class. Especially as he should have been aware he likely had Hmong students in the class.

It all comes down to context. If the professor of a Constitutional law class is covering segregation cases, I don't want them afraid to read/discuss the early racist cases like Dred Scott for fear of offending a black student in the class.

Jeff said...

If he'd said those things about, say... white men, he'd be department chair.

Pogo said...

Re: "the Badger Herald is not a lefty paper"

I don't know whether it is or not, but the words "social justice" written as if they actually had an agree-upon meaning connotes a leftist worldview.

Kevin Lomax said...

"I don't know whether it is or not, but the words "social justice" written as if they actually had an agree-upon meaning connotes a leftist worldview."

Or at least some detachment from reality.

Mike said...

"I don't know whether it is or not..."

I assumed as much. That's why I thought you might be interested.

Beth said...

The words "social justice" were attributed to Downs, not offered editorially by the paper.

Pogo said...

I'm being unecessarily snotty about the term. I hate it. I hate when it's used without quotes, as was done here, ostensibly but not actually quoting someone.

As in, "Of course. Social Justice. Everyone knows what that means."

Well, I still don't.

Regardless, I meant only to point out that the good professor is almost certainly "on their side" yet is being treated as a redneck troglodyte bigot. If so, count me amused.

pablo H said...

Why does anyone even care about this?

Doesn't everyone know by now that "College" is simply a con game.

The rich/powerful go to network with other rich/powerful. The rest go to get their tickets punched in order to go into business and the professions. Its in everyone's interest, business, the professions, the alumni, to keep the con game going.

No one really cares about the liberal arts or the social "sciences". Almost all professors are viewed the majority of society as (quite rightly) as left wing jokes and have been the 60s.

If want to learn about history or English lit, just just get a list of 20 good books in the subject and read them at the rate a week. You'll learn more at the end of 5 months than most people learn in 4 years of college.

reader_iam said...

My context-o-meter is screaming, speaking strictly from an editor's perspective. From this article, it's simply impossible to derive enough information, and context, to make any real judgment, IMO.

I'll be blunt: I hate this type of an article, from a technical standpoint. I can sympathize with the reporter and editors, in that, as the article makes clear, Downs, students and forum organizers alike made themselves unavailable for comment and questions. On the other hand, not EVERY story demands to be published before its time. This is not "breaking" news, as in a fire etc., in which you have to report something, with the expectation that there will be updates going forward.

This entire story appears to be hung on the "e-mail...obtained by the Badger Herald" ("ooh, looky what we got our hands on!"--believe me, I know the phenomenon of irresistible juiciness)--but we aren't even told who wrote it. Was the whole thing reprinted as a sidebar in the paper, or is this coverage "it"?

Having the entire e-mail printed still wouldn't solve the context issue, of course, for readers. Hell, it wouldn't have satisfied me as an editor, not at a newspaper, and not in other contexts in which I have edited and do edit.

What a disservice. In my opinion, it borders on irresponsible.

Ann Althouse said...

Reader, the local newspaper had already printed the story, in this form, without the decently mitigating quotes from Downs, so I would not blame the student newspaper for jumping the gun in any way.

Sean said...

Another possibility, vaguely hinted at in the article and the comments, is that Kaplan is a well-known lefty. It's considered acceptable in some left-wing circles to say derogatory things about Asians, an annoying minority who don't, for the most part, require left-wing help or support left-wing cultural values. For example, remember when Bill Clinton said that affirmative action was necessary to prevent universities from having too many Asians? It would be considered totally improper on the left to suggest that it is possible to have too many blacks or Hispanics, but it is acceptable, if your left-wing credentials are good, to say that sort of thing about Asians.

The Drill SGT said...

I think that what he said was within the limits of academic freedom. He was talking on a relevant matter within the context of a Legal Process class.

Having said that. I guess I'm with Pogo on this.

When I read a bio of a Prof who was in grad school in the 60's, was a community action lawyer and "is known for his work with social-justice issues on campus."

I read between the lines that he is a left wing prof with a history of anti-Vietnam War protests. Fair or not, that's the leap I make.

Hmong/Mong (Montagnards): why are they here? The Hmong are the mountain peoples of Vietnam, Laos and Southern China. treated as savages by the ruling peoples of Vietnam, they were staunch allies of the US during the Vietnam war and after the fall of South Vietnam in 75, the US accepted a fair number as refugees. My knowledge comes from the California Hmong community where a number of 1st and 2nd generation Hmong have gone from the stone age to Honors at UC grad schools.

I'm prepared to see a bias on the part of a prof that I presume was anti-war toward our refugee allies in that war.

Internet Ronin said...

As you have undoubtedly run into this law professor on occasion, I cannot help but wonder why you have not said something about the likelihood of these statements being in keeping with his observed behavior and attitudes.

MadisonMan said...

When I was in grad school here, the Cardinal was the lefty paper (way way way far left) and the Badger Herald was conservative. I read not too many years ago that the positions had flipped.

I don't know if that is true today.

reader_iam said...

Hmm. From my perspective (veteran of both my college newspaper back in the day and community newspapers, as a reporter and in editing positions), the fact that a story had already appeared in the Capital Times makes some of the problems with the Badger Herald piece more egregious, not less.

Just my opinion.

Todd said...

Articles appeared in both student papers today, not just the BH.

But as a student here, I can say that folks -- undergraduate, graduate, staff, professors -- were already talking about this yesterday. It's not everyday a professor shoots out a load of racist opinion during class... Hardly the kind of thing one could fairly expect the papers not to print.

Also, it's useful to note that Downs is considered a conservative, comments about "social justice" notwithstanding.

dick said...

I was just wondering about the contrast of what this professor said and what the Gang of 88 at Duke said. The Gang of 88 said about the equivalent of what this professor said and they apparently are getting a pass from the Duke administration. Personally if he said this things to a class that contained Hmong students he should be criticized to the nth degree. What an idiot!! I cannot fathom any way to cover these remarks other than he was using them as an example of what others said and that the students should guard against that. Apparently that was not the context.

The Drill SGT said...

Todd,

with the caveat, that your use of "conseravtive" could be considered in light of the shifted spectrum of politcal discourse on a college campus, I stand corrected.

Naked Lunch said...

Pogo
The idea of social justice didn't come from leftists, you'll have to go back to at least Thomas Aquinas' great Summa Theologiae; which asks and answers why Christ chose to live a life of poverty in this world, among other things. Something to chew on.

And I noticed your overused term "leftists" as sort of a gang sign - but let's get real - I'd be surprised if you could get me a list of 20 true leftists. Unless someone who simply mentions "health care", likes jazz, maybe drives a Volvo, or rents a flick with sub-titles, or disagrees in any way with George Bush, qualifies as a leftist. But that would be silly.

Todd said...

Dick, There were Hmong students in his class, though to my mind, racism is no less vile in the absence of a member of the singled out group. In some ways white racism expressed in all-white environments is more vile, because the speaker assumes complicity on behalf of his white audience--an assumption that speaks directly to the prevalence of racism that still exists in America.

exhelodrvr said...

""We have to be very careful. We want professors to speak with what they see as their truths.""

That must explain why they have been so supportive of schools which would like to teach "intelligent design"

reader_iam said...

I'm not expecting papers to not print a story. I'm expecting them to do a better job of reporting the story. The Badger Herald story is less than half-baked. The Capital Times story also has holes. I've already stated, in my first comment about the Badger article, that I recognize the challenge. My technical assessment still stands.

reader_iam said...

I'm expecting them to do a better job of reporting the story.

... and if they can't, perhaps they shouldn't--ethically speaking--print the story at all, regardless of what the competition is doing.

I can see how people might think I'm harping on this point, even trying to hijack the conversation. But this sort of things matters to me--make that "these sorts of things." How journalism is practiced matters deeply to me, personally and professionally. Racism, and charges of racism, matters deeply to me personally and as a member of our society, with its history, its complexities and its diversities.

How things are and are not reported matters. Newspapers may become fishwrap the next day, but the impressions created by their content linger.

FWIW.

vbspurs said...

"We're here to push the envelope. … Academic freedom has to be very strong and vibrant."

The ethos of pushing the envelope is what allows a professor to drone on and on about nonsensical things, to his captive audience, who furthermore, cannot argue since they fear for their grades.

Not that we didn't have cranks at Oxford, but I was especially shocked when in 2nd year Med School, we had this professor who regaled us with:

- Hours of anecdotes of his love of Winona Ryder

- Hours of anecdotes of his love for all Boston team sports, especially his fave, the Boston Bruins

- Hours of anecdotes of his love of mountclimbing

And of course, his hatred, loathing and near maniacal obsession with George W. Bush.

About 1 hour of a 3 hour class was spent listening to this guy talk about himself, and his interests.

NONE of us could complain, to his face or to the Dean, since we daren't.

To this day, I cannot think of the study of diseases without thinking of Winona Ryder.

Cheers,
Victoria

Freder Frederson said...

It's not everyday a professor shoots out a load of racist opinion during class... Hardly the kind of thing one could fairly expect the papers not to print.

But context is everything. And the statements alleged certainly could have been made "during a legal discussion about formalism and minorities" and been perfectly legitimate as a part of the discussion. The professor could have made the statements as provocative statements meant to elicit discussion, and never have intended them to be taken as his personal opinion. It is entirely possible that some in the class misunderstood his intent and rather than doing the proper thing (and demanding an immediate clarification and apology) instead complained to the administration.

It is impossible to tell what exactly happened from the newspaper article, which is why the article is so shoddy. Of course Ann doesn't help much since presumably she should know more about the circumstances surrounding this incident, yet she has nothing to add to the conversation--not even a hint of what kind of man this professor is or if this is the kind of class where such discussions would be expected.

Nope just typical Ann Althouse noncommittal.

Revenant said...

Of course Ann doesn't help much since presumably she should know more about the circumstances surrounding this incident

Why presume that? She wasn't in the class, didn't witness the remarks, and apparently wasn't sent the emails in question.

Sure, she works for the same department, and therefore presumably has heard *gossip* about the subject, but that doesn't mean she knows any more FACTS about it than you or I do.

rightwingprof said...

You had the Hmong incident; IU had Benjamin Nathaniel Smith, and as awful as that was, the hand-wringing and moaning and squealing and leftist "NO HATE!" protests and candlelight vigils were almost as bad.

"The idea of social justice didn't come from leftists, you'll have to go back to at least Thomas Aquinas' great Summa Theologiae; which asks and answers why Christ chose to live a life of poverty in this world, among other things. Something to chew on."

Two entirely different things. St. Thomas Aquinas discusses what is essentially conservatism, that it is our responsibility to aid others of our own free will -- as opposed to steal money from others and fund a welfare state. The two aren't even vaguely similar.

me said...

Len Kaplan does not have a racist bone in his body. The statements were obviously taken out of context, and at worst he is guilty of being inarticulate, which is not a hate crime.

I've known Len for 23 years. He is extremely bright, humorous, and thoughtful.

Hopefully, this will blow over, as he is an innocent man.

LutherM said...

At Harvard, not a governmental entity, Summers was fired for provocative, yet politically incorrect speech. Summers was best described by Yo-Yo Ma, quoted by Martin Peretz in TNR 2/23/06, as "he understands that nobody knows everything: not he, not you, not me. But he also understands that one cannot have a coherent view of the world without trying to know what the other knows. (His) is an analytic mind, and yet he makes so much room for the cultural and emotional sphere, even the irrational--that which is ultimately human."
Any good lawyer can distinguish Kaplan from Barrett.
I THINK there is a serious problem with Barrett, who SOUNDS unfit to teach - but, again, Freedom of Speech protects him @ UM.
So, if the Legislators want him gone, they make UM do what Colorado did to Ward Churchill - find another reason to can him. If, like Churchill, Barrett IS unfit to teach, UM can find SOMETHING. Maybe he's a great teacher, and not Oliver Stone in disguise, in which case, UM tells the Legislators to stay out of it.

Pogo said...

Re: "The idea of social justice didn't come from leftists"

You can claim Aristotle said that crap too, if you wish, but it's still false.

From First Things:
"The term “social justice” was first used in 1840 by a Sicilian priest, Luigi Taparelli d’Azeglio, and given prominence by Antonio Rosmini-Serbati in La Costitutione Civile Secondo la Giustizia Sociale in 1848.
...

The trouble with “social justice” begins with the very meaning of the term. Hayek points out that whole books and treatises have been written about social justice without ever offering a definition of it. It is allowed to float in the air as if everyone will recognize an instance of it when it appears. This vagueness seems indispensable. The minute one begins to define social justice, one runs into embarrassing intellectual difficulties. It becomes, most often, a term of art whose operational meaning is, “We need a law against that.” In other words, it becomes an instrument of ideological intimidation, for the purpose of gaining the power of legal coercion.

From this line of reasoning it follows that “social justice” would have its natural end in a command economy in which individuals are told what to do, so that it would always be possible to identify those in charge and to hold them responsible. "


The article better argues for “social justice rightly understood,” one based on individual liberty, not leftist authoritarianism.

Bissage said...

Sure, Professor Kaplan might be innocent, but what does he think about Winona Ryder?

P.S. Wish I knew about this site back when this thread was active. Oh, well. Something’s lost and something’s gained living every day.

Freder Frederson said...

Sure, she works for the same department, and therefore presumably has heard *gossip* about the subject, but that doesn't mean she knows any more FACTS about it than you or I do.

Well Gee, I assume (unlike me and I presume you) she knows the guy and at least could tell us whether she thinks he hates Asians in general or Hmongs in particular. She could tell us if he is well-regarded and reasonable man or a whacked-out raving moron. Heck, she could clue us in to his general political philosophy. Is he liberal or conservative?

Freder Frederson said...

The term “social justice” was first used in 1840 by a Sicilian priest, Luigi Taparelli d’Azeglio, and given prominence by Antonio Rosmini-Serbati in La Costitutione Civile Secondo la Giustizia Sociale in 1848.

You seem to be confusing the concept with the use of a phrase to describe it.

Freder Frederson said...

Hayek points out that whole books and treatises have been written about social justice without ever offering a definition of it.

Yeah right, and "individual liberty" is, of course, rigorously defined by the libertarians.

Pogo said...

Re: "You seem to be confusing the concept with the use of a phrase to describe it."

1. You seem to think the phrase actually means something.

2. While the attempt to ride the concept back to Jesus and the Greeks is not entirely unjustified (for elements of the concept are indeed evident in their words), the modern understanding of "social justice" is entirely, well, modern. Any other claim is just a wishful Just So story to make socialists feel better about their authoritarianism.

Pogo said...

Re: "and "individual liberty" is, of course, rigorously defined by the libertarians"

How about this, by Charles Fried, Harvard Law professor:

"Liberty is the exercise of our powers as self-conscious, judging individuals, individuals who in making our own lives cannot be responsible to anyone else except as we choose to be. And liberty is that individuality made normative. It is a refusal to be subject to anyone -even everyone- or anything, except as we choose to be."

Ann Althouse said...

Internet Ronin said..."As you have undoubtedly run into this law professor on occasion, I cannot help but wonder why you have not said something about the likelihood of these statements being in keeping with his observed behavior and attitudes."

He is someone I've known very well for more than 20 years, and it is simply inconceivable to me that he could have racist beliefs or that he would say racist things outside of some context where he was playing a role or articulating someone else's beliefs. That said, I assume the students are telling the truth about the quotes and about their subjective feelings.

Pogo said...

Further:

"Liberty is self-ownership, and hurricanes cannot steal that from us, but other people can, although we may and sometimes should let them share it."

Fen said...

Ya know, I didn't pay 3k per semester to hear some professor's lame version of "truth". I paid so he would teach me the "truths" of economics, mathmathetics, literature and engineering.

If he wants to host a political discussion on someone else's dime, fine. Otherwise, shut up and sing.

Ann Althouse said...

The only reason I didn't write more detail before is that I am trying not to make this any bigger than it is and my bias is so strongly in the teacher's favor that I don't want to be unfair to the students, whom I also care about.

LutherM said...

My opining on Kaplan or Barrett reminds me of the bright people in Washington described in "the Best and the Brightest".
Ann, your knowledge of Kaplan is both relevant and probative, and should not be charactized as bias.
I would like to hear what you think of Barrett - especially since you are at the same university, and I am 1400 miles away.

Todd said...

I paid so he would teach me the "truths" of economics, mathmathetics [sic], literature and engineering.

Let's start here: those ghosts in James's The Turn of the Screw, they're real, and the governess, she's as sane as they come. And then move to this one: Billy Budd? Deserved what he got, no doubt about it -- handsome boy had it coming. Though it must be said too that Claggart is as gay as the night is long.

Freder Frederson said...

The only reason I didn't write more detail before is that I am trying not to make this any bigger than it is and my bias is so strongly in the teacher's favor that I don't want to be unfair to the students, whom I also care about.

I think this is where your timidity (which I have been complaining about) gets you in trouble. It is not unfair to the students to state something along the lines "I think they probably misinterpreted his comments and that if the offensive comments were made he said them in attempt to start a discussion and never meant to have his comments to be understood to reflect his personal feelings."

Revenant said...

Yeah, the line about being taught the "truths" of literature is a bit silly. Of course, being taught ANYTHING about literature -- beyond how to read -- is pretty darn silly too, in my opinion. Paying people to tell you what books mean? Eesh, read the freakin' things and figure it out yourself. It isn't like it matters if you get it "wrong".

Internet Ronin said...

Thanks for the background, Ann. Although I suspected that what you reported was probably the case, and it is always nice to have the perspective of someone much closer to the situation than most commenters.

As an aside, it has always been fascinating to me how so many people are seemingly always prepared to use something like this to mount their favorite hobby horses and parade around the grounds (as it were). As has been well-noted above, nowhere near enough information has been provided by the sources thus far available for a genuine discussion of the alleged incident itself.

I didn't mean to put you on the "hot seat" with my comment, as I do understand your dilemmna, as articulated in your subsequent comment:

The only reason I didn't write more detail before is that I am trying not to make this any bigger than it is and my bias is so strongly in the teacher's favor that I don't want to be unfair to the students, whom I also care about.


With that in mind, I'll reiterate my earlier observation in response to Qoua Her's statement that "Ignorance exists everywhere.":

So it would appear.

Paco Wové said...

I think this is where your timidity (which I have been complaining about)...

Really, Althouse. It's so obvious that you're not standing in front of the mirror each morning, and seriously, seriously asking yourself, "How can I be more like the blogger Freder wants me to be?" I mean, it's like you're not even trying.

Fen said...

the line about being taught the "truths" of literature is a bit silly.

It was. Sorry. My majors were Lit and Engineering. So I guess I wanted to be "fair" by including the liberal arts side of the house. Point still stands though - students don't pay to be indocrinated with political viewpoints. A BDS monologue has no place in Chem Lab, esp considering how the cost of attending college has spiraled out of control. I guess some professors are like lawyers - they think expertise in one realm translates to all the others.

Freder Frederson said...

Yeah, the line about being taught the "truths" of literature is a bit silly. Of course, being taught ANYTHING about literature -- beyond how to read -- is pretty darn silly too, in my opinion. Paying people to tell you what books mean?

Yep, same goes for quantum mechanics and evolutionary biology. Read a book and figure it out for yourself. If you get it 'wrong', it really doesn't matter.

rightwingprof said...

"The only reason I didn't write more detail before is that I am trying not to make this any bigger than it is and my bias is so strongly in the teacher's favor that I don't want to be unfair to the students, whom I also care about."

An admirable stance -- and one the Gang of 88 at Duke might have considered before they did all that damage (and continue to do).

If I may offer some words in defense of Ann Althouse, even I, who am now retired from the university, am loath to criticize colleagues openly. It just isn't professional. Sure, I will (and do) publish anecdotes of the stupider academic antics, but people with whom I used to work are never identified by name. And if one were identified and being discussed, I would most likely not jump in and offer my opinion -- even if he were a jerk, and I was sure he had done what he had been accused of.

Naked Lunch said...

Kevin Barrett, whom the university supported last fall, as he turned part of his course on Islam into a study of the theory -- which he believes -- that the U.S. government perpetrated the 9/11 attacks.

If I recall correctly Barrett didn't teach any his 9/11 theories in the classroom. Thank God.

rightwingprof:
Missed your reply on St Aquinas until now. You actually made my point for me though.

Ann Althouse said...

"If I recall correctly Barrett didn't teach any his 9/11 theories in the classroom. Thank God."

You're wrong.

Henry said...

It just isn't professional. Sure, I will (and do) publish anecdotes of the stupider academic antics, but people with whom I used to work are never identified by name.

I recently read a biograph of E.B. White. While not an "official" biography, the writer did invite White to review the manuscript. Other than some small matters of fact and style, about the only modifications White requested were the excising of the proper names of still living people who might be embarrassed by very old stories.

Naked Lunch said...

Ann,
According to the Times article you gave a link to, it is.

A university review determined that although Mr. Barrett presented a variety of viewpoints, he had not discussed his personal opinions in the classroom.

Fred said...

Greetings from Silicon Valley,

I'm a former student of Professors Kaplan and Althouse. I have to say that I'm disturbed and saddened by the student response to racial tension in and out of the classroom. Kaplan is a very interesting intellectual. If you spend enough time around Kaplan, he will rattle you with myriad philosophies and unimaginable stories and overwhelm you with facts you'd only find in an encyclopedia.

Kaplan's style often centers around sensationalism and very strange, but interesting ideas. These traits are what makes Kaplan such a fun and interesting Professor. His blunt, no-nonsense approach coupled with an "out-of-this-world" personality (he speaks a language that no other human can understand.) is what makes him unique and worthy of standing in front of just about any podium.

Whether he is a good teacher of the "legal process" probably comes down to taste, but I can tell you one thing with certainty: Kaplan is not a racist! This entire act of protest serves as an injustice to our educational system, values and threatens our progress on understanding race theory, tolerance and tension among American racial groups.

I've written an article on point that you are welcome to read about on my blog. Is speech really "free"? www.racism.edu

Cheers,
Fred Soto
Wisconsin Law '05