On Jan. 21, University of Wisconsin law professor Ann Althouse wrote on her blog, “I don’t know why the University of Wisconsin has not rehired 9/11 conspiracy believer Kevin Barrett to teach a course on the history of Islam. But if we know a person believes something truly nutty, are we not entitled to use that as evidence of his intelligence, judgment, and trustworthiness?”Here's the blog post in which I set aside the facts I don't know and raise a question designed to help readers work toward a general principle that would distinguish between the discrimination against a political viewpoint and the proper use of evidence of a person's qualities of mind.
This is an amazing statement coming from a professor of law — a position that presupposes a respect for carefully considered evidence.Presumably, by "position" he means that the position of professor of law presupposes respect for evidence. But it could more aptly mean that the position I took in my statement is, in fact, a recommendation that we ascertain the value of the evidence that a job applicant creates through speaking and thus a position that entails respect for evidence.
Her assault on Mr. Barrett, in which she makes no effort to consider the countless facts backing the so-called Truth Movement, is shamefully flippant — her word choice of “truly nutty” — and unworthy of an academic intent on attacking another.Professor Willers, calm down and reread. I put to the side the case of Kevin Barrett and said I did not know the facts. Moving to the level of abstraction, I asked a neutral question that was intended to facilitate thinking about what to do in the case of a job applicant who takes a truly nutty position. By the way, it's the work of a law professor to propose hypotheticals to assist students in thinking about legal problems outside of the context of a particular case.
Without going into details easily found on the Internet...Oh, my! It's on the Internet!
....a considerable army of architects, engineers, physicists, logicians, commercial and military pilots, first responders, military figures all the way to general officer, and government personnel including FBI and CIA agents has amassed a solid case countering the official story. That army is all the greater for the addition of similar experts from countries all over the world.So, apparently Willers is himself a 9/11 truther. Sigh.
Ms. Althouse has refused to debate the issue in public forum. That being so, how does the objective observer avoid a conclusion of moral cowardice on her part? As a professional, is she not obligated to present evidence rather than indulging in personal attack?Why would I debate about physics when I'm a law professor? Being "a professional" doesn't mean you're an expert in everything.
And again, I didn't make a personal attack.
By the way, Professor Willers, aren't you making a personal attack? Do you think you had the obligation to read my post with basic understanding before writing a letter like this to the newspaper?
There is irony surrounding Ms. Althouse’s questioning of Mr. Barrett’s intelligence...Oh, irony! That's really... ironic... because I was just pointing out the irony of your absurd little letter to the student newspaper.
....judgment and trustworthiness, because it leads one to the question, “If we know that a law professor is willing to attack someone for no reason that she could defend in a courtroom situation, would we not be entitled to question her intelligence, judgment and trustworthiness?” And there is little doubt that in a courtroom, in which she would face that army of experts and their facts, she would be reduced to dust on the floor.In answer to your hypothetical, of course you could take into account that the law professor attacked someone for no reason. I didn't do that, however, so that doesn't refer to me.
Nevertheless, I'm quite willing to have everyone use my rejection of the 9/11 conspiracy theory as a basis for assessing my intelligence, judgment, and trustworthiness.