July 20, 2006

"I still have every expectation this will be a very positive educational experience for our students."

Says UW Provost Patrick Farrell. "Some are upset about Mr. Barrett's viewpoints on 9/11 and don't want to pay much attention to what makes for a quality educational experience."

Upset? Viewpoints? Farrell goes for a lightweight, breezy tone, making no effort to engage with his critics, who -- I dare say -- aren't going to believe that Farrell is paying "much attention to what makes for a quality educational experience."

I wish I could link to the article on Barrett in the Isthmus (a local paper), which ends with his expressing complete certitude that anyone reading the evidence would have to believe that the U.S. government carried out the 9/11 attacks. Where is the educational experience in learning from someone who is teaching completely outside of his field of expertise and expressing certitude in an obviously wrong theory? Ironically, Farrell's scholarly expertise is engineering.

Farrell relies on private conversations he had with Barrett, but Barrett's remarks in the Isthmus make it damned hard for ordinary Wisconsin citizens to believe that he could have given the appropriate assurances. And to tell us that we just aren't "paying attention" is insulting. I simply can't understand why Farrell doesn't take the criticisms seriously and speak to the citizens who are so outraged about this. If examining controversial ideas is such a "quality educational experience," why aren't the citizens of Wisconsin entitled to a little of it? Why brush them off and tell them that they just don't get it, they are not paying attention?

Sixty-one state lawmakers sent a letter Thursday calling on University of Wisconsin-Madison to fire [Barrett].

The letter signed by 52 Assembly representatives and nine state senators, including Republican leaders, condemns a decision earlier this month by UW-Madison Provost Pat Farrell allowing Kevin Barrett to teach an introductory class this fall on Islam.

Rep. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, said the letter, which called Barrett's views "academically dishonest," sent a strong message to top UW leaders....

The lawmakers sent the letter to the governor, university leaders and Barrett instead of approving a formal resolution offered by Nass during the last day of their session last week. Republicans did not take up the resolution, saying it was not the right day for political bickering.
Oh, yeah, it's all just politics. Sorry, forget it. Nobody actually cares about students and education in any kind of a principled way. Now, go. Get out of here. Go pay attention to some damned thing.


Troy said...

I bet when Barrett's blocks fell -- his parents did it.

JohnF said...

Pay attention? How about paying money--taxpayers' money--for this crap?

Ann, I know you've been round this ring before, saying the problem should be addressed at the hiring end of things, rather than the firing end of things, but sometimes the right thing is to correct a mistake after you've made it. This is one of those times.

tjl said...

Coercive action by members of the state legislature is the worst possible way to deal with Barrett. It will lend an aura of plausibility to the claim that the issue is academic freedom rather than academic fraud.
No matter how crazed and repulsive Barrett proves himself to be, it is better to let him have his little forum than allow politicians to be arbiters of what may be taught at a state university. We should have some confidence that truth will prevail.

Richard said...

Farrell sounds like an ass. I knew nothing about UW just a few weeks ago, and today I'm none too impressed. Is it the cold winters, the over reliance on cheese, what?

Ann Althouse said...

John: I think that the the university should take people who say what you're saying seriously and speak with some substance to you, not just brush you off this way. I do understand the reasons for not firing Barrett, and I think there is a much deeper problem than the Barrett symptom.

jeff_d said...

It seems to me that Farrell's reliance on "private conversations" he had with Barrett dramatically weakens, rather than strengthens, his case. It makes him look like a fool for accepting at face value comments made privately, now that Barrett's public statements seem so plainly to demonstrate his unfitness to teach.

It also reminds me of the way Bush defended Harriet Meirs, in which context it was equally inappropriate. Farrell's appeal to academic freedom rings a little hollow if the key to Barrett getting the job was some sort of tacit assurance to Farrell as to how Barrett would teach the class.

Henry said...

All I want is that the University broadcast Barrett's class over the Internet. Spread the positiveness!

Art said...

How to balance the UW budget?
Auction seats in Mr. Barrett's class.
Every young Republican on campus is going to be fighting to get in so they can tape the lectures and feed clips to right wing talkers.
Lefties will want to keep them out.
Hilarity ensues.

dick said...

It strikes me that as a taxpayer I would be remiss if I did not express my total disbelief that the university actually hired this guy and scheduled this class. I also think that as a taxpayer I would be entitled to get a full and complete explanation as to why this guy is not fired and if not what the university is going to do to fix the problem that he represents. The University of Wisconsin has had an excellent reputation for a long time and it seems to me that letting this sort of thing happen and happen in the open and in the media to the extent that the politicians get involved in asking him to be fired is exactly the wrong way to keep that reputation. The citizens of the state deserve a lot better than they are getting in this case. That the administration just seems to think it is OK to blow off the public the way they have is certainly not dealing with a full deck.

vnjagvet said...


A slight difference between Farrell/Barnett and Bush/Meiers:

Barnett has not worked for Farrell in a close advisory capacity whereas Meiers worked in such a position with Bush. Bush therefore had a great deal more personal knowledge of Meiers' qualifications than has Farrell of Barnett's.

Farrell has apparently not read the article Ann linked on this post.

mtrobertsattorney said...

What went on in these "private conversations"? Is it possible that Barrett has convinced Farrell of the truth of his 9/11 theory? Farrell's comments almost seem to imply this.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Al said...

If all it takes is one or two idiots like Barrett to tarnish a great place, I guess that America is a joke too then. Look at all the nuts we have in America.

DaveG said...

I agree with Al. It would take a lot more then one Barrett to offset say, a high quality individual like Barry Alvarez, and I'm sure there are many more like Mr. Alvarez at UW, but very few like Barrett.

BigDirigible said...

If all it takes is one or two idiots like Barrett to tarnish a great place, I guess that America is a joke too then. Look at all the nuts we have in America.

A curious simile.

Note that people in America aren't interviewed for the position, or brought in after a long series of residences in other countries, nor do they require CVs, recommendations, or the other trappings of the professional world. In fact our resident illegals need demonstrate no qualifications whatever.

The UW should be expected to do a better job selecting its staff. Who do the administrators and faculty at UW think they are, slackers like the Border Patrol?

knox said...

I'm sure there are many more like Mr. Alvarez at UW, but very few like Barrett....

I tend to agree. But this situation is indicative of a larger, and serious, problem at UW, as Ann herself stated.

One of the commenters said the worst thing here would be for the legislature to take action. UW is a state school, run on tax dollars... if the provost is dismissive and even scornful of the public's very legitimate concerns, should not their elected representatives take action on their behalf?

"Academics" like Farrell need know that they don't just get a blank check--literally and figuratively--for this crap. It is precisely because of the rarefied and protected status of universities that this happened: if Farrell believed that he would be held to account in any real way, I don't believe he would so confidently stick by Barrett.

Seriouslyunserious said...

Someone should tell the Provost that if that is all he has to say, that he should just shut up. He must be a fool, but does he need to demonstrate it for the public? I can see Barrett staying and UW taking a major hits from private donors and a Republican controlled legislature. And since the State House is in Madison they will not easily forget the incident since it will come up again when classes commence.

Good advice for the Provost, remove the ammunition from any firearms you own and while doing do not point the weapon at your other foot ( the one you have not shot yet)>

al said...

I like it when public universities hire people like Barrett. It makes a the argument that the schools are full of clueless profs that want to brainwash your kids with garbage so much easier to make.

I'm pretty sure that if my son's college hired Barrett both Barrett and the person who decided to hire him would be gone before school started this fall.

Ann - Can you give your sense of what the other faculty members are thinking?

Harsh Pencil said...

The new information here is not Barrett. He's a nutcase. Madison is filled with them, but as other commenters have noted, one nutcase can't destroy the reputation of a great university.

But the profoundly unserious reaction of the provost, the chief academic officer of the university, can.

I have been an assistant professor at Wisconsin and was given the opportunity to come back as a full professor. While personal reasons were the deciding factor for not accepting, the overall tenor of the administration was a small factor. From Donna Shalala (the Chancellor when I was a junior faculty member) to the deans I met while being re-recruited, to this latest info, the overall impression one gets is of administrators who really don't believe in academic integrity. They make statements (regarding diversity and all sorts of things) which are so laughably false you know they can't believe them themselves and are just putting on a show by saying the "right" things. It's all very sad.

Charlie Martin said...

... which ends with his expressing complete certitude that anyone reading the evidence would have to believe that the U.S. government carried out the 9/11 attacks.

At least until the final exam is over.

Bob Mitze said...

I think Knoxgirl makes a key point - accountability. Most educational institutions seem to lack it in a very serious way. Whether it's tenure at the higher levels or union refusal to allow merit versus seniority at the primary and secondary levels there seems to be sense of entitlement in many educators. Once one gets the degree and that first job it appears almost impossible to get fired for doing a bad job. The claim that a university can best make decisions about its personnel without serious oversight by the people paying the bills looks pretty shallow when time after time those decisions appear to be so terrible. The effort required to fire Ward Churchill given the clear evidence of plagiarism and fraud, the lack of institutional condemnation over the gang of 88 at Duke who signed the letter condemning the lacrosse team regardless of evidence (innocent until proven white male), and now UW's defence and refusal to correct a bad hiring decision are just the most recent and flagrant cases of our education establishment's lack of accountability. As a holder of two graduate degrees from UW (math and comp sci), I am embarassed. Fortunately I'm retired so my resume deflation won't hurt, but it's sad that younger graduates will face ridicule in the job market until this latest self inflicted wound fades in time.

vilenylons said...

It would seem to me that what is salient is what the actual course description says. If it describes the course as an alternate view of how and why the Towers fell, or conspiracy theories run amock, or even Bush hate; academic freedom should prevail. But if I had spent my hard earned money to sign up for Intro in Islam 101 expecting to learn about a religion that covers a great chunk of this earth, I believe I would be visibly miffed.
Our students are smart enough to seperate the wheat from the chaff. They just should not have to sit through something that is mis labeled and that they did not wish to take or hear.

Clayton Cramer said...

There's a loud and fairly large minority of faculty who are intellectually three sheets to the wind: people like Barrett, Michael Bellesiles, and Ward Churchill. The reluctance of universities to clean their own houses until these kooks become major embarrassments is quite telling about how low the standards seem to be. Yes, Michael Bellesiles "resigned" from Emory University (a private school, by the way). Yes, Ward Churchill has been given his walking papers. But look at how concerted an effort it took of demonstrating that both of these guys were liars--and that effort was almost entirely in the popular media, because the academic world didn't much care, until these twerps became major embarrassments. How many more dishonest academics like Bellesiles and Churchill are there that just haven't received national attention yet?

buddy larsen said...

Ann, compliments on digging in and staying on top of this issue. Considering how the issue is right at your own personal door, you have not taken the easy path, that's for sure.

I personally agree with SC, this Barrett creature was funny at first, but on deeper examination is not funny at all.

This country is in a global war that it cannot afford to lose, and Barrett--and his supporters--are in the front lines of the enemy. And deliberately, knowingly, so.

It's impossible--or nearly so--that Barrett and his junk-scientists actually themselves believe what they're putting out in such perfect form ("certitude!") for the incitement of useful idiots.

Useful idiots, BTW, in no short supply; testament to the effectiveness of preceding decades of Barrett-style political methodology.

jaed said...

I agree with what several commenters have said: the problem at this point is not so much Barrett as it is the university's official reaction to this situation.

Hiring Barrett means someone wasn't paying attention during the hiring process. That's bad, but correctable. Since then, we've heard that having a nutcase teach Introduction to Islam is somehow related to academic freedom, that promoting conspiracy theories is part of the sifting of knowledge, and now that this class will be a positive educational experience. The implication is that the UW administration, and perhaps large swathes of its faculty, understand neither academic freedom nor the nature of inquiry nor what makes an educational experience.

That's a lot more alarming than someone being sloppy at the interview stage.

SippicanCottage said...

Farrell, as Provost:
"Some are upset about Mr. Barrett's viewpoints on 9/11 and don't want to pay much attention to what makes for a quality educational experience."

Farrell, as Captain of the Titanic:
Do not be concerned. We are just stopping for some ice.

PatCA said...

"Coercive action by members of the state legislature is the worst possible way to deal with Barrett."

I would ask you what you mean by "coercive"? Why did the lawmakers come down on UW? Are they acting at the behest of their constituents, or are they on a witchhunt, contrary to the wishes of their constituents? I would guess the former, based on everything I've read on the matter, and the concerns of the people are well founded.

Until you can prove the latter, you cannot say this is an unfair action. The department that hired him in is in receivership, which shows managerial failure. The provost's actions show arrogance and stupidity about the role of truth in teaching. It's high time the grownups took over.

buddy larsen said...

"Not paying attention" means "incapable of comprehending" means "the people are stupid" means "I have a right to do whatever the hell I feel like doing."

Jhn1 said...

Well, if the state does not have any tools for removing nutjob professors who have the support of the admin who are supposed to be looking out for the interests of the students and the institution (in that order) the state does have one very large hammer at its disposal.
Defund the school.
Not micromanaging.
Not extortion as do this or else.
Just make the decision that the school has demonstrated such ludicrously bad judgement that the state can no longer trust the institution with taxpayer dollars at all. Spend those $ on another, sane and fiscally wise, university.
Make that determination and stick to it.
Make it an event. Schedule hearings on it and allow other schools to make their case as to how much of the former UW money they should get and why it is better spent on them than the other claimants.
Spending the same dollar amount, just on other schools would deflect the accusation that the legislature was anti-education. They would not be anti-education, just anti nutjobs, anti squandering, and against inflicting ludicrously false theories under a patina of diversity.

M. Simon said...

It is not just UW. It is all of higher education in America.

Go to a good economics dept. and ask them about socialism.

Then pose the same question at any humanities dept.

And gender studies. etc.

The whole system (with possibly the hard sciences, although from what I see a lot of physicists are corrupted by the socialism disease) is corrupt.

Why corrupt? Because, knowledge and understanding are compartmentalized.

When was the last time gender studies allowed biology in the door? You only need to look at the Summers debacle to see the answer to that question.

Or take the current fad of master/slave in political science. Everything is master/slave. And the individual? Of no account if s/he does not belong to an identifiable interest group.

Higher education needs a house cleaning.

Greg D said...

If examining controversial ideas is such a "quality educational experience," why aren't the citizens of Wisconsin entitled to a little of it? Why brush them off and tell them that they just don't get it, they are not paying attention?

Because he's an "expert", and experts are above mere citizens.

buddy larsen said...

M Simon, re "housecleaning", what better state to start it than Wisconsin, home of old "Tail-Gunner Joe" McCarthy, the discredited anti-communist whose accusations were later, and breathtakingly quietly, admitted by post-USSR revelations from the KGB itself.

Me, I don't make fun of Senator McCarthy anymore.

tjl said...

PatCa said that "coercive action by members of the legislature" could not be said to be unfair unless they were acting contrary to the wishes of their constituents.

The problem with legislative action is not that it's unfair -- the legislature rightly holds the purse strings for a state school. The problem is that such action will have consequences beyond the desirable removal of Barrett.

First, Barrett will then be able to claim the status of martyr for academic freedom. Many on the left who reject his views would support him as a victim of censorship. Transforming this crazed, marginal figure into a more mainstream liberal icon is not helpful.

Second, the political winds may blow from a different direction in the future. Would you feel comfortable with intervention by a legislature whose Speaker was someone like Nancy Pelosi?

dick said...

Much as I hate Pelosi, given the option of the actions of Farrell and Barrett, then I would opt for Pelosi althought it would not be my first choice. My first choice is for the university to actually do what it is supposed to do and educate the students for the future of mankind. Hiring of Barrett is not doing that very well and the sooner the university handles the situation the sooner the legislature will get out of the picture. This whole debacle is caused by failures by the university all the way through. First, the hiring of Barrett, then the scheduling of this particular course particularly after the teacher has said what he will teach, and then not firing him after steps 1 and 2. Just what would it take for the university to do its job?

Buffy said...

This episode is indicative of a systematic pattern of abuse of students on the part of the faculty and administration of UW.

It really depends on what the taxpayers of Wisconsin are willing to put up with, and for how long.

telemacchus said...

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. 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.

TallDave said...

Perhaps next we'll be treated to the "quality educational experience" of a teacher with the "controversial" views that the Holocaust never happened, that Jews, Indians, Orientals, blacks, and women are inferior to white men and thus should not vote or have rights, and that homosexuals should be executed.

Hey, those are just diverse, educational viewpoints, right?

SippicanCottage said...
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Ann Althouse said...

Telemacchus: 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.

UW Student said...

As a student at UW-Madison, I feel I ought to interject. What you should worry about is not that there is a nutcase at the school. Every school has at least one, because tenure (itself a worthwhile practice, IMO, though not without drawbacks) makes it hard to get rid of them once you've found them, and at least this one's insanity is public enough so that kids who actually value their degree will avoid his course. What you probably should worry about is the fact that the people you are ostensibly paying to teach your children are probably not really getting paid to teach your children. They are getting paid to do research, and a very large percentage (though certainly not all!) probably think of your children as a nuisance or a distraction from their "important" work. That is the real scandal of modern academia. Of course, sending them to any other major research university will not solve this problem.

And jhn1 -- it's easy for you to say, "Let's defund the only full post-secondary education system that's within reach for most Wisconsin residents," because you presumably don't have to live here, and won't suffer from any of the economic horror that would result from the disappearance of the middle class. Even with the extra money you propose, it's not like Edgewood College or Madison Area Technical College or even Marquette University could reasonably provide cheap tuition and classroom space for all the students who would be left high and dry under your plan. And it's not like everyone can afford to go to out-of-state schools -- somehow I suspect that the defunding of the entire UW System would make other regional state schools a lot less interested in reciprocity deals. Would you like *your* state economy to be dependent on the kind of jobs you can get without a college degree? No? Then please do me the favor of thinking before you promote ridiculous, draconian solutions that would essentially do just that to mine.

Abraham said...

UW Student -
What makes this case so egregious is that this guy does not have tenure. He isn't even a professor. Yet the University still throws up its hands and acts like it is powerless to do anything, when in truth, it is not.

Tibore said...

The story just keeps growing. It's made CNN:


There's nothing really original in what CNN's reporting, at least not to any of us who've been following here in the Professor's blog and elsewhere. I only point it out to show that, between this and the Hannity and Colmes appearance, it's completely turned into a national story.

SippicanCottage said...
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cf said...

No problem:Fire Farrell, too.

As a loyal alumna of the University, I've had it.

buddy larsen said...

Yes, CF--maybe Farrell, Barrett, Jay Bennish, Ward Churchill, and Deb Frisch can get together and go host an academic freedom conference in Tehran.

wv: siick (duh!)

NUC said...

Old institutions do not die peacefully. This is the begining of the end for traditional higher education. Distance learning will continue to grow and cases like these will accellerate that growth. Some day distance learning will become the dominant method of obtaining a degree and the tradition university will become unprofitable.

PatCA said...

Yes, tjl, if Pelosi would seek to fire a nut like Barrett, it would be okay by me, as long as it's the wishes of her constituents.

We elect politicians to govern--there's nothing coercive about this. If it were, Barrett would be gone by now.

KCFleming said...

I've taken care of schizophrenics who have beliefs like Barrett: highly detailed and passionately argued, but implausible and, well, crazy. Serious adults learn never to give them space to develop and voice what are, in fact, delusions.

I must suspect that either UW Madison lacks the ability to do simple analysis or it has now developed a similar problem, known in psychiatry as folie a deux, wherein delusional beliefs come to be held by more than one person.

In either case, they are engaging in flat-out defamation of the President, and the USA. Legal minds can sort out whether this is libelous. Parents can decide whether they wish to send their kids to an unserious school. And the legislature can decide whether the funding stream needs to be reduced.

But the last several years has demonstrated without a doubt that many public universities are in serious need of a regime change, since liberal politics has turned them into places dominated by keystone kops comedy and bad performance art. It needs to stop, and needs to stop now. It's no longer funny or arty. It's become deleterious, and frankly evil.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Farrell has a clue that Barrett has become such a political issue with regular people in Wisconsin that it may result in his own demise?

I'm glad Farrell has taken the position he has, because it will lead to a well-deserved house-cleaning in the November election.

Xennady said...

No doubt I'm one the mouth-breathing conservatives that all right thinking people are required to despise but some of my tax money flows into the river of cash that nourishes the American educational colossus so I believe I have standing to express my opinion.Nothing about this surprises me.I've been reading about similar cases a long time very often excused by claims that academic freedom would suffer if any corrective action was taken.Well,I don't buy it.This time it's the idiotic left covering for the crazy left but it's always about the left avoiding accountability for some failure or embarassment that they can't explain any other way.Academic freedom gets trotted out only because it sounds like the most plausible defense.I'm convinced that the only solution is to rip the current system out by the roots and start over.

buddy larsen said...

Instapundit comments:

TopCat said...

Several years ago the Army got in some hot water for buying black berets for all their soldiers from China, for $12 million I believe. They wanted everyone to be above average, not just the special forces.

The guy they sent out to justify this goof was Gen. Shenshiki, who berated everyone who was afraid of change and such, delivering a load of palaver as obnoxious as Ferrell's.

The main reason I bring this up is the next time I heard Gen. Shenshiki I totally discounted what he had to say -- that we would need more than 200,000 troops in Iraq for occupation. Ann, can't you see that when you trash your institution's credibility over a trivial (to you) matter, it might haunt you sometime down the road? Please change your opinion and advocate doing the right thing.

OhioAnne said...

I work at midwestern college in a different state and what I am surprised at is the assumption that there was a hiring "process". On more than one occasion, we have had personnel suddenly "appear" on campus to provide one service or another never having known that the position was open at all.

Based on my experience, it would not surprise me to learn that the provost in question was doing a favor for some friend in hiring the guy and thinking that he could do it under the radar. Now, it has blown up in his face and he has to find some way to justify his actions.

M. Simon said...

Top Cat,

Sometimes you have to make do with what you have got.

Even if 200,000 was the right number there was no way to put that many in the field and maintain them on a continuous basis given other requirements (North Korea) and troop rotations. In fact it was only in the past year that Congress authorised another 80,000 for the military.

Thus Rummy said "Sometimes you go to war with the military you have,..."

I don't know how this applies to UW except that maybe starving the institution helps it become more efficient. Although there will be pain in the beginning.

Distance learning is the future. My #3 son is going to a Jr. college and does lots of his lessons on line. Tests too.

Of course #2 son is doing it the old fashioned way at the University of Chicago (full scholarship, deans list). So far I have not noted any exceptional craziness there. He leans libertarian/Republican and has not mentioned any unusual courses or teachers. And he is a humanities/language major.

#1 Son has no use for school. He is a library/online kind of guy. A lot like his father. I'm a retired (undegreed) aerospace engineer.

#1 daughter is still in high school. She is in the gifted program (as were sons #2 and #3) so she is getting a good education. The other programs in this town suck.

Distance learning is the wave of the future IMO. It worked for me outside the school system. It ought to work inside the system.

It does mean that teacher's salaries will fall drastically. We are way over stocked.

tckurd said...

I think the notion that this is limited to Academia is false.

My company is full of flaming libs, especially the golden-palace floors. (Super Senior Management) As a result, pure incompetence in the workplace is met with a minimum 9-month "program" to let someone go.

It takes less time to make and have a baby then it does to fire someone who has been identified by every single peer as a complete failure.

Therefore, for someone like me who enjoys the benefits of a meritocracy - a system where rewards are based on merit and value-add - finds themselves thoroughly disgusted and wanting to leave.

I watched Mr. Barrett on Hannity, and he's a sicko. It's pretty deep with him.

Now, If you truly wonder how influential these people can be, consider this case:

A very very smart friend of mine who is about 30 said when he was 20 he saw a program on Fox on the "Moon Hoax" which claimed we didn't go to the moon.

He, at his young impressionable age, said "Seemed like a good argument, so I sort of believed it."

This was 2 days ago, I've lost all credibility in him.

However, when I pointed to the moon rocks, the radio arrays that followed the landers, that they didn't "hang out" in the Van Allen bets, but flew through them, etc etc etc, he said "yeah, I hadn't thought of those things... so maybe they did go."

Even if you're smart when your 20, sometimes you don't go "do the research" to validate crazy opinions you here around you. Instead, you adopt them.

Yup. We're boned.

Steven said...

Coercive action by members of the state legislature is the worst possible way to deal with Barrett.

Nobody needs to deal with Barrett. He's a temporary teacher who happens to be a nut. He doesn't need to be argued with, and he doesn't gain any credibility with the sane for being driven out. If it helps him get speaking fees from fellow lunatics because he was 'martyred', well, what's the harm? Anybody who'd be offended at Barrett's firing is the sort of person you want offended, because it means you're doing things right. No, the problem here is not Barrett. He's a symptom.

The problem here is Farrell's bad decision. And the way to correct that problem is to keep applying pressure until something breaks. It doesn't matter whether Farrell fires Barrett, or his direct superiors demand Farrell's resignation, Farrell's attitude and position is the poison that must be purged.

Harsh Pencil said...

I earlier wrote a comment about the unseriousness of the provost as being what's troubling. His action (or lack thereof) less so.

If the provost had said the following, I would have been fine with this:

"Clearly, we made a mistake in hiring Barrett to teach Introduction to Islam, since he is obviously unhinged. On the other hand, we at the University of Wisconsin do not like to punish anyone in our community for expressing their opinions, no matter how idiotic or crazy. Thus since we offered Mr. Barrett an opportunity to teach this class, we will not go back on our word. I would not recommend any student take the course and he will not be offered an opportunity to teach this course again. Good day."

Mrs. Davis said...

This is only one incident among many that demonstrate that the arrogant and condescending professoriate has become dangerously detached from the society it is intended to serve. In fact, it no longer sees service to that society as one of its duties. It is the society that is to serve the professoriate. This situation will not long endure.

Paul Schlick said...

In the early 1970s, a truck bomb blew up a wing of the mathematics building at UW-Madison, killing a grad student researcher who was pulling an all-nighter.

Anti-war protesters were blamed for the travesty, but on further reflection I believe with complete certitude that anyone reading the evidence would have to believe that the UW-Madison administration carried out the mathematics building attack.

With that assertion, I think I'm qualified to teach at the University. Where do I apply?

buddy larsen said...

I don't want to apply, or show up, but would like to have a paycheck mailed to me. Okay?

woodlandcritter said...

Unfortunately, Farrell is acting the way most people do when they screw up--Denial.

I agree that the legislature has a right to demand action; however, they should give the University 1 week to address this properly.

At a minimum, the University should cancel the class, replace the chair of the department that hired Barrett and request the resignation of Farrell.

It it clear that the department offering Barrett's class is such a pointless waste of money that they have the ability to throw money away like this. So if the University does not take action, I would suggest the legislature start by cutting the budget of the department. Say 25%. This should get the attention of the entire faculty about the seriousness of their jobs without excessively penalizing the eduction of the students.

UW Alum

buddy larsen said...

Agree with UW alum that profligacy is a condition of excess.

DRJ said...

Bravo, Telemacchus. While your family's decision to opt out of UW may be difficult emotionally, I applaud your decision. Your child is fortunate to have principled parents who act decisively to protect his/her future.

mike said...

I watched Barrett on CNN. He said 9/11 was a "New Pearl Harbor". What's that about? Was the Vice Prez involved in that too? Intresting, I guess certain people don't need so called "facts" to support aruguments but their critics do. After all he spent over 2 1/2 years looking at the facts.

Randal said...

Barrett was on Michael Medved's show last week and the guy is a major whack job even by conspiracy theory standards. He would not admit to any Islamic terrorism no matter how hard Medved pressed him. Even Bali was a CIA false flag operation, according to him. He also said that he thinks Cheney will be hung as a traitor within the year.

Where do universities find these people?