Musings of a Recovering Lutheran: Do unto others...
O LORD, God of my salvation,
         I have cried out day and night before You.
Let my prayer come before You;
         Incline Your ear to my cry. 

Psalm 88:1-2 (NKJV)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Do unto others...

...whatever you want, just don't do unto me. That is the opinion of this college professor, anyway.

Key quote #1:

I’ve been in academe for about a decade now, and the only professors I’ve known who have slept with or dated students were female.

I’m sure plenty more shenanigans were happening out of public view. Absolutely. But I don’t pry. I don’t care, really. I trust my colleagues not to be rapists, and barring severe warning signs I’d never take any interest in their sex lives, even if those sex lives involved relationships of a sort that I’d personally never partake in.

But lately I’ve noticed a marked, very loud silence from these professors and instructors, the ones who dated students. See, there’s a big kerfuffle going on about a female Northwestern professor, Laura Kipnis, who made the mistake of speaking honestly on the internet. She said that blanket bans on teacher-student relationships were dumb and infantilizing. In response, students and colleagues have called for her to be formally censured. And out of the several female professors I’ve known to have engaged in relationships with students, not a one has lent Kipnis a single word of support.

This isn’t an issue of hypocrisy. This is a matter of real, palpable fear. Saying anything that goes against liberal orthodoxy is now grounds for a firin’. Even if you make a reasonable and respectful case, if you so much as cause your liberal students a second of complication or doubt you face the risk of demonstrations, public call-outs, and severe professional consequences. My friends and colleagues might well agree that the student-teacher relationship ban is misguided, but they’re not allowed to say as much in public.

Do tell. But then there is this howler in the same post (key quote #2):
Personally, liberal students scare the shit out of me. I know how to get conservative students to question their beliefs and confront awful truths, and I know that, should one of these conservative students make a facebook page calling me a communist or else seek to formally protest my liberal lies, the university would have my back. I would not get fired for pissing off a Republican, so long as I did so respectfully, and so long as it happened in the course of legitimate classroom instruction.
This professor - whoever he is - refers to conservatives and Republicans as "assholes" elsewhere on his website, and some of his other posts I read are even more childish. I doubt this professor is as successful as he fancies himself to be in getting conservative students to question "awful truths": more likely, these conservative students know it is safer to back off when confronted with a rigid ideologue who has the power to fail you (or worse). It's not too hard to imagine what it is like to be a student in his class if you disagree with his far-left viewpoint.

Unfortunately, this professor's attitude is all too common in academia. He wants ideas and opinions he disagrees with driven from public debate, but is upset that the same tactics used on those whom he hates might one day be turned against him and his side (the irony of this seems to have escaped him). His not-me-get-that-conservative-behind-the-tree attitude is not exactly edifying, but I am sad to say he has a lot of company. This is modern academia in a nutshell: double standards leavened with cowardice. Do unto others what you wish, just please spare me because I am one of you - really.

The question is: what to do now? The professor may not realize it, but the leftist mobs whom he fears are at least partly his creation. After decades of using the college classroom to proselytize Marxism and punish dissent, liberal professors should not be shocked if their students now seek to purge them (all Marxist revolutions eventually turn inward as "enemies of the people" become scarce and the revolutionary rank-and-file suddenly decide that their old leaders are not pure enough). But to stuff this unruly genie back into its bottle would requite the good professor to stop working both sides of the street. He cannot have both academic freedom and continue to empower the victimization mentality that seeks to undermine it. Choose one side or the other, professor.

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