Education, Philosophy, Sex

The New McCarthyism: Blacklisting in Academia

Blacklisting is back.

In the days of Joe McCarthy, Hollywood screen writers and actors were the targets. Today, it is University professors accused of sexual harassment. Being accused is enough to destroy a professor’s career. Even speaking out against a false accusation can be dangerous, as I found out.

One of the most widely discussed cases involves the philosopher Colin McGinn, who resigned from the University of Miami after the University accused him of failing to report a romantic, non-sexual relationship with a 26 year old graduate student.  The University did not accuse him of sexual harassment. Yet bloggers accused him and this was enough to get McGinn disinvited from conferences and speaking engagements, and blacklisted in the profession.

In 2015, the student making the initial complaint filed a lawsuit against the University of Miami, McGinn, and me. I had commented on the case and was accused of defamation. The Judge dismissed all charges against me with prejudice and none of us were found liable for any of the student’s claims.

Despite his legal victory, the blacklisting of McGinn continues.  His case is not unique. Other philosophers have been blacklisted and have found it impossible to find employment in academia.

One is former Northwestern University philosophy professor Peter Ludlow. Ludlow’s university did not accuse him of sexual harassment, but he was nevertheless blacklisted by other universities, is out of philosophy, and to survive has been forced to move to Mexico. He too has been prevented from giving papers and has been subjected to blacklisting in publishing. Ludlow’s case is discussed in Laura Kipnis’ lively book Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus.

Two former members of the University of Colorado philosophy department were threatened with being fired because of issues related to sexual harassment, although sexual harassment was not the charge against either.  Both resigned and are now out of the profession.

Two more recent cases involve a Yale philosophy professor and a distinguished philosopher at the University of California at Berkeley.  One hundred sixty nine academics signed a petition against the former Yale professor, although Yale found no evidence of sexual harassment. The Berkeley Professor is retired, but 46,334 people have signed a petition demanding that he be stripped of his professor emeritus title and that his name be removed from the Center for Social Ontology at Berkeley.

There are many more academics blacklisted after being accused of sexual harassment without proof of guilt.

One cannot assume that all of these cases are alike with respect to guilt or innocence; sorting them requires credible evidence.  Even this modest point is controversial.  Some commenting on the #MeToo movement take the position that given the harm suffered by so many women, there would be a utilitarian gain if those credibly accused of sexual misconduct suffered punishment even if some are innocent. There is something to this point. There is good reason to clear the stables and begin again with a new understanding of how women in the workplace ought to be treated. Yet a policy of “Kill them all and let God sort it out” is not a rational policy, nor a morally acceptable one.

For professors actually guilty of sexual harassment, what would be an appropriate punishment?  Brian Leiter, a philosopher and law professor at the University of Chicago, asked on his philosophy blog if loss of a job for sexual misconduct justifies being barred for life from future employment. One female philosopher responded “Uh –YES. Is this a serious question?”

It is. Sexual harassment may include what the Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein allegedly did to so many women over a long period of time, but under United States law, far less egregious behavior can also constitute sexual harassment.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines “sexual harassment” to include unwelcome sexual advances, but using coarse sexual language or telling sexually offensive jokes also constitute sexual harassment if the result is a hostile or offensive work environment.  What is the appropriate punishment for such verbal behavior?  Reduction in salary? Firing? Firing plus blacklisting? Or, something else? It is hardly obvious that permanent exile is always the appropriate response to such objectionable speech.

Despite doubts about relying on the EEOC definition in deciding appropriate punishment, it should be possible to have a rational discussion about blacklisting if we stick to that definition, but most academics who favor a “commonsense” account of sexual harassment do not.  Many give a much wider definition.

Here is how the Feminist Majority Foundation characterizes sexual harassment:

“Any of the following unwanted behavior may constitute sexual harassment:

  • leering
  • wolf whistles
  • discussion of one’s partner’s sexual inadequacies
  • sexual innuendo
  • comments about women’s bodies
  • ‘accidentally’ brushing sexual parts of the body
  • lewd & threatening letters
  • tales of sexual exploitation
  • graphic descriptions of pornography
  • pressure for dates
  • sexually explicit gestures
  • unwelcome touching and hugging
  • sexual sneak attacks, (e.g., grabbing breasts or buttocks )
  • sabotaging women’s work
  • sexist and insulting graffiti
  • demanding, “Hey, baby, give me a smile”
  • inappropriate invitations (e.g., hot tub)
  • sexist jokes and cartoons
  • hostile put-downs of women
  • exaggerated, mocking ‘courtesy’
  • public humiliation
  • obscene phone calls
  • displaying pornography in the workplace
  • insisting that workers wear revealing clothes
  • inappropriate gifts (ex. lingerie)
  • hooting, sucking, lip-smacking, & animal noises
  • pressing or rubbing up against the victim
  • sexual assault
  • soliciting sexual services
  • stalking
  • leaning over, invading a person’s space
  • indecent exposure”

Does leaning over, invading a person’s space or demanding, “Hey, baby, give me a smile” warrant firing and a lifetime ban on university employment?

The Feminist Majority Foundation’s view of sexual harassment is not intended to be scientific, but this cannot be said of the recent report of the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine.

The report asks how prevalent sexual harassment is in these disciplines. It concludes that it is very common; 58% of academic employees say they have been sexually harassed. The report characterizes different types of sexual harassment. By far, the report says, the most common form of reported sexual harassment involved what the committee calls “gender” harassment:  verbal and nonverbal behaviors that convey hostility, objectification, exclusion, or second-class status.

Without clear definitions of these concepts, there is no way to tell how many of these reports of gender bias are accurate. How would the scientists conducting the study determine if a joke or other type of utterance was intended to convey “objectification” or whether the listener merely interpreted it this way? The same problem arises for someone interpreting a remark as conveying “exclusion” or “second-class” status. How did the scientists reliably distinguish comments that conveyed exclusion or second-class status from those that did not?

James Damore was fired by Google in 2017 after he wrote a memo suggesting that the under-representation of women at Google was a result of women’s lesser interest in software engineering—rather than discrimination within the technology sector. Did his memo convey a message of exclusion?   Some interpreted it this way; some did not. How would we tell who is right?

Even if we can tell that a message conveyed hostility, objectification, or exclusion, what would be the appropriate punishment for gender harassment?  Should the guilty scientists or engineers be fired and blacklisted for life, or just fired, or neither?

Some academics do not see sexual harassment as the main issue. They hold that even if there is no sexual harassment, any professor who has an affair with a graduate student or colleague of a lower rank should be fired and banned permanently from teaching.  Such affairs, it is alleged, are never consensual because of power imbalances. This extreme doctrine goes far beyond a sensible thesis that universities should discourage such affairs. Besides being implausible, the extreme view is also insulting to women.

In the last century, professors and students, doctors and nurses, bank presidents and vice-presidents, union bosses and their underlings, fell in love, had affairs, and often married. The idea that in most or all of these cases the women lacked the strength to overcome the effects of their power disadvantage is not based on any credible evidence and is insulting to these women and, in some cases, men.

Blacklisting is not a venial sin. Except where it involves extremely bad actors, it is an evil practice. Yet the shame of academia is not this. It is rather the blacklisting of the merely accused without proof of guilt.

As many in Hollywood learned in an earlier era, once an accusation is made, its effects can rarely be extinguished. Careers and marriages were ruined; friendships were broken; some became impoverished; others, such as Philip Loeb, committed suicide.

Why are so many professors convinced that once accused never hired? Do they think that gossip, rumors, and accusations suffice as proof? Some do; they have shown this by their style of argument, as I found out in my own department.  I very much doubt that most do.

Something else is going on.  There is a widespread fear of bad publicity and retaliation.

Administrators know that rehiring a McGinn or a Ludlow can trigger a backlash that can harm them. Students may demonstrate, as they did at Northwestern when Ludlow was permitted to teach after being accused. The story of hiring an accused philosopher can wind up on the Huffington Post or on the front page of the New York Times, as the McGinn story did, damaging the reputation of the department and the university. The Board of Trustees might react by demanding resignations of administrators or blocking their promotions.

Philosophers who try to hire someone accused  of sexual harassment know that the administration may punish them by withdrawing financial support for salaries, time off, or new hires. Their reputation may suffer when other philosophers condemn them.

Editors of academic books fear that contributors will withdraw if an article by someone accused of sexual misconduct is included. Few organizers of academic conferences will dare invite an accused scholar lest trouble follow.

As long as this situation persists, administrators and faculty will have a powerful reason not to hire someone publicly accused of sexual misconduct even if there is no credible evidence of guilt.  It is not a moral reason but one of self-interest.  The gain from hiring a distinguished professor such as McGinn and remedying an injustice is likely to be outweighed by what is said to be a risk of scandal-tinged harm to the university or department, which in translation often means risk of detriment to my career, my standing in the profession, my salary, my promotion, my perks.

Moral courage in this domain is hard to find. The prevalent motto is: “Tis time enough tomorrow to be brave.”

 

Ed Erwin is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Miami.

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46 Comments

  1. Peuri says

    It would be interesting if someone would investigate what kind of political positions these men accused of harrasment have. I wonder if accusations of harrasment is used as a tool to purge non-ally academics.

    • @Peuri

      If his isn’t a problem already, I can almost guarantee it is going to become one. Leftism has devolved into a religion and the campus is their sacred temple, to be cleansed of all heretical impurities at any cost. If you are an outed conservative faculty, buckle up, the ride is going to get rougher from here on in.

      There are two ways to avoid being a target of this feminazi purge: don’t out yourself as a conservative and don’t do any out of class interaction.

      • Saturn Black says

        AA – If you try to hide your political stance you deserve to be shanked. Don’t be a pussy.

        The only way to deal with these scum is to start treating them like the bottom dwellers they are. Do you respect these people? You’re a fool. Do you listen to anything they say? Well that’s your own stupidity. Their capacity for destruction is just about limitless yet people still seem to think they are like some cute little kittens ripping your curtains up. No, they will rip your throat out and laugh as they watch you bleed out in the gutter. If you underestimate them it’s your own stupid fault.

        I keep telling people this is war and they go all soft on me. It’s just laughable. There is no way to avoid the feminazi purge. You either stand up to them like Peterson did, or let them walk all over you and throw your life away.

        Nobody respects a soy boy.

        • “The only way to deal with these scum is to start treating them like the bottom dwellers they are. ” — They preemptively defined that as an unpardonable offense; see “hostility, objectification, exclusion, or second-class status” in the text.

          Never mind that those people are swimming in waters of hostility, exclusion, disrespect, sociopathy, hypocricy without noticing it.

        • @ Saturn Black

          “AA – If you try to hide your political stance you deserve to be shanked. Don’t be a pussy.”

          The only thing so I agree with you.

          Peterson is not a racist bigot like you.

        • stevengregg says

          Well said. This has all gone too far because it was easier for us to ignore it.

      • Richard Wark says

        Yes, your point about the political position of the accused is important. The essential problem here is the failure to create a judicial system that creates operational definitions of guilt. placing your hands on someone excluding the socially expected handshake, is not a bad place to start. If you do that, especially after ONE warning, you have fucked up and are responsible for the consequences.

    • peanut gallery says

      This particular field is already rife with people who are absolutely not voting Republican, ever. So I doubt this is actually the case. For these progressive puritans, no one is clean unless you happen to belong to the most de facto privileged groups. (PoC, LGBTQBAFD+, Albino with a lisp and PTSD)

  2. TarsTarkas says

    By suggesting such an investigation you are guilty of any and all charges that might be laid against you, as you are obviously an apologist for the harassers/sarc.

    “show me the man and i will show you the crime.” Yavrenti Beria.

    The court of law is where such accusations should play out, not anything in-house (which of course is why they are kept in-house), and false witnesses should be the ones to be blacklisted from their chosen careers.

  3. Philosopher says

    In this environment it’s almost imprudent of me to hold office hours or agree to any in-person, out of class interaction. All it takes is one accusation.

    If falsely accused I would be in a better position, arguing that I had indeed taken every precaution to not meet or interact with students outside class.

    What the f&@k has this world come to?

    • Cerastes says

      Philosopher, just leave your office door open; that’s what I do. My office door is only closed if I’m out, working alone on something, or making a personal phone call. Plus it has a glass window, so folks can see in even if it’s closed.

      I will say it also has a huge benefit in preventing me from being tempted to waste time online or nap in my comfy office chair.

      • Farris says

        How does leaving your door open protect you from a charge of leering?

        • Or using sexual innuendo? Or pretty much everything else on that list beyond what most of us recognize as harassment, which would be ongoing, repetitive bad behavior (please record it so it’s not your word against theirs), or unwanted touching that won’t stop even after you tell them to stop. We are just so soft and can’t take any criticism, any rejection, any hardship, any discomfort without thinking it a crime.

          • Cerastes says

            I never claimed it was a universal preventative, just that it was a simple solution to Philosopher’s frankly over-dramatic hand-wringing about no longer being able to meet students one-on-one.

            Honestly, about 80% of that list should be uncontroversial, with a few bits that need clarification.

            But I also think that context is crucial. I think one of the reasons my own field, biology, has had relatively fewer problems with this (normalized for field size) is that sex and death are literally the fuel of our field, and we frequently have dispassionate, technical discussions about them in the context of other species and our own. Plus it’s pretty hard to be shocked by anything sexual after you’ve learned about the sex lives of the invertebrates (google “love dart”), or after literally slicing a cadaver’s penis in half to examine the structure.

        • peanut gallery says

          Under those criteria, there’s literally no way to interact with women and not be possibly accused of something, including a thought crime.

  4. Anthony Tate says

    They already came for someone else. And you cheered, pointed, and encouraged them nodding approvingly.

    And here they are for you…hard not to feel a little smug. You guys hated us first.

    But don’t fret; houses are being built, it’s hot, there’s work to be done (and lots of it), come join us and after a 12 hour day turning dirt. We’ll drown our sorrows in a couple beers at the Hi Neighbor Tavern.

    If you can stand being around working trash.

  5. Jesper says

    It seems that a lot of good and highly qualified individuals are available for hire to create a top quality institution. When will someone found openly free speech, conservative accepting, organisations teaching the real classics with clearly stated rules against identity politics and false cries for diversity? I would assume they could easily fill the courses.

  6. to be honest, I wish this becomes ever more so. In the end only the most strident Jacobins will remain and the public will cut the funding of humanities to nought.

  7. Saturn Black says

    “Some commenting on the #MeToo movement take the position that given the harm suffered by so many women, there would be a utilitarian gain if those credibly accused of sexual misconduct suffered punishment even if some are innocent. There is something to this point.”

    LOL! You agree with their ideological position that innocents should be tortured and then you get tortured for being innocent. You got what you deserved, fool. Don’t write articles complaining about how hard life is. You lost all your credibility when you capitulated to the left.

  8. Jack B Nimble says

    Ed Erwin wrote:
    “Blacklisting is back.

    In the days of Joe McCarthy, Hollywood screen writers and actors were the targets. Today, it is University professors accused of sexual harassment…..”

    Erwin’s article starts off with a distortion of history and goes downhill from there. The McCarthyite blacklist of the 1950s DID reach into public and private universities in the US, and many untenured faculty were fired or not renewed. Some universities even found creative ways to break tenure in the case of faculty who ‘took the 5th’ before HUAC and other anti-communist committees; many of those tenured faculty who refused to ‘name names’ lost their jobs.

    “…The FBI helped out as well. In 1951, a group of governors, led by Adlai Stevenson of Illinois, asked J. Edgar Hoover to protect them against the threat of intervention from right-wing legislators by supplying them with the information they needed to purge their own payrolls….local agents gave the information in person and warned the governors and other trustworthy officials who received it never to reveal its source….we can tell that one of its main recipients was California governor Earl Warren and that, before Hoover discontinued it in 1955, the program had fingered about 800 people, many of them college teachers….” Source: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/uchistory/archives_exhibits/loyaltyoath/symposium/schrecker.html

    Regarding the lawsuit against McGinn and UMiami, the complaint alleges in part that: “…..The Defendant University had more than 400 emails and texts from Defendant McGINN, supporting her complaint of sexual harassment, which disclosed inappropriate touching and fondling by a professor of his student, direct requests for sex, description of his sexual arousal while thinking of her, and linking his professional appraisal of her to her willingness to “indulge” him sexually…..” Source: https://www.themiamihurricane.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Morrison-Complaint-2.pdf

    UMiami settled out of court with the plaintiff [see article ‘U Miami Settles Philosophy Harassment Case’ by Colleen Flaherty in InsideHigherEd], and the terms of the agreement are apparently sealed.

    McGinn did resign in early 2013, although he was kept on the UMiami payroll through 2013, during which he did supervise another female graduate student. UMiami contended that the relationship between the plaintiff and McGinn was a consensual romantic relationship; since the case didn’t make it to trial, we may never know all the relevant facts. However, McGinn was close to retirement age when he voluntarily resigned. Note that Erwin’s article says nothing about the plaintiff, who was obviously much younger than McGinn and may have had HER career in academia wrecked before it ever really got off the ground.

    One detail that Erwin alludes to is that finding a tenure-track job in the humanities is incredibly difficult right now. With many universities having a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy on alleged faculty misbehavior and an abundance of applicants for each job opening, there is pressure to play it safe, just like most higher ed administrators did during the Red Scare of the 1950s. Timid administrators are the real problem here. When a university goes into ‘damage control’ mode, neither faculty nor students are safe.

    • John G Lammi says

      “In the days of Joe McCarthy, Hollywood screen writers and actors were the targets.” Actually, it was Communists, who supported Lenin’s and Stalin’s mass murder, and Germany’s attack on the UK; these Communists were the targets….

      • Jack B Nimble says

        @John G Lammi

        The Red Scare was not a simple left vs. right affair. Many politicians who are now considered ‘liberal lions’ took part in the red-hunting: Adlai Stevenson [as governor of Illinois], Earl Warren [as gov. of Calif.], R.F. Kennedy, J.F. Kennedy [who continued the appt. of former Arkansas Governor Francis Cherry as director of the Subversive Activities Control Board] and other liberals who were/are household names. The SACB wasn’t abolished until 1973, Link: https://catalog.archives.gov/id/10447787 .

        After WWII ended, the U.S. was harsher on its own scientists and academics than it was on former Nazi scientists:

        “Operation Paperclip from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

        Operation Paperclip was a secret program …. in which more than 1,600 German scientists, engineers, and technicians, such as Wernher von Braun and his V-2 rocket team, were recruited in post-Nazi Germany and taken to the U.S. for government employment, primarily between 1945 and 1959. Many were former members, and some were former leaders, of the Nazi Party…..”

        Why were these ex-Nazi scientists given a free pass when so many American academics caught up in the “Red Scare” were losing their jobs? We should remember that most of these academics were not convicted or even accused of espionage or sabotage. Their ‘crime’ was a refusal to testify before investigating committees, or to name names of other ‘subversives.’ We should also remember that the Communist Party in the US was not outlawed until 1954 [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Communist_Party_USA ]. Ex post facto laws are constitutionally prohibited for both the federal [clause 3 of Article I, Section 9] and state [clause 1 of Article I, Section 10] governments. That didn’t stop the red-hunters in the 1950s from making membership in the CPUSA at any point in time grounds for dismissal.

        • stevengregg says

          None of the ex-Nazi scientists gave away secrets to the Soviets. The Communist infiltrators in the US government gave away the secrets to the atomic bomb to the Soviets. The ex-Nazis were loyal to the US, helping build our space program. The Communist infiltrators were attempting to destroy America. Giving away the atom secrets led to the Korean War, in which tens of thousands of Americans were killed. That’s a big difference.

          • Jack B Nimble says

            @stevengregg

            The US atom bomb project involved many US and emigre physicists and mathematicians, like Luis Alvarez, Niels Bohr, Enrico Fermi, Richard Feynman, Glenn Seaborg, Leo Szilard, Stanislaw Ulam, John von Neumann & Eugene Wigner. Most of these men went on to have distinguished academic careers. The only spy in this group of scientists was K. Fuchs, who was a German [later British] citizen and never had a faculty appointment at any university, American or European.

            The US faculty who WERE caught up in the ‘Red Scare’ had no involvement in the atom bomb project, never committed espionage or sabotage, and had no contacts with Soviet Intelligence. These academics were people like Prof. M. I. Finley, assistant professor of history at Rutgers U. Finley cooperated with, and was cleared by, a Special Faculty Committee established at Rutgers to investigate charges of disloyalty and membership in the CPUSA. The supposed Communist front organization that Finley belonged to was the American Committee for Democracy and Intellectual Freedom, the organization founded by Franz Boas in 1938 to discredit the theories of race put forth by the Nazis. Even so, Finley was fired by the Bd. of Trustees at Rutgers in 1952, left the US and went on to a distinguished career as an ancient historian at Cambridge U; he was knighted in 1979.*

            How could a professor of ancient history have had any effect on the US atom bomb project or the Korean War? The same is true for other academics investigated by McCarthy, the FBI, HUAC or SACB.

            The Red Scare targeted US universities, Hollywood and labor unions**. Republicans are still attacking universities, Hollywood and labor unions. The only change since the 1950s is the choice of weapons and tactics; the overall strategy is still the same. Instead of crying ‘communism’ and ‘subversive,’ the preferred buzzwords now are ‘SJW’ and ‘political correctness.’ Instead of academics and labor activists invoking the 5th amendment, Republicans use the 1st amendment in the courts and through legislation to attack labor unions** and campus protestors.

            *Source — ‘A Brief History of the Red Scare at Rutgers’, by Prof. Jan Ellen Lewis, delivered to the Faculty, Rutgers University, Newark, March 25, 2009.
            **See https://harpers.org/archive/2018/09/labors-last-stand-supreme-court-janus-decision-unions/

    • Edward Erwin says

      Jack B. Nimble

      Some of your information about the McGinn case is incorrect. One of the defendants refused to sign the non-disclosure agreement and is free to talk about the case and the amount of the settlement. If interested, go to Professor Michael Tooley’s Philosophy Home Page. spot.colorado.edu/~tooley/.

      Cheers,

      Ed Erwin

      • Jack B Nimble says

        @Edward Erwin

        Thanks for the clarification.

        As I said in my original comment, the academic job market has been tight for decades, which is one reason why universities can ‘play it safe’ in hiring decisions. Any person who is considered to be ‘damaged goods’ will have an extra-tough time getting hired, even if that is an unfair characterization.

        Granting that it is easy to criticize from a distance, I think that McGinn would have done better to take an unpaid leave of absence rather than resign from UMiami in 2013. In my 40+ years of academic experience, I have never heard of an academic being re-hired after they voluntarily resigned, and I have rarely if ever heard of someone being hired when they are close to normal retirement age, unless they are a NAS member, Nobel laureate, etc.

  9. Bob C says

    “Some commenting on the #MeToo movement take the position that given the harm suffered by so many women, there would be a utilitarian gain if those credibly accused of sexual misconduct suffered punishment even if some are innocent. There is something to this point.”

    No, there is nothing to that point. It merely illustrates that utilitarianism is bad philosophy.

  10. John G Lammi says

    “In the days of Joe McCarthy, Hollywood screen writers and actors were the targets.” Actually, it was Communists, who supported Lenin’s and Stalin’s mass murder, and Germany’s attack on the UK; these Communists were the targets

  11. Vincent Vega says

    I would like to suggest a new rule of conversation; if someone accuses another of a heinous crime and it turns out that the accusation is false, the accuser should have the option to make a public apology. If (s)he fails to do so, the punishment for the libel should be equal to that of the alleged crime. This means, of course, that the likes of Glenn Greenwald will need to be hanged, drawn and quartered several times over.

  12. Cerastes says

    I have to wonder why this sort of crap, both bad behavior and SJW purges, seems so strongly associated with the humanities and “social sciences”? Sure, we’ve got bad actors in the hard/real sciences too, but at least on a first pass, it seems like the number of reports of sexual harassment etc and SJW ragefests seem far out proportion to the actual size of these fields. Kind of like if you see someone complaining about the myriad problems of academic work culture (e.g. excessive hours, zero work-life balance, bullying, burnout, etc.), there’s about an 80% chance it’s from the biomedical sciences. The latter has clear explanations (too many mouths at the NIH trough, soft money positions, greedy school administrations treating overhead like an income stream), but what is it about the humanities and social sciences which has made them ground zero for these pathologies?

    • Farris says

      “what is it about the humanities and social sciences which has made them ground zero for these pathologies?”
      When asked why he robbed banks Willie Sutton replied, “Beacuse that’s where the money is.”
      Many more women in social sciences and humanities than STEM.

      • Cerastes says

        Good point, and that may be part of it, but it’s insufficient to fully explain it, especially since the ratios are far better than they once were. In biology, for instance, we now have gender parity at all levels, but far fewer of these problems (especially given the relative size of the two fields).

        It also raises an interesting issue: if having more women was both necessary and sufficient to eliminate “sexist culture” in a given field, why do the female-dominated humanities have disproportionately more problems with this than male-dominated fields like physics? While neither is perfect, it pretty clearly refutes the SJW idwa that just hiring and promoting more women is a panacea for sexist behavior in a workplace.

    • stevengregg says

      The Humanities have less intellectual rigor in their studies, hence less in their politics and, therefore, less in their wild accusations.

  13. Itzik Basman says

    Is it possible that Erwin’s point is overstated despite the instances he cites? I don’t say it is, but having been away from any campus for decades, I merely ask the question.

  14. Jack B Nimble says

    @curri

    It’s ironic that the article you linked to [re: Marc Short and UVa] makes reference to McCarthyism, because Mr. Short hasn’t been dismissed from his fellowship, and he enjoys the strong support of the UVa administration, particularly Director Antholis. Link: https://millercenter.org/experts/william-j-antholis/director-appointment-marc-short-senior-fellow . That makes his case completely different from the Red Scare of the 1950s.

    The real problem with this appointment is that Dr. Anholis picked Short over the strong objection of some faculty at the Miller Center, and without allowing even an advisory faculty/fellow vote to be held. That violates the principle of academic shared governance—permanent faculty expect and deserve a voice in even temporary hires within their unit.

    And Mr. Short? He won’t stay more than a one-year term at UVa. He has deep connections to the right-wing political ecosystem [ YAF, Koch Brothers, the DeVos family, etc. ] and can make much more money working for those groups rather than academia. Link: https://www.politico.com/story/2017/01/who-is-marc-short-trump-legislative-liaison-233710 .

  15. Big Jim Slade says

    It’s ironic that the article you linked to [re: Marc Short and UVa] makes reference to McCarthyism, because Mr. Short hasn’t been dismissed from his fellowship, and he enjoys the strong support of the UVa administration, particularly Director Antholis.

    Not a single word in the statement from Director Antholis that you linked to indicates that Short’s appointment has the support, strong or otherwise, of the UVa administration.

    The real problem with this appointment is that Dr. Antholis picked Short over the strong objection of some faculty at the Miller Center, and without allowing even an advisory faculty/fellow vote to be held. That violates the principle of academic shared governance—permanent faculty expect and deserve a voice in even temporary hires within their unit.

    That’s not how senior fellowship appointments work at the Miller Center. Quoting Antholis: “Senior fellows are selected by the director of the Center, in consultation with the director of presidential studies.” The rules don’t change simply because many of the Center faculty are apparently too intellectually fragile to handle views other than their own. Furthermore, says Antholis, “knowing the controversies surrounding President Trump and some of his appointees, I also consulted more extensively than in previous senior fellowship appointments with other senior faculty members, senior fellows, members of the Center’s Governing Council, and policy professionals from both political parties.” Sounds he gave plenty of people the opportunity to weigh in on the idea, most of whom, presumably, were against it. However, hearing their voices does not obligate Antholis to follow their recommendations when selecting senior fellowship appointees.

    And Mr. Short? He won’t stay more than a one-year term at UVa.

    This, at least, is correct; although the reason is that, quoting Antholis again, “Marc’s appointment is a one-year fellowship; it is not a faculty position.” Your attempt to portray Short as champing at the bit to leave the Miller Center behind in favor of a list of left-wing boogeymen is noted, however.

    • Jack B Nimble says

      @Big Jim Slade

      Perhaps ‘strong support’ was too strong a phrase–‘unwavering support’ from the director of the Miller Center might be more accurate. Regarding the ‘consultations’ and other matters, this excerpt from insidehighered[dot]com is instructive [emphasis added]:

      ‘…Resignations at Virginia Over Appointment for Trump Official by Colleen Flaherty, July 31, 2018

      Two professors resigned from the University of Virginia’s Miller Center for the study of the U.S. presidency Monday, just days after their director doubled down on his controversial decision to hire a senior Trump administration official as senior fellow.

      The faculty members, William I. Hitchcock, William W. Corcoran Professor of History, and Melvyn P. Leffler, Edward Stettinius Professor of History, remain chaired professors at Virginia. But they officially severed their years-long ties to the center in an open letter to William Antholis, center director. The letter cites Antholis’s decision to appoint Marc Short, who was until this month President Trump’s legislative affairs director, to a yearlong fellowship at Miller, starting next month.

      Many Virginia professors already have spoken out against the appointment, saying that Short is too close to an administration that deviates too much from presidential and political norms to provide meaningful academic insight into the presidency. Some have also raised concerns about the process by which Short was appointed, saying that the center faculty was not consulted. Others have pointed to Short’s seeming support for Trump’s initial “many sides” reaction to the white supremacist march on and violence in surrounding Charlottesville, Va., last year. (Short has since denounced that violence and said his comments referred to Trump’s later denunciation of bigotry.)

      Antholis has maintained that senior fellow appointments are not faculty appointments and that he consulted important on-campus constituencies, if not the Miller faculty, prior to offering Short a job. And while he’s personally and professionally critical of certain aspects of the Trump administration, he’s said, the Trump presidency, like any other, merits study — and that an insider like Short can help. Facing petitions against Short’s appointment, Antholis summed up his reasoning in an op-ed published Friday in The Washington Post.

      Yet Antholis’s explanations have continued to fall short for some, as evidenced by Hitchcock and Leffler’s resignation letter.

      Had we been consulted, we would have argued that the appointment of Mr. Short violates the values of the center,” the professors wrote. It “runs counter to the center’s fundamental values of non-partisanship, transparency, openness, a passion for truth and objectivity and civility.”….’

      BTW, the academic credentials of Hitchcock and Leffler are each much stronger than those of Director Antholis.

  16. Cerastes: “Plus it’s pretty hard to be shocked by anything sexual after you’ve learned about the sex lives of the invertebrates (google “love dart”), or after literally slicing a cadaver’s penis in half to examine the structure.”

    I am curious about your age? Is it no longer considered hilarious by male anatomy students to stuff male genitalia into female cadavers to embarrass female graduate instructors? (Best comeback ever: “Did one of you guys leave something here last night?”) I recall a mollusk taxonomist teaching a History of Science class at a major research university in the 1990s who opined that the reason few women’s contributions to science are recorded is because women are not capable of making significant contributions. If such behavior is a thing of the past, that’s great…but count me skeptical.

  17. “In the days of Joe McCarthy, Hollywood screen writers and actors were the targets. ”

    McCarthy never targeted anyone in Hollywood. McCarthy was after communists who worked in the US govment, of which there were plenty.

    We need to end this communist propaganda.

  18. stevengregg says

    One of the many contradictions of the harassment witch hunt is that the screeching feminists castigate all relationships between a powerful male and subordinate female as wrong, by definition, yet women, being hypergamous, want to “marry up” and seek out such relationships. That’s why the Cinderella fable has so many variants across cultures. That’s why so many women root for Carrie to catch Mr. Big in “Sex and the City.” That’s why so many women went wild for John Kennedy Jr. That’s why the feminazis are really battling human nature, not harassment.

  19. Steve T says

    I can’t help but feel the following is relevant to all those in academia who say nothing

    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
    Because I was not a Socialist.
    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
    Because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.

  20. Reading this article just reinforces that I made the right decision getting out of academic philosophy years ago. It’s just a disaster: divided into literal tribes, each pursuing their own agendas based on all manner of resentments … people now having their lives destroyed by allegations some of which may be true but others are doubtless bogus … & since it’s guilty-if-charged, no one appears to care which is which.

    Dept chairs & administrators scared of their shadows….

    The idea of loving wisdom (the etymological meaning of the word philosophy) is long gone.

    What is needed is a network of new institutions begun from scratch & operating outside the wretched existing ones. One of the characteristics of these new institutions is that conservatives won’t have to stay in their closets to survive. Thoughts? Any takers?

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