Campus Reports news update:
Spanier the Movie opened during the holidays to once again attempt to portray Spanier, not the kids, as Sandusky’s victim. The Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment (ASLE) added “guidelines” for participation on the listserv as in follow the guide and toe the line or you will be silenced by the Jeri Pollock, the list Syclla and Charybdis with absolute authority to act as language judge, jury, and executioner for any participant in any culture. But it wasn’t ex post facto justification of censorship. No. Of course not. The listserv promotes the open “exchange of ideas.” More or less. ASLE, not Greer, is the victim.
An excerpt from “Notes from the Academic Underground” by Barry Roberts Greer:
Head note: One common trait of the academic personality is the inability to understand that humans on campus act like those off campus, no matter much or little formal education. First published by academicsatire.com not too long after Bush the Younger launched Gulf War II: Sins of the Father.
The local NPR affiliate last week ran a three sentence story on a 19-year-old who was killed in a motor vehicle accident. For some reason, she lost control of her Toyota pickup, it careened across the highway, smashed into a grove of trees, and burned. The radio announcer blandly ended the story by saying dental records had to be used to identify the body. No one marched to protest this one death or the other 35,000 that take place each year in vehicle accidents. It is rare to see graphic footage on the evening news of the dead and dying in vehicle crashes. No shock and awe.
My wife was on death watch years ago when her art professor was dying of cancer. Professor Krause had reached the point in her illness where nothing could be done for her. Her last two days were spent sleepless in a hospital bed as she bleed to death internally, her heart racing faster and faster as it pumped harder and harder to keep up until it simply quit from exhaustion. My wife was one of those who stayed with Lavern as she died, which was the only thing anyone could do. Just be with her. No one protested the hundreds of thousands diagnosed with cancer each year. The evening news never broadcasts footage of those dead and dying of cancer. No shock and awe.
War, of course, produces dramatic footage and wordage. Shock and awe in living color is easy to be against, to take a principled stand against, especially if you have never been the victim of a tyrant. If you have never been fired by an English department for something you wrote, if you have never witnessed union busting by a university, if you have never seen the callous disregard for human life exercised by a tenure committee when it knowingly and willingly ruins careers, then you do not understand why tyrants must be killed. And if we can’t remove all the tyrants on the planet, then why not one? If we cannot change all misogynistic cultures in the world, why not this one?
Frank Stahl, retired university professor and MacArthur Foundation genius, stood squarely against war in Iraq, but when asked about the character assassination used to force the termination of a young professor, Stahl’s answer is that tenure decisions can get “a little rough.” Stahl even had the arrogance (of power) to add that sometimes he and his cronies were wrong when they destroyed careers.
When asked why his university allows voting rights to some faculty and denies them to other, macho man Stahl became evasive and wondered why his work on “university governance” was not mentioned. Apparently he needs to do more work, or perhaps giving the vote to all of his colleagues, full and part-time, would mean the loss of privilege for Stahl and the ruling party.
“The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is a private, independent grantmaking institution dedicated to helping groups and individuals foster lasting improvement in the human condition.” I think it is arguable that Saddam Hussein would not qualify for a grant and that his removal opens the possibility for improvement of the human condition in Iraq where, unlike research university campuses, the potential will exist again for freedom, human dignity, and universal suffrage for those left alive.
Once democracy is established in Iraq, perhaps American academe will be next.