#StandwithChanda and Thought Crimes


Roland Dodds

Roland Dodds is an educator, researcher and father who writes about politics, culture and education. He spent his formative years in radical left wing politics, but now prefers the company of contrarians of all political stripes (assuming they aren't teetotalers). He is a regular inactive at Harry's Place and Ordinary Times.

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99 Responses

  1. Avatar Damon says:

    Roland, you therefore must be welcoming Donald Trump to the presidential race, yes?

    And let’s get some of those “Return to Kings” type guys in to academia too. I’m all for your suggestions. It’ll make things “interesting”. May you live in interesting times.Report

    • Avatar Road Scholar says:

      I LOVE it that the Donald is in the race. I love it even more that he’s leading the Republican nomination polls. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t for a second believe that he’ll actually win the nomination; the money-bag establishment would never allow it. But in the meantime he’s dragging the right wing id out for all to see, like a pair of underwear with huge skidmarks hanging on the clothesline.Report

  2. Avatar Roland Dodds says:

    @damon I absolutely welcome Trump into the race. As much as he is an opportunistic clown, he has tapped into a real sense that mass migration is not a positive thing for the country.

    May we live in interesting times indeed.Report

    • Avatar Damon says:

      Yes, he is “stirring the pot”. I enjoy watching everyone else having to deviate from the SOP to respond.Report

    • Avatar notme says:

      And all this time I thought Trump was talking about iilegal immigration. I mean that is why he is going down to the border.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog says:

      I didn’t get the impression there was a lot of deviation from SOP over his calling all Mexicans thieves and rapists.

      But when he insulted a powerful, rich, white, male Vietnam veteran, that was clearly a bridge too far.Report

      • Avatar Roland Dodds says:

        @dragonfrog I don’t think the Republican Party as an institution wants to address white working class fears over immigration, mainly because the corporate interests of the party want more immigration. They don’t mind some xenophobic hysteria in bits, but when someone like Trump makes it his focus, party big-wigs surely dislike him going off script.

        But yes, it was quite funny that it was Trump criticizing McCain that got the Fox News talking heads in a tizzy.Report

        • Avatar Damon says:

          Yeah, no one gives a damn about the illegals. But a politician with influence? Heaven forbid. Even though, Trump had a damn good point.Report

  3. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    No time to chase links. Is someone merely pushing back on Chanda, or are they pushing for personal or professional destruction?Report

  4. Avatar Notm says:

    As i always hear from folks on the left, x person can say whatever they want but may have to suffer the consequences of those statements.Report

    • Avatar Roland Dodds says:

      @notme Yes, some on the left have said that, but I disagree entirely. Like I say in my post, I want to have radical ideas in our institutions, and people should not fear their career is in jeopardy if they do. Otherwise, we will end up with only the most safe, sanitized bureaucrats in positions of authority.

      That would be the worst.Report

      • Avatar Notm says:

        What do you disagree with? Is it that folks many suffer the consequences of their statements? Sorry but your post starts off with a “both sides do it” argument then rails about the right, so i dont have much sympathy. Maybe campus reform wants as many people as possible to know the stupid stuff she says. If you are going to post your opinions on twitter dont whine about the push back.Report

        • Avatar Roland Dodds says:

          @notme Since I have spent a great deal of digital ink protecting the right of Right-wingers to state their opinions without reprisal, I feel I am in a fair position to defend someone on the Left facing similar reprisals.


          What I am deeply opposed to is the way that “pushback” from activists now always comes with a big glass of “they should be fired for their comments” or minimally “they shouldn’t say their comments publicly.” That is not a world I want to live in, so I have spent the last few years in opposition to those looking to silence or ban things they don’t like, regardless of it coming from the Left or Right.Report

          • Avatar Notm says:

            Ah so, this (your 2nd paragraph) is the point you were trying to make in the op. It got lost in the hyperbolic screed about conservatives clinging to certain views. This is the world we live in now thanks, in my opinion, to left and their zealotry for political correctness. The right has learned to play their games and is fighting back.Report

            • Avatar Roland Dodds says:

              @notm: “The right has learned to play their games and is fighting back.” I agree. But it sure as hell isn’t a good thing. We now live with both sides acting like weak-kneed puritans who can’t tolerate that someone doesn’t share their worldview.

              I want a different world.

              I agree that I got too carried away with the rhetorics as well; I regret that, but I will let it stand as my emotional thoughts at the time I wrote said piece.Report

              • Avatar Notm says:

                Roland and others:

                Id like a different world as well. You can make light of this problem by looking back to some distant past but personally i date the liberal gutter politics to the Bork nomination. So i dont have any sympathy for this poor misunderstood liberal. Besides, if your future career rests in part on keeping your mouth shut, it’s probably best that you do so.Report

            • Avatar Patrick says:

              This is the world we live in now thanks, in my opinion, to left and their zealotry for political correctness. The right has learned to play their games and is fighting back.

              Clearly this is a phenomenon that originated on the Left.Report

              • Avatar Roland Dodds says:

                @patrick @notm I imagine we could go back even further and touch upon the actions of Jacobins in France at the time of the revolution, but I think this “who started it” debate could go on indefinitely. It is also unnecessary at this point. We just need to stop doing allowing said culture to perpetuate.Report

            • Avatar greginak says:

              Not tolerating opposing pov’s has been at least a feature of, if not a major preoccupation, of most people most of the time. There was never some golden age when everybody was cool with hearing all sorts of pov’s. In a weird way we are probably better off now since we can actually hear about everybody else’s crazy ideas. 50 years ago we didn’t come in contact with just how wild and weird our family, friends and fellow citizens ideas were the way we do now. But there is nothing suddenly new about what the evvillll left has done that the right is now responding to. Lordy does anybody even remember the 50’s and how some views got hammered down.Report

              • Avatar Liza Kingsley says:

                I am old enough to remember a time in my youth in when people WERE free to say what they felt and thought without fear of the gung ho thought police destroying theirs lives and careers over it. Social intercourse was enjoyable and sometimes you would rage away long into the night arguing from one POV and then another just for the hell of it. University life was fun, exciting and people still argued passionately for ideals of freedom. Academics were still imbued with ‘spirit of free inquiry’ on ALL subjects and there was no sense that unless you had ten degrees and published work in an area, you were not qualified to have a view so please STFU. People should not kid themselves on this point, we are now living through one of the most repressive, censorious and Conformist periods in human history. It is getting worse by the day. Nowadays I avoid anyone outside of my immediate family and very small group of likeminded friends and I never make the mistake of letting my guard down ever, not for one goddam second. Orwell and Huxley would be speechless at our cravenly we have shackled and muzzled ourselves today. Or how we have ceded all control to the thought police of a power mad elite who dictate what we can and cant say, but we have and there is no going back nowReport

              • Avatar Notm says:

                You mean before before political correctness took hold?Report

              • Avatar TrexPushups says:

                An exercise:

                1) identify a year before “political correctness” took hold.
                2) tell me what happened to those: advocating for unions, advocating for racial equality, communists, advocating for gay rights, just not being in the closet and gay.

                Have fun.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci says:

                I am almost certainly older than you and I don’t remember a time “when people WERE free to say what they felt and thought without fear of the gung ho thought police destroying theirs lives and careers over it.” I do remember a time when all sorts of people were harassed, and many fired, for “unAmerican” views on a variety of topics.Report

  5. Avatar SaulDegraw says:

    There is a culture war of quid pro quo going on and I am not sure of the causes. These attacks on academic free speech come from the right and the left. Something about current events is bringing out the ID in both extremes.

    There was a professor who got in trouble for making a joke about fucking. There was the title IX complaint against Kipnis. There was the professor at Madison who got in trouble for tweeting criticisms about Walker.

    What is causing the ID to come out?Report

  6. Avatar Kolohe says:


    Chanda (???)

    #DylannRoof took white lib multiculturalism which fund. protects white supremacy to its logical conclusion. #IA2015


  7. Avatar CK MacLeod says:

    Peter Hasson and Campus Reform were outraged that Chanda had referred to Thomas Jefferson as a rapist and for deploring America’s founding on racist principles and ideals.

    They may well have been outraged. However, the article linked seems rather short on outrage. It collects statements in a very matter of fact manner, quoting or linking them, without commentary.

    These discernible [?] statements prickle conservatives who cling to the outlandish view that America practiced the glowing egalitarian principles present in the Declaration’s preamble, with the Founding Fathers as beacons for God’s word, acting as stand-ins for Christ’s Apostles.

    For this statement, which follows the one quoted above directly, the post provides no examples. It offers a strawman characterization of views that it attributes nebulously to some group of “conservatives.” The rest of the post consists of airing out the author’s presumptions, until the end, when he offers a proposition that seems to me to undermine the entire point of the post: If what we need is a proliferation of radical opinions, then what would be wrong with an organization, inside or outside of Academia, radically attacking the opinions of someone like Chanda Prescod-Weinstein?Report

    • Avatar Roland Dodds says:

      @ck-macleod I don’t think I said groups like Campus Reform shouldn’t air comments made by academics, although I agree I was to broad with my brush. What I don’t care for is the knee-jerk reaction by institutions to end an exhibition (like in the Boston Komono case) or not back staff if they say something out of the ordinary. The Vox piece on a professors fear of liberal students (http://www.vox.com/2015/6/3/8706323/college-professor-afraid) or getting the can for cursing (http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2015/06/30/lsu_professor_fired_over_f_word_p_word_off_color_joke_finally_academia_s.html). If a professor is in such a tenuous position that they can lose their jobs for the points listed above, then I think we need a more full throated push-back against such standards.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      For this statement, which follows the one quoted above directly, the post provides no examples. It offers a strawman characterization of views that it attributes nebulously to some group of “conservatives.”

      I can’t tell if this is making a debating point just to make a debating point, CK, or if you truly have never never come across conservatives that believe that simply acknowleding things like slavery, Jefferson’s alleged sex life with his slaves, women’s lack of suffrage, etc., is — as a previous conservative mastheader right here used to refer to it — “sh**itng on the Founders.” Because if it’s the latter I can probably find you a lot of examples all over the intertubes, but if it’s just a debating point I’ll just move on.

      until the end, when he offers a proposition that seems to me to undermine the entire point of the pos

      And I think this is not only wrong, but needlessly argumentative for the sake of being argumentative. Surely you of all people don’t need it pointed out that even in a place where all arguments are welcome, not all arguments are equal.

      I wouldn’t kick a commenter off this site for being anti-vaccine; that doesn’t mean that I can’t or shouldn’t criticize them for their anti-vaccine viewpoint.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Just yesterday we were talking about a recall in Colorado.Report

      • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

        Tod Kelly,

        Of course, I’ve seen a broad spectrum of variations on such views. Some I find more interesting than others. Many are just as one-sided, combative, and simpleminded as the ones that Prescod-Weinstein tweets to her followers. Others point to a better understanding. I don’t see how it helps get to a better understanding of anything at all to write in generalizations for readers to fill in according to their prejudices.

        In any event Mr. Dodds has now conceded that he may have been painting with too broad a brush.

        I wouldn’t kick a commenter off this site for being anti-vaccine; that doesn’t mean that I can’t or shouldn’t criticize them for their anti-vaccine viewpoint.

        The typical “radical” view is not just a notion that appears in a thought bubble. Dodds wants institutions to host fascists as well as communists, in the interest, I guess, of free speech. Those fascists and communists and even conservatives with an idea of a divinely inspired American destiny will not just be blowing those bubbles will be typically calling for the defeat and even the destruction of their enemies, and constraints upon such speech. That’s what makes them “radical” – not that they passively entertain “radical” ideas, but that they want to see action in the world based on their ideas..Report

        • Avatar Patrick says:

          I will say that I think CK is making a point here that I agree with…

          You have more radicals of any sort in any system and you’re going to get more, and louder, and more coordinated denunciation of radicals in that system.

          The complaint is largely double-edged, here. The OP wants more radicals around, because he thinks there is an institution good to having them around, but he also wants radicals to stop agitating to remove what they see as other radicals.

          Which is kinda like saying we want a bigger, better class of radicals, for a definition of radical that… I don’t think is one that is very achievable myself.Report

          • Avatar Roland Dodds says:

            Many people hate that Kevin McDonald, Norman Finkelstein, and Ward Churchill teach at universities. I personally think they enrich their schools, even if they all say and do things I don’t agree with. I don’t know if it is feasible to have a decent number of competing radicals at each institution, but I am willing to give it a go rather than have a bunch of bland professors who have played it safe all their lives.Report

            • Avatar Rufus F. says:

              Does Finklestein teach at universities? I thought he couldn’t get an academic job after DePaul denied him tenure and that’s why he was lecturing and writing books. Not sure if it’s the same with Churchill, but I would imagine so.Report

              • Finkelstein has a lot of valuable and interesting insights that are supported by actual research. It’s a real shame he’s such a toxic asshole.

                Churchill, on the other hand, is just a moron. Even his defenders at LGM admit that he should never have been granted tenure, but argue that taking it away from him for non-academic speech violated academic freedom. (By the way, if saying people who work in famous buildings all deserve to die horribly isn’t hate speech, what the hell is?)Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. says:

                Oh, I don’t disagree. I just seem to remember one of things Finklestein gripes about is he can’t get any teaching gigs because he’s so controversial. It’s hard to imagine any universities have rushed to pick up Churchill either.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy says:


            I think it is one thing to engage and attempt to defeat a counter-radical’s ideas… even if that means engaging in radicalism itself.

            It is quite another to attempt to silence a radical by calling for her firing.

            So, if Chanda says, “TJ is a rapist!”, the people who feel that this idea is radical and has no place in the public discourse can shout back at her that TJ was a god among men who should remain unquestioned in his awesomeness OR they can try to fire her.

            While a bunch of radicals shouting back and forth at one another isn’t ideal, I think it is better than the alternative blandness that Roland is discussing here.Report

  8. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    So I read some of the links…

    I can see the implication that Zandria was perhaps encouraged to leave, but, much like Saida Grundy, Zandria is a professor, a teacher, a person who has to evaluate & grade the work of her students. Such comments, while absolutely protected free speech, do raise the question of the ability of this professor to remain objective & impartial when grading work. Thus some push with regard to professional life is expected.

    With regard to Chanda, I don’t see any call for professional censure. I see some inartful pushback with regard to the things she has publicly said, but AFAIK no one is trying to figure out if she is made of wood & how nicely will she burn.

    In short, if people make radical public statements, then it is absolutely fair play for others to engage & push back against such statements. When that pushback moves into the realm of trying to personally or professionally damage a person, then it has clearly gone too far (absent a connection between such ideas and the performance of professional duties).Report

    • Avatar Roland Dodds says:

      Good points @oscar-gordon. You wrote “When that pushback moves into the realm of trying to personally or professionally damage a person, then it has clearly gone too far (absent a connection between such ideas and the performance of professional duties).” I am seeing this more often, and not just at the university level.

      I am reminded of my time at UC Santa Cruz. The politics department is notoriously left-wing and post-modern. I had debates and arguments with professors over their positions, but I never felt that those departures from the class narrative ever had a result on my grade. Holding radical views that are opposed to some of the student’s opinions does not mean a professor can not be a good teacher. The implication of many of these “investigative” pieces on academics is that they can not be trusted to fairly teach their students, something I disagree with.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:


        Roland Dodds: The implication of many of these “investigative” pieces on academics is that they can not be trusted to fairly teach their students, something I disagree with.

        But it is still a legitimate concern to raise. As you say up above, it is on the institution to evaluate the claim and respond. Yes, institutions should have more backbone, but they also need to take such concerns seriously and address them as transparently as possible. Most universities have a process by which a student can request that their work be re-graded by an impartial third party if they feel the original grade was unfair. I would assume that if the administration finds themselves dealing with an inordinate amount of such requests or related complaints from a single professor, they have tools at hand to remedy the situation.

        Likewise, if a cop had voiced strong opinions on use of force (e.g. “I should be able to shoot anyone who fails to show me 100% compliance”), or a doctor had strong opinions on levels of care (e.g. “The medical community shouldn’t bother making serious efforts to save the lives of gang-bangers who come into the E.D.”), others would have legitimate cause to question the ability of such persons to perform professionally. A bad grade in college is obviously not the same as use of force or emergency life saving, but it can still have long term effects, and we should push back against such racially motivated behaviors when found, in whatever form they occur.Report

      • Avatar Liza Kingsley says:

        Have you considered this might have been because you were no doubt disagreeing with your lecturer as a fellow member of the same left wing liberal ingroup? You would therefore have been judged essentially ‘sound’ on the fundamentals. Academics can be quite magnanimous with students who display mildly, even highly, divergent views provided they dont stray too far from base of leftwing hegemony. Judging from some of your statements you were probably attacking their ideas from a position further to the left of theirs and this would have made them even more reluctant to mark you down as no academic wants to be accused of being a person of the right. That would spell the end of any hope for advancement in their academic careers. I guarantee it would have been a different story had you expressed right wing libertarian or conservative views. God forbid you referenced Classical Greek ideas like Logic, Reason and Natural Law, let alone Western Christian tradition ideas. I think you might have found your grades plummet then In fact I know you would have. I worked in one of the sandstone Universities here in Australia and saw firsthand bright enthusiastic Young students who were judged guilty of heresy or crimethink’. They quickly became ‘unpersons’, shunned by the ruling ingroup,? End was predicable as one and all were successfully purged from the Faculty never to return. Just ask Todd Kelly how long a member of the libertarian or conservative right would last in any organisation run by him. The silencing of diversity of opinion in today’s world is an ‘art’ invented, owned and honed to perfection by the Left. To attack a highly rare instance of a conservative’ group’s lame attempt to copy them, takes very little courage to do and since conservatives are not, and never have been, any kind of real threat to free speech, your above criticisms seem somewhat cowardly and entirely misdirected.Report

  9. Avatar trizzlor says:

    Just the idea of trying to get a postdoc ousted from her position is sick, as they are generally the most powerless people in academia with zero real labor representation.Report

    • Avatar Roland Dodds says:

      @trizzlor I agree. I don’t think many people understand just how vulnerable non-tenured professors and teachers are. Some would say that you then should be as uncontroversial as possible until you reach that position, but I don’t want to live in a country where that is the acceptable norm.Report

    • Avatar Notm says:

      Is “sick” the new liberal word for “unfair”?Report

      • Avatar trizzlor says:

        No, sick as in revolting. Postdocs, specifically, are in a very precarious position where they are formally employees (and so no longer get shielded by the university the way students do) but because they are in such a short-term position, have none of the formal employee protections that typically come with full-fledged faculty positions. Being angry at liberal academia and deciding to go after postdocs on twitter is like being angry at some corporate management culture and deciding to go after what the summer interns say at the bar after work.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

          Again, I am not seeing where anyone has called for the ouster of Chanda. Did I miss this somewhere in the linked material?

          I agree that trying to professionally damage PostDocs is pretty dirty pool, but I’m not seeing where anyone is doing that.Report

          • Avatar Roland Dodds says:

            @oscar-gordon Maybe I am unfamiliar with the type of article and research CR works with, but why wouldn’t they write a piece challenging Chanda’s assertions if they felt she was wrong? That I could get behind. I don’t actually see the point in cheery picking some twitter quotes out of the context of the conversations they belong to. It seems solely to act as a way to damage a postdocs career unfairly. But maybe this is a new form of online activism I am unfamiliar with.Report

            • Avatar CK MacLeod says:


              At this point, we’re being asked to #standwithChanda against people who might disagree with her being familiarized with what she has had to say in social media – a rather confusing construction of “free speech.” I don’t see any evidence of cherry-picking – in other words evidence of broader contexts or alternative perspectives on her part. She said what she said, and it’s consistent with how she presents herself.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

              Again, how does calling attention to these statements damage a career?

              Sure, the normative audience of CR will probably be critical of such statements, but absent specific calls to MIT or UW-Washington to do something (or else), this is little more than publicizing. Something I could argue that Chanda has explicitly indicated she wants (since she publicly tweeted such statements & has not made her twitter account private).

              I’m not saying you are wrong (yet), and I do agree with you with regard to the general trend of intolerance toward other opinions, but you need to show your work in this case.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Again, how does calling attention to these statements damage a career?

                Are you seriously asking this?Report

              • Avatar j r says:

                There is a very serious question implied:

                Is it the calling attention to the statements or the statements themselves that can damage a career?Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Eh, both.

                Sometimes, regardless of the specific statements themselves, the level of controversy surrounding someone or something can just make them or it too much of a headache to deal with. Conflict and controversy impose costs of their own, regardless of the right or wrong of the matter, and those costs can become too high for employers to want to deal with.

                Some successful protests and boycotts in general are probably successful due to this factor, more than having convinced their target of the rightness of their argument. After a while people just want a problem to go away.Report

              • Avatar j r says:


                That was my point. The relevant question is in which category any specific example falls.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                The minute there is a controversy, it’s both.

                If everybody agrees the statements are egregious/incorrect, then there’s no controversy, and it’s the statements.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Which is not to say that a “controversy” cannot be falsely ginned up, for the express purpose of increasing “costs” for a political enemy – this obviously happens also.

                So in a way, I agree with you – is there anything incorrect or objectionable in the statements themselves? If there is, then it’s the statements imposing the cost. If not, then it’s the controversy imposing the cost. The first cost is definitely a legitimate reason for employers to look askance at someone. The second cost is generally less-legitimate, though it’s sometimes understandable, depending on the situation.

                And again, it can obviously be both/and.Report

              • Avatar j r says:


                I gave a hypothetical example below, but two real life ones come to mind now: Shirley Sherrod and Strom Thurmond. Both lost their jobs, because other people made a concerted effort to repeat and proliferate something that they had said to a limited public audience.

                Does the issue of controversy give us a meaningful taxonomy of what is different about the two? I’m still thinking about it.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                The statements (or any statements, for that matter) can only damage a career if attention, and attention of a very specific type, is called to them. I think Roland already mentioned this, but in an academic setting calling attention to someone’s claims is part and parcel of academic business. (Quoting Farva: It’s what they gotta do!) And if that were the case, Campus Reform would have posted a reasoned rebuttal. Instead, all they did was compile a list of what they viewed as incendiary tweets and comments made by Chanda, which, because that presentation lacked any additional context, can only be viewed as expressing OUTRAGE!! at the claims themselves.

                So the purpose of CR compiling comments made by Chanda, it seems to me, is to generate or develop already existing OUTRAGE that academics (or whoever) are overly liberal (or whatever), which in turn only makes sense as an attack on her, and other “liberal” academics career advancement.

                By saying that, I’m certainly not defending either Chanda or CR. I’m just providing an answer to Oscar’s question which struck me (slightly!) as being willfully obtuse. (I mean, you’re a smart guy Oscar!)Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                Thank you, and you are right, I am being intentionally obtuse, mainly because you can’t fight the outrage machine by being the first to be outraged.

                Sure, it’s fair to assume that CR wants to muster up some true believer outrage. But if I take this one article alone, all I see is a collection of tweets and a correlation to another academic. To read anything more into it, especially in an effort to bring forth the counter-outrage, is to fuel the fire.

                Let’s say #StandWithChanda takes off after this one article by CR, and it rages across Twitter, and blog posts like this are written, many with a much greater degree of venom than we generally tolerate hereabouts. What do you think CR will do? If I was them, I’d collect some truly lovely examples of all that rage, bring them all together in another post, and use them to showcase to the true believers just how unhinged the rage-junkies on the left are, crying wolf over a cardboard cutout.

                Save the outrage for when there is something concrete to be outraged about.

                I feel like freaking Yoda here.Report

              • Avatar j r says:

                The statements (or any statements, for that matter) can only damage a career if attention, and attention of a very specific type, is called to them.

                That completely begs the question.

                An example. If some academic writes on her blog about a contemporary of Hitler who called Hitler, “the best thing to happen for Germany,” and some person or group spreads that quite around with this implication that this is the academic’s opinion, that is one category.

                If some academic really believes that Hitler was the best thing to happen for Germany and writes it on a blog, with the intention of others reading it, and some person or group spreads that around that is in another category.

                I don’t know enough about Prescod-Weinstein to know in which category this instance belongs, but @oscar-gordon’s question is far from obtuse.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                That completely begs the question.

                I don’t see how, actually. The question is whether the statements or the calling attention to the statements can damage a career, and I answered by saying that it’s only the attention-gettin part that matters. And not only that, but attention-gettin of a specific type (namely, negative and politically motivated). So, I think I answered it without begging for anything. (Except perhaps a better understanding of why you think I begged the question.)Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                And after reading CR’s mission statement, and the mission of its parent org – the Leadership Institute – I think what I said up there is +/- corroborated.

                Oscar, well, I’m not feeling any outrage here, myself. So we’re in agreement on that score. But I won’t go so far as to suggest that other people be not outraged (Yoda-speak!) about this, on either side of the issue. Who am I to say what they should and shouldn’t get outraged about?Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                I’m kinda with you there, @stillwater. I mean, I agree that I am not going to tell someone, “YOU… SHALL NOT… BE OUTRAGED!”, but in the interest of fostering a more civil discourse, I will, when I can, question the reasoning behind said outrage. And I think one of the best ways is to basically say, “show me the harm”.

                If the harm is real, even if I personally don’t find it concerning, then yeah, I can understand the outrage, even if I can’t drum up any of my own. If the outrage is purely hypothetical (e.g. SSM and the collapse of society, or GMOs & the harm that they might maybe someday potentially do), then I’m gonna push back on it.

                I think, the more people push back on outrage based upon hypothetical or potential, but otherwise unrealized harm, the less the outrage machine will be able to do it’s thing.

                And the same goes for me. I think I have allowed myself in the past to be outraged over imaginary harms & everyone here has pushed back on me; & fully expect that should I do it again, y’all push back some more. If nothing else, it makes me really think about what I’m getting upset about, and makes me dig into it to see if there is something real to it.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                Yes, I am seriously asking this.

                Chanda placed those comments on a public forum (Twitter), so ostensibly, she WANTS those comments to be seen far & wide. She is, quite clearly, attempting to engage with the world at large. She has a PhD & a postdoc at a prestigious university, so this is not the act of an idealistic child, but the conscious intent of adult. Ergo, she is also cognizant of the potential for controversy and negative effects. So far, the sum total extent of the negative has been, as far as I can tell, to be some pushback from others on Twitter, and a single post on CR that collects some tweets & draws a correlation to Grundy (who, I will add, did not lose her job).

                No calls for professional censure, no talk of professional censure, or anything like it.

                What seems to be implied here by your question is that the very act of mild pushback against radical statements is in itself an overt threat of career assassination. Sorry, not buying it. Wake me when MIT or UW-Washington starts to publicly waffle or CR/etc is actively agitating for this woman to be tossed into the academic dustbin. Until then, she isn’t suffering any negative fallout, but is, as I said before, getting exactly what she wants – more exposure for her ideas.Report

          • Avatar trizzlor says:

            I’m mostly taking the OP at face value here because much of this conversation seems to be happening on twitter. Having read the linked CR article, I agree that there is no clear call for administrative action. There’s not really any commentary whatsoever beyond taking a bunch of tweets out of their context. Still, I find the structure of the piece ominous: “We told you about a BU professor who was being investigated for offensive tweets, and here are some tweets from an MIT postdoc, provided without comment”. I would be very surprised if this wasn’t one arm of a larger campaign.Report

            • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

              Perhaps, but my outrage reserves are pretty tapped out, so I’m going to need more than some potential precursors to a possible smear campaign before I bother StandingWithChanda.Report

            • Avatar Notm says:

              “I would be very surprised if this wasn’t one arm of a larger campaign.”

              Look who is getting on the smear bandwagon that they just denounced. Any proof of anything or can we jump to our own conclusions. Maybe the kochs, you know they are the liberal go to bogeyman.Report

            • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

              trizzlor: Still, I find the structure of the piece ominous: “We told you about a BU professor who was being investigated for offensive tweets, and here are some tweets from an MIT postdoc, provided without comment”.

              When you use quotes that way, it implies (especially for those not reading very closely and carefully) that you are… quoting. Just to note, what CR/Hasson actually writes is this (links removed):

              Earlier this summer, Boston University Sociology Professor Saida Grundy was the center of controversy over comments she made on social media disparaging white males. And just across the Charles River, an academic at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been making similar statements on social media.

              MIT Postdoctoral Fellow Chanda Prescod-Weinstein has consistently directed denigrating Twitter and Facebook posts at America, the Founding Fathers, and white males.

              The last sentence is the closest that the article gets to offering a commentary or opinion. The last two words connect Prescod-Weinstein’s statements to the Grundy statements that indicated a stance of collective pre-judgment towards “white” people, especially men: Critics suggest that a “white” and especially a “white male hetero” student might reasonably wonder whether Grundy would treat him or his work prejudicially.

              It may well be that many people, even ones who would not state their views as baldly as Grundy does (and as Prescod-Weinstein nearly does), believe that being subjected to prejudice is in fact “fair” treatment: That “whites,” white males, and white hetero males deserve collectively to suffer for the sins of their forebears, or to be treated as thought-criminally guilty until (unlikely) proven innocent, and thus to be put in a similar position to that of “POC” historically. Since many college administrators and professors, as left-liberals in good standing, operate from this presumption, if inconsistently, it seems less likely that an academic will suffer for stating such views (and connected ones) until and unless he or she or they or whatever goes as far or further than Grundy, not merely implying the possession of such prejudice, but promising to act on it.Report

              • Avatar Francis says:

                CK: If you are going to criticize others for “offer[ing] a strawman characterization of views that it attributes nebulously to some group of [political opponents]”, I would expect you not to make the same error.

                To wit, the following is really a little much: “[M]any college administrators and professors, as left-liberals in good standing, operate from this presumption” [that whites, white males, and white hetero males deserve collectively to suffer for the sins of their forebears, or to be treated as thought-criminally guilty until (unlikely) proven innocent]

                Really? You’ve got real evidence to support that assertion? It looks to me that you are offering strawman characterization of views attributed nebulously to an ill-defined but very large group of people who don’t share your political views.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                I’m writing a comment, @francis , not a post, and I would refer the “presumption” more to the topic statement than to the more specific conclusion that I believe follows from it logically (and frequently).

                The underlying general presumption to which I refer is that being subjected to prejudice or prejudicial conduct is in fact “fair” treatment for “white” people.

                1) Implicit in any statement that there even is such a thing as “white people” is a collectivization of a very large group without regard to individual “content of character” or to the many sub-groups contained within it.

                2) Attribution of negative characteristics to someone, or support for better treatment for others, on no other basis than membership or non-membership in this group, is obviously operation of prejudice on this basis.

                3) Assertion that such conduct or policy with the same characteristics would be fair or right or just – collective “reparations,” “affirmative action” especially in the form of “quotas and set-asides,” treatment of actions and utterances with special scrutiny (as per Grundy) – satisfies the second part of my statement.

                As I said, I believe that my second statement, the one that comes after the colon and that you cite, tends to follow logically from the first, and is a typical manifestation of that view, as in any statement that follows the form “Now you know what it feels like – although at least you aren’t being enslaved and tortured – or assaulted by the police – or denied a home in a nicer neighborhood – so buck up and stop whining.”

                I have nowhere stated my own view on whether such prejudice or prejudicial conduct would, in fact, be justified, or under what circumstances it might be justifiable.Report

            • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

              trizzlor: I would be very surprised if this wasn’t one arm of a larger campaign

              The really pernicious thing, it seems to me, is that there doesn’t have to be an organized campaign. Someone draws attention to something he or she finds offensive. Like-minded individuals tweet and retweet, it spreads, helped along by having its context replaced by hostile commentary, and along the way people who get off on that sort of thing decide to complain to the offender’s employer. And maybe throw in some death threats for good measure. Like any decent person would do.

              At no point does this process require any two people to conspire to do anything.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Agreed about that. ALsotoo, tho, the “larger campaign” appears to be the mission statement of CR. So it’s not like the string-pullers are acting in secret or are part of a grand conspiracy or anything.Report

              • Avatar trizzlor says:

                Yes, the “campaign” can be as simple as knowing your audience and how they spread a message. As stillwater pointed out, Given CR’s stated goal exposing liberal bias on campus; their lead-off to the piece with references to a professor who had previously been petitioned for boycott and had to apologize; the spread of this story to a prominent conservative blog which added screenshots of Chanda’s MIT profile and identifying information (publicly available, of course, so no harm no foul); hundreds of outright racist comments to that post; the spread of that post to another prominent conservative radio show which now mis-identifies Chanda as an “MIT professor” and further removes any context from the tweets; well … you don’t need a weatherman to see where this is going.

                My point isn’t to to accuse CR of being in an organized conspiracy, but to say that our barometer for when Roland Dodds should or should not start getting counter-outraged might not be that good.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                I think my barometer has a good standard. “Show me the harm.”

                When the PP video came out, that was something I could muster some outrage for. Video was doctored, the truth was at best obscured, and some concrete harm was done, at the very least to the reputation of PP, with possible further harm to their funding.

                Please articulate the harm to Chanda so far? Nasty comments? Mention on a radio show? An inadvertent promotion to professor at MIT?

                I should StandWithChanda against, what exactly? Is there even some good old fashioned character assassination going on yet?

                PS This whole mess is, once again, a perfect example of why Twitter is such a terrible medium for any kind of discussion. Nuance is bludgeoned and left to bleed out on the side of the road.Report

              • Avatar CK MacLeod says:

                trizzlor: a professor who had previously been petitioned for boycott and had to apologize; the spread of this story to a prominent conservative blog which added screenshots of Chanda’s MIT profile and identifying information (publicly available, of course, so no harm no foul); hundreds of outright racist comments to that post; the spread of that post to another prominent conservative radio show which now mis-identifies Chanda as an “MIT professor” and further removes any context from the tweets; well … you don’t need a weatherman to see where this is going.

                Where is all this coming from? I mean the actual source of the information, not whatever motivations.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      And then post-docs get tenure and you’re not allowed to go after them either. Brilliant. No wonder eduction is overpriced and underperforming.Report

      • Avatar trizzlor says:

        More like: and then post-docs become assistant professors and they have the compensation and shielding where this kind of attack isn’t bullying; and then a decade later assistant professors become tenured professors, where they have more shielding but can still be fired for breaking the school’s ethics policy.Report

  10. Avatar LWA says:

    One of the difficulties in defining who started it, is the “it” that we are talking about is the boundary of acceptable thought and expression, and the boundary has been in continual negotiation and adjustment forever.

    This is why I push back against the complaints about “political correctness” but also against the complaints of “enforcing morality” because they are one and the same.

    My preferred moral norms are just objectively natural and neutral, the default position of any civilized society.
    Your preferred norms are a radical intervention of stifling restriction.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      As with most such things, who started it is counting political coup.

      I want to be part of what ends it.Report

      • Avatar LWA says:

        Well just admit I’m right, and be done with it.
        See how easy that is?Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

          Yes, but what of our relationship? Without the contentious dynamic, what will we have to sustain us? Nope, I’m afraid you will just still have to be wrong from time to time.


  11. Avatar Roland Dodds says:

    So I just read this piece at the Daily Beast, and I probably should write another post about it refining points made in this conversation.


    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      Some variant of “well, *THIS* is a bridge too far”?Report

      • Avatar Roland Dodds says:

        I am not sure, although it is pretty ugly stuff. I did however come out in support of more radicals at public institutions….so I need to sit on it. I am inclined to say he should keep his gig, regardless of those comments.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          The advancements in scoundrel technology make it just sooooo easy to say “well, I’m not opposed to his right to free speech, I’m just not acknowledging his right to this particular job.”Report

          • Avatar Roland Dodds says:

            @jaybird And that worries me. Everyone is now in favor of free speech, but they also think you should be destitute and shunned economically for speaking your mind.Report

            • Avatar TrexPushups says:

              Man what if there was some historical parallel some term for this.

              Maybe something like “greylisting” or “really super dark grey listing”.

              Oh well my idle thoughts probably point no where.Report

  12. Avatar Liza Kingsley says:

    Somewhat confused here about this blog page. I followed a link here from an article by the site’s Todd Kelly in 2013 which was all about how great National Review were for sacking the political pariah John Derbyshire for thought crimes writings and urging another paper to do same to a Richard Cohen, who Kelly judged was also a repeat offender of same transgressive views. Curious I hit the blogsite menu button and this article popped up which was an exact mirror image of Kelly’s post, this time extolling benefits of free speech and championing the cause of someone called Chanda. Did the Site change hands over last two years or undergo some kind on conversion to the cause of freedom of thought, I wonder, or is this another case of one law for those we agree with and another law for those who dont. If so then this is rank hypocrisy start to finish.Report

    • Avatar Roland Dodds says:

      @liza-kingsley Well, each writer has their own opinion on these issues; I don’t think we have an editorial line to follow. I personally think Derbyshire should not have been sacked.Report

    • Avatar CK MacLeod says:


      I sympathize with you in some ways, yet I can’t fail to note that on the one hand you’re extolling free inquiry, and on the other you’re criticizing this site for hosting variant opinions on the topic of free inquiry. You can’t be in favor of free inquiry without also being in favor of non-prejudicial inquiries into matters touching on free inquiry, or without being open to arguments that may appear hostile to it as you may understand it.

      I happen to have thought and I still think that Todd was grossly unfair to Richard Cohen, like others including some intellectual heroes of today’s liberal-left. I communicated my opinion directly to Todd and also wrote about it on my own blog. To Todd’s credit as an opponent of intellectual conformism, he hasn’t held my views against me, as far as I can tell.

      Derbyshire is in some ways a more interesting case. What finally made him unacceptable at National Review, was not his maintenance of what he calls “race realist” views, but a particular interpretation of them, commemorated in his notorious version of “the talk,” purporting to justify and require personal discrimination against African Americans. At that point he became as much a “social pariah” as a “political pariah.” Obviously, the two conditions will tend to converge with or imply each other, but the difference is parallel to the distinction described above between Chanda Prescod-Weinstein and others. Prescod-Weinstein’s views, as she states them, are taken to denigrate groups identified by race, sexual orientation, and gender, and to attack the foundations of our social-political order, but she never goes as far as to say that her white, hetero, male, conservative students and colleagues should be subjected to special scrutiny or presumptive suspicion or other forms of discrimination.

      Though an academic institution is different from a political magazine or mass circulation newspaper, and though one type of college or university is different from another, they are all liable to fall into self-contradiction, just as each of us is, when the value of free inquiry seems to clash with the value of good citizenship. One of the problems with Dodds’ proposal (which I don’t think is really a serious proposal but is more a thought experiment or polemical exaggeration) is that it ignores the public purposes that universities are meant to serve – preparing and molding “good citizens” – in favor exclusively of the value simultaneously attributed to universities as bastions of free thought.

      In a free society, the good citizen would be a citizen ready to support and defend free inquiry. Some universities or university policies have arguably been seeking to produce a different kind of citizen, one whose virtues – like never saying anything that might hurt the feelings of some member of a designated victim class – are defined at variance with norms that still prevail in larger society (or with how the “normals” think and live).Report

  13. Avatar Liza Kingsley says:

    I am not familiar with your site and see i may have jumped the gun here with my comments for which I apologise. I see there is genuine willingness amongst you to consider all sides of the free speech question and I do respect that. Sorry for my rush to judgement earlier. I will leave you all in peace now.Report

  14. Avatar Barry says:

    “Online activists are working tirelessly to create a uniform culture where all diversity is accepted, except in the realm of ideas. We are not living in a more just world, just one with fewer real viewpoints and notions. ”

    I disagree. The effect of the internet is to enable those without a large and expensive conventional megaphone to get their views out there.

    Net Roots, Occupy Wall St, and #BlackLivesMatter are just three recent examples.Report