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Scott Savage Cleared:

Many thanks to commenter OSU Grad Student for pointing me to this Inside Higher Ed item from today:

Ohio State University officials on Friday cleared Scott Savage, a librarian at the Mansfield campus, of harassment charges filed against him based on his recommendation of an anti-gay book for a freshman reading assignment. A conservative group had threatened to sue the university if the charges were not dropped. They were dropped the same day that the group went public with its complaints about the way the librarian was being treated.

Delighted to hear it, and especially pleased that the university acted so quickly.

jgshapiro (mail):
Yes, but now his being cleared will be attributed to blackmail or intimidation friom the conservative group, rather than just being a result of a standard university review of the charges. That will just keep the brou-ha-ha going.
4.18.2006 12:12am
Cornellian (mail):
That Inside Higher Ed link is just packed with interesting little items, such as that Al-Arian is going to be deported (good riddance), and this item:

"Police are investigating reports of sexual assaults on a 23-year old woman that may have taken place at the home of the president of Maryville University, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The paper also reported that John Neal, the president, announced that he was resigning for personal reasons. Neal, who was unavailable for comment, had been president for less than a year."

Applying Cramer logic here, I might say something like tsk, tsk, another rapist is on the loose. What is it with straight guys? Or perhaps "it would be foolish not to acknolwedge that there exists a serious problem with straight guys raping women."
4.18.2006 12:14am
Eugene Volokh (www):
Cornellian: I'm not sure I quite grasp your point. Surely it would be foolish -- and worse than foolish -- not to acknowledge that there exists a serious problem with straight guys raping women.
4.18.2006 12:22am
Justin Kee (mail):
From the linked article of April 14:

While the book has many targets, gay people rank high as a source of problems, with frequent implications of a gay conspiracy hurting society. Publicity material for the book blasts the gay civil-rights movement for changing "America's former view of homosexuals as self-destructive human beings into their current status as victims and cultural heroes" and says that this transformation campaign "faithfully followed an in-depth, phased plan laid out by professional Harvard-trained marketers."

Scott Savage should have stuck with Freaknomics. Highly recommended.
4.18.2006 12:43am
Cornellian (mail):
Cornellian: I'm not sure I quite grasp your point. Surely it would be foolish -- and worse than foolish -- not to acknowledge that there exists a serious problem with straight guys raping women.

There certainly is a serious problem in that regard, but the problem is with the small minority of straight guys who are rapists, not straight guys as a whole. Since Mr. Cramer is fond of implying that the misbehavior of some gay men is attributable to gay men as a whole, I thought I'd point out the analagous reasoning would imply that straight men are "objectively disordered" (to use his term) since some of them are rapists. That was the point of my post.
4.18.2006 1:00am
Eugene Volokh (www):
Well, with the point as elaborated, I agree. Certainly while the existence of sexual predation by men (whether straight or gay) is reason for potential targets to be practically wary in various circumstances, it is not reason to morally fault the entire group (whether all straights or all gays) for the sins of the minority.
4.18.2006 2:06am
Flatlander100 (mail):
Prof. V: I am not familiar with the facts of the Savage matter [and I've heard them presented differently than summarized here], but I find it hard to be plesed at yet another example of an institution of higher ed filing charges or taking some kind of disciplinary action against a faculty or staff member and then backing off precipitously when public attention is drawn to its actions [by the right or the left]. Seems evident that in such cases the U. should not have acted at all, or, having done so [one hopes] after careful thought and due diligence, have stuck to its guns. Threat or action, followed by rapid retreat under public scrutiny does nothing to increase my confidence in academic administration. That pattern seems, sadly, to be not uncommon these days.
4.18.2006 2:14am
therut:
Why would anyone have any trust in academic administration. To me it is even foolish to consider such a thing. The Administration lost all credibility back in the 1960's when they let some students over run the place.
4.18.2006 2:23am
Kazinski:
Cornellian: Clayton Cramer actually has is completly backwards. While it is unfair to blame all gay men for misbehavior by a few, discovered misbehavior by a few straight men merely confirms what we know about them all:

"Whatever they may be in public life, whatever their relationships with men, in their relationships with women, all men are rapists, and that's all they are. They rape us with their eyes, their laws, and their codes"


And Savage not the least of them. But not me of course.
4.18.2006 2:40am
Alan Night (mail):
Certainly while the existence of sexual predation by men (whether straight or gay) is reason for potential targets to be practically wary in various circumstances, it is not reason to morally fault the entire group (whether all straights or all gays) for the sins of the minority.

I've always wondered about the existence of segregated restrooms. Isn't that a tacit acknowledgement by women as a group that men, all men, are not to be trusted in an intimate environment for fear that they might be raped? It can't be just a "privacy" concern, because women freely mix with other non-familiar women in those areas, it's just all men, even intimate men like husbands or brothers who presumably would be excluded from the privacy concern, who are banned.
4.18.2006 3:18am
Dustin R. Ridgeway (mail):
It is my understanding that this fellow also forwaded this professor's e-mail address across a series of right-wing weblogs and invited them to "contact" him. Am I mistaken?
4.18.2006 3:29am
Cornellian (mail):
I've always wondered about the existence of segregated restrooms. Isn't that a tacit acknowledgement by women as a group that men, all men, are not to be trusted in an intimate environment for fear that they might be raped? It can't be just a "privacy" concern, because women freely mix with other non-familiar women in those areas, it's just all men, even intimate men like husbands or brothers who presumably would be excluded from the privacy concern, who are banned.

I thought it was just a decency standard. For whatever reason, people consider being seen naked (in a locker room for example) by people of the same sex to be on a different footing than being seen naked by people of the opposite sex. I suppose the theory is that the people who can see you naked don't really want to see you naked, so it's going to make you less uncomfortable than a co-ed locker room would.
4.18.2006 8:41am
PersonFromPorlock:
Alan Night:

I suspect that men object to mixed restrooms as much as women do, which argues against the 'rape' hypothesis; also, women don't seem to be too eager to admit transgendered males (unlikely to be rapists) to the ladies' room.
4.18.2006 9:13am
AppSocRes (mail):
Shouldn't the professors who started this brouhaha be required to take a course on First Amendment principles, tolerance, and other civic virtues required in the citizens of a liberal (19th century meaning), democratic (non-Rouseauean sense), constitutional, republic? Come to think on it this might be a useful course for all faculty and administrators who supported this nonsense.
4.18.2006 9:17am
R. G. Lacsamana (mail):
How rdiculous can political correctness be? Embracing anti-gay beliefs, even if we can equate that with Mr. Savage's recommendation on that particular group, should not be any reason for any authority, whether government or schools, to prosecute innocent people who don't happen to toe the politically correct line. OSU officials who hatched those harassment charges deserve a strong kick in the butts. Booboisies, Hency Mencken would have called them if he were alive today.
4.18.2006 9:42am
johnt (mail):
It's a shame but not a suprise that a university has to be threatened with a lawsuit to force them to live up to their stated principles.The question of academic free speech, always different and more at liberty, has historically centered on it's virtually unlimited range. Content has been subjugated to freedom and pious exclamations about the sanctity of academia have risen to the heavens since about the 12th century.
Mossback, troglodyte conservatives have of late questioned the sincerity of such airy and inflated self serving proclamations. I guess they have a point.
As for men who rape; 1] I'm not aware of anybody defending it. 2] How does mentioning it disallow any criticism of the current position and issues surrounding gay rights? One is bad so the other can't be discussed? A non sequitur.
4.18.2006 9:56am
Public_Defender (mail):
Let's change a couple words to see how this sounds:
<blockquote>
How rdiculous can political correctness be? Embracing anti-[Semetic] beliefs, even if we can equate that with [a] recommendation on that particular group, should not be any reason for any authority, whether government or schools, to prosecute innocent people who don't happen to toe the politically correct line. OSU officials who hatched those harassment charges deserve a strong kick in the butts. ["Jew-lovers"], [Louis Farrakhan] would [call them].
</blockquote>
The question of the appropriateness (on both a legal and social level) of anti-gay speech depends on whether you view being anti-gay the same as being anti-Semetic (which I do), or whether you think there is something inherently wrong with being gay. This is why the two sides generally talk past each other.

If the librarian thinks that there is something inherently wrong with being gay, it's perfectly fair to criticize him. If he uses his job to promote bigotry against gays, it's fair for his employer to consider sanctions just like they would for someone who promoted bigotry against Jews.

In this case, I think it's overkill to fire someone for suggesting a book for a reading list. But to turn things around, consider what you'd do if the librarian had publicly said he thought Jews were inherently immoral people and that living a Jewish lifestyle was immoral. And then, as part of his state-paid job, he proposed a reading list about Judaism that included only the views of Hamas, the Nation of Islam and the Klan?
4.18.2006 10:30am
Randy R. (mail):
I agree with Public Defender. Perhaps Savage should not be fired for the stated reasons. he should be fired, though, for basic incompetence at his job. Had I been his supervisor, I would have overruled his decision to recommend the book, and then given him a severe dressing down and inform him of what his job is and what it is not: It certainly is not a place to spread lies about an entire community.

At that point, Savage could either hold his ground, and that would be grounds for termination,or he could capitulate. If he capitulated, and there were no further incidences of incompetence, I would keep him on, figuring he learned his lesson, and no harm done. If, however, he holds his ground, then fire his ass.

Every employer has the right to have the type of employees he wants, provided he does not discriminate on race, creed, etc. But as to the views of the employees, well, that's an employer's perogative.
4.18.2006 11:09am
a superfluous man (mail) (www):
What about the religion, not the politics? I seem to recall a recent case in Canada where a doctrinaire Christian was successfully prosecuted by that government for expressing unsurprising if inconvenient beliefs. Perhaps another legacy of the late Andrew Dworkin and her sexual harassment partner in hate, Catherine MacKinnon.
4.18.2006 11:18am
a superfluous man (mail) (www):
Oops...Andrew should be Andrea. Please don't bring up Freud.
4.18.2006 11:20am
Randy R. (mail):
Prof. Volok: I will assume your research is correct that NAMBLE was a part of the Gay Pride Parade in SF in 1992. Even so, a 14 year period would hardly qualify as "recent," as Mr. Cramer says. Me thinks that Mr. Cramer will be beating us over the head about this for the next few decades.....
4.18.2006 11:23am
Sydney Carton (www):
"Savage should not be fired for the stated reasons. he should be fired, though, for basic incompetence at his job."

Do you really think that would pass muster? Firing him for "incompetence" would be seen as firing him for his politics, and perhaps his religious beliefs. There is no way that such an excuse would hold water.

"consider what you'd do if the librarian had publicly said he thought Jews were inherently immoral people and that living a Jewish lifestyle was immoral. And then, as part of his state-paid job, he proposed a reading list about Judaism that included only the views of Hamas, the Nation of Islam and the Klan?"

I take it that, based on this comment, you really have no clue what happens in Middle-Eastern studies departments. The exact things you denounce are basically the rule there.
4.18.2006 11:35am
Mark Buehner (mail):
The question of the appropriateness (on both a legal and social level) of anti-gay speech depends on whether you view being anti-gay the same as being anti-Semetic (which I do), or whether you think there is something inherently wrong with being gay


Well, if left wing professors had any interest in ousting anti-semites from their own ranks that might hold water, but they dont seem to (at least in the case of the anti-Israeli lobby which crosses that threshold disturbingly often). Lets not forget this is the same group defending the Taliban spokesman attending Yale.

The scholarteriate has defended all kinds of speech and advocacy from its very ranks that most Americans find, not just offensive, but flat out dispicable- witness Ward Churchill.

In this case, the librarian in question introduces the discussion of a position held by a majority of Americans (which i utterly disagree with btw). I find it odd that speech agreed with by millions of Americans is ok to immediately and without discussion be ruled out of bounds, but speech agreed with by only a tiny unhinged minority is lionized as exemplary of 1st amendment rights. Odd but not unusual.
4.18.2006 11:45am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Since Mr. Cramer is fond of implying that the misbehavior of some gay men is attributable to gay men as a whole, I thought I'd point out the analagous reasoning would imply that straight men are "objectively disordered" (to use his term) since some of them are rapists.
When did I say that? I don't think that every gay man is a child molester, and I have said just the opposite.
4.18.2006 12:04pm
Ian G. (mail):
disclaimer: I am a library science student and as such I am more inclined to side with the librarian.

I'm of two minds on the subject. On the one hand I applaud Savage for sticking his neck out and proposing books that challenged the taboo topics. I had a friend who told me that nothing improved her arguing and writing skills more than having to debunk a holocaust denier in one of her history courses - the value of having your views challenged and having to defend them cannot be overstated. On the other hand though, I think if I were in his shoes I probably wouldn't have made such provacative choices. I'm sure there were other options that could have produced a little less controversy. Basically, if I had tenure, I would have done what Savage did, but looking at it from the perspective of a newbee, I think I would have been more cautious in my suggestions.

Over at the Association of College and Research Libraries blog there is no effort to defend Savage whatsoever. The message I got out of the below is that it was cool that Savage was proposing alternate viewpoints, but unfortunately not the correct alternate viewpoints:
I don't know if the librarians at Mansfield have faculty status along with full tenure rights, but we often debate if academic librarians actually need the protection of tenure. This may be a case for us to watch closely. Shouldn't having faculty status give librarians the right to express unpopular views or to recommend controversial or conservative books for community reading programs without fear of retaliation. Or must we be deferential to teaching faculty for fear that we will offend them and cause them to, as one of the faculty at Mansfield indicated he would, stop using the services of the library and encourage students to do the same. Savage did not respond to requests to be interviewed so we really don't know what he was thinking. Having faculty status and the rights guaranteed by academic freedom and tenure does not give carte blanche to act in ways that are sure to be perceived as unreasonable and insensitive to one's colleagues. Did Savage not see the firestorm he'd be creating with his suggestions? Did he intend to provoke his faculty colleagues because they rejected his initial suggestion as lacking controversy? I suppose we'll need to watch this story as it develops to better understand the case against Savage.

I wonder what the ALA's position is on this. [cynic]Given their politics I wouldn't be surprised if they sided with the professors...[/cynic]
4.18.2006 12:14pm
Public_Defender (mail):

Well, if left wing professors had any interest in ousting anti-semites from their own ranks that might hold water, but they dont seem to . . . Lets not forget this is the same group defending the Taliban spokesman attending Yale. . . . The scholarteriate has defended all kinds of speech and advocacy from its very ranks that most Americans find, not just offensive, but flat out dispicable- witness Ward Churchill.


I grant that some on the left are too unwilling to criticize anti-Semitism, but the Right faces its own hypocrisy when it comes to tolerating bigotry. Weren't there calls to ban the former Taliban student and to fire Ward Churchill?

But it's not helpful to make broad accusations against "the Right" and "the Left" when we are deciding what rules we should have for tolerating ideas that some consider bigoted.

Tenured professors (like Ward Churchill) get more leeway to offend the Left or the Right. Non-tenured staff (like many university librarians) get less leeway. Beyond that, things get complicated.

So let's be clear, do you think universities should or should not discriminate against anti-Semites? I think universities should discriminate against both avowed anti-Semites and avowed anti-gay people in the hiring and tenure process.

But once someone gets tenure, it should be much harder to fire a person for being anti-Jew or anti-gay.
4.18.2006 12:19pm
Willis Cook (mail):
I understand that the librarian recommeded certain books and that the recommedation offended certain faculty. What I haven't heard is whether these books are carried by the University library. If not, then I can understand the complaint as least being heard. If the books are there, then how can it be considered an offense to read them. If there is an offense, it rests with those who decided to carry them.
4.18.2006 12:26pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Prof. Volok: I will assume your research is correct that NAMBLE was a part of the Gay Pride Parade in SF in 1992. Even so, a 14 year period would hardly qualify as "recent," as Mr. Cramer says. Me thinks that Mr. Cramer will be beating us over the head about this for the next few decades.....
The problem is that it isn't JUST NAMBLA's presence in gay pride parades. It is the difficulty that groups like ILGA had because they finally, after much debate, expelled NAMBLA--like losing most of their funding from organizations that didn't think this was the right thing to do. It is a long history of gays arguing that laws against pedophilia are the same as laws against homosexuality.

It is that groups that represent gay interests, such as the ACLU, are defending NAMBLA in a civil suit resulting from the rape and murder of a child.

In another case, the ACLU argued that minors have a "due process liberty interest" in making the decision about whether to have sex with adults. If you see the rhetoric that comes out of NAMBLA, you will see some interesting overlap. NAMBLA, of course, doesn't argue that they have a right to rape children; they argue that age of consent laws violate the rights of little boys to decide to have sex with adults. In practice, that means the right of adult men to manipulate little boys into sex.

I've pointed out that much of the same reasoning used to repeal laws against homosexuality is now being used to argue against the "narrow prejudices" that prohibit adults having sex with children, and unsurprisingly, university presses are beginning to publish works arguing that pedophilia really doesn't harm children.
4.18.2006 12:31pm
Sydney Carton (www):
"I think universities should discriminate against both avowed anti-Semites and avowed anti-gay people in the hiring and tenure process."

What if a group of gay professors used anti-Semetic language against conservative Jewish groups because those groups believed that homosexuality was wrong and a sin, and used anti-gay language as support?
4.18.2006 12:37pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Professor Volokh writes:


Well, with the point as elaborated, I agree. Certainly while the existence of sexual predation by men (whether straight or gay) is reason for potential targets to be practically wary in various circumstances, it is not reason to morally fault the entire group (whether all straights or all gays) for the sins of the minority.
But discrimination against men because of the sexual predation of a small subset is socially acceptable. Consider the following scenario: You are at a shopping mall with your nine year old daughter, and suddenly collapse to the floor desperately ill. An ambulance is called, and a stranger approaches and offers to take your daughter to your home. You would prefer not to have a stranger take your daughter home, of course, but what if the stranger is an adult woman versus an adult man?

If you went into a daycare center where all those watching the children were men--would you be comfortable doing so? What if all the workers were women? Would this change your level of comfort?

A woman is walking down a dark street. She becomes aware that there is someone else on that street, a few yards behind her. It turns out to be a woman. Will she be afraid? It turns out to be a man. Will she be afraid?

In each of these cases, the vast majority will admit that they are more concerned about a man than a woman, for the simple reason that men commit effectively all rapes, and the vast majority of sexual abuse of children. It is only a tiny percentage of men who do these horrible crimes--but the costs of failing to discriminate are likely to be very high. The costs of discriminating (unless the government imposes penalties) are essentially zero.
4.18.2006 12:42pm
a superfluous man (mail) (www):
Gays should definitely be barred from universities, which have been defined as a college without a heart.

http://www.collegehumor.com/movies/248333/

Do you need any more evidence?
4.18.2006 12:48pm
Cornellian (mail):
In this case, the librarian in question introduces the discussion of a position held by a majority of Americans (which i utterly disagree with btw). I find it odd that speech agreed with by millions of Americans is ok to immediately and without discussion be ruled out of bounds, but speech agreed with by only a tiny unhinged minority is lionized as exemplary of 1st amendment rights. Odd but not unusual.

The majority of Americans believe that there's some kind of sinister gay conspiracy that controls the media? First I've ever heard of it.

You have four positions you can take:

1) It's OK for Savage to recommend "The Marketing of Evil" and OK for profs to recommend "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" for first year introductory colleges courses in history.

2) It's not OK in either case

3) It's ok in Savage's case, but not in the prof's case

4) It's not ok in Savage's case, but it's ok in the prof's case

Positions 1 and 2 are principled (though different principles). Position 3 is just a right wing hypocrite. Position 4 is just a left win hypocrite.

So which position do you take? Bear in mind if you think it's ok for Savage to recommend "The Marketing of Evil" for a freshman college course, you forfeit the right to complain about those left wing profs at Columbia who are recommending equally idiotic books.
4.18.2006 12:50pm
Public_Defender (mail):

What if a group of gay professors used anti-Semitic language against conservative Jewish groups because those groups believed that homosexuality was wrong and a sin, and used anti-gay language as support?


Nice use of humor to make a point.

Maybe I've got things backwards. Perhaps universities (especially public universities) must tolerate both openly anti-Semitic and openly anti-gay professors and staff. But I don't see how you can permit one set of ideas and punish the other.
4.18.2006 1:01pm
Sydney Carton (www):
"you forfeit the right to complain about those left wing profs at Columbia who are recommending equally idiotic books."

Not true, because the "complaints" were different. Here, left-wing professors demanded a sexual harassment investigation. At Columbia, I believe the complaints consisted of an imbalance of views in the department and that professors silenced dissenters with bad grades (because they were grading based on the views, and not on the strength of one's argument).
4.18.2006 1:02pm
Cornellian (mail):
""I think universities should discriminate against both avowed anti-Semites and avowed anti-gay people in the hiring and tenure process."

What if a group of gay professors used anti-Semetic language against conservative Jewish groups because those groups believed that homosexuality was wrong and a sin, and used anti-gay language as support?"

I don't think life is that simple. If the guy's a math prof and some titanic genius on the level of Gauss but he harbors some unstated dislike for Jews or gays then personally if it were my university I'd probably be willing to put up with him. The benefit of having him is worth more than the cost of having him. If he's a marginal performer to begin with and embarassing the institution with some kind of loony crusade against Jews, gay people or whatever conspiracy de jour is popular among his crowd, then dump him. It's simple Chicago school economics at that point - the cost of keeping him around is more than the value of having him. The hard part is the Gauss/crusader combo, but fortunately there aren't many of those. Would you want Einstein on you faculty if he wen't around making speeches about how blacks where inherently inferior and didn't deserve the right to vote? At some point you cross a line beyond which it's just not worth keeping you around no matter how smart you are.
4.18.2006 1:03pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

You have four positions you can take:

1) It's OK for Savage to recommend "The Marketing of Evil" and OK for profs to recommend "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" for first year introductory colleges courses in history.

2) It's not OK in either case

3) It's ok in Savage's case, but not in the prof's case

4) It's not ok in Savage's case, but it's ok in the prof's case

Positions 1 and 2 are principled (though different principles). Position 3 is just a right wing hypocrite. Position 4 is just a left win hypocrite.

So which position do you take? Bear in mind if you think it's ok for Savage to recommend "The Marketing of Evil" for a freshman college course, you forfeit the right to complain about those left wing profs at Columbia who are recommending equally idiotic books.
Your analogy is defective. The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion isn't going to convince anyone of anything--except that people who take it seriously are seriously stupid.

Savage merely suggesting a book doesn't mean that everyone else on the committee is going to go along with him and put it on the reading list. Had the university put this book on the list, there might be a legitimate question as to whether this was appropriate. Savage merely suggesting a book isn't sexual harassment--not even close.

I can complain about the fierce leftist bent of the universities all I want. It doesn't cause anyone to get fired from their job--unlike where this was going with Savage, who was going to receive at least a reprimand for merely suggesting a book.
4.18.2006 1:06pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I grant that some on the left are too unwilling to criticize anti-Semitism, but the Right faces its own hypocrisy when it comes to tolerating bigotry. Weren't there calls to ban the former Taliban student and to fire Ward Churchill?
There was no proposal to "ban" the former Taliban student. There were a lot of Yale alumni who thought it was dishonest and hypocritical of Yale to make an exception to let in a guy who was the PR person for a government that hated women and executed homosexuals by pulling building walls down on them--while lots of highly qualified applicants get turned down.

There were calls to fire Ward Churchill, and for at least two different reasons, one of which was a bad reason, and one of which was good.

The bad reason was his "thousand little Himmlers" article. I found it offensive, but that, in itself, isn't a good reason to fire him. What you do off the job shouldn't matter to your employer--and when it is a public employer, there is the First Amendment involved.

The good reasons to fire Ward Churchill were that he wrote articles that were lies--statements of historical fact where the sources he cited clearly showed that he was lying. (This is pretty common among academics, of course, but this still a legitimate reason to fire him.)

He also lied--and perjured himself as well--about being an Indian. This was because he was hired to meet an affirmative action quota of Colorado University. Otherwise, he would just be another spoiled rich white kid intent on destroying the evil capitalist system that nutured him.
4.18.2006 1:15pm
Taimyoboi:
"It's simple Chicago school economics at that point - the cost of keeping him around is more than the value of having him."

I would suspect that the danger inherent in cost-benefit analysis in these situations is that both sides are going to estimate the costs and benefits in a way that tilts in their favor.

Better, it seems to me, stick with a principle, and I would go with the one that errs on the side of inclusiveness (with as few exceptions as possible) rather than exclusiveness.
4.18.2006 1:20pm
Cornellian (mail):
would suspect that the danger inherent in cost-benefit analysis in these situations is that both sides are going to estimate the costs and benefits in a way that tilts in their favor.

Alas, valuation problems are the reality that clouds the elegant theoretical beauty of law and economics.
4.18.2006 2:29pm
Hoosier:
My concern is for procedure in these cases. To be blunt, I don't trust the administration of any research university—including my current employer—to have a consistent standard on "offensive" materials.

George Orwell had some, ahem, strong opionions on homosexuality. (For instance, he accorded homosexual inclinations—along with necrophilia and coprophagy—the status of "perversions" in his essay on Dali.) When asked for a summer reading list for incoming freshmen, I always put Orwell on the list. This time I recommended "Hommage to Catalonia," so I've dodged a bullet. But is it an act of anti-homosexual bias to ask students to read his "Essays"? And what happens to my "Orwell's Twentieth Century" seminar?

Meanwhile, a collegue uses Bell Hooks's "writings" in all of her classes. The hostility toward people who look and love like me is quite blatant in those books.

If she and I ever go up before a disciplinary committee, I can guess what the result will be. Anyone want to stake the retirement fund on me?
4.18.2006 3:00pm
KeithK (mail):
Cornellian, I think it is OK for a professor to recommend any book for a reading list. At least OK in the sense of not being actionable offenses. A recommendation of offensive material should be rejected and criticized. Obviously what constitutes offensive material is subjective - one person may find "Marketing of Evil" offensive while another does not and it's perfectly reasonable to argue over that point.

What's troublesome in this case is that professors thought that the appropriate response to ideas they found offensive was to file a harassment charge. This shows a lack of respect for the free exchange of ideas.
4.18.2006 3:20pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

George Orwell had some, ahem, strong opionions on homosexuality. (For instance, he accorded homosexual inclinations—along with necrophilia and coprophagy—the status of "perversions" in his essay on Dali.)
There's better work on Nazi Germany available now, but William Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is still a very readable and very thorough history of the period by someone who was there. I remember when Shirer died, seeing homosexuals celebrating that he was dead, because of observations that Shirer made about the homosexuality that was rampant in the upper reaches of the Nazi Party. If I put Shirer's book (or any of his other works) on a sources list for a modern European history class, would I be subject to punishment by the homosexual thought police that run most universities now? (Not that there's any danger of me being allowed to teach after having offended them.)
4.18.2006 4:27pm
dk35 (mail):
Well I'm glad this issue is resolved.

Now on to the next. Can (or should) a university student be expelled for saying he's gay? Apparently the answer, at the University of the Cumberlands in Kentucky, is yes.

I'm assuming that EV and the conservative organizations from which he gets his "threat to free speech on campus" alerts will be getting right on this.

Of course, you may not find out much information from other students at that school, since they have apparently been "warned" not to speak publicly about the incident.
4.18.2006 4:33pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
University of the Cumberlands is private, isn't it? No First Amendment issue there. They certainly have the right to require students to abide by certain standards of personal conduct, just like any university has the right to require students not to engage in plagiarism, or cheating, or sexual harassment (the real thing, not political incorrectness).
4.18.2006 5:59pm
Hoosier:
dk35—

Should a religiously affiliated university be able to dismiss students who violate religious principles? Yes.

As far as I know, OSU espouses no religious principles, other than that Michigan sucks.

So I'm not sure that EV's "conservative organizations" need to get bent out of shape on this one.

I went to Notre Dame. We all knew that we would be kicked out if we were caught having sex with anyone who wasn't our spouse. If you agree to enter a religious institution, you agree to play by its rules. (I wouldn't be demanding that Yeshiva U. sell cheeseburgers at the cafeteria, for instance.) State universities play by differnt rules. Your choice.
4.18.2006 6:05pm
Cornellian (mail):
If University of the Cumberlands is a private institution then they're free to turf anyone they like assuming there's no federal statute on point (and there isn't) or state statute (and I assume there isn't, at least none of the news accounts has mentioned one). As many of the students have pointed out, the school is being completely hypocritical since they don't enforce the rest of their code of conduct. Pre-marital sex is prohibited too, but no one gets expelled for that. Ditto for drinking alcohol. So in other words, from the school's point of view, you can actually have pre-marital sex and not get expelled, but if you simply state that you're gay, without doing anything, that gets you expelled.

And to add insult to injury, they gave him an "F" grade in all his courses this semester even though he'd been on the Dean's List up until that point. Classy.

So yeah, they probably have a legal right to expel the guy, because the law doesn't prohibit them from being asinine, hypocritical jerks.
4.18.2006 6:08pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

As many of the students have pointed out, the school is being completely hypocritical since they don't enforce the rest of their code of conduct. Pre-marital sex is prohibited too, but no one gets expelled for that. Ditto for drinking alcohol. So in other words, from the school's point of view, you can actually have pre-marital sex and not get expelled, but if you simply state that you're gay, without doing anything, that gets you expelled.
If there are other students who are publicly stating that they are engaged in pre-marital sex and drinking alcohol, and they aren't being expelled for these violations of their code, that's hypocritical, and I can't respect the University of Cumberland for that. Do you have some examples of this?

Or do you mean that there are students there are probably sinning in private, the college has to know that this goes on, and hasn't started a detailed investigation to see who is behaving themselves and who isn't? That's a bit different.

I don't see students breaking the rules in private as okay, but publicly breaking the rules tends to encourage others to break the rules in private.

And to add insult to injury, they gave him an "F" grade in all his courses this semester even though he'd been on the Dean's List up until that point. Classy.
I think that was unnecessary. I would have told him to move off campus, finish his classes, and leave at the end of the semester.
4.18.2006 6:20pm
Mark Buehner (mail):
I think the truth argument is compelling here. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a pack of lies and the entire thing has been factually debunked. It is a work of racist propanganda that is intended to impede the debate, not advance it. I dont know much about The Marketing of Evil, so i should probably refrain from saying anything (of course I wont). But why and how is it anti-gay? Is it full of lies? Or is it some guys personal opinion. Anti-gay is a broad brush. Most Americans are against gay marriage (im not), and that is often sighted as being anti-gay on its face.

It seems to me that a lot of distinction is how the debate is framed. The religious right claim there is a gay 'conspiracy' to undermine the culture. The only thing untrue (aside from using loaded and negative terminalogy) is that it is a secret. Do equal-gay rights activists not claim it is their intent to change the prevailing intolerant attitude that has been a part of Western Culture for centuries? Of course they do, it is the critical part of their movement. Many people may not like the fearful and sometimes angery way this is spelled out by people like Kupelian, but does that mean the moral argument being made isnt engageable? Every civil rights movement in history has had a fringe of the paranoid and inflamed, but they are usually not exluded from the debate. Anybody want to argue that Malcolm X's "By Any Means Necessary" would provoke this kind of reaction? Quite the opposite im betting. This is about political preference no matter how it is danced around.
4.18.2006 7:01pm
dk35 (mail):
EV and the conservative organizations he supports seem to have gotten bent out of shape because two professors brought a harrasment claim. The reasoning, or at least what seems to have engendered EV's moral outrage, is that academics took an action that could be seen as leading to supression of speech on a university campus.

So, I ask again, when a school actually expells a student for simply stating he is gay, gives this student "F's" his classes, and then threatens fellow students into silence on the subject, why are we not seeing similar moral outrage from EV and friends?
4.18.2006 8:52pm
BobN (mail):
>>In each of these cases, the vast majority will admit that they are more concerned about a man than a woman, for the simple reason that men commit effectively all rapes, and the vast majority of sexual abuse of children. It is only a tiny percentage of men who do these horrible crimes--but the costs of failing to discriminate are likely to be very high. The costs of discriminating (unless the government imposes penalties) are essentially zero.<<

You make a fine case for not trusting you, Clayton. The problem with your parallel distrust and dislike of out gay people (half of whom are women, by the way) is that there is no similar overwhelming disparity in conduct. Heck, even one of the examples you gave of "gay pedophiles" was a married man with children.
4.19.2006 12:31am
BobN (mail):

University of the Cumberlands is private, isn't it?



Yes, and they're about to receive $15 million in public tax dollars to build a brand new pharmacy school.


They certainly have the right to require students to abide by certain standards of personal conduct, just like any university has the right to require students not to engage in plagiarism, or cheating, or sexual harassment (the real thing, not political incorrectness).



In this case, the student's only "transgression" is that he IS gay. Nothing has been suggested about his engaging in actual sex. His "breach of conduct" consists of breathing.
4.19.2006 12:34am
Randy R. (mail):
Mr. Cramer is correct in stating that the Nazi heirarchy had some gay men. Most prominently was Ernst Roehm, a friend of Hitler's since 1919. During a a bloodbath that began on June 28, 1934, lasting until July 3 of that year, Hitler had Roehm shot along with all associates, including everyone who was suspected of being gay. Thus came the term, Night of a Thousand Knives." Afterwards, the Nazis brutally enforced the notorious Paragraph 145, and sent thousands of gay men and women to concentration camps. They were forced to wear pink triangles and constituted the lowest rung in the camp heirarchy. As a result gays were much more likely to die than any other group in the camps.

Somewhere along the line, however, certain people have decided that the Nazi regime was always populated by gays, and that gays were behind the whole enterprise, and somehow benefited from it. The record is quite clear that in fact gays suffered at least as much as other groups, and quite likely suffered more. And any one who doubts this may consult the Holocaust Museum here in Washington, DC, which put together a wonderful exhibit stating as much a few years ago. In fact, my facts come from the two books I bought during that exhibit.
4.19.2006 1:59am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
BobN writes:


You make a fine case for not trusting you, Clayton.
Actually, it is a fine case for not trusting any man about whom you know nothing.


The problem with your parallel distrust and dislike of out gay people (half of whom are women, by the way) is that there is no similar overwhelming disparity in conduct. Heck, even one of the examples you gave of "gay pedophiles" was a married man with children.
Actually, less than 1/3 of gay people are women. Lesbians are typically 1-2% of the female adult population; gay men are typicaly 3-4.5% of the male adult population. A little arithmetic tells you that gay men outnumber lesbians quite substantially.

There is, however, evidence that while gay men are a minority of child molesters, that they are disproportionately child molesters. If I was hiring a painter, or an engineer, or a lawyer, his sexual preference would be of no relevance at all. If I were hiring someone to watch my kids, I would be disinclined to hire a man (gay or straight) to do so.
4.19.2006 6:05pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Mr. Cramer is correct in stating that the Nazi heirarchy had some gay men. Most prominently was Ernst Roehm, a friend of Hitler's since 1919. During a a bloodbath that began on June 28, 1934, lasting until July 3 of that year, Hitler had Roehm shot along with all associates, including everyone who was suspected of being gay. Thus came the term, Night of a Thousand Knives." Afterwards, the Nazis brutally enforced the notorious Paragraph 145, and sent thousands of gay men and women to concentration camps. They were forced to wear pink triangles and constituted the lowest rung in the camp heirarchy. As a result gays were much more likely to die than any other group in the camps.
They were lowest rung because German society regarded homosexuality with special contempt. When Hitler decided to destroy one of the members of the German General Staff who was making speeches to the effect that soldiers had an obligation to question immoral orders, Hitler used the accusation that this general was a homosexual as a way of silencing any of his colleagues defending him--it was an unforgiveable sin to Germans at the time.

There is also some reason to think that the homosexuality provision may have been used for another reason. I saw an interesting documentary about German homosexuality in which a surviving lesbian of that era indicated that there was near perfect correlation between homosexuality and membership in the German Communist Party--at least among her circle. I wonder if using homosexuality as a charge might have been easier than political party membership. Especially at the start of the Nazi time, there were still a few people in positions of power prepared to question what was being done.

Somewhere along the line, however, certain people have decided that the Nazi regime was always populated by gays, and that gays were behind the whole enterprise, and somehow benefited from it. The record is quite clear that in fact gays suffered at least as much as other groups, and quite likely suffered more. And any one who doubts this may consult the Holocaust Museum here in Washington, DC, which put together a wonderful exhibit stating as much a few years ago. In fact, my facts come from the two books I bought during that exhibit.
Anyone that thinks that "gays were behind the whole enterprise" or generally benefitted from it is clearly unfamiliar with the history of the period. Roehm and the upper leadership of the SA were homosexuals, and were wiped out in 1934. However, there are a lot of little indications that this wasn't the entire homosexual population of the NSDAP. I've read that some of the top leadership of the NSDAP used a term of affection in private that was generally considered homosexual. Perhaps this was an affectation--or perhaps indicative that Roehm's SA wasn't the only part of the Nazi system with homosexuals in it.
4.19.2006 6:13pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):


University of the Cumberlands is private, isn't it?


Yes, and they're about to receive $15 million in public tax dollars to build a brand new pharmacy school.

This is a problem with having the government fund things. Of course, if we are going to apply this idea, it needs to be consistently. I see no reason why pubilcly funded universities should be allowed to discriminate in hiring based on political beliefs. I'm sure that you would disagree.


They certainly have the right to require students to abide by certain standards of personal conduct, just like any university has the right to require students not to engage in plagiarism, or cheating, or sexual harassment (the real thing, not political incorrectness).


In this case, the student's only "transgression" is that he IS gay. Nothing has been suggested about his engaging in actual sex. His "breach of conduct" consists of breathing.
What is the actual violation of the code?
4.19.2006 6:17pm