pageok
pageok
pageok
Don't Say This, I Won't Tell You What:

In Russian fairy tales, some powerful person sometimes sends the hero off on a quest by saying, "Go there, I don't know where, bring that, I don't know what." Somehow the hero manages, but that's because it's a fairy tale.

I've been reminded of this by reading the accounts of the Brandeis administration's finding that Prof. Donald Hindley was guilty of "racial harassment" because he said ... well, the administration isn't saying exactly what he supposedly said. Press accounts agree that it involves (at least) the use of the word "wetback," but the context is far from clear. Since my earlier post, I've looked a bit at the coverage in university newspapers, and here's what I see:

1. Hindley's account:

Hindley defended his discussion of the term, saying he had used it to describe racism of a certain historical period. Throughout American history, he said, "When Mexicans come north as illegal immigrants, we call them wetbacks." ...

"[Administrator Jesse Simone, who was questioning Hindley,] said, 'Did you use the word wetback?' Well, I teach Latin American politics and I'm currently teaching Mexican politics, and of course I use the word wetbacks, [but] not in any derogatory sense," Hindley said ....

Hindley said Simone also asked if he had referred to "young, white males having contact with women of color," which he said he had.

2. From the same article, a statement by Lily Adams, a student of Hindley's who defended him:

Adams also denied Hindley had used the term in an offensive context. "If he had made comments that were legitimately racist, the whole class would have complained,' she said, adding, It was never him saying, 'This is what I call them,' or, 'This is an appropriate term.'"

3. From an article in a different student newspaper (thanks to Prof. Margaret Soltan (University Diaries) for the pointer), here's the student's account:

Jane [the complaining student's pseudonym] explained that her complaints dealt with alleged insensitivity by Hindley to the issues in his class, including usage of the terms "mi petite negrita" and "wetbacks."

"The thing that pushed me over the edge was a story about a Brandeis student that he had who came from an elite Mexican family. He said, 'he came here and he paid his way.... but when he came back here, his back was still wet,'" said Jane. "That was the day I came to my professor and said, 'this is crazy.' These flippant remarks, he doesn't see that they affect other people — it's a joke, to him."

Jane also makes other allegations (and the article also notes that "[d]espite her complaints, Jane said she may take another course with Hindley, because 'I won't have to do work'").

4. From the same article that quotes Jane, a quote from student Ramon de Jesus, and a respone from Jane:

"I think that the allegations which are being made against Hindley are being done so by someone who is taking things out of context. It is interesting that the person whom you interviewed almost brushes context off as if it does not matter, when in fact, it is extremely important," said Ramon de Jesus '08.

"If context were not important, everything anyone ever said could be misconstrued one way or another. As a student of color who has taken both Latin American Politics classes with Hindley, I can honestly say that the man is not racist."

He added "I'm not in a Hindley class currently, but if given the opportunity I would sign up for another one."

Regarding Hindley's statements, "sure there is context, but it should be treated gently, especially with students from so many different cultures," said Jane.

"You have Latin American students, Mexican students ... there are Jewish students, homosexual students, black students — you're just running the gamut in this classroom. I would think that would call for extra sensitivity, but I guess he doesn't think so," she said.

Now the Brandeis administration obviously thinks that what Hindley said was impermissible, and indeed "racial harassment." It thinks that professors shouldn't say such things. But what is it that they shouldn't say?

If Brandeis thinks Hindley said "wetback" in the context as he describes it, then I take it that Brandeis's view is that professors should never use such terms in class — perhaps not even in direct quotes, and certainly not (as Hindley says he did) in made-up quotes characterizing what people think. If Brandeis thinks Hindley said "wetback" as part of a humorous aside, then I take it that Brandeis's view is that professors shouldn't say such things in class in a humorous context. If Brandeis thinks Hindley said "wetback" in a way that endorsed the view that illegal immigrants (or illegal immigrants from Mexico) are bad people, then I take it that Brandeis's view is that professors shouldn't express such views in class using pejorative terms. Or perhaps Brandeis thinks any condemnation of illegal immigrants (or illegal immigrants from Mexico), whether or not using the term "wetback" (a term that the administration didn't even mention in any of the documents I've seen from it), is a view professors shouldn't express in class.

But how on earth is a professor to know what he shouldn't be saying when the University doesn't even reveal what led to this high-profile discipline? And how are faculty members — and students and alumni and others — to know whether the University's action invades academic freedom, promotes good teaching, or whatever else without knowing what it is that Hindley supposedly said?

Nor is the University's explanation for its silence remotely justifiable. As best I can tell from the accounts, the University's argument is that it can't describe what specifically was said because it needs to protect the student's confidentiality — but if this was supposedly said in open class, why would revealing the statement jeopardize the student's confidentiality? (The article that quotes Jane quotes her as saying that she "came to [her] professor and said, 'this is crazy'"; presumably she means someone other than Hindley when she says "my professor," but if she did tell him, then I'm still more baffled by how there could be any risk to the student's confidentiality here.)

Finally, I realize that the administration might conclude that it can't specifically identify exactly what was said, but that it can figure out the general gist sufficiently to conclude that a racial harassment finding is warranted. Fine — but tell us what that gist is, so that professors can know what they shouldn't say, and so that others can evaluate the administration's actions. But the administration didn't do even that.

Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
Nor is the University's explanation for its silence remotely justifiable. As best I can tell from the accounts, the University's argument is that it can't describe what specifically was said because it needs to protect the student's confidentiality ...

The rationale is set forth in a letter to the campus newspaper from Hindley's department chair. It's written in mellifluous bureaucratese, but the gist of it seems to be as you describe.

The Reader's Digest version of his letter seems to be: "You can't criticize us because you don't know all the facts, and we won't tell you all the facts because someone (we're not saying who) might need to be protected, so we'll investigate, try, and punish the defendant in secret, and that's a Good Thing so Trust Us."

If you substitute the words "Star Chamber" for "the process" and "the procedure" throughout the text, the risibility quotient of the letter becomes apparent.

"The process leading up to the present controversy began when a number of students complained about statements made by Professor Donald Hindley in class, which they felt were inappropriate, discriminatory, and harassing." Note that in this case, N seems to equal 1.
1.24.2008 4:38am
rbj:
Jane also makes other allegations (and the article also notes that "[d]espite her complaints, Jane said she may take another course with Hindley, because 'I won't have to do work'").

Is that because Hindley's an easy teacher or because he wouldn't dare give her anything less than an A due to the complaint?

These PC language police are becoming more and more like state secret police and show trials. You are guilty and your only option is to plead guilty.
1.24.2008 8:19am
Wat Tyler (mail):
"You are guilty and your only option is to plead guilty." There's always tar and feathers. Or litigation and public shaming, I guess.
1.24.2008 8:44am
Happyshooter:
I just read Cornell '69: Liberalism and the Crisis of the American University based on seeing it mentioned here on the board.

This sort of nonsense and lack of freedom in the University is exactly what the armed students wanted at Cornell.

When the profs there and elsewhere wimped out and gave in they surrendered the U to the thought control of the loudest and most extreme students of color.
1.24.2008 9:00am
Duffy Pratt (mail):
Well, certain refined ladies have always known that when something is unmentionable, you simply don't mention it. People have been ostracized from polite society for doing unmentionable things for a long time. What did they do? The funny thing to me about PC, is not that it is some kind of police state, but rather a ruturn to Victorian priggishness.
1.24.2008 9:33am
M.E.Butler (mail):
The only comment Hindley is alleged to have made that might appear to be troubling is the one about the Mexican student who paid his own way at Brandeis but "his back was still wet."

But, context and tone are everything, and there's no way of knowing from the statement in the student paper what Hindley meant when he said that.

I am impressed by the Brandeis approach to the problem--it sounds like something from a 1950's movie about the Soviet Union, or from Catch-22.
1.24.2008 9:46am
mls:

The Reader's Digest version of his letter seems to be: "You can't criticize us because you don't know all the facts, and we won't tell you all the facts because someone (we're not saying who) might need to be protected, so we'll investigate, try, and punish the defendant in secret, and that's a Good Thing so Trust Us."


Hmmm, sounds like the current administration's approach to enemy combatants at Gitmo.

[See, I told you I was far to the left of most on this board!]
1.24.2008 9:58am
Houston Lawyer:
Why is "Jane" given the same sort of protection normally given rape victims? Star chambers never went after anyone for offendinging someone's virgin ears with an inpolite word.
1.24.2008 10:15am
A.C.:
P.C. stopped being about actual content ages ago. It's a "gotcha" game played by people trying to assert authority. As far as I'm concerned, this is bad both because it's socially corrosive and because it makes it very difficult to fight the rare instances of real, toxic racism that still come up occasionally.

The boy has cried "wolf" too many times.
1.24.2008 10:15am
Houston Lawyer:
Obviously, I need spell check.

A young associate I work with reminds me from time to time that it is the role of the senior guys to rein in the overzealous younger guys. Where are the adults at Brandeis?
1.24.2008 10:19am
Tracy Johnson (www):
Looks like you read that old book of Russian Fairy tales I handed to Vladimir. Glad to hear that!
1.24.2008 10:25am
Le Messurier (mail):
The Brandeis administration's PC approach to this non-problem reminds me of the following old saw:


Political Correctness
Political Correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical, liberal minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.
1.24.2008 10:33am
Ralph Phelan (mail):
More of the quote of "Jane"
As to the investigation of Hindley's class, Jane explained, "I had a very long chat with Jess Simone who is in Human Resources. She seemed almost excited, but intrigued… she had her assistant, who took avid notes of everything I said. It seems to me that the Administration is almost happy this came about, so they can nail him. He's been around forever and I've heard comments of dislike from the past decades—there have been other complaints [about] that. I think they're attempting to give him his due process now since he has been here so long—at least that's the impression that I've heard."

Tell me again how tenure protects freedom and diversity of thought on campus?
1.24.2008 10:42am
Letalis Maximus, Esq. (mail):
Mohamed Rasoel: "Being offended is sometimes purely a form of aggression."
1.24.2008 10:55am
Ex parte McCardle:
Geez, imagine what will happen if somebody at Brandeis assigns Huck Finn as required reading.
1.24.2008 11:00am
Tony Tutins (mail):
Context is unimportant if you haven't been paying attention. Half the laptoppers in any class are shopping online or instant messaging their friends. "Wetbacks" is probably the only part of the lecture such people heard.
1.24.2008 11:04am
Tony Tutins (mail):

Geez, imagine what will happen if somebody at Brandeis assigns Huck Finn as required reading.

Or Conrad's The Nigger of the "Narcissus"
1.24.2008 11:06am
Redman:
Its a very small step from prohibiting the saying of a word and prohibiting the thinking of a word.

We're all going to have so much fun with President Hillary.
1.24.2008 11:15am
Hoosier:
Tony Tunis--Amen, brother. I hate the proliferation of laptops in classrooms. I have no idea what's actually going on behind that screen.

I don't think these situations arise as often as one might think: "Collegiality" is a very strong force among tenured faculty. And collegiality is defined as "I can cause the minimum headache to myself by ignoring anything unacceptable that a tenured colleague is doing."

But when a case like this does crop up, I suspect that it makes many of us think twice about what we teach, and how we teach it. After Stephan Thernstrom's experience at Harvard, I stopped using pro-slavery sermons in my freshman 'US History I' class. Too risky.

As a result, students who graduate this university will, on average, be unclear on why slavery was able to survive in the US for as long as it did. Or motivate secession. They should be so lucky that this is the greatest loss any of them will ever suffer. No big deal, right?

Of course, this makes it impossible to explain to the kids why so many Confederate soldiers charged entrenched Union positions at Gettysburg. But, hell, that's just military history anyway.

On the other hand, it makes it hard for me to do my job. The most significant single period in US history is, arguably, the Civil War era. Military history has been read-out of the universities, so I don't teach much of that. And the causes of the war, and the motivations of one side that fought it, will remain vague for my students, since I'm contract faculty, and I need to keep my position.


Medical insurance doth make cowards of us all. (Well, of me anyway.)
1.24.2008 11:20am
Kent G. Budge (mail) (www):

As best I can tell from the accounts, the University's argument is that it can't describe what specifically was said because it needs to protect the student's confidentiality


Whatever happened to the right to confront the witnesses against you? A man caught in the act of raping a nun evidently has more legal protection.
1.24.2008 11:22am
richard gould-saltman (mail):
"As to the investigation of Hindley's class, Jane explained, "I had a very long chat with Jess Simone who is in Human Resources. She seemed almost excited, but intrigued… she had her assistant, who took avid notes of everything I said. It seems to me that the Administration is almost happy this came about, so they can nail him. He's been around forever and I've heard comments of dislike from the past decades—there have been other complaints [about] that. I think they're attempting to give him his due process now since he has been here so long—at least that's the impression that I've heard."


OK, someone explain to me why journalists, or an attorney in the employ of the good professor, isn't tap tap tapping on Ms. Simone's door, based on what now, from the same source as the original complaint, seems to be evidence of some long-standing vendetta against Hindley, and what also sounds like conspicuously selective enforcement?

I keep thinking back, in the interim, to my quarter of "Revolution and Political Change In Latin America" from Prof. Richard Craig at Kent, lo those many years ago, (1973?) and particularly, the class which began with, to paraphrase: "To understand the Mexican political psyche, you have to understand the Mexican view of power, and of conquest. To understand that, you have to understand the history of the Mexican view of sex." Much of the hour that followed would now clearly get Prof. Craig fired, tarred, feathered and rode outa town on a burning rail . . . .
1.24.2008 11:22am
AF:
I'm having trouble grasping the outrrage here.

On the merits, it seems like a garden-variety case of disputed facts. If Professor Hindley's account is true, he did not deserve a reprimand. If "Jane"'s account is true, he did. Is the claim that Hindley's account is probably true and not "Jane"'s? Or is it that a private university should not reprimand a professor for making the comment attributed to Professor Hindley by "Jane"? Or that some sort of reasonable doubt standard should apply to internal reprimands, so that nobody should be disciplined in any way unless the evidence against them is overwhelming? None of these claims is very compelling.

I also miss the outrage about the confidentiality of the university's investigation. Confidentiality protects the accused as well as the accuser. This is not a case where the university publicly announced that Professor Hindley was reprimanded but didn't say why. Rather, the very fact that he was disciplined was confidential until he revealed it. Given that being publicly accused of discrimination is highly undesirable, such a policy seems quite beneficial to those accused of improper statements.

I can see how on the facts of this case, the benefits of disclosure might outweigh the benefits of confidentiality, particularly now that Professor Hindley has publicized the fact of his reprimand. But the university is not free to renege on the confidentiality agreements that it made, pursuant to a highly defensible policy, before it knew that Hindley's case would ever be made public.
1.24.2008 11:27am
Hans Solo (mail):
Next up will be efforts to outlaw the word "Noose."

Ooops....its happening already. Pretty soon we would be allowed to discuss Jim Crow, *ynching, etc.
1.24.2008 11:35am
Brandeis Alum:
As a Brandeis alum and former Hindley student, I can assure you that Prof. Hindley is not racist. I think the issue is that the administration thinks that he is not a good professor and wants to get rid of him. It is true that his classes require little to no work (little assigned reading, few students do the reading because it is not necessary to get a good grade in the course). It is also true that he is probably not a "good" professor--he doesn't get into the reading and his classes often consist of socialist rantings. (He is a socialist and a Castro supporter, as well as a big opponent of the Mexican government--I took his course before the last Mexican election and he did not even mention Calderon's name.) He is certainly biased and does not give a balanced perspective of the course. In fact, if the school wanted to fire him for poor teaching, as a former student, I wouldn't have a problem with that. (I graduated just this past year.) But Prof. Hindley is certainly not a racist--he is the complete opposite of racist. The administration has not liked him for years because of his political beliefs (he is pretty strongly anti-Israel) and probably saw this as a great opportunity to try to get rid of him. If the university wants to get rid of him, it should do so on the merits (by having tape the class and see that he is not a good teacher). Calling him a racist is ludicrous.
1.24.2008 11:49am
LAS:
Houston Lawyer,
After I sent an email with mispelled words, someone provided me with the following which could explain why we may have a hard time catching our spelling errors:

The human mind .

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deson't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh?
1.24.2008 11:53am
ed (mail) (www):
Hmmmmm.

I object to text written on this webpage and demand it's removal.

However I refuse to identify what text offends me as it might cause additional offense.

We have never been at war with Eastasia.
1.24.2008 11:58am
sol vason (mail):
in 1954 the US gov't agency, INS, staged Operation (unmentionable racist term indicating persons of a certain hue who cross a certain body of water (which is usually dried up be the desert sun)).

It didn't stop the "(unmentionable racist term indicating persons of a certain hue who cross a certain body of water (which is usually dried up be the desert sun))"s from entering Texas.

Making these terms unmentionable is the best way to cover up bad deeds and make it possible for bad guys to do them again in the future.
1.24.2008 12:03pm
Alex Bensky (mail):
Professor Volokh, you exhibit a distressing naivete when you mention that it's hard for a professor to know what is forbidden..."verboeten" might be a better word. That's the point. If the administration spelled out what was and was not permissible it would make it harder to deal with faculty they don't like or to have to tell the occasional complainant to get a grip and grow up.

The accusation is the proof. He is guilty of thoughtcrime.

By the way ed, we are at war with Eurasia and in alliance with Eastasia, and we always have been.
1.24.2008 12:04pm
blue (mail):
It's really hard to understand the thought processes going on at some of our most celebrated universities in this country.

I just had dinner with my niece last night. She is in school at Georgetown. She was telling me that for dinner in the cafeteria they served fried chicken, turnip greens and a few other stereotypical foods historically enjoyed by poor blacks in the South in order to celebrate MLK.

Being from the South, she was surprised and slightly offended that the school would reinforce the stereotype of a black person sitting around eating fried chicken and chitlins. Does that conjure up a positive image of black people in anyone else's mind?
1.24.2008 12:09pm
RainerK:

" Confidentiality protects the accused as well as the accuser."

Could you tell me how that can be the case when the prof's name is public and the accuser can hide behind a pseudonym?

Have you noticed a trend? Namely that the accuser is granted anonymity, the bureaucracy can hide behind "confidentiality agreements" while "the investigation is ongoing" or similar lingo and the defendant is hung out to dry. The accused is effectively robbed of a defense in the court of public opinion.

Regarding Political Correctness, I liked this article.
1.24.2008 12:13pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Brandeis Alum:

Now that I know it's a lefty who's getting bitten by PC I withdraw my objection. It's fun to watch the revolution eat its young.
1.24.2008 12:18pm
NickM (mail) (www):
Somebody on another thread brought up The Life of Brian. I still think this looks like the administration in Animal House.

Nick
1.24.2008 12:25pm
shakespeare101 (mail):
RainerK - I think the professor publicized things from his point of view stating he was being investigated - I don't believe the university initially made his name public.
1.24.2008 12:29pm
Hoosier:
RainerK--In addition, "Jane" has now publicly repeated rumors about negative things that *other* people *may* have said about him. What's the difference between this and character assassination through planted leaks?

Ralph Phelan--I suppose I also could conjure up a bit of Schadenfreude without too much effort. But this--almost exactly--happened to a prof of mine in college, and I will never forget it.

I was not a fan of his, and regretted wasting the three credit hours almost immediately. Frankly, he was just phoning it in as a classroom instructor by that late point in his career. But he was right of center (or perhaps just a centrist Democrat: That was pretty far right at my little midwestern college).

So for a combination of reasons--including ideology, but primarily because he wasn't even teaching enough subject matter to be a 'lousy' professor-- the administration used a claim of racism and sexism to try to drive him out.

I met with the dean, since I was in the class in which the "incidents" had occurred. The dean asked if I didn't find it odd that the black student in the class had recieved the lowest grade. I responded that I knew the guy, and he had told me early on that he hadn't bothered to buy the books for the class. So, no, I thought that the lowest grade in the class was probably about right.
What about the young lady who lodged the sexism complaint? She also received a lower grade than the three white males in the class. I responded that I knew her too--small college--and that she was carrying a 24 credit load that semester, in order to graduate early. He would have known this, I now realize, since a dean would have to sign off on that heavy a load. But asked if her grades in ALL her classes were lower than usual that semester. He couldn't comment on that. Of course.

The dean then quickly turned to the matter of Prof. K's teaching. I said that I was a bit confused, since I'd been called in to provide evidence on his bigotry, and not his teaching. What was he investigating? Well, said the dean, we've heard things in past about his irrelevant in-class monologues, etc., etc.

This stuck with me. It was clear from the conversation with the dean, and from coverage in the campus paper, that he was being investigated for bigotry. But in fact the administration was using these allegations to tar a man for racism in order to strong-arm him out of a tenured position.

Now, I would much rather be known as a washed-up lecturer than as the Grand Kleagle of the the local Koven. The fact that the dean didn't care, so long as Prof. K was gone, was an eye-opener.

The fact that the dean was a practicing psychotherapist was just funny.
1.24.2008 12:47pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
I find it hard to believe nobody's brought up the old chestnut that, as applied here, means Brandeis can't tell the professor he can't say "wetback" because they'd have to say "wetback" to tell him what he can't say. (I guess somebody did bring it up, because Nick says it's in another thread, as instantiated in Life of Brian.)
1.24.2008 12:47pm
pmorem (mail):
If this were a domestic relationship between "Brandeis" and "Hindley", it would generally be called abusive.

"You were bad. I'm not going to tell you what you did, but I'm going to punish you for it".
1.24.2008 12:47pm
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
AF wrote:

I'm having trouble grasping the outrrage here.

On the merits, it seems like a garden-variety case of disputed facts. If Professor Hindley's account is true, he did not deserve a reprimand. If "Jane"'s account is true, he did. Is the claim that Hindley's account is probably true and not "Jane"'s? Or is it that a private university should not reprimand a professor for making the comment attributed to Professor Hindley by "Jane"? Or that some sort of reasonable doubt standard should apply to internal reprimands, so that nobody should be disciplined in any way unless the evidence against them is overwhelming? None of these claims is very compelling.


Odd that you miss the point. Yes, there are conflicting claims. The problem is the process by which the claims were "resolved."

Read this account of the report by the Committee on Faculty Rights and Responsibilities, which declared that the Administr a tion's investigation of the complaint lacked thoroughness and impartiality, and violated the university's stated policies and Hindley's right under the Faculty Handbook to fair and equitable treatment under those policies.

Oh, and the "confidential" resolution included an administration official tasked to sit in Hindley's classes to monitor his speech. Not for the investigation of the complaint, but as a means of ensuring future compliance with what he was supposed to learn in a mandatory sensitivity training class.

From various other accounts, Hindley seems to be something of a jerk, a political extremist, and a poor teacher — but if so, the campus administra tion should deal with him on that basis. If, because of tenure, they can't get rid o f him ... well, tough. You gotta play by the rules. What the administration has done seems to me similar to cops planting drugs or a gun on a suspect, because they know he's guilty but can't otherwise put him away.

m
1.24.2008 12:47pm
Aaron:
Context is everything. Consider the following:

Joke overheard in the faculty lounge-

"What do you call a black guy with a PhD., tenure, and a shot at chairing the department?

"Nigger."

Professor explaining the persistence of racist attitudes:

"And no matter the fact that he worked his way through Brandeis, his back was still wet..."

The only way for the administration not to get that was for them to intentionally "fail" to get it; i.e., they were just looking for an excuse to nail this guy.
1.24.2008 12:51pm
Hoosier:
Mike G--Excellent, economical summary of the issue.

Just to add to you last paragraph a point that may not be well-appreciated by those who aren't in the university business. Research universities don't punish faculty for lousy teaching. If a prof is publishing in good journals, and gets a book out every 5 years, s/he can be as crappy in the classroom as Hindley seems to be.

So teaching alone is not the reason for the vendetta. It might be helpful if the admin just came clean on why they want him gone.
1.24.2008 12:58pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
I'm having trouble grasping the outrrage here.
Indeed you are. Missing the point entirely, in fact.
On the merits, it seems like a garden-variety case of disputed facts. If Professor Hindley's account is true, he did not deserve a reprimand. If "Jane"'s account is true, he did.
No. On the merits, it doesn't sound like a case of disputed facts, because there are no merits, no facts. Nobody will tell us (and, more importantly, Hindley) what the allegations are.

"You did something bad." "No, I didn't." is not a case of "disputed facts."

I also miss the outrage about the confidentiality of the university's investigation. Confidentiality protects the accused as well as the accuser.
Yet again, you miss the point. The point is that the allegations are being kept confidential from the accused. "Someone said you did something wrong, but we won't tell you who they are, and we won't even tell you what they said because then you might figure out who they are" does not protect the accused.
1.24.2008 1:00pm
Laika's Last Woof (mail):
Imagine if relating an account of a crime were the equivalent of committing it:

"Yes, detective, I saw what happened. I saw everything!"
"Great, so could you tell us?"
"No, I'm sorry."
"Why not? We need to get this guy behind bars!"
"Because relating an account of a crime carries the same penalty as actually committing the crime. If I tell you what I saw, I could wind up in jail."
"Ahh, excellent point. Have you ever heard of charades?"
1.24.2008 1:15pm
AF:
The point is that the allegations are being kept confidential from the accused.

If that is the point, it has the disadvantage of being untrue:

Hindley said he was first alerted to the complaints Oct. 22 after receiving an e-mail from Jesse Simone, director of employment, employee relations and training, requesting a meeting that day. Over the course of the nearly two-hour meeting, Simone and Hindley discussed the allegations in the presence of another man, who took notes but did not speak.
1.24.2008 1:18pm
Stacy (mail) (www):
My high school administration had similar tendencies, though it extended beyond them to the school board and county government. For decades now, school systems have prioritized keeping order and appeasing the political gods way above any semblance of civil rights for students. Think of zero-tolerance policies and anything else justified as protecting the safety or self-esteem of students.

The problem, of course, is that several generations of the US middle class have now been raised to accept the workings of a police state as normal. Feeling warm yet, Mr. Frog?

As an aside, my high school principal was famous for making a speech to the entire student body in which he said, sans irony, "we have zero tolerance for intolerance!".
1.24.2008 1:55pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
If Hindley had research contracts that brought in substantial revenue to Brandeis does anyone think he would have a problem-- even if he were an incompetent and neglectful teacher? Brandeis knows full well that a cash cow can easily get a professorship somewhere else, and they would leave him alone. The student bringing the complaint would be the one with the problem. Brandeis is particularly obsessed with money. When I went to a restroom at Brandeis I half expected to see a plaque with the following inscription:

This toilet made possible by a generous contribution from Ruth and Jacob Rothman.


One needs to look past that thin veneer of political correctness to get to the truth.
1.24.2008 1:57pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
This stuck with me. It was clear from the conversation with the dean, and from coverage in the campus paper, that he was being investigated for bigotry. But in fact the administration was using these allegations to tar a man for racism in order to strong-arm him out of a tenured position.

Tenure prevents the firing of jackasses and incompetents for jackassery and incompetence, and so trumped up charges get used instead. Kind of like Congress using "the politics of personal destruction" against judge candidates because there's a taboo against admitting that their opposition is due to ideology.
1.24.2008 2:11pm
Duffy Pratt (mail):
Does Lenny Bruce get a pass on campuses anymore?
1.24.2008 2:53pm
wfjag:
Ex parte McCardle:

I posted essentially the same question on the other post on this, and received the following response:


You've got to wonder what the reaction would be if in an American Literature class the Professor assigned readings from Mark Twain's works Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer or Life Along the Mississippi and noted that therein, and in the 19th century, "African-Americans were referred to pejoratively as . . ."


My reaction is pretty strongly offended, in the the 19th century the usage was not perjorative (for the most part) but a commonplace descriptive like African-American. There was no shortage of perjorative terms for vaious human subgroups in the 19th century including African-Americans, but the common N- words were not used insultingly, merely descriptely as the word b---k was formerly considered a non-perjporative term for African-Americans, indeed the word b---k is still used by the PC impaired African-Americans who inhabit Africa to refer to themselves.


Upon further reflection, it is clear that what this really involves is the intolerable sexism and racism of the Brandeis administration. It has put "Jane" into its version of the Witness Protection Program and stuck her with the cover name of "Jane" -- as in "Me Tarzan, You Jane." Taking the "I'm offended" game a bit further leads to the association with the Black &White films [anyone offended by the phrase "Black &White"?] about Tarzan with racial sterotypes of primitive Africans in 1930's Hollywood films. Thus, there is clearly an attempt by Brandeis to associate "Jane" not only with the Jane of Tarzan, but also with racial sterotyping.
1.24.2008 2:56pm
Danielx (mail):
It is amazing to me that nobody has even mentioned the concept of Academic Freedom, which used to mean that a professor was free to teach any way he or she pleased.
I know nothing about this professor except what I read above, but he seems to be one who abuses that freedom on a regular basis, but does so by preaching his (in my opinion deranged) political preferences in class.
What he is accused of here seems to be as silly as he is, which does not really surprise me because I expect that his department shares his politics.
1.24.2008 3:50pm
EconProf:
The idea that a senior administrator can take a student like "Jane" serious makes me afraid: From all of the discussion here "Jane" seems immature and lazy.
I am really fortunate to teach to graduate students. I am an econometrician. A rather boring field, where the danger of inapproprioate speak is low. Not. Think of all the Gaussian bell curves I sketch: for large variance these look like female breasts, and for small variances......
Then the concepts of "homoscedasticity" and "heteroscedasticity": For a Jane, there may be secual innuendo. Fortunately, I tell the students that homoscedasticity is simpler, which saves me from the PC-police.
1.24.2008 5:00pm
R. G. Newbury (mail):
FP: You make the shrewd observation of how political correctness engenders evil because of "the violence that it does to people's souls by forcing them to say or imply what they do not believe, but must not question." Can you talk about this a bit?

Dr. Theodore Dalrymple: Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform,
but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. *To
assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One's standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I
think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.*

Spot on by the good doctor. That *humiliation* is intended is proven by the fact that there will be a *monitor* in his classroom.

From Wikipedia, about '1984'
"During one of these sessions, O'Brien explains to Winston that the purpose of the torture is not to extract a fake confession, but to alter the way Winston thinks. O'Brien also assures Winston that once he is cured, meaning that he accepts reality as described by the Party, he will be executed."
1.24.2008 5:27pm
James Lindgren (mail):
Econ Prof wrote:


Then the concepts of "homoscedasticity" and "heteroscedasticity": For a Jane, there may be secual innuendo. Fortunately, I tell the students that homoscedasticity is simpler, which saves me from the PC-police.


In graduate school at the University of Chicago, one sociology professor told us to use the term "indicator variable" rather than "dummy variable," because someone might not like being in a group indicated by a dummy variable. In particular, he said not to refer to a black indicator variable as a dummy variable; apparently, someone had taken offense at an academic conference.
1.24.2008 7:30pm
James Lindgren (mail):
Stacy wrote:


As an aside, my high school principal was famous for making a speech to the entire student body in which he said, sans irony, "we have zero tolerance for intolerance!".


Sadly, a recent president of the University of Chicago said the same thing to the Faculty Senate; the only thing we won't tolerate is intolerance.

He was challenged by a law professor who pointed out that some ideas (eg, racism), groups (eg, Nazis), and people (eg, Hitler) are not entitled to equal respect enforced by the university administration, and that faculty needed the right to be critical of cherished ideas, even by making statements that hearers might interpret as hostile or intolerant of those ideas.
1.24.2008 7:37pm
Neo (mail):

"Brandeis has a moral responsibility to live up to the reputation of its namesake, Supreme Court Justice and free speech champion Louis Brandeis, by apologizing to Professor Hindley, withdrawing the Provost's decision, clarifying its harassment policies and procedures, and actually following them-as Brandeis's own faculty have demanded."


Brandeis has not yet responded to FIRE, but Krauss sent Hindley a letter on January 7, 2008, stating that "the University now considers this matter closed"—without a hearing, without apology, and with the suggestion that Hindley (but not Brandeis) had learned or still needed to learn a lesson.
1.24.2008 8:47pm
tckurd (mail):
I recall in a class back in the 80's a professor went off on the Jews - claiming they were comitting a holocaust on the Palestinians. I remember questioning the context in which it was brought out - but today cannot remember it.

I decided he was an anti-semite, and that at this point laws of civility were no longer applicable. Several weeks later, after failing to turn in a paper on some topic or another, I convinced him that indeed I had done the paper and he gave me a B. He wrote it in his grade book, and all was well.
1.24.2008 9:31pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
tckurd: Aren't you speaking here of the laws of honesty, not of civility? And a breach of the laws of honesty that affected the institution, and not just the professor?
1.24.2008 10:48pm
Elliot123 (mail):
As the humanities departments in universities destroy themselves, where will the demand for such learning exert itself? Will the internet organize itself to make the traditional lecture hall obsolete?

Suppose Wal-Mart decided to get into the higher education business. Does anyone think they would use the current university model? Does anyone doubt they would succeed?
1.25.2008 12:27am
pgepps (www):
Seems like a real case of no "there" there. Students are notoriously insensitive to context and irony; as an English teacher, I would never expect to get through a presentation of Swift's "A Modest Proposal" without someone objecting to its inhumanity, while someone else asked, "will this be on the test?"

Apparently now I have to watch out for charges of insensitivity to the Irish, as well.
1.25.2008 12:44am
Lev:
Molly Goldberg: Hit your kid once a day. He'll know what it is for.
1.25.2008 2:07am
yankev (mail):
R.G. Newbury

Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform,
but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity.

As I recall, the purpose of Newspeak was to make it impossible to express or even form an improper thought. The PC movement is there to make us differently free.
1.25.2008 10:56am
whit:
"In graduate school at the University of Chicago, one sociology professor told us to use the term "indicator variable" rather than "dummy variable," because someone might not like being in a group indicated by a dummy variable. In particular, he said not to refer to a black indicator variable as a dummy variable; apparently, someone had taken offense at an academic conference."

also, the term "bullet point" is frowned upon/banned in some companies.

bullets are EVIL!
1.25.2008 1:47pm
whit:
"Does Lenny Bruce get a pass on campuses anymore?"

it depends. if a speaker is fighting out against the white heterosexist christian male etc. power structure it's ok. when he says politically INCORRECT things - iow pokes fun at "oppressed" people or groups it's not. when i was at college, we couldn't even have sam kinison come because he was "homophobic" etc. no problem with having radical left speakers who said "kill the rich" "whites are the cancer of history" etc.

as FIRE rightly points out, it USED to be the left who fought for freedom of speech on campus. now, that they are in control, they are far worse than the right ever was.
1.25.2008 2:09pm
Hoosier:
whit: Please remember--'Guns don't kill people; Bullets kill people.'
1.25.2008 4:30pm