March 29, 2005

In Other News

College Campuses Succumb to Attack of Agnostic Alan Aldas!

The fact that campus faculties are full of liberal men who tend not to go to church shouldn't surprise anyone. This is no longer news, I promise. Once upon a time I thought that left-leaning politics were more part and parcel of the humanities faculty, but my new job has disabused me of that notion. When you have folks asking you about the politics of a media personality before agreeing to free, non-confrontational publicity, and telling you that conservatives need not apply--well, to say it's stupid is both patently obvious and a waste of time. And it assumes that I have Kreskin-like abilities of political persuasion prediction: Ahhh, I can see by the amount of hairspray that you're wearing that you're a COMMUNIST!!!! Puh-leeze.

The most annoying aspect of all of this, however, is the underlying assumption on the part of people who should know better that no one is capable of doing a job that isn't politically biased; you know, that people can't exist apart from politics.

Sigh. Brace yourselves for the predictable "The reason there aren't more (fill in the blank with underrepresented political persuasion here) on campus is because they're Big Dummy Stupid Poopy Heads and We Hates Them, Precious!" soundbites from predictably ponderous blowhards.

Ah, academia. Where it's only surprising when the level of political discourse rises ABOVE the level of Fark flame war.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at March 29, 2005 01:57 PM

They want to know if they'll be laughed at. That doesn't happen on campus but the radio guys are unpredictable. The town has been laughing at the university for years, after all, and most likely the town is the audience, when it comes to ratings. Professors like to control the conversation.

On campus, here's Wm. Kerrigan in 1991, writing in _Raritan_ with surprise that Camille Paglia was published by Yale University Press. I imagine it's changed but I don't know how.

``As I write I am steeling myself for the beginning of an academic year. The state of the university community, as I view it from my home in the English Department, depresses me no end. I share Harold Bloom's diagnosis of a ``culture of resentment,'' his feeling of being surrounded by ``a pride of displaced social workers.'' Alcohol has been banished from the campus. We are forbidden tobacco, even in our offices. Stricture on ``sexual harrassment'' have become so ferocious that they threaten to outlaw age-old forms of human warmth. Twenty years of theory have managed to make political name-calling into the cutting edge of literary criticism. During the forthcoming year lecturers will scoot around the country to define in trite phrases the sins of race, class, and gender in famous works of art. Literature is thought of as political apologetics. The role of criticism is to expose its ideological treachery.

``There is a high degree of sanctity in the air. Professors are quick to take offense. Indeed, the taking of offense has become so inflated as to make an art of its defensive opposite: the not giving of offense. There can be few more pitiful sights than an acadeic male trying to say something to an audience that includes feminists, fumbling to cram his fretful sentences with ``he or she,'' scheming to head off feared assaults by bathing their anticipation in his unremitting tolerance...''

Wm Kerrigan, ``The Perverse Kulturgeschichte of Camille Paglia'' _Raritan X:3_ Winter 1991, p.134

Posted by: Ron Hardin at March 29, 2005 02:27 PM

Great post. I've been dealing with all of the analyses of this "news" much like yourself. It's all pretty old and tired stuff.

Posted by: michael at March 29, 2005 11:42 PM