URLs du Jour


Proverbs 19:6 is another verse that Speaks To Our Time:

6 Many curry favor with a ruler,
    and everyone is the friend of one who gives gifts.

As we noticed just a couple days ago, the Proverbialist can be cynical about friendship. Tying it to political corruption is a bonus.

■ At Reason, Liz Wolfe notes the frustrations of would-be college censors: Bias Response Teams Thwarted in Their Goal of a Sensitive Campus by the First Amendment.

The Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice released a first-of-its kind study on bias response teams, a relatively new invention in the ever-expanding world of college free speech management.

Interviews with administrators who police and discipline students who have used insensitive language or display insensitive attitudes reveal their frustration with the free speech guarantees that prevent them from punishing students. The First Amendment, some of them say, constrains them from creating sensitive, inclusive communities.

Previous Pun Salad article on the report here. To quibble with the thrust of the article: (1) "bias response teams" can go after any member of the campus community, not just students; (2) while the First Amendment can eventually protect free-speaking individuals, that doesn't always prevent Kafkaesque "investigations" into their heretical expressions; in such cases, the investigation is the punishment. For an example of both, see the case of Laura Kipnis.

■ I really liked Peter Schuck's book One Nation Divided. And (unsurprisingly) I like his article at Minding the Campus: Free Speech–Where Are the Adults in the Room?

Almost two years have passed since the Halloween imbroglio at Yale in 2015, which launched the current era of student mobilizations against speech that some students don’t want to hear.  Whatever their ideological stance, these protests aim to intimidate controversial speakers and those who would invite them to campus, to prevent others from hearing them, and to banish certain ideas and terms from campus discourse.

Professor Schuck accurately diagnoses the issues, and calls out the fecklessness of college administrators whose first instinct is to apppease the intimidating activists. He suggests a number of possible avenues for moving toward campus sanity. I liked this observation:

Diversity-talk on college today’s campuses is obsessed with gender, race, sexual orientation, and other constructions of identity. In excess, these obsessions degrade intellectual discourse, interpersonal civility, and campus life generally. Colleges now emphasize and promote these often divisive identities rather than fostering the civility, candor, and thicker skins necessary to sustain a robust and competitive diverse society. Colleges’ highest educational priority should be intellectual, methodological, and socioeconomic diversity, not a campus peace based on a patronizing co-optation of sullen groups.

Sensible! Will anyone pay attention at the University Near Here?

■ At Cafe Hayek, Don Boudreaux has thoughts on Stereotyping.

[…] one problem with stereotypes is that they mask significant differences among the individuals in whatever group is stereotyped. To stereotype is to treat a group as if it is the relevant unit of analysis. To stereotype is to judge an individual not according to his or her own merits and demerits but, instead, according to the group to which he or she is believed to belong. To stereotype is to ignore the individual; to stereotype is often to show either a careless disregard for persons as individuals. And sometimes, let us be honest, the stereotyping is not innocent: it is sometimes malevolent.

Yet the same “Progressives” who are on 24/7/365 intrepid patrol against certain varieties of stereotyping – varieties such as racial, ethnic, or sexual-preference stereotyping – are themselves proud practitioners of many other varieties of stereotyping. For example, “Progressives” are especially prone to think of “workers” (or, at least, “blue-collar workers”) as a unified group – as one big blob in which each individual is identical to the rest, in which each worker’s interest is the same as any other worker’s interest. Likewise with “big business” or “capitalists” (or “capital”): all the same in the minds of “Progressives.” What’s good for big business A is also good for big businesses B through Z. What’s bad for big business Z is also bad for big business A through Y.

Professor Boudreaux may be stereotyping "Progressives" here. But that's OK.

■ At Language Log, Mark Liberman examines Air quotes. The OED finds an example from 1927:

[1927 Science 8 July 38/2 Some years ago I knew a very intelligent young woman who used to inform us that her ‘bright sayings’..were not original, by raising both hands above her head with the first and second fingers pointing upward. Her fingers were her ‘quotation marks’ and were very easily understood.]

As near as I can tell, Joey Tribbiani's confusion about the concept is not referenced: