Political Musings

If the media incline to the left, why has all the coverage of the transit strike in New York (all that I’ve heard, in other words “mostly NPR and online news sources”) stressed the hardship this strike imposes on commuters, tourists, hoteliers, and merchants, and the unusually-comprehensive pension and health care package that the laborers are striking to maintain? A lefty press would, I’d imagine, lionize the brave workers who have drawn the line at corporate exploitation (billions of dollars of profits, comfy benefits at the top, but a desperate need to cut benefits for the laborers who actually make the transit system run).

A left-inclined press might be baying at the heels of congressmen and White House officials who have fallen afoul a special prosecutor for violations of political procedure rather than for lying about a stupid, tawdry sexual affair. A left-inclined press might try to suppress or rebut, rather than perpetuate and amplify, reports that the press inclines toward the left. Or so I’d think.

This morning brings yet another complaint about the internet as the ostensible cause of stupidity, inn the name of a greater civility that apparently arises automatically when people communicate face to face. Evidently the author, who admits to having gone to college “way back in the technological stone age (the mid 1990s),” lacks sufficient experience of face-to-face interaction to back up his overripe nostalgia, but he might have stopped to drink a cup of badly-perked academic coffee and thought back on centuries of life in educational institutions before he committed such callow folly to public display.

News flash: The academy has never been the idyllic preserve of systematically undistorted communication after which Steele hankers; academic life involves a perpetual negotiation of generosity and venality, liberality (in its best sense) and reaction, the search for truth and the struggle to control how that search turns out. Very often, academic people behave extremely badly. It didn’t start with the Internet, face to face interaction doesn’t solve the problem, and a great many more academic conflicts and misdemeanors take pace through good ol’ fashioned scheming, manipulation, personal interaction, and offical memo than through web sites.

But while the subject of Paul Mirecki has come to the surface (Steele refers to Mirecki’s situation as one of his examples), has anyone ever made a less-appealing case for himself? He might have simply, patiently offered a course on Intelligent Design, displayed its characteristics and encouraged students to think through the problems involved in construing it as a scientific theory, while at the same time encouraging students to push as hard as they care to against the mythos of evolution, and everyone involved could have learned a lot. Instead, he revealed a streak of intolerance that should embarrass him, then claimed that KU’s squeezing him out of being department chair constituted a breach of academic freedom. Oh, the pernicious effects of the internet. . . .

1 thought on “Political Musings

  1. It’s a cliche that we ought to always act as though people are listening, even in the company of trusted friends. But how many of us actually do? Often lost in the storm of stone-throwing and self-flagellation by conservative atheists, one simple fact gets lost: Mirecki was posting to a closed list. Somebody on that list had to narc on him, and then somebody else had to spread the word far and wee.

    So this could happen to anybody who’s famouse enough to catch the attention of the schoolyard bullies who tend increasingly to run things in America.

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