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Gender in the Merovingian World

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Another post updated: Transformations of Romanness

I have updated this post from last year, to represent the finished text sent for publication rather than the one originally delivered.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Society, Individual, Exclusion: Update

I have updated this post, the text of which is now the version submitted for publication rather than that delivered at the Padova conference.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

In which (not for the first time) John McAdams reveals himself to be a worthless [complete this sentence in no more than one word of no more than four letters]

What this is is a blog-post by a senior - indeed possibly senile, certainly (born 1945) superannuated - professor at Marquette University (Milwaukee, Wisconsin - what do you mean you never heard of it?) who, on the word of a student, publicly names and (he hopes) shames a young, female graduate student for - reading between the lines - refusing to allow a vocal conservative male student to sidetrack a discussion of rights into an attempt to deny that gay people have certain rights (i.e. marriage).  Safe in the knowledge of his status at a Jesuit university, this "hang 'em and flog 'em" conservative (find out more about this overgrown schoolboy attention-seeker here) publishes a blog-post in which commenters call for the woman in question (not even in his department) to be fired.  Conservative associations from the USA's religious right have joined in the attack.

I am not interested in what happened in the class - I don't know what happened.  A counter-version shines right through the clearly bigoted version McAdams posted without needing to be articulated. You can find more information and plenty of viewpoints that would echo mine on this precise case here (though I will say that I find Rawls to be about the most pointless 'significant philosopher' in history).  I am not relying on the other version of events.  Whatever actually happened is irrelevant to this blog-post, which is about the way to deal with the situation.

What is at issue is just good, basic, human practice.  Even had this Post-grad tutor done something that genuinely constituted malpractice in her class, you just don't publish a blog post about them, in which they are named.  Certainly you don't do so on the mere hear-say of one parti-pris student, simply because you share their politics.  Were something done contrary to good practice then one takes the matter through the usual routes, via the faculty in question, involving the student's supervisor, assuming innocence until guilt is proven.  And if guilt is proven you take appropriate steps, with an eye to a fair or balanced outcome (new tutor/first offence treated differently from a serial offender who just won't be told, etc).  None of that has anything to do with the politics involved. 

What this is is bullying pure and simple, Nasty, old white male bullying, hiding behind a vacuous claim to be defending free speech (because classes taught by female graduate teaching assistants are really the most important battlefield on that front?), hiding behind privilege, hiding behind tenure, hiding behind the fact that he can just keep going until he drops dead while talented young people cannot find academic posts.  The 'Marquette Warrior', McAdams calls himself.  Yeah, what a real, mighty 'warrior'.  Marquette really ought to do something, regardless of the details of the classroom incident, because they have a harassment policy, which actually begins:
Marquette University, as a Catholic, Jesuit institution, insists that all human beings possess an inherent dignity and equality because they are made in the image and likeness of God. The university entirely and consistently disowns, as a matter of principle, any unlawful or wrongful discrimination against the rights of others.
As the university is committed to maintaining an environment in which the dignity and worth of each member of its community is respected, it will not tolerate harassment of or by students, faculty, staff and guests or visitors.
If this is not an open-and-close case of harassment, I do not know what is.  There are plenty of things that attract me to the USA but also plenty of things that put me off and suggest a society on the verge of downward spiral - and the fact that this sort of thing can happen is certainly one of the latter. There are many things I dislike about the snobbish, Oxbridge-dominated, upper middle class culture of UK academia, but one thing I do appreciate is the fact that this sort of behaviour would never be tolerated.

Coda
Just so we are clear.  My reaction to this would be exactly the same if this case involved an old tenured male professor with liberal political views publicly naming and shaming a conservative female grad student for stopping a student going off on one about - I don't know - Ayn Rand [when did Ayn Rand become a philosopher?].  Indeed if it was a tenured liberal, female, gay, black disabled professor publicly naming and shaming a young, conservative, white, heterosexual male grad student,  my view would be very negative, if not the same because the power relations would not be the same (in brief: how many tenured female, gay, black disabled professors do you know? Exactly.  Enough said).  Perhaps I would not be as moved to blog about it, and that would be 'my bad', but I should.

Also, note from Warrior McAdam's other posts that when an accused subject is a male professor of possibly conservative views, he carefully protects his anonymity.  What that clearly means is that - aside from anything else - McAdams is discriminating against the graduate student on the grounds of her sex.  Case closed.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Blog-post Published

As of today, this post - one of the more viewed blog-posts on this site - is published:
Two Worlds Become One: A 'Counter-Intuitive' View of the Roman Empire and 'Germanic' Migration Guy Halsall
German History 2014 32 (4): 515-532
doi: 10.1093/gerhis/ghu107