Lecturer at Acadia University. Judicial politics, authoritarianism, Islamic law. Specializing in Sudan/Egypt. Occasionally free speech on campus issues as well.
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Oct 7, 2018 • 18 tweets • 5 min read
The Anti-Politics Machine: or, a unified field theory of the Intellectual Dark Web
What is the IDW, et. al.? A huge amount of journalistic effort has been spent trying to nail down precisely what the IDW believes, the values it promotes, the future it is working toward.
1) The faculty imbalance between right/Republicans and left/Democrats is real. 2) Discrimination is, at most, a minor factor. Mainly it's self-selection. 3) Students are not indoctrinated. They're just not.
So what are the big lessons of all this?
Sep 20, 2018 • 24 tweets • 10 min read
In THREAD #1, I examined the question of whether there is a partisan or ideological imbalance within the academy (spoiler: there is), and what the causes might be (spoiler: it's complicated). You can read it here:
Earlier this week, @CassSunstein beat the extremely well-beaten drum about academia's partisan imbalance. Suggesting it may be due to discrimination, he worries about the impact of it all on students and faculty research.
Whenever a tenured professor gets fired for "free speech", it's a big deal. I didn't want to say anything without more info, but I'm ready at this point to offer a few quick thoughts. (THREAD)
I speak, of course, of Bruce Fleming. An English prof at the US Naval Academy, he was fired last month for his speech. Specifically, speech critical of the academy, its faculty, and its students. Example: he called his students "right-wing extremists".
Institutions second-guess themselves all the time. It's natural and healthy. The presumption shouldn't be that when a particular individual is especially controversial, such second-guessing is especially wrong.
This happens in the context of college campus speakers more than you might think. Example: UCLA College Republicans disinvited Milo to one of their events after being importuned by their faculty advisor.
I would flip this slightly to say that "explaining as labor" is one of those concepts that critics often claim is obnoxious SJW idiocy, when what they really mean is it's a valid idea that has been taken to absurd extremes or used in unethical ways.
Because we can all intuitively recognize and sympathize with the core complaint that the "explaining as labor" folk are making. Think of your own life, of those times when someone operating in bad faith, or perhaps just from a position of incuriosity, imposes on your intellect.
Aug 16, 2018 • 6 tweets • 2 min read
This is a good piece from @Musa_alGharbi of @HdxAcademy. Quite a few people have claimed that the data shows “liberal” faculty are fired at a higher rate than “conservative” faculty. It does not, as Musa emphasizes.
I’ve noticed Hdx members make this point (concession?) quite a bit lately. I find it baffling, especially considering the stress Hdx has placed in the past on opinion data from FIRE, Cato, and Knight, to say nothing of its own survey. More needs to be said about this, please.
Aug 15, 2018 • 10 tweets • 3 min read
According to .@benjaminwittes, we are well and truly f%&ked. Extreme partisanship has poisoned our politics and is destroying the judicial confirmation process. Judicial independence and authority will soon be lost as well.
Grim stuff, but is there hope? theatlantic.com/politics/archi…
Yeah, probably. Partisanship got us into this mess, but it might get us out of it too. Consider: you're an interest group with strong policy preferences and $1 million to spend. Do you (a) donate to a bunch of politicians; or (b) launch a long and costly national pr campaign?
Aug 11, 2018 • 5 tweets • 1 min read
Manuel Balan (McGill polisci) has a good argument that may be relevant here. The people who expose incumbent corruption need to have two traits: knowledge of the corruption and an incentive to say something about it. The problem is that these two things don’t normally go together
For instance, 36 graduates of Ave Maria signed a petition last spring calling on the university to drop Betsy DeVos as the commencement speaker. This gets counted as a disinvitation attempt, equal in weight to what happened to Murray at Middlebury.
Good question. I thought a lot about this at the time but couldn’t think of a good way to test it. The reality is that profs generate controversy for political speech constantly, so it’s hard to say what the denominator really is.
I really hesitate to say which “side” is being terminated at a greater rate. First, in many cases it’s cons terminating cons: eg admin at a religious institution firing a conservative prof for not be *as conservative* as the school. Same happened with liberals.
Most of us spend most of our time in spaces where we have few (if any) rights to free speech. This seems to me to be problematic from the perspective of democratic health, and should be taken *at least* as seriously as issues surrounding speech on campus.
Aug 1, 2018 • 5 tweets • 2 min read
What Ed doesn't realize is that we are living in an exceptional political moment, one in which the balance of the Court is at stake. As such, all precedent is irrelevant and special scrutiny is warranted in a way that I'm sure we can all agree is totally not self-serving.
Now I know what you're thinking: "Jeff, a cursory glance at the historical record reveals many other political moments just like this one. You're just making up a new rule out of thin air."
*smh* You poor dumb stupid dumby. What is it about "unprecedented" that you don't get?
Aug 1, 2018 • 4 tweets • 1 min read
Yeah, add cultural appropriation to intersectionality, words=violence, and mansplaining as concepts that everyone intuitively knows have real validity, but whose critics insist on pretending are made up.
Yesterday, @glukianoff made the valid and important point that campus free speech is not a partisan issue. Liberals and others on the Left who dismiss it as a conservative trojan horse, or even worse as purely some sort of grift, are mistaken.
Matt is right about how hesitant liberals are to admit this. They shouldn't be. Yes, there is strong evidence that ID politics/political correctness cost the Dems some votes (check his @NiskanenCenter piece), but that doesn't mean what so many centrist liberals think it does.
First, we don't know if it's costing them more votes than it's gaining. Jettisoning ID politics may help Dems win back some white suburbanites, but what if it depresses turnout in the blue cities driving the party's red state gains?
Anyway, there's a much bigger issue at play.
Jul 20, 2018 • 10 tweets • 3 min read
Some thoughts on Liberal Sliming, or as it's known on the Left, rightwing accountability. Prompted, of course, by that Ben Shapiro mea culpa/mea fuck you.
My most uncharitable thought first: Conservative pundits, get used to it. You've welcomed a lot of monsters into your ranks and given a lot of jerks a platform. Search your feelings. You know it to be true. Beck/O'Keefe/Milo/Coulter/D'Souza -- it's not a fluke. It's a pattern.
Jul 17, 2018 • 5 tweets • 3 min read
That piece by @jbouie today reminds me of this argument from David French back in 2015: if cons are paranoid about Jade Helm and all the rest, well it’s really mostly Obama’s fault for making them that way.
French then proceeds to lay out what I’m sure must have seemed at the time an absurd hypothetical, an exercise in prospective what-about-ism, in which a future Republican President behaves in a manner that’s really not all that different from Trump.
Jul 16, 2018 • 10 tweets • 3 min read
So here’s my question to critics of ID politics (not sure if @ebruenig is one, but this tweet is a convenient foil): What of the commonalities it reveals? What of the alliances it makes possible?
Are we supposed to believe that white Americans would be able to diagnose the opioid crisis, possess the political vocabulary to describe it, and the identify the strategy to address it, without a generation of black scholarship on the Drug War?