Monday, October 02, 2006

Tony continues to defend Barrett

Tony added two more posts about Kevin Barrett today and yesterday. It turns out that part of the reason that Tony is so defensive about the invite to Kevin Barrett is that he was involved in inviting him here to speak.

In any case, as you read all of Tony's defenses of Barrett's views, he continues to refer to the cowardice of the faculty for not embracing, or accepting Barrett's conspiratorial premises.

Barrett is not an expert in any of the topic about which he speaks (except that he is a scholar of Islam who seems to agree with many Islamists), but is convinced that the U.S. Government is evil.

Why is it cowardice to say that this is not what our university should stand for? How is it problematic to say that it only causes us political harm? The reality of the situation is that we teach at a public university, funded by state taxpayers with legislators looking over our shoulders. To give Barrett an unchallenged platform only makes us look foolish.

As Tony is our free-speech expert, I want him to respond to the question I have asked several times--where do you draw the line? Would he be as excited about a speaker who repeatedly pushed the falsehood that Saddam was responsible for 9/11? Would we see this adament defense of a holocaust deniers right to speak and not be challenged on campus? How about those who speak of racial differences in intellegence? Do we have to accept all views as equal in our intellectual community?


nemesis said...

Tony seems to be sending a mixed message, or at least he's not sure just what he wants to say. (Odd thing for a "communications" professor.)

On the one hand, he criticizes us for not taking Barrett seriously and listening to what he has to say. Then he accuses us of attempting to "delegitimatize" (a word I don't find in the OED -- again very odd for a "communications" professor)the appearance by paying too much attention to it!

So, which is it? Are we suppressing him and refusing to give due consideration to his ideas, or are we paying too much attention to him as a means of "delegitimatization" (whatever that may mean)?

Or is it just possible that Tony is primarily a contrarian (a word you *will* find in the OED)? Does he simple enjoy kicking up a fuss, like that annoying kid in the sixth grade who so exasperated your teacher? Why, when I read Tony's blog, does the opening scene of the Marx Bros. movie "Horsefeathers" run through my mind? Groucho, as Prof. Wagstaff, president of Huxley College, sings to his faculty:

"I don't know what they have to say
It makes no difference anyway;
Whatever it is, I'm against it!"

Janine said...

I think you raise some very good questions. It will be interesting to see how Tony would answer them.

tony palmeri said...

Lake Winneblogo,
Is this "discover your inner Joe McCarthy week" or something? My Valley Scene piece explicitly says, "To my knowledge, none of the organizers share Barrett’s views about what happened on 9/11, but all felt that the attempt of the legislature and right wing radio to bully the UW into terminating someone with whom they disagree is something that needs to be examined openly and assertively by UW campuses."

Somehow from that you pull: "In any case, as you read all of Tony's defenses of Barrett's views, he continues to refer to the cowardice of the faculty for not embracing, or accepting Barrett's conspiratorial premises."

Your attempts to continue to equate what Barrett is doing with holocaust denial and other absurdities is very sad.

Did UW Madison "look foolish" on Sunday when Barrett and professor James Fetzer spoke to a few hundred people on the campus? The foolishness was in the fact that Representative Steve Nass apparently tried to prevent the event from taking place. Do we now need legislative approval to invite speakers to campus?

We agree that Barrett should not go "unchallenged." I have great confidence, unlike some administrators and faculty in the UW apparently, that members of our campus community are fully able to challenge his thoughts without first getting coached on "weirdness." I also believe that the "official" 9/11 story needs to be challenged, and in fact it is the failure to challenge that story in a serious manner that has succeeded in growing the "conspiracy" movement.

I won't be able to attend the "Why Intelligent People Believe Weird Things" panel tonight, and neither will David Barnhill of the Environmental Studies Program. But David emailed the participants in that event. His thoughts mirror mine:

"Unfortunately I won't be able to make this fascinating panel, but I hope someone puts the question in terms of those in power. Like, why did intelligent and rational people believe that they can take over Iraq with half the troops the Chair of the Joint Chiefs said was necessary? Why did intelligent and rational people believe we would be greeted as liberators? Why did intelligent and rational people believe that the cost of the occupation would be a few billion dollars and Iraq would pay for our occupation?"

"We need to recognize that those beliefs were just as irrational and far more damaging than any coming from some instructor at UW Madison. I'm curious why our society does not raise these questions for those in power with the same puzzlement as it does with those on the margins. What does that say about our political system, our media, and our culture as a whole? I think that question is more interesting than those about a conspiracy theorist from Madison, whose weird fantasies are not any more weird than those of some folks in high places."

If the "official" panels created in response to the Barrett invitation do not tackle the questions raised by Barnhill and other serious questions, we will look foolish indeed.

tony palmeri said...

P.S. Nemesis, instead of taking cheap, anonymous shots at people with whom you disagree, perhaps you should try to educate yourself. Here's a source on delegitimization:

nemesis said...

Tony Palmeri said:
"instead of taking cheap, anonymous shots at people with whom you disagree,"

Ha ha, that's good! Who said I disagree with you? All I did was ask some questions, suggest you were motivated by a contrary nature, and point out the irony of a professor of Communications having trouble communicating clearly. 'Tweren't "cheap" -- I put a lot of thought into that post! (I had to: I've never had the advantage of formal coursework in Communications!) [I must have taken to heart the immortal words of Springfield University placekicker Anton Lubchenko: "Is true! Is phony major!"]

Despite this handicap, I do think that using big words that aren't in the dictionary is a GREAT way to intimidate your audience and stifle communication.

Tony Palmeri said:
"Here's a source on delegitimization:"

So send it to the OED. They appreciate the help.

As for anonymity, well, "when in Rome ..." If Winnie Bloggo doesn't have to say who s/he is, I don't either.

LJ said...


Do you consider it censorship for you to decide who can post to your own blog?

Dave Diamond said...

Am I the only one who thinks it's funny that when responding to criticism, Palmeri dodges the question and resorts to name-calling?

Critic: Are all positions worthy of the protection of academic freedom?
Palmeri: Stop trying to oppress viewpoints, you McCarthyist!

babblemur said...

Well I think it is pretty safe to say that Lake Winneblogo is NOT Tony Palmeri...

Aside from the other issues brought up here, I am curious if the response to the Barrett visit (3 seperate panels and a featured speaker on election night) is sufficiently strong enough? I think we should probably add a few roundtable 'debriefings' following the Barrett talk, maybe have some counselors talk to students in small groups to make sure that they have sufficiently 'coped' with the experience, not that many will go anyway.

Another good response might be to focus the developing "First Year Experience" course on a common shared theme: "Why Barrett Sucks", or, since he won't be working for the UW System after December, it could be phrased "Why Barrett Sucked".

nemesis said...

Dave Diamond said...
"Am I the only one who thinks it's funny that when responding to criticism, Palmeri dodges the question and resorts to name-calling?"

No, I laughed, too, remember? Nemesis: "Ha ha, that's good!" Yeah, I thought THAT was pretty ironic, too.

So, just answer the charge, Tony: "Are you now or have you ever been a contrarian???"

S.B. said...

Trivia time!

Q. Who can censor you, by definition?
A. The government.

Q. What is the name of the department at UWO in which Dr. Palmeri teaches communication?
A. Communication. Note the lack of the letter 's.' Pot, kettle, black, etc.