Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Intellectual Diversity in Madison?

On the left, there was Kevin Barrett, now from the racist right, law professor Leonard Kaplan??

Kaplan has been accused of anti-Hmong statements in a class on February 15. A Student email circulated claiming that Kaplan said that Hmong men were killers and Hmong women were better off if the men were dead.

It led several students to file a complaint that claims that he was creating a hostile environment.

I've looked back at this story, so here are few links:

From Madison on Feb 22

A Badger-Herald editorial from Feb 26

An account of a meeting in Madison

Today's story about Kaplan's response in the Journal-Sentinel


I imagine Steve Nass will be denouncing the protesters for being too sensitive.

9 comments:

lammers said...

Winnie Bloggo said:
>>I imagine Steve Nass will be denouncing the protesters for being too sensitive.<<

Why would he do that? That gets him nowhere. That's not his theme. Once again, you deal in simplistic caricatures and stereotypes, not reality: whatever *you* think, you assume Nass will be the diametric opposite, because he's the Boogie Man. But life is never so simple.

My bet would be that if he comments on it at all, he will use it as yet another criticism of UW. He won't frame it as liberal vs. conservative, but rather as "intellectuals out of touch with our citizens" and "look what your tax dollars pay for." You'll have no success combatting what is wrong in the world if you don't percieve it clearly.

As for the original lecture that caused all this, I find it very regrettable that the party who sent out the e-mail about it was not even in the class! Isn't that what, in Law School, they call "hearsay"???

I wasn't there, so I cannot comment knowledgably myself, other than to wonder aloud if the reaction to the lecture is not another case of cultural differences leading to misunderstanding. What you or I might recognize as reductio ad absurdam or patently ridiculous hyperbole to make a point might not be recognized as such by others. 'Twould be interesting to have been there, to know what was actually said and *how* it was said.

Anonymous said...

http://www.news.wisc.edu/images/kaplan_davis_letter.pdf

He didn't make much of a case for himself.

Anonymous said...

Common sense for the common man. I think your read of the current "climate" regarding the UW System in many of the legislative offices is right on.

Lammers For President in 2008!!!

lammers said...

Anonymous #1 said...
>>http://www.news.wisc.edu/images/kaplan_davis_letter.pdf
He didn't make much of a case for himself.<<

Hm, I guess "YMMV." *I* thought he made a very good case for himself. Perhaps a little jargon-heavy in spots, but that's an occupational hazard in many academic disciplines. After reading that letter, my interpretation of the event is that he was trying to *talk about* how easy it is for cultures to misunderstand one another with sad results, and ironically ended up giving us a very clear *object lesson* on that point.

Anonymous #2 wrote:
"Lammers For President in 2008!!!"

Oh, God help us all! I don't even like to chair a departmental committee. I don't even want to think about the headaches that come with political office! Thank you for the sentiment, but I'll gladly leave such aspirations to my esteemed colleague Dr. Palmeri.

Anonymous said...

It really grates on me how the tenured professor's sacred academic freedom choir musters up the courage and energy to take on these poor cases and gives "academic freedom" a bad name. Here's a guy who
makes a smart aleck male humor comment about a case of an arranged marriage involving a hmong woman. And there's hmong women in the class. Not amazingly,
in fact predictably, they take offense. I for one vote for them. They're paying a huge amount of money to go to law school and they get unprofessional good ol boy guy jokes. World class academic freedom it aint. Why does a group like WUU http://www.wuu.info/ always and only come out to beat the drum for poor example cases of guys who did highly questionable things?
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2007/03/07/kaplan
(Ok not as questionable in this case as Lewis Cohen for whom they also beat the academic freedom drum). It makes it look like academic freedom is what some male profs invoke to excuse their behavioral faux pas. Regardless of what they did they expect the academic freedom fairy to beam them out of the trouble zone. Is that all there is to academic freedom? It is extremely unfortunate that no one comes up with academic freedom
when the academic didn't do something if not hugely bad, at least quite questionable. Where is academic freedom where we could use it like unearthing some terrible abuse of some sort? Protecting the public, or students or someone from some bad thing? Such as protecting us from evil drug companies hiding toxic side effects, something like that... There's no way that these cases
of the errant male profs claiming academic freedom to protect them from some well deserved culture classes are going to shore up academic freedom. They're weakening it. Based on this experience is the guy such a raging expert on minorities that he should be able to shoot off his mouth any way he wishes in class? Can't prove it by that experience.
I think the minority students in the class did well to call him on it.

lammers said...

Anonymous #3 wrote:
>>Here's a guy who makes a smart aleck male humor comment ... they get unprofessional good ol boy guy jokes.<<

I'm sorry, and you know that this is the case ... HOW? Were you in the room? Can you quote the professor's words? Can you describe his tone, his body language as he delivered the hurtful comments? Have you met the man? Would you recognize him if you saw him? Are you privy to his thoughts, his intentions?

If not, then you are merely making an assumption. If your answer is, "Well, no, but everybody KNOWS what those jerks are like," then you are guilty of stereotyping and prejudice.

I don't know what went on in that room. Heck, the person who dispatched the initial e-mail complaint wasn't even in the room! I think at this point it is far better to suggest this was an unfortunate misunderstanding of an on-topic lecture rather than a hateful jerk shooting off his mouth.

Anonymous said...

Lammers

You were not in the room either. So you cannot and should not make the assumption that it was an innocent misunderstanding. You should wait until there is more information. UW has proceddures for such things, people should wait to see how that plays out.

and by the way, even if it turns out to be a misunderstanding, he still owes students an apology.

Anonymous said...

Lammers

You were not in the room either. So you cannot and should not make the assumption that it was an innocent misunderstanding. You should wait until there is more information. UW has proceddures for such things, people should wait to see how that plays out.


Isn't this a little backwards...? Lammers presumption of innocence seems to be more in touch with what our whole philosophy of justice is based upon. Shouldn't you wait for more information before assuming guilt?

lammers said...

One of the many people unwilling to identify himself with even a clever screen name wrote:

>>You were not in the room either. So you cannot and should not make the assumption that it was an innocent misunderstanding.<<

Yeah, see, there's this little thing we have called "The U.S. Constitution" (maybe you've heard of it?), which says that this is EXACTLY what we do when there are allegations of wrongdoing. Maybe the phrase "innocent until proven guilty" rings a bell? I know it's not a popular concept in these days of Media Circuses, but it *is* the right apoproach to things.

As I stated, I do not know what happened. So the presumption one makes is that nothing happened until EVIDENCE shows otherwise. I am definitely taking a wait-and-see attitude.

(FWIW, My experience in academe suggests that a one-off misunderstanding is a more likely hypothesis than the hypothesis that a previously stable tenured professor went off his nut, but that, too, certainly does happen, so who knows.)

>>and by the way, even if it turns out to be a misunderstanding, he still owes students an apology.<<

I think that is exactly what he did in the letter released by his Dean's office, and linked to one of you another A. Nonny Mouses.