on the “many sides” and moral equivalencies of free speech

I’m starting this post wondering if I will finish it, if I actually have something to say that hasn’t already been said. I am unconditionally opposed to the ideologies of the kkk and nazis, and I am as sickened as anyone that such statements even need to be made. I am not only opposed to…

republicans and colleges

Last week the Pew Research Center reported on “Sharp Partisan Divisions in Views of National Institutions.” Though the survey covers a range of institutions–churches, banks, unions, news media, and colleges–it was the last category that drew the most attention (predictably) among people I work with. The report notes that 58% of those who identify as…

politics, free speech, and academic freedom

Trump on Twitter; Kathy Griffin, Stephen Colbert, and Johnny Depp’s remarks about Trump; academics being threatened or losing their jobs for political statements; academics being threatened or losing their jobs for making racist or similarly inappropriate comments online; conservative speakers having their campus talks either disrupted or cancelled due to security concerns: what do all…

tolerance in the late age of deliberation

I started this post about a month ago. Unsurprisingly, concerns with in/tolerance have not subsided. It was just two weeks ago that the shooting of Republicans during a baseball practice inspired a response that political rhetoric needed to change. As you probably recall, at the time Trump said “We may have our differences, but we…

universities, politics, Devoss, and conservatives

Some of my colleagues, like Seth Kahn and Steve Krause, have written about DeVoss’ comments at CPAC. It’s all very much a rehearsal of the same old conservative red meat about liberal professors indoctrinating students. Like many such criticisms, I think they often reveal more about the critic than the object of her criticism. That…

How do you think rhetoric works?

A recent article by Elizabeth Kolbert in The New Yorker seeks to explain “Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds.” The article is in reference to several new books written by cognitive scientists. The first, by Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber, called The Enigma of Reason recounts numerous psychological studies examining the various ways in which people hold on to their…

reality checks

Maybe you saw John Oliver on Last Week Tonight describe his plan to begin airing commercials on morning shows Trump watches in order to educate him on a few key points. If you haven’t, it’s worth a laugh. Oliver’s basic argument though is that we have a president who doesn’t believe that an agreed upon reality…

interpretation, tarot cards, and the power of truth

Long ago, when I was an undergrad, I learned how to read Tarot cards. (Hey, stop rolling your eyes; I saw that.) I haven’t done it in years, though when I was a professor at Cortland we’d go on writing retreats to this Adirondack camp with our students and my colleague, Vicky Boynton, and I…

beware the ides of Marching

Sometimes (well most of the time) a blog is means for exorcising and exercising one’s thoughts. Sweating them out of the mind, where maybe you can return to them later. It’s the “beware the ides of Marching” as we’re in the middle of it now and perhaps some caution is warranted. David Brooks has a…

living the post-American dream

Baudrillard’s America was one of the first books of “theory” I encountered as a student. It’s a weirdly poetic, aphoristic book. I honestly can’t tell you what to make of it, but here are few bits. Deep down, the US, with is space, its technological refinement, its simulation is the only remaining primitive society. The fascinating this is…