[Keith E. Whittington] A First Aid Kit for Professors under Threat

Maybe not just for professors.

Over at the Chronicle of Higher Education, Donald Downs, Robert George and I provide some advice for professors who find themselves at the center of a storm over something that they said. Most professors have no idea how to react when controversy erupts and activists are demanding that something be done. Too often they wind up digging a hole that only makes things worse. Organizations like the Academic Freedom Alliance and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education can often help, but there are things professors should do even before help can arrive.

Here’s a taste from the piece:

Don’t lose faith in yourself or abandon your convictions. You have every right to think for yourself and speak your mind. Don’t rush to apologize if you have done nothing wrong and so have nothing truly to apologize for. Those who have appointed themselves as the thought and language police know that they can make you feel psychological/emotional pressure to do so, but apologizing will not help, and will almost certainly make things worse. So don’t yield to the temptation in the futile hope that a quick apology will quiet the storm.

In a similar vein, think clearly about the situation and what you said. Apply reason, not impulse and emotion, to the very best of your ability. A clearheaded attitude is essential for proper assessment of the situation and will impress — and give confidence to — potential allies and supporters.

So take a few deep breaths, and don’t react precipitously. Realize that you are not alone, that good advice and help are at hand. Be patient, and realize that you will attain justice if you take appropriate steps.

Read the whole thing here.

Source: [Keith E. Whittington] A First Aid Kit for Professors under Threat

Another slice:

Don’t respond to public attacks until you’ve sought and received good advice. If you confess to an offense you didn’t commit, or if you concede to a claim or accusation that is factually inaccurate or not truly an offense (but simply an exercise of your right to say what you believe), the admission can and will be used against you. Recovering from such an error is extremely difficult, at best.

Not quite as aggressive as the “never apologize” advice, since the implication is that an apology may be appropriate if you actually committed an offense. But since the first impulse is to say what it takes to quiet the mob, you need to implement at least a 72-hour rule. And you may have to recognize that many mobs just won’t be quieted, and an apology merely encourages them.

Puberty Blockers

If informed consent is one of the pillars of clinical bioethics, puberty blockers fail the test, according to a leading psychiatrist and constitutional lawyer writing in the magazine Commentary. Paul McHugh, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins, and Gerard V. Bradley, a law professor at Notre Dame, argue that neither young people nor their parents can possibly understand what they are missing by delaying puberty, one of the most mysterious aspects of human physiology.

MercatorNet.com
Continue reading “Puberty Blockers”

Those Nasty White People

If you search for references to potlach you will find gobs of positive portrayals of it as a gift giving festival with great symbolism as the giving or destroying valuables shows how wealthy you are.  Both the Canadian and American governments banned potlaches for many years because of those mean old missionaries.   I had a vague memory of the potlach that was so dark that the laws made sense.  With a little digging, I found it here.

The destruction of goods as a show of wealth could include either the freeing or killing of slaves, who were usually acquired specifically for potlach.

Source: Those Nasty White People

Do We Really Need New Anti-Asian Hate Crime Laws?

A holistic look at the data shatters the narrative about bias-based violence.

In March, a man opened fire at Young’s Asian Massage, just north of Atlanta. Later, he shot up two more Atlanta-area Asian spas. All told, eight people were killed. Six of them were Asian women. Was this a hate crime? Clearly, it targeted a certain sort of business.

….

Yet if Long was motivated by anti-Asian or anti-female bias, this would be considered, under Georgia and federal law, a hate crime. If he was motivated by hatred of sex workers, it would not. This ambiguity perfectly encapsulates the tangled logic behind U.S. hate crime laws.

….

The first half of 2021 was awash in stories about an alleged spike in bias-based actions against Asians in the United States. From TV ads to newspaper articles to the halls of Congress, stopping “Asian hate” became a major rallying cry. A New York Times headline from April 3 conjured “swelling anti-Asian violence” in America. “Covid ‘hate crimes’ against Asian Americans on rise,” warned the BBC, while Voice of America reported that “Hate Crimes Targeting Asian Americans Spiked by 150% in Major US Cities.”

The narrative was based on a grain of truth: In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Asians do seem to have faced an increase in verbal harassment—and occasionally worse—in some U.S. cities. But increases were far from consistent, and overall incident numbers remained quite small.

For instance, New York City saw an 833 percent rise in anti-Asian incidents between 2019 and 2020, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB). That certainly sounds dire. Yet the leap represents a rise from three incidents in 2019 to 28 incidents in 2020—in a city with an Asian population of 1.2 million overall.

Many reports of a supposed surge in anti-Asian animosity relied on data from CSUSB, which culled police records to assess bias-based incidents in 16 big U.S. cities. It found only one (Washington, D.C.) with a decline in anti-Asian incidents and one (Chicago) with no change. Data from the other cities looked grim: Anti-Asian incidents were up 150 percent in San Jose, 133 percent in Boston, and 114 percent in Los Angeles.

Yet expressing the data in terms of the percentage increase can be misleading. The raw numbers went from four to 10 in San Jose, six to 14 in Boston, and seven to 15 in Los Angeles. Cleveland, Dallas, and Philadelphia each saw six incidents in 2020, up from zero to two in 2019. Cincinnati and San Diego went from zero to one; Phoenix from two to three; San Francisco from six to nine; and Seattle from nine to 12.

Another much-cited figure came from a group called Stop AAPI Hate, which reported a staggering 3,795 hate incidents against Asians and Pacific Islanders between March 19, 2020, and February 28, 2021. But unlike the CSUSB study, this figure came from self-reports to the group’s hotline, not police records. And its reporting went far beyond potentially criminal incidents.

The Stop AAPI Hate tally lumps together physical attacks and serious crimes with verbal insults, discrimination, and “shunning.” If someone crossed the street or moved aside when an Asian person walked by, and the Asian person perceived it as deliberate avoidance based on race, that would be counted among the group’s statistics. (Notably, the period in question was during a pandemic, when many were going out of their way to avoid crossing paths with others, regardless of race.) Overall, 68.1 percent of reported incidents were verbal harassment, an additional 6.8 percent were online harassment, and 20.5 percent were shunning. Only around 11 percent of incidents reported to AAPI—or 421—alleged physical contact.

None of this is to diminish the emotional pain or fear that taunts or avoidance can cause. But it does add important context. Talk of hate crimes and bias incidents tends to conjure images of vandalism and violence. This makes the idea of even a small increase appear extremely dangerous to the targeted group and drives up trepidation among members of the community. As an example, several Asian teen girls told NPR in April that they were afraid to leave home or partake in ordinary activities.

Source: Do We Really Need New Anti-Asian Hate Crime Laws?

“When you shame white children, you’re actually also shaming black children”

I answered 5 BIG Questions for Campus Reform: “because you’re sending a message to them that somehow in our society they start out less equal, that somehow in our society they don’t have a fair shot, that somehow in our society hard work and dedication is not going to pay off because there’s this systemically racist system that is putting them down…. Their fate in life is to be oppressed. I think that’s about as bad as you can get.”

Source: “When you shame white children, you’re actually also shaming black children”

 

Did Making the Rules of War Better Make World Worse?

The Star Trek episode, “A Taste of Armageddon” was set in a solar system where two planets had been at war for centuries. The war was fought by computer, with virtual attacks being launched, and if they virtually succeeded, the casualties were tallied and identified by computer.

Listed casualties then reported to disintegration chambers where they were cleanly and painlessly killed.

When Kirk, for whom the Prime Directive was frequently a guideline, blew up the planet’s wargaming computer, both planets were faced with plan B — a messy war with real weapons, and destroyed buildings and nasty injuries and deaths. This proved terrifying enough to bring both sides to the table for peace talks.

Maybe war needs to be messy enough to be scary.

On the evening of March 9, 1945, the United States sent an armada of B-29 Superfortresses toward Japan, which for months had resisted surrender, even as a naval blockade brought much of the population to the brink of starvation. The B-29s were headed for Tokyo, and carried napalm, chosen for the mission because so many of the city’s inhabitants lived in houses made of wood.

Source: Did Making the Rules of War Better Make World Worse?