Monday, March 05, 2007

if they asked the faculty more broadly to sign this, i would sign. since they haven't, i will only link to it.

Via Althouse: Statement of the Committee for Academic Freedom and Rights, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

I could say more, but will refrain for at least the moment. Perhaps because I'm lame.


Ang said...

This situation is so confusing to me. I've read in various news sources that Kaplan said horrible things, that those things he allegedly said were overdramatized in the original email reporting them, that they were never said at all, that they were said in the context of making an 'opposite-of-racist" point, that he's apologized, that he refuses to apologize. What the heck happened, anyway?

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, Jeremy.

Ang: The mainstream media is repeating quotes that were in email by a student who wasn't in the class, but tried to compile quotes, and who has said in public it was "not well informed." That's how professors who try to teach about cultural difference are being treated today. One thing that happened is a huge circus before we knew what happened. I would call that a failure of due process.

Anonymous said...

Wait. Wasn't the man invited to some forum to publicly respond? If he doesn't go, how is that a failure of due process?

Is failure of due process the same as being denied due process? Is someone stopping him now from speaking out to the media and giving an interview? The process seems to be there; no one is denying him his due.

For protection reasons though, I can totally understand how the teachers union types would back him no matter what, like they did Barnett. "There but for the grace of God..."

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I get it. Law Prof says some things that, rightly or wrongly, are taken as impolitic by some students. Law school honchos (predictably) go beserk. And? Don't they have tenure in Flyover Country? I see that Ann's last "guest column" practically wrote itself, but I think Kaplan is doing exactly the right thing - "lawyered up" or not, just ignore it.

jeremy said...

Anon 3:27am: Wow, if somebody doesn't show up to speak in front of some obviously emotional and hostile forum that was purportedly supposed to be about broader educational issues and not focus primarily on this issue, then, yes, by all means, we are free to project whatever odious things we want upon them.

I do await his written statement.

Ann Althouse said...

And the forum was not supposed to be an examination of what happened in the class, but a general presentation about 1. the students' feelings and 2. the history of the Hmong. It was hoped (by the administration) that it would be an uplifting and healing event. Kaplan's presence there would have been detrimental to that asserted goal. (But it was predictable that the hopes would not be met.)

Anonymous said...

I think he should set up his own forum and respond publically. No one seems to be stopping him.

Ignoring this and thinking it would go away, or purposely maintaining a silence, didn't work.

The ball is in the professor's court, and his best interests and the law school's seem to have diverged. I hope it's not a dean v. prof showdown.

shakha said...

I agree with Jeremy and Ann on his not attending the forum. Makes sense, and actually was probably more respectful than disrespectful. However, I'm not sure how I feel about the Academic Freedom statement.

It rests on the following claim,
"We fear, however, that the crucial distinction between gratuitous offense and provocative argument has been lost in the public furor over the Kaplan case."

However, there is a cop-out here. Given the "crucial distinction", it needs to be explained. What is a "gratuitous" offense? As opposed to just an offense? As long as I make an argument, I can offend away?

Let's say I argue, "Jews have been oppressed within most societies across time and place. And most within most societies see justification for this oppression. And so from a democratic point of view, the oppression of Jews is completely justified, some might even say warranted." Perfectly fine by the Academic Freedom and Rights standards. I'm making an argument. Argue away!

Or, perhaps I argue, "Across almost every evaluation we have, from educational testing to economic performance to rates of crime, Blacks perform worse than just about any other racial group. This cannot be ignored when evaluating the quality of races (even if we understand them as cultural constructions)." Well, that's an argument too.

Both fall within the standard of provocative argument, not gratuitous offense. So they are acceptable claims in the classroom? The committee is careful to avoid discussing the CONTENT of claims, only their context (argument or not seems to be the distinction).

I am NOT (repeat: NOT) saying that this is what Kaplan said. I have no idea. But it strikes me that the distinction made by the Committee is a thin one, and give how crucial the distinction, it seems a bit of a cop-out not to explain it.

It also strikes me as suggesting that academic freedom means never having to say, "I'm sorry".

jeremy said...

Like I said, I await Kaplan's statement, and hope that it comes relatively soon. That said, if he is in danger either of being sued or of facing some formal professional punishment, it's hard for me to understand expecting him to make statements if silence is advisable for those purposes. It's not like he's a celebrity or a politician. The idea of expecting him to show up at that forum and make comments in that environment just strikes me as absurd.

Anonymous said...

The idea of expecting him to show up at that forum and make comments in that environment just strikes me as absurd.

I think a well planned forum, with him invited was earlier noted, would have been very civil. It should have been about the incident.

Many Hmong there would have civilly listened to the man explain himself, I think. Running scared is no answer.

Anonymous said...

And I hadn't heard he was in any danger of lawsuit, on the defendant side anyway.

What kind of charges are you thinking he would face legally? You may just be conjuring up fears, professor. No one I've heard has made this suggestion, not realistic.

jeremy said...

The possibility of a lawsuit is given as an explanation for his waiting to make a statement here. Kaplan has, now, made a statement that I have uploaded and linked to as a post, so he's not exactly running scared.