Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Wisconsin Finally Finds a Way (the Wrong Way) to Be "Edgy"

From Al-Jazeera:

9/11 'revisionist' allowed to teach

An instructor at the University of Wisconsin who has said he believes US officials orchestrated the September 11, 2001 attacks, will be allowed to teach a course on Islam.

Some state politicians had called for the University of Wisconsin-Madison to fire Kevin Barrett, a part-time instructor, after he spoke about his theories on a radio talk show last month. The university provost, Patrick Farrell, said in a statement late on Monday: "We cannot allow political pressure from critics of unpopular ideas to inhibit the free exchange of ideas. "To the extent that his views are discussed, Mr Barrett has assured me that students will be free and encouraged to challenge his viewpoint." Barrett can present his view as one of many perspectives on the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington DC when he teaches Islam: Religion and Culture this fall, Farrell said. Farrell began a review after Barrett said he believed the attacks were the result of a conspiracy designed to cause war in the Middle East. Barrett said he was happy the school "did the right thing". "This university is a pretty professional organisation that is not going to buckle from political pressure from politicians," he said.
Politicians who had called for Barrett's dismissal criticised the decision. Matt Canter, a spokesman for the governor, Jim Doyle, said: "The governor would have come to a different conclusion about this." Steve Nass, a state representative, said he would push next year for cuts to the university's budget. The university does not endorse Barrett's theories, Farrell said, noting that they are widely believed in parts of the Muslim world.

So let me get this straight. Simply because something is "widely believed" in parts of the world, your viewpoint is considered scholarship??!! So can I introduce a seminar on "Patrick Farrell is a pedophile" just because I can point to 10 people who believe that I believe it?! This is classic nonsensical academia ivory tower bullsh*t. Half the world believes that Jews drink the blood of Christian children at Passover. Should that be included in a seminar as a valid "viewpoint"? Many thousands of people believe that Black people are inferior to white people. Should that be taught as a valid "viewpoint"? Not to worry; students will be encouraged to disagree... What are the standards of scholarship at UW?! I seriously think I should apply for a job there based on my seminar that the University Provost is a pedophile. Let's see how he feels about the "free exchange of unpopular ideas" in that case. I get it, my seminar would be slander, right? But why? Because it is about one person rather than many people? I'm so flabbergasted that I'm unable to properly articulate my flabbergastation without relying on that old standby: WTF??!!
Or, in short, any time Al-Jazeera cheers your success, it's time to reassess.


Lord Bowler said...

Thanks, E!

I don't think that it could have been stated any better. Who would have ever guessed that you and Bill O'Reilly would actually agree on something.

Now, run along. You don't want to be late for your next lecture.

Lord Bowler said...


I don't think that it could have been said any better.

Who would have guessed that you and Bill O'Reilly would agree on anything?

Now, run along - you don't want to be late for your next lecture on pedofilia.

Kirsten said...

You make a good point but I'm in agreement with the University. Free speech is one of the best parts of living in America, in my opinion. As long as he isn't forcing students to conform to his viewpoint, I don't see a problem. And correct me if I'm wrong, but he's teaching a course about Islam, not about 9/11. If most Islamics believe the government orchestrated 9/11, then wouldn't it be appropriate for the professor to share that view? Besides, one thing that is stressed in college is thinking analytically, and what better for students to analyze than something so controversial?