mercredi, mars 02, 2005

"Affordable Health Insurance for the Middle Class? Yeah, Okay, Just a Sec' I'm Really Busy on More Pressing Matters..."

Two Minnesota legislators (and I’ll let you guess which party these geniuses represent) have presented legislation that seeks to prevent professors at public universities from pushing ideology. No, I didn’t make it up. You can read about it here, and yes, it is part of a national effort backed by some wealthy moron with too much free time and too much anger that he has such a big head and most of it is bone. I only wonder who wrote the bill and what color crayon he used.


Can we just call this what it is? A widdle-biddy self-esteem problem that conservatives have.

Follow my bullet-proof logic chain:

College professors are learned.
College professors are smart.
College professors are experts in designated fields.
College professors are altruistic optimists (many could make more money in the private sector)
College professors are overwhelmingly liberal.
Therefore liberalism is overwhelming favored by the learned, the smart, by those with expertise and by altruistic optimists.

The inverse is also true.

Superficial cynics who are not-learned, not smart, and lack expertise are not liberal.

People who are not liberal are conservative. Therefore...

Conservatives are superficial cynics who are not learned, not smart, and who lack expertise.

Man, once I commence to decipherin’… wooooooweee, I get a powerful hankerin’ for some rheumatism medicine! But I digress…

Who cares that 95% of all PhD economists know that supply-side economics is a ridiculous and failed policy. Guess what? Supply side economics is a ridiculous and failed policy.

By the way, I know my logic chain is flawed. I merely use it to point out how thinking motivated by a low self-esteem (however justified the low self-esteem is) leads to absurd conclusions.

Even if you aren’t troubled by the effort to kill academic freedom, please be troubled by the fact that it’s nearly impossible to define what ideology is. For example, will professors who teach evolution come under fire? What about teachers who think the earth is more than a few thousand years old. Will they be silenced? Fired? In 2009, when teaching HISTORY 0401: History of the American Presidents, will a professor who says “President George W. Bush was the worst President of all time” be terminated even if she presents the mountain of indisputable evidence to support her assertion?

If you don’t care about the long rich history of academic freedom, if you don’t have any problem with legislators intervening in the classroom, if you feel it will be easy to define what constitutes personal political or ideological beliefs, at least mourn the attempt to kill one potentially effective teaching method.

Side question: why is it that as I get older I’m less able to suffer fools gladly? Oops, I’m digressing again…

One of my favorite college professors, in a class called current American foreign policy, frequently took outlandish positions and challenged us to undermine them. Initially, we would struggle. It was hard to dispute even the most ridiculous policies.

Professor: Glasnost is bad; the USSR should remain communist.
Students: No, because democracy is better.
Professor: Why is it better?
Students: Well, because we have more freedoms and stuff…

By the end of the semester, we did a much better job. We knew concepts from foreign affairs, we knew our history and prevailing ideologies in western foreign policy, we understood the world better, and all of those tools combined to make us much better sparing partners for the good professor. I might assume any number of things about his political leanings or his ideological preferences, but they would be exactly that – assumptions. I’m troubled by the prospect that some are so threatened by ideas. I’m sad that conservatives don’t feel they can present opposing viewpoints successfully. I’m perplexed that folks who are afraid of liberal ideology don’t just send their young impressionable children to lesser schools where superficial cynics who are not-learned, not smart, and lack expertise try to teach. Schools like Bob Jones, Oral Roberts, the Citadel, and Kansas State University.

Quick question: is that “Hootie” of Hootie and the Blowfish in those new Burger King commercials? Man, I hope not. Um…where was I? Oh, yes, now I remember…

Those who “author” legislation seeking to limit the free exchange of ideas in our universities not only put our public institutions at a disadvantage to our private institutions, they not only limit pedagogical approaches, they not only run the risk of labeling as ideology items which are fact-based and indisputable, they not only write laws that would be all but impossible to enforce, they not only waste real legislative time that really could be better spent addressing real issues that really effect real people in real ways, but in so doing, they showcase their tremendous ignorance and fear and lack of self-confidence.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: those who have the strength of their convictions do not fear opposing views, they welcome them. And, unlike the logical chain I linked up earlier in this post, in this instance, the inverse is true as well: those who do not welcome opposing views lack the strength of their convictions.

Now ask yourself…why do they lack the strength of their convictions?