Re: Bullies Win

by David French

Roger, your post made me curious. How long would it take me to click around the more left-wing posts at the Chronicle of Higher Education to find comments lacking in “journalistic standards” or a “civil tone”? To answer my question, I went to the list of “brainstorm” bloggers and clicked the link to read their posts and quickly scanned a few items of interest on their front pages. There, I discovered the following examples of journalism and civility.

Here’s journalism and sociology professor Todd Gitlin in a post called, “If You Think Michigan is Dopey, Take a Gander at Tennessee.” It begins: “After the least wintry winter in memory, Tennessee seems to have been brain-fried into cloud-cuckoo land.” But to capture the real flavor of the post, you must click over to enjoy how he makes his best points in bold face, with larger font! (Just like they do at all the best papers, I suppose.) 

But that’s not all. How about this little comment from evolutionary biologist David Barash:

Let’s go on to one of my favorites: Peace Studies. Something tells me that Mark has no argument with the aforementioned academic fields, despite their undeniable social mission, and I hope that even given his conservative inclinations, he is capable of basic decency and thus allows room for public health (although from what I’ve seen of recent right-wing rhetoric and its outright political and social cruelty, I’m not so sure), but I bet he’s not at all comfortable with peace studies, just as Ms. Schaefer Riley expressed not just discomfort but outright hostility to black studies.

Got that? He hopes that “even given his conservative inclinations” that Mark Bauerlein “is capable of basic decency.” What journalistic standards! What astonishing civility!

Or we could move to Laurie Essig’s scintillating insights on conservative Christians:

The sermon was also based in much more recent “culture wars” whereby white, married and nonurban Americans are paid in the wages of straightness to vote for GOP candidates that in no way represent their actual class interests. But I guess, at least for many people who believe that God hates sissies, the wages of straightness are worth far more than their actual wages.

I’m glad this Middlebury professor is confident that she knows what is in our “actual class interests,” but I detect more than a whiff of stereotyping and outright nonsense in a comment like this. 

But I suppose we should be encouraged. After all, the Chronicle is cracking down. If Ms. Riley doesn’t meet the grade, then surely Professor Gitlin and his clown fonts are not far behind. Sure he might complain, but sometimes a publication has to make hard choices to preserve its journalistic integrity. Am I right, Chronicle editors?

Am I?

Hello? Is anyone there?