Baffling things I have read in blog comments discussing Colin McGinn's exit from University of Miami

Baffling things I have read in blog comments discussing Colin McGinn's exit from University of Miami

Sure, people are always warned not to read the comments. But in the philosophy blogosphere you might expect more thinking-through of positions, more recognition that what is metaphysically possible is not always plausible, and so forth. Plus empathy and stuff. And yet ...

  1. The baffling things presented here are mostly paraphrases (on account of Twitter's 140-character limit).  The commenters whose comments I'm paraphrasing would undoubtedly say I'm being uncharitable in my paraphrasing. I leave it to the reader to peruse the comments at NewAPPS, Crooker Timber, The Philosophy Smoker, and other fine blogs dealing with philosophy and/or academia that have commented on the McGinn resignation to see how many of these sentiments turn up.
  2. It is reassuring to see lots of pushback and sensible responses to the baffling claims of this sort that have been posted. It's not even surprising to me that there are people in philosophy who think these things, since many of them are comfortable saying them out loud.  Preserving their sentiments in the amber of the internet, though, makes them less ephemeral, easier to inspect, easier to reflect upon.  Maybe our field could do better here?
  3. Anyway, when I started tweeting the baffling things, I wasn't sure quite how many there would be. Let n = the number of baffling things read in blog comments that I tweeted ...
  4. Baffling things read in blog comments: "I don't see how reporting sexual harassment by a prof could hurt a grad student's career" (1/n)
  5. Baffling things read in blog comments: "If grad student doesn't personally confront the prof harassing her, she is morally lacking" (2/n)
  6. Baffling things read in blog comments: "Receiving sexually explicit email from one's professor surely has little impact on an adult" (3/n)
  7. Baffling things read in blog comments: "So unfair that the man loses job & reputation while his accuser goes on with life unscathed" (4/n)
  8. Baffling things read in blog comments: "She was made uncomfortable by him; other students lost their supervisor. WHO WAS HARMED MORE?" (5/n)
  9. Baffling things read in blog comments: "She's happy to benefit from informality when it's tennis & BBQs, but not handjob emails?" (6/n)
  10. #6 is the old "you can't have it both ways" argument.  The gender of the "you" here seems to be female more than half the time, for some reason ... unless our male classmates and colleagues have been keeping a secret of how much unwelcome masturbatory email they've been getting as they're "socialized into the professions."
  11. @docfreeride I can't see the difference. Can you see the difference?
  12. @electricland Maybe I haven't played tennis in so long that I've forgotten how it requires violating your underling's boundaries ...
  13. Maybe once the workings of magnets have been figured out, someone can get on this.
  14. Baffling things read in blog comments: "Univ officials keen to confuse things to point that prof dating students=sexual harassment." (7/n)
  15. (Because email documentation of your mentor's masturbatory thoughts about you is just proof of a love affair gone bad?)
  16. Baffling things read in blog comments: "Why assume she's going thru anything, or that coming forward is hard? THAT'S ANTIFEMINIST!" (8/n)
  17. Baffling things read in blog comments: "I have personally observed no harassing behavior in our field; so, it probably doesn't exist." (9/n)
  18. Baffling things read in blog comments: "Tattling on a star harms our profession's reputation. She should've handled it privately." (10/n)
  19. Baffling things read in blog comments: "We'll lose out on his future scholarship! Worth tolerating some handjob email not to ..." (11/n)
  20. Baffling things read in blog comments: "We only know about 2 handjob emails, so that's ALL the 'harassment' that could have happened" (12/n)
  21. Baffling things read in blog comments: "The real crime is your moralizing, dragging the man's name through the mud!" (13/n)
  22. Baffling things read in blog comments: "The men surrounding 'victim' might have fed into her persecution complex. Investigate them!" (14/n)
  23. Baffling things read in blog comments: "Philosophy makes normal people's heads explode. OF COURSE they'll misconstrue handjob email!" (15/n)
  24. Heck, a handjob *could* just be an argument for the existence of an external world! Why would you assume otherwise?
  25. Baffling things read in blog comments: "Prof sending handjob emails said the grad student was cool with them. WHY BELIEVE HER?" (16/n)
  26. Baffling things read in blog comments: "Worst thing: now we'll all have to walk on eggshells with our grad students. WHO WANTS THAT?" (17/n)
  27. There being, obviously, no middle ground between assuming a grad student should be open to getting emails about one's masturbatory excursions and walking on eggshells.
  28. Baffling things read in blog comments: "That the man resigned is not evidence of wrongdoing. Where's the evidence??" (18/n)
  29. Baffling things read in blog comments: "He treated her as an equal (w/handjob email) & paid 4 it. This is why we can't mentor women!" (19/n)
  30. Baffling things read in blog comments: "Even if he harassed her, that doesn't remove her duties to him." (20/n)
  31. Baffling things read in blog comments: "If his sexual advance was not explicitly rebuffed, it is prima facie not harassment." (21/n)
  32. Baffling things read in blog comments: "Graduate students cannot be preyed upon, because they are adults." (22/n)
  33. Baffling things read in blog comments: "Woman graduate student has already survived 4 undegrad yrs being 'preyed on,' can handle it." (23/n)
  34. Baffling things read in blog comments: "Who among us HASN'T had sexual thoughts about students we're mentoring?" (24/n)
  35. You know who hasn't? I HAVEN'T! Hasn't required great effort on my part, either, just an understanding of what a professional relationship is supposed to be like. You don't need to be a professional ethicist to get this!
  36. And even if you do, KEEP THEM TO YOURSELF! You're responsible for words & actions. #weepforhumanity @biochembelle @docfreeride
  37. @docfreeride Clearly men can't control selves around female students. Ergo, keep men out of academia lest they fall into temptation ;)
  38. .@biochembelle .@docfreeride No. Neuter all academia men who can't prove they're exclusively homosexual.
  39. @dsgood @biochembelle Clearly, education must be outsourced to robots, which are asexual. Or MOOCs ...
  40. It was teed up, and someone was going to take the shot. Why not me?
  41. Baffling things read in blog comments: "If police haven't arrested the guy, it clearly wasn't harassment!" (25/n) #BINGO
  42. I had added the "BINGO" there on account of the ubiquitous nature of this claims in other quarters of the blogosphere.  But 25 baffling things is enough to fully populate all the squares on a bingo card.  In case you wanted to play along at home.
  43. Baffling things read in blog comments: "If grad student HAD been cool with the handjob emails, would have been no problem with them." (26/n)
  44. Baffling things read in blog comments: "How tragic that a man loses his job for the crime of being socially inept!" (27/n)
  45. Baffling things read in blog comments: "Grad students among the LEAST vulnerable to harassment b/c it's like apprenticeship." (28/n)
  46. @docfreeride Wow, so clueless. A grad student has very little power and an advisor can ruin their career.
  47. Baffling things read in blog comments: "The man's only crime is that he wasn't a skillful enough harasser to get away with it." (29/n)
  48. @docfreeride That one's impressive in its honesty. It's not the harassment that's the problem to the assholes, just the getting caught.
  49. @docfreeride Whoa. That one is just creepy, not just clueless and sexist.
  50. @OmegaMom Implication may have been: we all know (& tolerate) ppl in field who have done worse. So go easy on the guy! Which ... AAAARGH!
  51. Baffling things read in blog comments: "How distasteful that you people celebrate fall of great philosopher (for simple harassment)." (30/n)
  52. Baffling things read in blog comments: "Absent true harassment, you can't call his behavior towards the grad student 'grooming'...." (31/n)
  53. Baffling things read in blog comments: "I'm not sure I want to start dictating that no one can ever have a fling with a professor." (32/n)
  54. (That last baffling because: the context is not "a fling" but harassment.)
  55. @docfreeride Also, having had one, I DO kinda want to start dictating that you can't.
  56. After 32, I ran out of steam as far as paraphrasing more jaw-droppers. I have limits.
  57. @docfreeride I'm wearing out my "o" key here. How do people think these are rational statements and not steaming piles of sexism?
  58. @docfreeride @SFriedScientist Plus, philosophers are *trained* in rationalization, fine-grained linguistic parsing, intellectual supremicism
  59. @grumpyhistorian @docfreeride @SFriedScientist blaming "philosophers" for irrational excuse making seems a step too far though
  60. @kevinrns @docfreeride @SFriedScientist Tactics/rhetoric of victim-blaming are not unique to philosophy, but they're uncommonly good at it
  61. @docfreeride @kevinrns @grumpyhistorian especially the philosopher in question, with that creep-level-9000 "Genius Project"
  62. @docfreeride @grumpyhistorian @SFriedScientist but its awful thinking, bad logic, and pointless excuse making, all asshats do this
  63. @grumpyhistorian @docfreeride @SFriedScientist I found it less convincing, they'd fail an introductory course with this "logic"
  64. @docfreeride *incoherent rage* What is WRONG with people? These tweets make me want to find another planet.
  65. @wintersweet Think of how I feel -- this is my professional field!
  66. @docfreeride ugh! :( It’s always so discouraging to see how “progressive” bastions like sf & academia aren’t.
  67. And sometimes you have to find a way to laugh if just to keep from crying
  68. @docfreeride *I'm* baffled that you're reading the comments in the 1st place.Wouldn't you learn more by smashing your knuckles w/a hammer?
  69. @ricksva My knuckles are apparently better at protecting themselves than my brain is. (They won't get dragged into this hand-related crisis)
  70. @ricksva One hand washing the other and all that. (But really what I need is brain-bleach!)
  71. @docfreeride Just be sure not to use the bad kind of bleach. Or is that redundant?
  72. If you want to see a cartoon recap of some of the defenses offered on Colin McGinn's behalf (including by McGinn himself), this is the cartoon for you.

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