Thursday, December 06, 2007

Prof. Munger’s “ interesting comparison”

Yesterday I posted Duke Prof OK With Rove's Treatment.

That post contained Duke Political Science Chair and professor Michael Munger’s Chronicle letter concerning former presidential assistant Karl Rove appearance at Duke and my comment on Munger’s letter.

Subsequently Munger commented on the Duke Prof OK With Rove's Treatment thread.

Munger also posted at his own non-Duke blog here. His post includes links to his Chronicle letter and it’s thread, my post and it thread, and another blog where he commented in advance of Rove’s Duke appearance.

I responded a short while ago at Munger’s blog to the following with which he concludes his post:

Some thoughts:

1. The internet has become a place where a lot of people are sure they know things that they don't know.

2. Then they feel entitled, even obliged, to act on that knowledge.

None of this discourse is very enlightening. But to see such a weak, everyday argument (people should get to listen, interruptions aren't that big a problem) attacked with such vitriol from both sides.... Interesting.
***************************************************************

Dear Professor Munger:

Hello.

I’m John in Carolina

I agree the Internet is “a place where a lot of people are sure they know things that they don't know.”

And that’s true of any other place where groups of people gather.

The Internet is also a place where many informed and wise people express themselves, something which isn’t true of all places where people gather.

And yes, as you say people on the Internet who are wrong but certain they’re right often "feel entitled, even obliged, to act.” But so do such people everywhere.

Regarding the particular collection of Internet commentary to which you link, I don’t agree “none of [that] discourse is very enlightening.”

I found your Chronicle letter, for instance, enlightening as did many others.

And while some of the comments on The Chronicle thread were ad hominems or well meant but not well thought out, others struck me as thoughtful and containing reasonable and important criticism of some of the things you said.

I plan to cross post this comment with an introduction at my blog that'll include links to your post here and your Chronicle letter.

I also plan to post this evening or tomorrow on some of the comments you’ve made on the JinC thread.

Finally, while I don’t agree with some of the comments you’ve made – for example, your calling my consideration of the standards that ought to apply in a university classroom and at a talk such as Rove’s “silly” - I do appreciate your willingness to engage in discussion as do just about all JinC readers.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

John in Carolina

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

John:

"your calling my consideration of the standards that ought to apply in a university classroom and at a talk such as Rove’s “silly"

Should the good professor ever invite a guest speaker to his class or auditorium, I doubt very much that he would ever waive the rules of decorum.

Ken
Dalllas

Mungowitz said...

Thanks to John for posting the clarification. If anyone disagrees with me now, it is because they have concluded I am wrong. It can't be because of one-sided treatment.

Let me add two things:

1. Ken in Dallas: I have stipulated that you are correct about class. And, if Karl Rove had been in my CLASS, then of course I would immediately have prevented such outbursts. I have claimed that the speech setting is different from class. Now, I may be wrong about that, but you are clearly right about class.

2. From my own blog, in which I respond to one of JinC's points:

"And I appreciate "John in Carolina's" willingness to come one, and make comments. He makes some good points.

Given the names I was called (by commenters, let me be clear, BY COMMENTERS) on John's and on other sites, it seems to me "silly" is pretty tame. But I take his point, and should have distinguished better. It makes me angry when someone criticizes ME for something a COMMENTER said on my blog. I should not have fallen into the same trap. John is correct to call me on the distinction." (NOTE: reproduced verbatim, with typos...)

Anonymous said...

Professor Munger:

"I have claimed that the speech setting is different from class"

If anything, the standards of decorum should be higher for an invited guest.

You and I agree that you would not allow a student to make an abusive comment toward you during a class or a lecture. Yet, you would allow that same treatment to be applied toward a guest at your university.

You make the defense that the invited speaker has the ability to counter the remarks of a few. But, then again, a professor could certainly do the same in the classroom. That ability is irrelevant.

The goal of abusive protesters is not, as you claim, to show strong disapproval. It is to denigrate, to humiliate and to destroy.

There is not a professional business in America today that would allow this type of disrespect to occur to their guests. That you would attempt to defend it at Duke is incomprehensible.

Ken
Dallas

Anonymous said...

A lot of parents are very concerned about the conduct and statements of Duke professors who abandoned the students and like you say "cheered on Nifong and Mangum"

My husband and I are glad Professor Munger is at least willing to engage you.

Our fingers are crossed and we're saying a prayer the trustees do the right thing for Duke.

Duke Mom '10

Jim in San Diego said...

Professor Munger:

It is a breath of fresh air to find a Duke student or professor who makes arguments based on verifiable facts, and is willing to listen to and respond articulately to ideas with which you may not agree.

I have ben aghast watching from afar at what certainly seems to be a HUGE problem at Duke (and of course other universities) with a culture where professors and other professionals are celebrated and promoted for spewing hate, bigotry, and anti-intellectual behavior.

They get away with it because they are black, or so it seems. A white person would not survive professionally for five minutes making such outlandish public statements.

If you do not know what I mean, or disagree, I would be glad to share a catalog with you (example: "white innocence is black guilt"; "[the presumption of innocence] is silly sentamentalism", etc.)

There is hope yet.

Jim Peterson

Just a Thought said...

Seriously? "I would be glad to share a catalog with you (example: "white innocence is black guilt"; "[the presumption of innocence] is silly sentamentalism", etc.)" I'll call you on that. Why don't you come up with some examples as well for the following:

They get away with it because they are black, or so it seems. A white person would not survive professionally for five minutes making such outlandish public statements.


Really? Senator Trent Lott told an audience:
"When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over the years, either."

My Thurmond ran on a platform of the Dixiecrats (segregationists).(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dixiecrat)(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strom_Thurmond)

Strom Thurmond said the following during the campaign:

I wanna tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that there's not enough troops in the army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and admit the nigger race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches.

So what happened to these white men for their words? Mr. Thurmond served in the US senate until 2002, when he declined to run for reelection. Mr. Lott was forced to resign, but only from senate leadership. These white individuals remained for more than "five minutes professionally."

Ralph Phelan said...

"I have claimed that the speech setting is different from class"

If anything, the standards of decorum should be higher for an invited guest.


Coming at it from a "free association" point of view I disagree with Ken.

I think any set of standards for the rules of decorum at an event are legitimate so long as they are stated clearly and enforced as written. People who buy tickets should know what they're paying for and get what they're paying for, and speakers should know what they're getting into and make an informed decision about what to do about it.

Munger's rules are fine if everyone involved made an informed choice to play by them. My concern is as to whether they were fully advertised in advance, and whether they would actually have been enforced:

If you ask me where the line is, what WOULD have been enough to trigger police action, then I agree that that is an interesting question. I'd say, if someone had stood up and started shouting, in the middle of one of Mr. Rove's statements, and continued for more than just a few seconds, they should have been removed from the hall.

(1) Had that been made clear?

(2) In that case they should have been ejected, but would they have been?

Recent events at both Columbia and Duke indicate that enforcement of the rules of decorum is often highly dependent on the politcal views of the person involved. Leftists can physically disrupt a speech, slander fellow students in posters glued to campus property, and misallocate university funds for scurrilous political advertisements and the worst they get is a mild reprimand, while conservatives get held to the strictest interpretation of the law.

Anonymous said...

Monkey poo alert!

Cleanup on aisle 3!

Folks, please don't feed the 8:18 am troll.

Just a Thought said...

"The goal of abusive protesters is not, as you claim, to show strong disapproval. It is to denigrate, to humiliate and to destroy."

It is going to take more than a few Duke students to do this to Mr. Rove.

Mungowitz also said "the protestors discredit themselves." This sums it up succinctly. You can't "destroy" someone when you discredit yourself in the process.

Just a Thought said...

Ralph, you actually agree with Jim Peterson?

Anonymous said...

Ralph Phelan:

"I think any set of standards for the rules of decorum at an event are legitimate so long as they are stated clearly and enforced as written."

I am in agreement with you on decorum enforcement.

I seriously doubt that Duke's written guidelines for student behavior change from the classroom setting to that of behavior toward an invited speaker. If anything, the rules of decorum are probably tighter.

It has become common practice from left wing students to harass and insult invited speakers (mostly conservative) at universities across the nation. The administrations have turned a blind eye toward enforcing decorum because, I suspect, they are politically motivated.

Professor Munger's agreement that he would expel an abusive student from his class shows that he understands intent. When he says that type of treatment is acceptable toward invited guests, I believe he is being hypocritical.

Ken
Dallas

Ralph Phelan said...

"When he says that type of treatment is acceptable toward invited guests, I believe he is being hypocritical."

The lecture series at my university included both serious and pop-culture speakers (e.g. Chuck Jones) and some in between (e.g. Linus Pauling at the height of his vitamin C obsession). They were often something of a zoo scene, though usually in a positive. But whoops of approval are usually as forbidden in a classroom as shouts of derision, and they were allowed at the lectures, so the rules were different and looser.

It's possible Munger is a hypocrite, and it's understandable that some might consider his membership in the Duke faculty strong evidence in favor. But his position on this incident is not evidence either way.

We'll have to wait to see what happens when someone shouts "Bullshit!" during Kingsolver's address.

Anonymous said...

Ralph:

"But whoops of approval are usually as forbidden in a classroom as shouts of derision"

I admit I have not been to many presentations that were greeted by whoops of approval. Generally its applause that is used for affitrmation.

If Professor Munger is saying that presentations at Duke by invited speakers is subject to a circus atmosphere and normal rules of decorum are waived, that's fine. He defines the rules properly.

If ex-president Clinton or Carter were to be invited on campus to speak and were greeted by the assaults used against Rove, I doubt the faculty/administration reaction would be the same.

Different rules for different speakers.

Ken
Dallas

Anonymous said...

Different rules for different speakers.

Pot "Kettle you are black!"
Kettle "shut up pot"

Ralph Phelan said...

"I admit I have not been to many presentations that were greeted by whoops of approval. Generally its applause that is used for affitrmation."

I guess it's a local culture thing. I've heard it said that the reason the beaver is MIT's mascot is that the beaver is the engineer among animals, and the MIT grad is the animal among engineers.

Anyway, even applause is pretty rare in a classroom.

Ralph Phelan said...

If ex-president Clinton or Carter were to be invited on campus to speak and were greeted by the assaults used against Rove, I doubt the faculty/administration reaction would be the same.

I doubt it too, but it has not yet happened on Munger's watch, so we don't yet know for sure that the usual double standards would apply.

And we now have an explicit standard against which to compare the treatment of future hecklers of both liberal and conservative speakers.

Just a Thought said...

Ralph,

I congradulate you on an excellent statement. You backed off of:

"Leftists can physically disrupt a speech, slander fellow students in posters glued to campus property, and misallocate university funds for scurrilous political advertisements and the worst they get is a mild reprimand, while conservatives get held to the strictest interpretation of the law."

and came to a more proper conclusion:

"...it has not yet happened...so we don't yet know for sure that the...double standards would apply."

If a liberal speaker comes and the reaction to their treatment is different, then cry foul, and I'll even support your position.

Just a thought.

Ralph Phelan said...

John, I'm sorry for responding to the troll, but he complimented me, and I just can't stand that.

I congradulate you on an excellent statement. You backed off of:

I backed off of nothing. The double standard is ubiquitous in academia; I am merely allowing for the possibility that Munger will pleasantly surprise us.

Ralph Phelan said...

According to Munger's (oddly named) personal blog he has since sponsored a talk by Rick Santorum which according to him went far more smoothly.

He also talks about hunting and mocks the French.

Apparently he really is one of the good guys. How he got onto the Duke faculty is a mystery.

Given what I've learned, I'm going to assume that his satisfaction with how the Rove talk went is due not to anticonservative bias but to grading on the curve. Like it or not, we must accept the fact that the reception did exceed many peoples realistically low expectations of how conservatives will be treated on campus.

Anonymous said...

8:18 JAT: Are you so fond of making your point that you care nothig for truth?

Stom Thurmond later recanted and repented of his racist statments. He was quite ashamed of them and said so repeatedly in his later years. Perhaps further "research" on your part will reveal such. That is, if want the truth instead of propoganda.

And Trent Lott was NOT alluding to Senator Thurmond's early racism when he was toasting his service to this nation, but thanking him for leading a conservative cause for most of his life.

Truth, out of context, is a lie.

And apparently you are much more interested in propoganda than truth.

You don't have to like or agree with Thurmond or Lott. But it is YOUR integrity at stake when you misquote them... noth theirs.

Anonymous said...

Just a note, I think Lott was talking about Thurmund's run for the presidency, which he did as a segregationist, and said the country would have been better off if that happened. Anyway, most of the hubbafalub was because Boehner wanted to take over the leadership position.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
8:18 JAT: Are you so fond of making your point that you care nothig for truth?


He is, which is why John has asked us not to feed the troll.

Anonymous said...

Please tell me what a troll is?

I'm happy not to feed him. I have no doubt he is not swallowing anything I put out anyway.

But I still want to know what a troll is.... outside of fairy tales and fantasyland I have never heard of them on blogs.

JWM said...

Anon @3:39,

A blog troll acts to no good purpose and discourages people of good purpose from reading and commenting.

Some times trolls take on a persona; othe times they comment as anons.

It's best not to talk about them but to igmore tham if you're a reader and delete them if you're a blogger who wants your blog to be as free of trolls as possible.

You can read more about trolls, including one hanging out at JinC now, at a post I'll put up within the next half hour: Talking to Regulars & Commenters.

John

Anonymous said...

and delete them if you're a blogger

Please do!

Anonymous said...

John,

Thanks for your excellent Troll Patrol work.

But next time I hope you move a little more quickly.