Sunday, December 16, 2007

Responding To Professor Munger

Readers Note: I recently posted Questions For Professor Munger.

Munger responded at his blog (not a Duke site) with Some Good Questions from JinC.

I published a copy of his post here at JinC. That JinC post contained links to previous posts in the series of usful exchanges with Munger, Chair and professor in the Political Science Department at Duke.

Before you read the following letter to Munger, I encourage you to read the posts linked above if you are not already familiar with them.


Dear Professor Munger:

I apologize to you and our readers for not responding before now to Some Good Questions from JinC.

Travel and other commitments cut into my blogging time.

I’ve re-read your Chronicle letter, my comment on its thread, and our subsequent posts and comments concerning them and issues related to them.

I affirm everything I said. I’m satisfied with “my case” and how I presented it. I don’t doubt you feel similarly about your part of our "conversation."

I disagree with some of your comments, including some of your characterizations of what I’ve said, what the evening was like and what you say are the conditions which obtain for discourse at Duke and other universities you call “elite.”

However, unless something new “pops up,” I propose we not go further into those comments; and hope that’s agreeable with you.

I’ve three reasons for my proposal.

First, all of what we disagree about are matters involving perceptions and interpretation about which reasonable people can disagree; and none of the disagreements concern, IMO, anything of lasting importance.

Second, Internet hyperlinks mean those who care to can examine what we’ve said and judge our differences for themselves.

Third, concerning the three most important issues we’ve discussed – 1)the need to balance a speaker's right of expression with another person’s right to protest the speaker; 2) the need for universities to assure various campus audiences have opportunities under satisfactory circumstances to hear diverse and controversial views; and 3) the disturbingly high level of intolerance exhibited at many campuses for certain speakers and views - we're in substantial agreement.

We’ve had useful exchanges with neither of us seeking the winner’s laurel.

Do you think we’re at a point where we can agree to “a wrap?”

In closing I’d like to mention what’s been for me “the high point” of our exchange.

It occurred when I followed the link to your "conversation" at the Blue NC blog during which you sought to dissuade people there contemplating engaging during Rove’s appearance in very disruptive acts.

I was extremely impressed by what you said to those people and your proposal to them which readers can read for themselves here.

I look forward to your reply.


John in Carolina


Insufficiently Sensitive said...

What impressed me in that comment thread was that, except for Professor Munger's remark, the commentary would have made a superb soundtrack for a bunch of old-time rednecks assembled into a lynch mob. Except that the verbal lubricant probably wasn't alcohol.

Conviction in advance of all asserted crimes they could invent? Check. Blind belief in the wildest slanders? Check. Proposals for mob acts, in hopes that others would execute them? Check.

Duke University may be the locus, but this gang would be the pride of Hitler's beer hall.

Professor Munger's proposal to the mob should get him serious recognition, were Duke inclined to honor civil rights.