Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Professor Brian Rathbun Pulls 'Intellectual Jailbait: Networking at APSA' at Duck of Minerva

"Excuse me, miss? I think you dropped your APSR."*

Brian Rathbun photo dirty-old-man-best-demotivational-posters-300x240_zpsb73359ca.jpg
Not only has Professor Rathbun pulled his post, he's also resigned as a contributor to the blog. See, "Dear Readers."

And what horrible --- HORRIBLE!! -- crime was committed by Professor Rathbun? Well, he wrote a rather milquetoast essay about networking at the American Political Science Association Annual Meeting, entitled "Intellectual Jailbait: Hunting for Underage Ideas at APSA." (Or thereabouts.)

That sounds just awful, I know --- especially given the tender sensibilities of leftist academics, by which even the tiniest, eensy-weeniest squeak of confident male opinion is eliminated faster than an elderly Jew at Auschwitz. But read it for yourself, or at least read what's said to be a "reconstruction" of what Professor Rathbun wrote, at Will Moore's blog, "Reconstruction of Removed Rathbun Post." And for the life of me, I'm at a stretch to find something really offensive. And even if the references to "slut" are halting, aren't they being used metaphorically, and if so, are they that offensive as to warrant crucifixion of the blogger? Well, apparently so. I'd hazard a guess on the offending passage:
But generally I think most of us go about it the wrong way. I spent a lot of time chasing down the big names – Keohane, Russett, Lake – thinking that if I could just sit down with them and convince them of my brilliance, I would be set. I’d have a big name set of letter writers and the job offers would come pouring in as some eminence grise worked the phones for me.

Maybe this works for some people, but it never really worked for me. Russett was very cordial but a bit guarded, Keohane grudgingly acceptant of my existence, and Lake never responded to my emails. And worse, it made me feel like a slut. Worse – an ugly slut who no one even wanted to sleep with. An unsuccessful slut. A virgin slut.
The irredeemably sexist faux pax passage in bold.

But go back and read the whole thing for the context.

The post isn't about women and it's not about anything of a sexual nature. It is about superordinate-subordinate relations, so thus placing such hierarchies in a gendered/sexist frame certainly didn't earn the professor any accolades. Indeed, from what I'm reading at the mea culpas and related commentaries, they guy pretty much got the standard treatment from the commissars of leftist fever swamp totalitarianism (he was mercilessly flayed, in other words). I have no clue if the Duck of Minerva commentariat is composed of mostly tenured radicals, but no matter. It could be a bunch of gaga wannabe political science undergrads unsheathing the knives. The end result is the same: There will be blood.

But again, read around for yourself. Here's Professor Rathbun, "Why I Pulled the Post." It's a poorly written entry, hardly edited, if at all. And it's not that apologetic or explanatory, and it certainly didn't feed the rabble in the comments, for example:
Instead of apologizing for your sexist language and imagery, you apologized for the offense that it caused. Instead of apologizing for contributing to the shitty environment for women in academia, you point out that your true message was lost. This is a textbook non-apology apology.
I can just imagine dozens of comments just like that at the original post, which is of course deleted. And the funny thing is, the comment's author writes anonymously, with the screen-name "Concerned." I know. Take a moment to shake off the lulz. Professor Rathbun's been banished by a horde of anonymous banshee concern trolls. Don't you just hate love the Internet?

That said, here's another one, from Professor Adrienne LeBas of American University:
As others have pointed out, you are again apologizing for others taking offense -- not for perpetuating stereotypes and modes of interaction that actually have concrete, deleterious effects on real people.
Oh brother. And these are your intellectual betters?

I could go on about that, but another commenter beat me to the punch:
The "I'm offended" card is one of the most common power plays in academia, and I'm surprised that Brian didn't see this coming.

My advice when dealing with my female and minority colleagues is to assume that they will interpret anything you say in the most negative light possible. Keep your conversations with them short and anodyne.

Academe nowadays (more than ever) is the egg-shells realm of the perpetually aggrieved. Who wants to be around it? I mean seriously. You can't speak your mind. And you especially can't speak your mind if you're a man. There's nothing you dare say that won't be spun into something so objectionable by the leftist thought police that you won't be on your knees begging for absolution, if not your job. It's just depressing. Or, it's depressing if you fall for that sh*t. I don't. And it's a good thing. I learned to be a little less "sensitive" about such things precisely from blogging. I mean, I didn't even have to say anything that could be objectively considered as "sexist" before I was labeled the worse sexual harasser since Democrat President William Jefferson Clinton. Oh, that's probably not the best example, since the-dude-who-came-on-the-blue-dress got a pass from the "progressive" police state feminists of the day. (Maybe Bob Filner's a better example. He's on the way out now, within days, I'm sure.)

In any case, don't miss Professor Charli Carpenter's outpouring of sympathy (wherein she deigns to throw American Power a link), "I Wear My Egg In Solidarity: Thoughts on the Perils of Academic Blogging."

Having previously gone a few rounds with Professor Carpenter I'm reluctant to gainsay her comments. I will say, however, that she's very careful at the post, apropos of someone obviously feeling personal obligation --- of some sort --- to appease the Duck's violent, unwashed, politically correct academic two-minute-hate mob.

Oh, lest I forget, there's more on Professor Carpenter here, "Dr. Charli Carpenter and the Laws of War." (It goes without saying I couldn't give a sh*t what the Duck of Minerva commentariat thinks of it.)


* The quote is cribbed from Professor Moore's blog.