Sometimes even U.S. Senators, when they get old enough and established enough, dispense with the euphemisms and guardedness, and cut to the chase: Senator Byrd of West Virginia has been doing that regularly regarding the most criminally incompetent and dishonest President in living memory. Senator Byrd's latest is here; a few apt excerpts:
"[On May 1, 2003], the President announced unequivocally that 'major combat operations in Iraq have ended,' and that 'in the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.' Now, one year later, combat deaths are more than five times that of a year ago when our President celebrated 'mission accomplished.'
"Since that time, Iraq has become a veritable shooting gallery. This April has been the bloodiest month of the entire war, with more than 120 Americans killed. Young lives cut short in a pointless conflict and all the President can say is that it 'has been a tough couple of weeks.' A tough couple of weeks, indeed....
"[O]ur attack on Iraq has given Islamic militants a common cause and has fertilized the field for new recruits. The failures by the United States to secure the peace in Iraq has virtually guaranteed al Qaeda a fertile field of new recruits ready to sacrifice their lives to fight the American infidels. These extremists openly call for 'jihad', swear allegiance to bin Laden, and refer to the September 11 murderers as the 'magnificent 19.' According to intelligence sources, hundreds of young Muslims are answering terror recruitment calls with a resounding 'yes.'
"Amidst all this, the American people are asking themselves one central question...: are we starting to fully comprehend and regret the fury which has been unleashed by the unprovoked attack on Iraq?
"One year after the 'mission accomplished' speech, is America safer? We have not secured our homeland from terrifying threats of destruction. This President has sown divisions in our long-standing alliances. He has squandered our treasure in Iraq and put us deep in debt. Our brave soldiers are pinned down in Iraq while our enemies see the invincible American armor as penetrable by the sword of urban guerrilla warfare. No, America is not safer.
"One year ago, the President announced an end to major combat operations in Iraq. Yet, our troops are having their deployments extended in Iraq while our lines are stretched thin everywhere else. Billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars are being poured into Iraq. Seven hundred and twenty-two American lives have been lost. Unknown thousands of Iraqis are dead. Claims of WMD and death-dealing drones are discredited. And bin Laden is still on the loose....
"Mission accomplished? The mission in Iraq, as laid out by President Bush and Vice President Cheney, has failed. Even more disturbing, the disdain for international law, and the military bombast of this cocky, reckless Administration have tarnished the beacon of hope and freedom which the United States of America once offered to the world.
"How long will America continue to pay the price in blood and treasure of this President's war? How long must the best of our nation's military men and women be taken from their homes to fight this unnecessary war in Iraq? How long must our National Guardsmen be taken from their communities to fight and die in the hot sands in Iraq? How long must the fathers and mothers see their sons and daughters die in a far away land because of President Bush's doctrine of preemptive attack? How long must little children across our land go to sleep at night crying for a daddy or mother far away who may never come home?
"President Bush typified the Happy Warrior when he strutted across the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln a year ago this coming Saturday. He was in his glory that day. But on this May 1, we will remember the widows and the orphans that have been made by his fateful decision to attack Iraq; we will be aware of the tears that have been shed for his glory."
Yes, the widows and orphans. The widows and orphans. And the dead, the maimed, the crippled. Mission accomplished.
Denis Walsh (philosophy of biology), currently at the University of Edinburgh, has accepted a tenured joint appointment in the Department of Philosophy and the Institute for History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Toronto, to start in July, 2005.
The Philosophy Department at Washington University in St. Louis--which has already had a busy year, having made two tenured appointments (John Heil [philosophy of mind] from Davidson College and Kit Wellman [political philosophy] from Georgia State University) and one tenure-track appointment (Gillian Russell [philosophy of language] from Princeton)--has now also made a tenured offer to the moral philosopher John Doris at the University of California at Santa Cruz, who has been one of the leaders in bringing empirical psychology to bear on issues in ethics.
I had noted in an earlier posting that Northwestern Law School's adoption of a business-school model had been controversial with some faculty. This article discusses the general issue of law schools emulating business schools, with extensive quotations from Dean Van Zandt at Northwestern, among many others. One interesting bit, a propos my earlier posting:
"Thomas Merrill, a Columbia Law School professor who taught at Northwestern until last year, said, while law schools could learn much from business schools, his former school's approach was 'a little mechanical and a little overboard in trying to superimpose the business school model.'
"Many business school classes are relatively superficial, said Mr. Merrill, while law school students have to absorb a larger amount of substantive knowledge.
"Moving law schools too far in the direction of business schools would short-change aspiring lawyers by giving them a program of study that was 'neither fish nor fowl,' most likely taught by adjuncts and assistants rather than full-time professors, he said.
"Messrs. [Jonathan] Macey [Cornell, about to move to Yale] and Merrill said nothing developing in the profession warrants radical change to law schools. The top practitioners in the profession, both men said, are among the most academically oriented, continually publishing articles on innovations in the law."
Kent Syverud, the successful and highly regarded Dean of Vanderbilt's law school since 1997, will step down at the conclusion of his second term next summer. The Vanderbilt press release is here. While the press release contains the obligatory puffery on such occasions, it's worth saying that there really is lots of tangible (i.e., certain faculty recruitments and retentions) and intangible (i.e., conversational) evidence that he was an exceptionally good Dean, and Vanderbilt was fortunate to have him. I strongly suspect other law schools in search of a Dean have already come calling, and will continue to do so for quite some time.
There is an interesting discussion going on at the Sappho's Breathing site about whether the dominance in English-speaking philosophy of metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of language, and philosophy of mind isn't connected to a male bias of the discipline. A number of well-known younger philosophers--including Jessica Wilson and Jason Stanley--have weighed in on the discussion. An anonymous poster "Rob" represents what I'd call "the knee-jerk" view of the topic, but otherwise the dialogue is quite substantial.
A few thoughts of my own:
(1) Far more serious than the old, and now largely meaningless, analytic/Continental divide in philosophy is what I'd dub the "technical/humanistic divide" in the discipline: very crudely, the divide between those doing, on one side, metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of language, mind & logic, and, on the other, those doing the theory of value and the history of philosophy. The UC Irvine Department split over roughly this divide a few years back. Departments like Harvard, Berkeley, and Chicago have cast their lot, roughly speaking, with the "humanistic" side of this divide; while departments like those at Rutgers and USC have largely cast their lot with the "technical" side. I can no longer keep track of how many philosophers have told me that the fault lines in their department run exactly along these lines.
(2) The technical/humanistic divide seems to me to track rather imperfectly any gendered divide, and the emphasis on gender seems to me to obscure a more serious intellectual fissure that has the potential to rip the discipline asunder.
(3) It would seem to me unfortunate, and demeaning to the field of philosophy, to let either the male/female or technical/humanistic issues obscure the fact that some subfields of philosophy--applied ethics most prominently among them--are philosophically feeble, notwithstanding, as in every field, the presence of some exemplary practitioners. This is not a matter of a technical/humanistic divide; the overwhelming majority of leading moral philosophers--male and female, "technical" and non-technical--share the view of applied ethics just mentioned, though few say so publically. So, too, history of philosophy is squarely on the "humanistic" side of the divide, yet it could hardly be controversial any longer among historians of philosophy to observe that the general quality of work on, say, Nietzsche is far inferior to the general quality of work on Kant or Plato. The genuine issues of gender bias in academic philosophy--from the sexual harassment of students, to the more subtle forms in which women can be professionally demeaned--should not obscure the fact that there is bad work in philosophy, and quite a bit more of it in some subfields than others.
The Philosophy Department at the University of Texas at Austin has made senior offers to George Bealer (metaphysics, epistemology) at the University of Colorado at Boulder and Jonathan Dancy (metaethics, epistemology, early modern philosophy) at the University of Reading. The offer to Dancy is for a half-time tenured appointment; he recently turned down the Chair in ethics at Johns Hopkins University. Bealer also has a senior offer from the University of Florida at Gainesville, which has recently made a number of senior appointments, including David Copp (ethics, metaethics) from Bowling Green State University and Michael Jubien (metaphysics) from the University of California at Davis.
UPDATE: This is a corrected version (4/27): Mr. Hurt informed me that 300 judges were missing from the initial sample. The results do not change much.
What follows is a list of the top 30 law schools with the most alumni on the federal bench (either federal district courts or the courts of appeals). Thanks to Christian Hurt for this informative data (the complete data is here:Download file)
1. Harvard University (120)
2. Yale University (63)
3. University of Texas, Austin (43)
4. University of Virginia (40)
5. University of Michigan (37)
6. Georgetown University (32)
7. Columbia University (29)
8. University of Florida (24)
9. Stanford University (23)
10. University of California, Berkeley (20)
11. University of Pennsylvania (18)
12. Louisiana State University (17)
12. Temple University (17)
12. Tulane University (17)
15. New York University (16)
15. University of Alabama (16)
15. University of Arizona (16)
15. University of Georgia (16)
19. George Washington University (15)
19. Howard University (15)
19. Northwestern University (15)
19. University of Oklahoma (15)
19. University of South Carolina (15)
19. Vanderbilt University (15)
25. University of Chicago (14)
25. University of Minnesota (14)
25. University of Mississippi (14)
28. Cornell University (13)
28. Emory University (13)
28. University of California, Los Angeles (13)
28. University of Southern California (13)
"The plea is hosted by the liberal newspaper 'Repubblica', and it has been launched and signed by prominent Italian scientists (including several Nobel Prize-winners), as well as by some 28,000 other people."
Let us hope this public outcry will result in this shameful decision being reversed.
Susan Westerberg Praeger, former Dean of the law school at UCLA, and Michael Young, Dean of the law school at George Washington University, are among the three finalists for the Presidency of the University of Utah. More details here.
Ever since Bill Keller took over at the NY Times, the paper has been bending over backwards to dignify right-wing stupidity at every opportunity--predictable, I suppose, based on Mr. Keller's op-ed columns before he became the editor. One sign of that was the creation of a regular column for David "smear 'em with a smile" Brooks. Another has been the way purportedly "news" items go out of their way to present "the other side," so, e.g., if a story is purportedly about the fact that "50 million people marched on Washington to protest the Bush Administration policy that 'up is really down' and 'war is really peace,'" you can rest assured that we'll get several paragraphs of Karen Hughes, or some other professional prevaricator, explaining that "up is really down" and those who deny it are aiding and abetting terrorists.
In any case, what brought all this to mind is that a trusted reader of this blog recently wrote to the News Section of the NY Times to protest their coverage of the March on Washington for abortion rights which, in its original version (they've now edited it!), devoted several paragraphs--in the middle of a story about the protest--to Karen Hughes explaining why the Bush Administration was "moderate" on the subject, and which included this memorable line from Hughes:
"'I think that after September 11, the American people are valuing life more and we need policies to value the dignity and worth of every life,' she said. 'President Bush has worked to say, let's be reasonable, let's work to value life, let's reduce the number of abortions, let's increase adoptions. And I think those are the kinds of policies the American people can support, particularly at a time when we're facing an enemy and, really, the fundamental issue between us and the terror network we fight is that we value every life.'"
So the hundreds of thousands of marchers in Washington yesterday were actually agents of al-Quaeda.
Now that's fair and balanced reporting.
In any case, my trusted reader wrote to the News Section, and got a perfunctory acknowledgment, which included this striking line:
"News and opinion departments operate separately at The Times."
To which my trusted reader replied: "You are speaking tongue-in-cheek, are you not?"
Professor Green comments: "[N]ote especially 319 (1) 'where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace', (3) (a)-(e)--the various exemptions, noting especially (b)--the exception for religious speech, and note (6), which means that the police cannot prosecute without consent of the A-G, who is a government minister. These give *very* wide scope to religious speech that would otherwise be the wilful promotion of hatred."
Dr. Raymont also calls attention to the religious exemption: "I'm not sure why it's there. I agree with your skepticism re. religious exemptions. It leaves the door wide open for an atheist bigot to argue that his views, arising from his own deepest principles, deserve the same protection as a religious person's beliefs (the way 'conscientious objector' status was broadened in the U.S. so that atheists could claim it too). And (c) just throws the door open to just about everything. This was a big objection in the media during the Keegstra and Zundel cases: the exceptions are so broadly described, it's surprising that anyone could be convicted....Originally, the 'identifiable groups' protected from hate speech had to be 'distinguished by colour, race, religion, or ethnic origin.' So religious groups are protected, but I'm not aware of anybody ever wringing their hands about the prospect of an atheist being charged for attacking religion -- clause (c) I guess -- the way some now are re. criticism of homosexuality."
"At prestigious universities around the country, from flagship state colleges to the Ivy League, more and more students from upper-income families are edging out those from the middle class, according to university data....
"Experts say the change in the student population is a result of both steep tuition increases and the phenomenal efforts many wealthy parents put into preparing their children to apply to the best schools."
Since this is how the entire country operates--the best medical care, the best lower schools, the best services for those with the most money--why would anyone think universities would be any different?
The GOP Convention Program is the work of Amy and Leonard Peikoff; the Democratic Convention Program, which follows, has been circulating among Republicans, but I don't know the author. Both are amusing (especially the first!), and I thank Professor Peikoff for calling them to my attention.
OFFICIAL 2004 GOP CONVENTION PROGRAM
6:00pm - Opening Ecumenical Reading from the Koran.
6:30pm – Rally: Celebrating Iraqi Gratitude.
6:40pm – John Ashcroft Leads us in Prayer.
7:00pm - Tribute theme to Iran.
7:10pm (prime time) – Bush presents his compassionate side.
7:20pm – John Ashcroft Leads us in Prayer
7:25pm - Tribute theme to Saudi Arabia.
7:45pm – Rally: Celebrating Iraqi Enlightenment
8:00pm – Panel on Osama: One Man is Not Important
8:25pm - John Ashcroft Leads us in Prayer.
8:30pm – Panel on Saddam: We Got Him!
8:45pm — Rally: Celebrating China’s Honesty
9:00pm – Game time: Where’s Waldo’s Tax Cut?
9:30pm - * Intermission *
10:00pm – Koran Ecumenical Reading no. 2.
10:14:30 pm – Recounting of Bush’s Military Exploits.
10:15pm - Cameo by the Governator
10:30pm – John Ashcroft leads us in Prayer.
10:45pm – Panel: “Warrant Schmarrant: Why Security Requires Sacrifice”.
11:00pm – Panel: Turning the Other Cheek in Falluja.
11:15pm – Bush presents his conservative side
11:20pm – Highlights from “The Passion of Christ.”
11:29pm — A moment of silence for stem cells slaughtered in the last year
11:30pm – Panel: Why Human Life is Already Long Enough
11:45pm — Contest: Create a Cabinet-Level Department!
11:59pm – John Ashcroft Leads us in Prayer.
12:00am - Nomination of Republican candidate.
OFFICIAL 2004 DNC CONVENTION PROGRAM
6:00pm - Opening flag burning ceremony.
6:30pm - Anti-war rally no. 1.
6:40pm - Ted Kennedy proposes a toast.
7:00pm - Tribute theme to France.
7:10pm - Collect offerings for al-Zawahri defense fund.
7:20pm - Ted Kennedy proposes a toast
7:25pm - Tribute theme to Spain.
7:45pm - Anti-war rally no. 2. (Moderated by Michael Moore)
8:00pm - John Kerry presents one side of the issues
8:25pm - Ted Kennedy proposes a toast.
8:30pm - Terrorist appeasement workshop.
9:00pm - Gay marriage ceremony.
I found this in cyberspace, posted by a former student:
"Leiter's wry wit comes across as much more abrasive when he puts it into writing. In person he's much friendlier, much more of a good-natured and self-deprecating mensch type than his blog would imply (although I don't know him really well, only as a student). I was a bit surprised once I started reading his blog, I kept thinking 'is that the same guy I know?'"
It indicates how much is lost when there is no intonation, pacing, tempo, no facial or bodily gesture accompanying the language--just words, words on a computer screen, flying by, flying by....
UPDATE: A regular reader e-mails to ask, "Surely you intend to be harsh with the various reactionary fools you skewer?" Of course the answer to that is "yes." When it comes to dumb right-wing villains--in public life or in the blogosphere--I'm not an affable fellow, and wouldn't want to be. That suggests, of course, that another part of the explanation for the divergence between human persona and blog persona, noted above, is that my classes deal with substantive intellectual matters, legal and philosophical, not political ones; and that my own views on political questions are neither appropriate nor relevant in the pedagogical setting.
Matthew Yglesias, recent philosophy graduate from Harvard and now professional pundit (based, I think, in DC), remarks on Professor Siegel's dilemma (to stay at Harvard, or go to Arizona):
"I dunno about you, but if I had to choose between life in sunny Cambridge, MA and the damp chilliness of Arizona, I'd definitely be packing my bags for Tucson. Just my two cents. It says a great deal about path-dependence that the universities of the American northeast are able to compete at all with the southwestern alternatives."
The sociology of the distribution of academic talent is not a topic that, to my knowledge, has been addressed systematically, but it is the topic suggested by Mr. Yglesias's posting. Why should a university in, say, New Haven, Connecticut--what one of my colleagues (an alum, no less) called "the armpit of Connecticut" (adding, "This is unfair to armpits, actually, since if you cut out your armpit, you'd have a real problem, whereas nothing would be lost by eliminating New Haven")--have a dominant position in American academic life? "Path-dependence," per Mr. Yglesias's suggestion, is a quick gloss on a variety of factors, including:
(1) Long being thought of as a good university is one of the best ways to remain a good university, i.e., to attract each new generation of faculty and students. It is easier to be "long thought" of that way if you've been around longer, of course.
(2) Money and resources (material and human capital) accumulate with time, and especially to institutions "long thought of" as high quality (per (1)). Money and resources attract faculty and students.
(3) Already having good faculty and good students is the best way to get more good faculty and more good students.
"Among those who believed WMD had been found in Iraq, 72 per cent said they would vote to re-elect Mr Bush in November and 23 per cent said they supported his Democratic challenger, John Kerry. Among those who knew that no WMD had been found,74 per cent supported Mr Kerry and 23 per cent backed the President."
Find out here. Note that this is not a political site; this is a site recruiting profit-seekers to do the work:
"The reconstruction of Iraq is one of the biggest projects to have been undertaken in over 50 years. May 2003 saw the UN Security Council provide the US and UK with a mandate to take control of Iraq and to use the revenue generated by the export of oil to rebuild the country. This move ended all economic sanctions imposed on Iraq since the Gulf War in the early nineties. The reconstruction of Iraq - planned to take place over the next five years - is expected to cost in excess of $100 billion. At least half of this figure will account for projects to be sub-contracted to outside companies."
$50 billion dollars in revenue for outside companies! And only 30-40,000 human beings had to be killed and maimed to make it possible.
(Thanks to Alex Miller [Macquarie Philosophy] for the pointer.)
Chris Bertram (Bristol Philosophy) points to just one example of the bureaucratic "accountability" requirements that are indeed driving faculty from the UK. His example pertains to the hoops one has to jump through to secure funding for graduate students. But far worse, according to my friends, is the absurd "Teaching Quality Assessment," which has nothing to do with assessing teaching quality, and everything to do with record-keeping and paper shuffling. At least the Research Assessment Exercise--which is its own administrative nightmare--has a substantive component (namely, actual evaluation of research by experts in the field), though if the RAE keeps inflating the grades, this will soon be meaningless as well.
On April 6, I wrote: "Some folks don’t know how to cut their losses. Lawrence VanDyke’s complete scientific and scholarly incompetence has been so thoroughly reviewed by me (here and here), biologists, political commentators, and those concerned with science education, that you’d think he might just admit what is now obvious: that he was out of his depth, scientifically and philosophically, and leave it at that. We’re all entitled to make mistakes, after all."
But along comes the April 22 Harvard Law School newspaper quoting VanDyke still not cutting his losses: "'Contrary to most of Leiter and his cronies' [sic] attacks on my piece, the actual argument of my note has really nothing to do with the empirical support for ID,' asserted VanDyke. 'My note addresses a prior question - should ID be damned before ever even getting a fair hearing on the empirical merits? I say no - to do so with consistency would require similarly damning naturalistic evolution.'"
So he's still running the same argument--the one where he compounds his scientific ignorance, with philosophical ignorance--that I discussed on April 6.
UPDATE: Reader Jason Walta writes:
"Ah, the sweet bliss of cognitive dissonance.
'According to 2L VanDyke's note, the Intelligent Design (ID) movement "insists that "intelligent agency" provides an origins paradigm that is better supported by the empirical evidence and gives greater coherence to our scientific observations and philosophical intuitions than does the philosophy of methodological naturalism (MN) underlying evolutionary orthodoxy." (4/22/04 HLS Record article, page 1.)
'Contrary to most of Leiter and his cronies' attacks on my piece, the actual argument of my note has really nothing to do with the empirical support for ID,' asserted VanDyke. (Id., page 2)."
And more apt comments on the article from Chris Mooney here, which makes some important points of general applicability about the pretense of journalistic objectivity.
And finally, more from Pharyngula, who offers the wise maxim: "First Rule of Holes: If you're in one, stop digging."
Details here: "A new Harris Poll finds that public perceptions of the facts that led up to the invasion of Iraq remain almost unchanged in spite of a barrage of media reports that might have changed them."
Sidney Shapiro, one of the nation's leading authorities on administrative law at the University of Kansas, has accepted the University Distinguished Chair in Law at Wake Forest University; details here. That Chair was held previously by the distinguished constitutional theorist Michael Perry, who was recruited away by Emory last year, where he now holds that University's most prestigious (and lucrative) post, the Robert W. Woodruff Professorship.
This past year, Princeton lost senior faculty members Beatrice Longuenesse (Kant, Continental Philosophy) and Scott Soames (philosophy of language, history of analytic philosophy) to New York University and the University of Southern California, respectively, and tenure-track faculty Mark Greenberg (philosophy of mind, philosophy of law) to UCLA and David Sussman (Kant, ethics) to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The distinguished moral philosopher Michael Smith from the ANU had, of course, accepted an offer early last fall (to start this fall), and during the course of this year Princeton has already hired two tenure-track faculty: Desmond Hogan (Kant, early modern) out of Yale, and Thomas Kelly (epistemology, ethics) out of Harvard, who is on tenure-track at Notre Dame.
"A statement from al-Qaeda following the Madrid bombings...said the organization hoped George Bush would win reelection, 'because he acts with force rather than wisdom or shrewdness, and it is his religious fanaticism that will rouse our (Islamic) nation, as has been shown. Being targeted by an enemy is what will wake us from our slumber.' Quoted on the Arabic news Web site www.elaph.com: 'Bayaan lil qa'ida yuhhammal tawqi' kataib abu hafss al massri,' March 17, 2004."
The NAS announced the new fellows early this year, and it was nice to see two Texas faculty recognized: Alan Lambowitz (in molecular biology here in Austin, a member of the Biology and Chemistry faculties) and Xiaoding Wang (in biomedical sciences on the faculty of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas [the main research medical school of the UT System is in Dallas, not Austin, which has no medical school at all]).
In addition, a strikingly large number of social scientists were elected this year, including Elizabeth Loftus (now at the University of California at Irvine), whose work on eyewitness testimony is well-known to law professors, and Frans de Waall (Emory University), whose work on primate behavior has attracted much popular attention, and whose work is widely invoked by those keen to find Darwinian explanations for human behavior.
...at me, by David Bernstein (George Mason Law), for my (apparently provocative) remarks on free speech in Canada. As predicted, he says naught about the extensive suppression of substantive political speech by the corporate media in the United States. More interestingly, he says much that is revealing about the libertarian mindset, and, in addition, he makes one, perhaps two, sound critical points (about which more below). This sets Bernstein apart, appropriately, from some of the logically and semantically challenged readers who linked to his posting, whom one can find by following the link at the Volokh Consipracy site. Those who, uncharitably, thought conservatives were stupid might find solace in these links--but more on them in the next posting, which I'll reserve for my "the less they know, the less they know it" category.
Since, alas, many folks don't read too well, let's start by recapping the main points of my original posting:
(1) It is ironic how Americans pontificate about the lack of "free speech" in Canada because Canadians prohibit hate speech, without noting the far more serious suppression of speech, about far more central matters, effected by private actors in the United States. Even if one thought it were bad to sanction those who want to say, "Kill all the fags/niggers/kikes" etc., it is surely far worse, in terms of its consequences for economic and social policy as it affects human well-being, for private actors to exclude from the major media views that dissent from the chauvinist nationalism and neoliberal orthodoxy now dominant in the United States.
(2) It is especially peculiar that, if hate speech is to be prohibited, that one should think a special exception should be made when the hate is religiously motivated. Only in America is it (now) thought that a religious grounding excuses moral depravity of all kinds. (This is in constrast to the constitutional law of the 1960s and 1970s, which took the view that religion was constitutionally "special," meaning that it both enjoyed special protection from the state, but that the state also had an obligation to keep religion in the private sphere; First Amendment viewpoint discrimination doctrine beginning in the 1980s has largely undermined this tradition, which is a serious loss for Establishment Clause values.)
(3) Canada is, cuturally, part of the the post-WWII European consensus based on the Nazi experience--namely, that naked bigotry, religiously motivated or otherwise, is a danger to humanity. Despite this, the quality of public dialogue in Canada and in Europe is much higher than in the United States: there is a greater diversity of views well-represented in the major media and in the political sphere. The explanation for this is plainly not the law--the law in these countries is in some ways, superficially at least, more restrictive of speech--but rather the social and cultural ethos and environment.
Now let's take Bernstein's points, to see what we learn about free speech in Canada and about the libertarian world view:
Bernstein: "It's a fallacy to assume that speech restrictions are motivated primarily by moral rather than political considerations. It's a fallacy to assume that law in general is motivated by moral rather than political considerations. Right now, gays and others have sufficient political power in Canada to achieve protection from their critics. Who and what gets silenced next depends not on Canada's level of civilization, but on what groups manage to organize themselves into powerful lobbies with the strength to get politicians to silence their enemies."
Leiter: Claims like this do require some empirical support on their behalf, especially when they are incredible on their face. (What next? U.S. policy towards Israel is explained by the powerful Jewish lobby?) How did gays in Canada acquire so much political clout? Are they 51% of the Canadian population, though only 3-8% everywhere else? What is the evidence of their malign political machinations and their ability to bend the law of the nation to their will? Does Bernstein really mean to deny that the social and cultural ethos exercises a profound impact on the character of a nation's laws? Presumably not, so what can he mean that would make sense?
Bernstein: "Brian's post reveals one of the major differences between libertarians and our friends on the left: libertarians tend to believe that the government cannot be trusted with too much power, whereas leftists tend to believe that the wrong people cannot be trusted with too much power."
Leiter: David would, of course, put it this way, but let me restate it in a way that preserves part of his point, but gets the emphasis right: "Libertarians appear to believe that society can function with very little government, whereas 'leftists' [and everyone else] believes that state power is more necessary than libertarians recognize, so that it matters very much who wields state power and what their objectives are."
Bernstein: "[H]ow can you predict in advance whether the right people will be in power in the future? The genius of the Framers of the American Constitution was to establish a system of government that assumed the untrustworthiness of whomever would take power in the future, with a system of checks and balances and constitutional restraints to limit their power. Much of this system no longer exists, but the First Amendment preserves the ideal of limiting government authority in the sphere of communication."
Leiter: You can as little predict in advance whether the right people will be in power, as you can predict in advance that purported constraints on state power like those contemplaed by the "genius" Framers will be at all meaningful over time given whose actually in power in the future. (Who would have guessed a time would come when a U.S. President would delcare a right to spirit away citizens to US army brigs, without oversight by the courts?) In both cases, political power, and who wields it, will matter. Libertarians can't opt out of this fundamental problem of political life.
Bernstein: "Albert Jay Nock once wrote, 'whatever power you give the State to do things for you carries with it the equivalent power to do things to you.' What continues to separate Americans from Canadians and Europeans is our general unwillingness to give the State the power to do things for us at the risk of it doing things to us."
Leiter: What separates American from Canadians and Europeans is that the Americans have been conned, on a massive scale, in to being unable to identify or distinguish (1) between kinds of state power (e.g., the power to tax, to provide healthcare, to wage war, to run the secret police, etc.), (2) the risks they actually involve, (3) what the actual benefits of the different kinds of state power are, (4) what the risks are from private power unchecked by the state, and (5) how all those risks should be balanced against all those benefits. What distinguishes the Canadians and Europeans, in short, is that most of them would laugh out loud when served up childish bromides like Nock's.
Bernstein: "There is nothing civilized about putting someone in jail for saying that homosexual acts are a sin."
Leiter: Canadian law--as I would have thought Bernstein of all people would know--does not provide such a penalty for someone who says homosexuality is a sin. That statement, by itself, is not hate speech in Canada.
Bernstein: "Civilized people settle their differences without violence, and locking someone in jail is a violent act."
Leiter: I'm glad Bernstein and I agree about the state of civilization in America, which of course has one of the highest per capita incarceration rates in the world.
Bernstein: "In Canada, you don't even have to condemn homosexual acts to be subjected to state violence. Toronto print shop owner Scott Brockie refused on religious grounds to print letterhead for a gay activist group, the local human rights commission ordered him to pay the group $5,000 (approximately $3,400 U.S.), print the requested material, and apologize to the group's leaders. Brockie had always accepted print jobs from individual gay customers, and even did pro bono work for a local AIDS group. He just didn't want to participate in what he considered sinful activities. Forcing someone to act against his beliefs in this way is not 'civilized,' but the modern equivalent of compulsory mass."
Leiter: I will assume, though without knowing the details of this case, that Brock was in violation of applicable civil rights and anti-discrimination laws (the Canadian Charter explicitly protects against discrimination based on sexual orientation, and there are presumably multiple laws giving that protection force). Even in the United States, one would not get a religious exemption from laws prohibiting racial discrimination, as Bernstein must surely know. And Bernstein also surely knows that there is no legal right in America to not be forced "to act against" one's beliefs. So this is just silly. The bottom line is that the only difference between America and Canada in this example is that sexual orientation enjoys in Canada the kind of legal protection race enjoys here. If Bernstein's point is that he does not think it marks an advance in civilization to provide protection against discrimination for homosexuals, then he ought to say so plainly, and not confuse this issue with issues about hate speech and religious liberty.
"Tom was there to explain to Fort Bend teachers why he won’t let HR 594 come to the House floor for a vote. Being as how Tom couldn’t explain that without using words to describe himself like mean, condescending, hateful, and/or money grubbing egg-sucking-dog elitist in a heap of donkey dump, he took another route. Instead, he chose to explain that gypping Texas schoolteachers out of their full retirement is good for them and wonderful for the Iraqi rebuilding effort.
"It didn’t go over well.
"Have you ever noticed that when somebody can’t explain diddle squat or is trying to hide something, they use a Power Point presentation? Like looking at the pretty pictures and graphs makes you throw common sense and mathematical principles out the door. Oh looky at that, Erlene, Tom drew a real pretty graph for us. Let’s quit loathing him.
"Tom sat on the stage with the experts that he brought to help him to explain things, kinda like President Bush has to help Vice President Dick Cheney explain things to the 911 Commission. As you’ll notice from the picture, Tom’s experts were all fluffy white boys come to ‘splain things to women, minority folks, and other people they consider childlike and charmingly stupid."
A recent PhD graduate of Penn, reacting to the recent posting on the losses of junior faculty Rahul Kumar and Ulrike Heuer and to the fact that the University frequently rejects the tenure recommendations of the Philosophy Department, writes:
"Rahul Kumar's departure is a huge loss to Penn's philosophy department. He was the sole member of the faculty who specialized in contemporary ethical theory and he has an excellent reputation among those who work in that field. What is especially aggravating about Kumar's loss, from the perspective of someone who cares about the future of the department, is that it comes on the heels of other significant losses: Jay Wallace, Gary Ebbs, Lisa Downing, Richard Samuels and Tom Ricketts have all left Penn over just the past few years. With the exception or Ricketts, all of those losses were junior faculty when they left Penn. The University has simply failed to retain its promising junior faculty in philosophy, and this is due in large measure, directly or indirectly, to the University's [not the department's] draconian tenure practices. Kumar is just the latest victim. And the cumulative effect of the University's decision in his case, combined with its legendarily bad track record in tenure decisions in philosophy, is having a predictable chilling effect: Ulrike Heuer's departure is a case in point. What reason is there to stay at Penn as a junior faculty member knowing that the University will treat you badly and hold you to irrational and/or mysterious standards? The University will soon make it impossible for the Philosophy Department to recruit top-flight junior faculty."
Chris MacLeod, a Canadian law student here at Texas, offers an interesting perspective:
"You write that, '[n]othing of human value is lost ... when the right to express contempt (whether dressed up in the language of morality and religion, or not) for Jews or Gays or Blacks is sanctioned. The marketplace of ideas, the search for truth, is unhindered.' I'll agree that the marketplace of ideas does not suffer from the absence of such voices, though I can see permitting such expression anyway, if only to remind the rest of us that a few persist in holding such noxious points of view. But I question your assertion that 'NOTHING of human value is lost.' However despicable we think the Ernst Zundels and James Keegstras of the world, they spoke out of conviction. Silencing their sincere expressions of conscientiously held belief does violence to their rights to self-determination. David A.J. Richards has argued that when the state coerces silence in this way, it undermines the preconditions for its own legitimacy; I'd add that this applies even when speakers don't have a First Amendment to shield them from governmental interference. As a Canadian, I've therefore followed the development of speech law under the Charter with alarm and some sadness. Accordingly, I think your admiration for Canada's 'level of civilization' misses something important. Yes, I think the Canadian state behaves in a more civilized manner. We don't execute people. We try to ensure that each has access to adequate health care. We've finally begun to atone for our disgraceful treatment of native peoples. But make no mistake - Canada's regulation of hate speech stems as much from a desire for ideological conformity as it does from a commitment to liberal values. Let me explain. American lefties may admire Canadian progressivism on a range of issues, but they are only seeing part of the picture. It's crucial to understand that Canada is also in the midst of a culture war. The people of Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Ottawa embraced Trudeau's vision of a tolerant, multicultural society, and have dominated Canadian political life for decades now. Citizens in the western provinces and rural areas - largely white and culturally conservative - didn't vote for Trudeau, didn't adopt his warm fuzzy liberalism, but discovered to their dismay that they lacked the concentrated numbers to seriously contest his agenda. That hasn't changed much. It's no accident that Alberta (Texas North)'s Tory government now plans to invoke the Charter's notwithstanding clause to prevent gay and lesbian marriage. Folks 'back East' might support expanding marriage rights, but Premier Ralph Klein is on solid ground with his own constituents when he opposes it. C-250 represents yet another attempt by Canada's urban elite to tighten the noose around those recalcitrant hillbillies who never bought into the multicultural ethos. I'm generally comfortable with Trudeau's world view, but strangely enough, I find myself rooting for the ignorant and hidebound on this one. They're absolutely wrong as a matter of moral and political justice, and should not be permitted to maintain policies that discriminate against gays and lesbians. But let them talk. We've humiliated them enough by tying their hands. Let them talk."
"You wrote: 'So I admire Canada, not so much for their approach to free speech, per se, but rather for having achieved a level of civilization that permits them to regulate expression without sacrificing the central values of the post-Enlightenment world.'
"On the whole, I found your perspective on censorship in Canada to be interesting and thought-provoking. I believe that in the above, however, you are quite mistaken.
"I direct you to the following links: here and here.... as well as anything you might want to dig up on the case of the Little Sisters Book and Art Emporium. Under laws that banned porn which degraded women, the government singled out material destined for the gay and lesbian market. Ironically one of the people's whose ideas were behind the Canadian censorship laws, Andrea Dworkin, had some of her own material seized at the border.
Benjamin Hellie (philosophy of mind) and Jessica Wilson (metaphysics, philosophy of science), currently assistant professors at Cornell and Michigan, respectively, have turned down the offers from Ohio State; Wilson has also declined the tenure-track offer from Syracuse.
Anthony Gillies (epistemology, philosophy of language, decision theory), currently on tenure-track at Harvard, has accepted a tenure-track offer from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. In addition, the University of Arizona has made a tenure-track offer to Susanna Siegel (philosophy of mind and language), also on tenure-track currently at Harvard.
Rae Langton (Kant, feminist philosophy, moral and political philosophy, metaphysics), the Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, and Richard Holton (ethics, metaphysics, philosophy of action, philosophy of language, philosophy of law), also at Edinburgh, have accepted senior offers from MIT. That's a setback for Edinburgh, which recently lured Andy Clark from Indiana/Bloomington to the Chair in Logic and Metaphysics. It's also, of course, a significant addition for the small, but strong MIT Department and, among many other things, will make MIT the leading center of feminist philosophy in the United States (Langton will join Sally Haslanger at MIT).
I recommend, but without endorsing, this curious lecture by Niall Ferguson, celebrity historian (formerly of Oxford, then NYU, now Harvard) and apologist for empire, American and otherwise. I have not read enough of Ferguson to have a fully informed view, but my impression from what I have read is that there is something slightly off about this man, so that he should be approached with caution. (Consider, for example, his recent scolding of the United States in The New York Times for not butchering more human beings in Iraq: and to think he'd find a place at a nice liberal university like Harvard!?! Shocking.)
Quite a lot of ground is covered in this lecture, so let me just mention two bits. Ferguson says:
"If you look closely at man-hour statistics-comparing the productivity of, say, a Frenchman in a single hour with that of his American counterpart--there is in fact nothing to choose between them. As a worker, a Frenchman is just as efficient as an American. It's less true in the case of a German worker, but the difference is not huge. One of the biggest differences in economic terms between Western Europe and the United States has been an astonishing divergence in working hours. In the past decade or so, Americans have steadily worked more hours per year. In fact, according to figures from the OECD, the average American in employment works nearly 2,000 hours a year--and hours a year are a good measure of just how much work people are doing. The average German, ladies and gentlemen, works fully 22 percent less of the year.
"Between 1979 and the present, the length of the working year grew in the United States. Or, if you want to put it in more conventional terms, the vacation shrank. Precisely the opposite happened in Europe. In Europe, working hours diminished, vacations grew. Labor participation also diminished. Fewer and fewer of the population actually entered the labor market altogether. And that in many ways explains that differential in GDP growth rates as well as anything I could suggest to you. It's a little hint of what I'm going to say in a minute, that this, I think, is more than just an economic phenomenon. In some ways it is a symptom of that cultural malaise in Europe that I want to see as a critical part of the end of Europe."
"To put it very crudely, it is the work ethic itself that has declined and fallen. And it is, I think, noteworthy that the decline in working hours is most pronounced in what were once distinctly Protestant countries of northwestern Europe. Once."
I suppose if the Chairman of General Motors had written the last paragraph it would be laughed off as the self-serving nonsense of the ruling class. But since historians at elite universities pursue the truth, not the interests of a particular class, this would be an inappropriate response. (But I suppose we now know why it was the Business School at NYU that hired him away from Oxford!)
Paul Franks (Kant and German Idealism, Jewish philosophy, modern philosophy, metaphysics, epistemology), a tenured associate professor at the University of Notre Dame, has accepted an offer from the University of Toronto. Despite this significant loss, Notre Dame will still have strong coverage in Kant and German Idealism with Karl Ameriks and Fred Rush.
Robin Jeshion (philosophy of language, epistemology, philosophy of math) and Michael Nelson (philosophy of language), currently at Yale University, have accepted offers from the University of California at Riverside: she as a full professor, he as a tenure-track assistant professor. Although Yale made a number of good junior appointments this year, they have now lost three senior faculty over the last year: Marilyn and Robert Adams, and now Robin Jeshion. In addition, another tenured faculty member, Susanne Bobzien (ancient philosophy), is being recruited by the University of California at Berkeley.
Continental Philosophy Farhang Erfani, a philosopher at American University, provides a useful set of links to news, events, interviews, reviews, videos, etc. related to "Continental philosophy" (broadly construed)