aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Friday, February 08, 2008
Shuster suspended for Chelsea Clinton comments
SHUSTER: Bill, there’s just something a little bit unseemly to me that Chelsea’s out there calling up celebrities, saying support my mom, and she’s apparently also calling these super delegates.
BILL PRESS: Hey, she’s working for her mom. What’s unseemly about that? During the last campaign, the Bush twins were out working for their dad. I think it’s great, I think she’s grown up in a political family, she’s got politics in her blood, she loves her mom, she thinks she’d make a great president --
SHUSTER: But doesn’t it seem like Chelsea’s sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way?
PRESS: No! If she didn’t want to be there she wouldn’t be there. Give Chelsea a break.
Media Matters has the following statement from NBC News President Steve Capus:
On Thursday’s “Tucker” on MSNBC, David Shuster, who was serving as guest-host of the program, made a comment about Chelsea Clinton and the Clinton campaign that was irresponsible and inappropriate. Shuster, who apologized this morning on MSNBC and will again this evening, has been suspended from appearing on all NBC News broadcasts, other than to make his apology. He has also extended an apology to the Clinton family. NBC News takes these matters seriously, and offers our sincere regrets to the Clintons for the remarks.
It’s too little too late from MSNBC at this point. Both apologies are here. The first is absolutely pathetic: “To the extent that people feel that I was being pejorative about the actions of Chelsea Clinton making these phone calls, to the extent that people feel that I was being pejorative, I apologize for that.”
As is the anchor banter that follows: “Anyone who knows David knows he was not being pejorative… we have to be transparent… we do a lot of live television and when we don’t hit a home run, we say it.” Huh??? Transparent???
Throughout his apology Schuster claims he made his comments within all kinds of praise for Chelsea. Media Matters knocked that down. Shuster’s a liar and the video shows it. But Media Matters has previously catalogued MSNBC’s extraordinarily odious and extensive record of misogynistic comments—“sexual harassment brought to you by MSNBC”—from its male anchors.
On the merits, Digby wonders:
Why on earth would anyone think it was “unseemly” for the 28 year old daughter of a presidential candidate to be “calling celebrities and superdelegates” on behalf of the campaign? What’s wrong with that?
She goes on to remind us that Mary & Liz Cheney served in their father’s campaign, Cate Edwards served in her father’s, and Romney’s five boys stumped for him, as does McCain’s daughter.
Atrios will give Press a pass on the comment, but not its underlying intent:
[W]hat I find worse is that it’s a general pattern of taking perfectly normal political activities - in this case a family member helping out with a campaign - and tlaking about it as if it’s unseemly, or corrupt, or inappropriate, or seedy, or sleazy, etc… The press has a long history of doing this with the Clintons, holding them to a weird standard that no one else is held to.
While I agree on the weird standard point, I’m not willing to give the language a pass. What I’m seeing in this campaign, the first with a viable woman candidate for president, is misogyny unleashed that deserves serious examination not
boys-will-be-boys anchors-will-be-anchors excuses. They’re paid one helluva lot of money, they have wasy disproportionate influence, their sexist language should not be tolerated.
Shuster should be fired and the rest of the MSNBC lot put on notice. I won’t be holding my breath.
Coulter, Limbaugh, Republicans and their young
Ann Coulter’s on The Today Show right now; Doug screamed that she drinks the blood of innocents and fled the room. Georgia’s Young Republicans share his antipathy:
Whereas: Political Pundits like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, and Ann Coulter, along with other talk show hosts in national and local markets, have viciously attacked Republican candidates running in the primary election; and
Whereas: Many of these same pundits have used their shows and their vast audiences to spread disunity among Republicans when we need to be uniting to face the greater threat to our national security and well being that is embodied in the Democrat candidates for President; and
Whereas: Despite all of these pundits invoking the greatness of Ronald Reagan, none of them have paused for a second to remember Reagan’s 11th Commandment; and
Whereas: Each of the above named have, through their actions and words, lost the confidence of millions of their fans and Republican voters; and
Whereas: The members of the Georgia Federation of Young Republican Clubs are prepared to support our nominee, whether he is Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Ron Paul or Mitt Romney, against the real threat, the Democrat nominee; now
Therefore, be it resolved, this 5th Day of February, 2008, that the Georgia Federation of Young Republican Clubs strongly condemns and denounces the actions and speech over the past several weeks by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, and others for breeding contempt, disunity and hatred among the Republican Party in order to bolster their own careers...
Truly inconceivable: life begins at fertilization in Georgia
On Super Tuesday a young woman student said to me that she was “ardently pro-life” and that would determine her vote. When I asked about contraception she answered that, in fact, she wondered how much of a role the state should have in reproductive choice.
That’s the kind of response I’ve had from many pro-life young people here. It makes me wonder if perhaps young conservatives are more truly conservative than their elders.
On that same Super Tuesday the AJC had this opinion piece by Maureen Dowd on Bobby Franklin and Martin Scott, two Georgia legislators targeting the reproductive choices of women in Georgia:
A Republican House member from Rossville, Scott wants a constitutional amendment that would define human life as beginning at the point that egg and sperm meet. According personhood at the moment of fertilization means more than the end of legal abortion. It also jeopardizes the legality of many forms of birth control—from the pill to the IUD—because they block the fertilized egg from implanting in the womb.
Scott’s amendment is silent on abortion, although the legislator admits that his intent is to overturn Roe v. Wade, as well as what he calls its “culture of death.”
Franklin dispenses with any such subterfuge in his wild-eyed anti-abortion legislation. House Bill 1 outlaws all abortions and calls for the death penalty for doctors who perform them. The Marietta Republican has urged this extreme policy for years, but the House leadership has ignored him. However, this year Franklin has won a hearing in front of a House Judiciary subcommittee, suggesting that the climate at the Capitol has warmed to him and chilled toward women.
Both bills confer on the single cell created when a sperm penetrates an egg the same moral status and legal rights as a living, breathing human being made of trillions of cells. Such a change would have dramatic impact on many areas of law and life.
They don’t stand a chance in hell in passing. And such bills might even make the young students here think twice and move them away from their elders.
RELATED: The Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution in the 1970s calling for the legalization of abortion that was reaffirmed in 1974, again in 1976. So how did abortion become the signature issue of the religious right?
According to one of the architects of the religious right, who told me this directly, after they had organized on the issue of Bob Jones University and more broadly the issue of government interference in these schools, as they understood it, there was a conference call among these various evangelical leaders and the political consultants who were trying to organize them into a political movement, and several people mentioned several issues. Finally the voice on the end of one of the lines said, `How about abortion?’ And that’s how abortion was cobbled into the agenda of the religious right, late in the 1970s in preparation for the 1980 presidential election.
Academic Freedom: A cornerstone of a free society. Still.
An ardent foe of David Horowitz, in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, Michael BÃ©rubÃ© is a professor at penn State University. He used to have a blog of his own [archives] but now occasionally blogs at Crooked Timber, Pandagon, or the TPM CafÃ©.
Two years ago Michael posted a 5,500 word richly-linked argument that “academic freedom is an aspect of procedural liberalism that is one of the cornerstones of a free society.” It was the text of a 35 minute talk entitled, Recent Attacks on Academic Freedom: What’s Going On.
In light of the bills targeting “left-wing indoctrination” at Southern universities, I am quoting a favorite passage. I urge you to read the whole thing:
THE PRINCIPLE OF ACADEMIC FREEDOM stipulates that “teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results, subject to the adequate performance of their other academic duties”; it expressly insists that professors should have autonomy from legislatures, trustees, alumni, parents, and ecclesiastical authorities with regard to their teaching and research. In this respect it is one of the legacies of the Enlightenment, which sought-successfully, in those nations most influenced by the Enlightenment-to free scientists and humanists from the dictates of church and state. And it is precisely that autonomy from legislative and religious oversight that helped to fuel the extraordinary scientific and intellectual efflorescence in the West over the past two centuries; it has also served as one of the cornerstones of the free and open society, in contrast to societies in which certain forms of research will not be pursued if they displease the General Secretary or the Council of Clerics. But today, the paradox of these legislative “academic bills of rights” is this: they claim to defend academic freedom precisely by promising to give the state direct oversight of course curricula, of departmental hiring practices, and of the intellectual direction of academic fields. In other words, by violating the very principle they claim to defend.
There are two more kinds of confusion behind the attacks on academic freedom, as well, and I’ll just touch on them briefly for now.
The first is that most critics of universities don’t seem to distinguish between unconscious liberal bias and conscious, articulate liberal convictions. They take the language of “bias” from critiques of the so-called liberal media, where it is applied to outlets like the New York Times and CBS News that, in the view of some conservatives, lend a leftish slant to the news both deliberately and unwittingly. But the language of “bias” is not very well suited to the work of, say, a researcher who has spent decades investigating American drug policy or conflicts in the Middle East and who has come to conclusions that amount to more or less “liberal” critiques of current policies. Such conclusions are not “bias”; rather, they are legitimate, well-founded beliefs, and of course they should be presented—ideally, along with legitimate competing beliefs—in college classrooms. Now, notice that I said legitimate competing beliefs. We have no obligation to debate whether the Holocaust happened. And that’s not a hypothetical matter. Late last fall, the philosopher with whom I co-founded the Penn State chapter of the AAUP, Claire Katz, informed me of a graduate teaching assistant in philosophy who had just had a very strange encounter with a student. The course, which dealt with bioethics, had recently dealt with the vile history of experiments on unwitting and/or unwilling human subjects, from the Holocaust to Tuskegee, and the student wanted to know whether the “other side” would be presented as well. I hope you’re asking yourselves, what other side?—because, of course, to all reasonable and responsible researchers in the field, there is no “other side”; there is no pro-human experimentation position that needs to be introduced into classroom discussion to counteract possible liberal “bias.” We are not in the business of inviting pro-Nazi spokesmen for Joseph Mengele to our classrooms. But this is the language with which some of our students enter the classroom; it is the language of cable news and mass-media simulacra of “debate.” There is one side, and then there is the other side. That constitutes balance, and anything else is bias.
Bias in the university
I’m realizing that it’s going to be a very big job to recover from my outage. And that the time it takes to restore the site is time taken away from blogging. All of which has me in a funk. As does news like this....
Facing South on Bills targeting “left-wing indoctrination” at Southern universities:
Based on the concern that academics are overwhelmingly left-leaning, the legislation mandates that professors remain ideologically neutral in the classroom and creates state councils to monitor views being presented. [...]
Interestingly, at least one state that’s looked into whether there are problems with the free exchange of ideas in the academy due to left-wing bias have found none. Several years ago, Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled state House created a special legislative committee to investigate whether students who hold unpopular views need protection. In November 2006, the committee issued a report that said it found no evidence of widespread problems.
The “Intellectual Diversity” legislation is based on the controversial ideas of left-wing radical-turned-right-wing radical David Horowitz, author of The Professors: The 100 Most Dangerous Academics in America, which targets professors from Southern schools including Baylor, Duke, Emory, North Carolina State, Texas A&M, University of Kentucky, University of South Florida, and the University of Texas. One of the academics Horowitz has singled out, UT-Austin Communication Studies Professor Dana Cloud, has written of the hate mail, physical threats and other harassment she’s experienced as a result of being targeted by Horowitz, whose tactics she’s likened to McCarthyism. She also reports how students in the Horowitz-founded Students for Academic Freedom keep a watch list and encourage the reporting of professors who exhibit “bias”:… which could mean anything from telling a Bush joke to encouraging students to think critically about gender; but NEVER means talking about capitalism in the business school or celebrating corporate culture in the advertising department ...