May 21, 2012, 5:00 pm
As I mentioned in my last post on improving our comments policy, I had my say about Naomi Schaefer Riley’s work roughly a year ago (Giggling at Stereotypes). Over time I think most reasonable observers will agree that the issue with her work isn’t one flawed post, but a history of offenses against academic norms.
Together with shameless hit pieces like The Faculty Lounges, her assault on African-American Studies was not an exception, but a repetition, of serious blunders against both academic and journalistic values. I wouldn’t have hired her, and I’d have intervened in her efforts earlier. Her work was ideological first and foremost. As others have observed, the question isn’t why she was fired; it’s why she was hired.
Many of us in higher education get to our ideologies as a result of our research: we think “reality is broken” in some way, to use Jane McGonigal’s phrase, and we…
May 16, 2012, 9:30 am
Not everyone writes to provoke, but provocative writing is common in the blogosphere, including the segment of blogging for traditional news and opinion outlets. Editors’ goals for bloggers resemble their aims for columnists. Generally they want to hire someone whose edginess is both deniable and claimable—not one of our reporters, but one of our loosely affiliated thinkers.
That dynamic tension is mirrored in commenting policy. Most provocative bloggers push buttons and boundaries in order to provoke reader reaction, yet moderate the responses they provoked. From the perspective of the provoked, that can feel arbitrary: You casually mishandled or demeaned my beliefs, but I can’t call you or the persons who agreed with you an ugly name? That’s not fair!
On the other hand, bloggers who moderate their comments typically do so because they value the quality of the conversation…
May 4, 2012, 11:13 am
Is Brainstorm racist for publishing racist attacks?
I have been struggling with this question ever since my fellow blogger Naomi Shaefer Riley wrote a breathtakingly unfounded attack on graduate students working in Black Studies and went even further to call for the elimination of Black Studies all together. Normally I ignore the sort of blogs Ms. Shaefer Riley writes, even when they are about me. I ignore her mostly because I think there are far more important things to write about than bloggers at the Chronicle, but I also ignore her because her blogs are more attack than argument and have the same intellectual weight as Fox News broadcasts. Don’t get me wrong. I believe conservative arguments can have all sorts of intellectual merit. But there is a difference between an analysis of Black Studies as a field and the complete dismissal of an entire discipline without ever reading any…