WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2015
All us humans are dumb: The assistant professor in question has several areas of specialization.
Like you, like us, like everyone else, she can also be very dumb.
Earlier this week, she was captured on videotape, making a call for "muscle." You see, someone was shooting videotape of a public event in a public space at a major state university. The assistant professor was calling for "muscle" to come and remove this very bad young person.
As you may know, the assistant professor was playing a role in the student protests at the University of Missouri. In our view, the seven-minute videotape which surfaced this week is highly instructive.
The New York Times provides the tape here. It teaches us quite a few lessons:
First, we can see that college students can sometimes have very poor judgment. This shouldn't be completely surprising. They're just college kids, after all.
(For the record, most of the students in the tape seem to be scrub-faced, middle-class white kids. Their behavior in that videotape is just extremely dumb.)
When we the people are young, we can be very dumb! On the other hand, the videotape also shows a university administrator and the assistant professor behaving extremely foolishly.
In theory, these adult authority figures are supposed to be smarter than students. They're supposed to have a better sense of the way our society works, post-Enlightenment and all.
Everybody makes mistakes! This assistant professor's mistake was on videotape and was unattractive. She has been reprimanded by all sorts of university officials. The student protest movement has said she was wrong. Her behavior was very dumb.
Her behavior also helps us see how deeply tribal we the liberals can be. In recent years, we think this has been the most important developing story in American media.
Uh-oh! Ditto-headedness and mob rule aren't just for The Others any more! To watch a bunch of Us behaving like the apocryphal Them, please watch all seven minutes of that videotape.
We'll suggest two further points:
To a large percentage of American adults, that videotape will look completely crazy. Over at the Washington Post, Eric Wemple put it like this:
"To watch the video of photographer Tim Tai getting pushed around by a turf-protecting scrum of protesters at the University of Missouri is to experience constitutional angst."
In the past, we liberals have elected Republicans this way, most notably during the years of the Nixon/Reagan backlash. In the course of the next twelve months, we could easily do so again. People like the assistant professor are working for the GOP, although they likely don't know it.
We had another reaction. It involved the assistant professor's areas of specialization. Her official bio says this:
"Current research projects involve 50 Shades of Grey readers, the impact of social media in fans’ relationship with Lady Gaga, masculinity and male fans, messages about class and food in reality television programming, and messages about work in children's television programs."
Some of that doesn't seem to be written in English. That said, here's our question. When universities hire professors to study such topics, do they have the right to be surprised when they find them behaving absurdly?
In recent years, we've noted the way we liberals are adopting the values of the mob. We've also complained about the overall work, or lack of same, of the nation's professors.
Please ponder. In the past forty years, the academy hasn't found a way to address or explain the bogus claim that the Social Security trust fund is "just a bunch of worthless IOUs." It has found the time and the money to hire people with doctorates to research topics like those.
One last question. When you see those college kids behaving so dumbly, how much confidence do you have in their judgments about other things, like the various events at Mizzou?
Where does wisdom lie at Mizzou? Not being there, we have no clear idea. Treat yourself to a basic reality:
You're probably a bit unclear too.
We haven't used anyone's name in this post. You don't want to make people targets. Everybody makes mistakes. All us humans are dumb.