Patterico's Pontifications


Journalism Professor Dan Gillmor Supports Federal Regulation of the (New) Printing Press

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:30 pm

This morning I saw a tweet from Dan Gillmor regarding the death of newspapers.

I have, over the years, had a cordial relationship with Dan Gillmor. This blog received a brief mention in his book “We, the Media” (my review is here) and I always considered him to be one of those folks who had a real vision for what the Internet can and should be.

He is, I should acknowledge up front, also a leftist who is prone to making poorly thought-out generalizations of how the left is supposedly better than the right in various ways. He believes, for example, that the left has more honest discussion on their blogs, or that Republicans try to win elections by suppressing the vote (while, apparently, Democrats win through logic and certainly not through vote fraud, with the possible exception of JFK, LBJ, and other beneficiaries of fraud with names like Clinton and Obama).

Anyway: this morning, it occurred to me — for the first time with this level of clarity — that the real problem with newspapers these days is not what most people think it is. The real problem with newspapers is that we are seeing, for the first time in this country’s history, direct federal regulation of the printing press. (I am going to use the word “federal” in this post to avoid confusion, even though it’s really a “central” government and not much of a “federal” one any more.)

I tweeted to Gillmor:

To which he responded:

A lie? Here is our next exchange:

Gillmor then told me that I did not use sufficient “nuance.” (Well, we were on Twitter.)

I had a few responses. Here are a couple of them:

This is that post.


Smart Student Responds To UCI American Flag Kerfuffle

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:21 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Last week, I posted about the UCI student legislative council’s decision to ban the American flag from its offices because its presence might be offensive to students and visitors. Because inclusiveness!

In a letter to the campus newspaper, PhD student (computer science) Nick Gallo is spot-on as he demonstrates how students could have made such a misguided decision:

Last Thursday the ASUCI Legislative Council voted 6-4-2 to ban the display of the American flag in the ASUCI lobby. This triggered a huge backlash among students opposed to the measure and received national media attention. UCI administration immediately went into damage control mode, releasing a statement that these students were “misguided” and that this decision was in no way supported by campus leadership. Chancellor Gillman promptly followed up, lamenting how it is “inevitable” when you get a bunch of “young people” together that some of them will occasionally express views that are “unconventional and even outrageous.” “It was outrageous and indefensible,” he exclaimed “that they would question the appropriateness of displaying the American flag on this great campus.”

Where on earth could these “misguided” students have gotten such an “outrageous” idea? Where are they getting their guidance from? Could it be from the administration constantly suffocating the student body with statements about how we need to enhance our “diversity” and “inclusivity?” Could it be their complete failure to identify and champion American values in any meaningful way? Let’s take a closer look.

When I applied to the UC Irvine PhD program, I was required to submit a statement about how I would enhance the “diversity” of the university. Why was I not required to submit a similar statement about what I love about America, how I will uphold American values and further the cause of this great nation? Why aren’t international students required to answer these questions and write a statement about which American values they find so appealing and why they are excited to be a part of American culture?

Rather than addressing this apparent disparity, on Jan. 30 of this year Chancellor Gillman doubled down, asserting via campus-wide e-mail that “in the area of faculty recruitment, we instituted a requirement that all applicants submit with their application materials a statement indicating their past and/or potential contributions to diversity, equity and inclusion.” In the same e-mail, he emphasized UCI’s commitment to “inclusive excellence,” lauded UCI’s workshop on “Identifying Micro-aggressions,” stated that he was forming a special Task Force to make African American students feel more welcome and engaged in campus life and stated the administration’s intention to alter the racial makeup of the student body in order to qualify for a Hispanic Serving Institution designation by the federal government.

Similarly, on Feb. 13, Vice Chancellor Parham issued an unusual e-mail condemning “instances of cultural insensitivity” stating that the administration joins with “our Muslim brothers and sisters” in the aftermath of the senseless UNC Chapel Hill murders of three Muslims and encouraged affected students to utilize the UCI Counseling Center. However, on Jan. 7, when twelve cartoonists in Paris were publicly executed by ruthless Jihadists (and no, despite this juxtaposition, I am not conflating “Muslims” with “Jihadists”) for drawing a caricature of Mohammed, the administration was silent. Despite the international media attention, the administration offered no special counseling sessions or condolences to French students, no statements about “cultural insensitivity,” and didn’t take the opportunity to champion cherished American values of Freedom of Expression and Religion or state our nation’s commitment to securing these freedoms throughout the world.

The message from the administration to the student body is clear: we need to be more tolerant and more inclusive. Minority students feel constantly unwelcome and we need to do something about it.

Six students dutifully applied this logic toward international students in the ASUCI lobby, there was a huge backlash and they were promptly thrown under the bus.

I agree with Mr. Gillman’s retroactive assessment that this resolution was “outrageous.” I disagree with the destructive, hypercritical narrative of America presented in this resolution that is popular among some students and professors at U.S. universities. I believe the flag is an uncompromising tribute to our honored veterans and our fallen soldiers who sacrificed so much to secure the fragile liberty which we have been so fortunate to inherit.

However, I think the administration owes these six students (and the public) an explanation as to why their attempt at “inclusivity” was so “misguided.” Are UCI’s internal policies and statements on “inclusivity” themselves contradictory and misguided? Should UCI offer educational programs arguing against the view of America spelled out in this resolution? We have entire offices dedicated to “diversity,” why not one to promote American values and a healthy understanding of our culture, especially among international students?

What should we tell international students coming to UCI? The voice of the student body is clear: we are a tolerant, vibrant community, we invite you here and we welcome you here. We give you great freedom to express many aspects of your culture within our borders, but there are certain things about our culture, like the display of our flag, that we simply refuse to compromise, no matter how offensive you may find it. The position of the administration is surprisingly contradictory and unclear. Perhaps it is time we hold them accountable.


Vladimir Putin Is Missing In Action

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:10 am

[guest post by Dana]


Russian President Vladimir Putin is missing in action. As such, he’s become a trending personality of online satirists – much to the dismay of the Kremlin. Given that Russia’s economy is tanking, it is still at war in Ukraine, and that opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was assassinated less than a month ago, Putin’s absence from public view is rattling nerves.

Putin was expected to attend important events and meetings this week and was a no-show. The Kremlin denies he is ill and did some laughable staging on state media to make it appear it was business as usual. Illness would be be perceived as weakness and that would be problematic:

First, manly men don’t get sick. Putin’s carefully cultivated image rests on never showing weakness, which is crucial in hypercompetitive Russia. If one shows some weakness, then one is all weakness—and therefore prey. This is why Putin never apologizes and, in the rare instance in which he reverses a decision, will do so long after the public gaze or outcry has moved on. Putin is the national leader and does not admit mistakes. It is beneath national leaders to do such lily-livered things.

Also, there are rumors that as a result of Nemtsov’s murder (which is considered an inside job), a split in political forces has been revealed, thus weakening Putin’s hold on power and forcing him into a fight to maintain control.

The Kremlin is also denying speculation that Putin (age 62) flew to Switzerland to be with his girlfriend (age 31) as she gave birth to their love-child. Of course, given that the Kremlin also denied Putin had any sort of relationship with the young woman in the first place, how could he have possibly fathered a child with her?

However, it’s also possible that Putin’s absence is simply Putin flexing a different sort of “muscle”, as suggested by Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group:

Putin is nothing if not capricious. He enjoys keeping people waiting … and guessing, it’s part of a display of the trappings of power.

Or perhaps it’s nothing other than Putin experiencing a bit of stress, just as Dmitri Peskov, Putin’s spokesman said in a recent interview. The same interview in which he also felt compelled to reassure listeners that Putin’s handshake can “still break hands”.

Despite nine days with no public sightings of Russia’s ubiquitous presence on state media, all is well. Or so they want you to believe.


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