Patterico's Pontifications


Mizzou Fires Melissa Click

Filed under: General — JVW @ 2:43 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Details here. It would have been hard to envision any other outcome, much as my cynical side wanted to believe that the university would string this out long enough to have it fade from memory and then give her a slap on the wrist. There was no way in the aftermath of this that they could grant her tenure, and keeping her around as a lecturer or a permanent assistant professor weren’t viable options.

From the linked article:

In interviews with The Missourian, Faculty Council Chair and law professor Ben Trachtenberg called the decision to fire Click “terrible” and Faculty Council member Angela Speck said it was “ridiculous that she should be fired without due process.”

The law professor is entitled to his opinion, but notice how he makes no attempt to ground it in any sort of statutory requirement that the faculty has to protect a crybully who attempts to enforce her rancid ideology on others. As for Angela Speck, Professor of Astrophysics, she is apparently named for Angela Davis, so we should appreciate that she started life with the odds stacked against her. Further proof that ability in a STEM fields is no guarantee of logical insight into other academic disciplines.

I thought that Mizzou would wait until the start of their spring break (March 26) in order mitigate the chances of disruptive demonstrations by the Concerned Students 1950 crowd, but I guess they wanted to give Click the opportunity to ply her wares at some other institution of higher learning. Or perhaps they need this much time to find somebody to carry on her urgent research into Fifty Shades of Grey and other pop culture banalities.

UPDATE: Earlier stories on Melissa Click located here.



You’ll Never BELIEVE Which Site Has Been Criticized for Clickbait Headlines!!!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:30 am

The L.A. Times this morning published an article about a list of misleading Internet sites to avoid, put together by a Massachusetts college professor.

During the election, many people fell prey to fake news stories on social media — even the president-elect ended up retweeting fake statistics. A professor of communication has created a list of unreliable news sites to help people do better.

Melissa Zimdars, an assistant professor of communication at Merrimack College in Massachusetts, put together a publicly available Google doc cataloging “False, misleading, clickbait-y and satirical ‘news’ sources.” It’s been making the rounds on social media as people seek to cleanse their newsfeeds of misinformation.

The usual suspects are there: Breitbart, Drudge Report, etc. [CORRECTION: Drudge is not listed; a Drudge knock-off is. Coffee BEFORE blogging, Patterico!] (No Gateway Pundit. I guess Jim Hoft has the professor’s seal of approval.) Oddly enough, there are barely any left-leaning sites on the list — the main exception being openly satirical sites, like the Borowitz report. Missing from the list is, for example, the L.A. Times itself . . . an organization that I spent years revealing as fact-challenged. Andrew Breitbart once asked me to count up how many corrections I had obtained from them over the years. I stopped counting around 42. And that was years ago — and that’s just the stuff that a) was bad enough for me to write them about and b) they agreed with me about after reading my email correcting them.

But here’s the part that really made me laugh. The professor has different categories for inclusion, including irresponsible outrage sites, unreliable sites, openly satirical sites, and sites that “sometimes use clickbait-y headlines and social media descriptions.” Guess which site was tagged for clickbait-y headlines?


That’s right. One

Guess which site was not tagged for clickbait-y headlines?


I think my point is clear enough. Don’t you?

[Cross-posted at RedState.]


Praise (But Only Qualified Praise) for the Gophers

Filed under: General — JVW @ 9:46 pm

[guest post by JVW]

We have been cataloging the sad and ugly attempts at some universities to trample on the free speech rights of students all in the name of diversity and tolerance, or whatever trendy shibboleth is being bandied about on campus these days, so it is only fair that we acknowledge those institutions of higher education who are looking for ways to protect students from the censorious crybullies who wield all the power in Obama’s post-racial America. With that in mind, let’s put our hands together for the University of Minnesota where the faculty is working on adopting a statement of principles regarding free speech. According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), the statement codifies four important principles of free speech:

(1) A public university must be absolutely committed to protecting free speech, both for constitutional and academic reasons.

(2) Free speech includes protection for speech that some find offensive, uncivil, or even hateful.

(3) Free speech cannot be regulated on the ground that some speakers are thought to have more power or more access to the mediums of speech than others.

(4) Even when protecting free speech conflicts with other important University values, free speech must be paramount.

These are four excellent pillars for supporting the full protection guaranteed by the Constitution to all Golden Gopher students, even the ones who aren’t any good at hockey. This statement has been approved by a faculty committee and will next come to the entire faulty for a vote. Naturally a collective of mushminded graduate students finds the statement to be offensive as do the wannabe Stasi of the undergraduate senate, so this committee must be headed in the right direction. Unfortunately, due to the winding down of the academic year and the glacial pace at which university bureaucracies move, this initiative might wither on the vine until next fall.

And, truth be told, there is at least one aspect to the faculty committee’s document as drafted that should cause a degree of heartburn to anyone who is tired of the shenanigans that go on in higher education. In one of the recommendations for how free speech can be protected on the UM campus, the committee makes the following suggestion: “Create a position of free-speech advocate or vest the powers of a free-speech advocate within the existing faculty governance structure.” Isn’t it just like the modern academic to suggest more bureaucratic positions, especially at a taxpayer-funded university? While it may be true that too many students have been hauled in front of campus kangaroo courts without the counsel of any supportive ally, how do we know that the free speech advocate position won’t be occupied by a Melissa Click-type character? After all, if an academic who held a joint appointment with the journalism school can seek to ban reporters from a public event, what guarantee does the Minnesota taxpayer have that the appointed free speech advocate will be a bona fide supporter of open expression instead of just another administrative empty suit in cahoots with the crybullies?

So let me see if I can help the UM bring about this free speech champion without sticking the Minnesota taxpayer or the tuition-paying student with the tab. The University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus has a student population of over 50,000 students, and it has an Office for Equity and Diversity which consists of nine — count ’em nine! — sub-offices, including the perennial favorites Conflict Resolution, Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence, and of course Institute for Diversity, Equity and Advocacy. The OED office boasts of fourteen administrators with titles such as Vice President, Associate Vice Provost, Assistant Vice Provost, Associate Vice President, Assistant Vice President, and Assistant to the Vice President. That’s an awful lot of vice for a midwestern college campus. The Office for Diversity in Graduate Education, just to take but one example, has a staff of five, three of whom carry the title of “Director.” I am guessing that the Office of Equity and Diversity is often on the complainant side of these campus free speech kerfuffles, so how about we cut one position from that group for every free speech advocate that the UM finds it needs to hire? And since the current employment listings at the UM feature at least three open full-time regular positions in the OED, we can start by redlining those jobs and using the saved headcount for the new free speech advocates. Everybody wins in that scenario.

In closing, I would like to point out that once upon a time every college and university in this country had plenty of free speech advocates on staff. They were collectively known as the faculty.



Mizzou Professor Charged with Assault

Filed under: General — JVW @ 4:25 pm

[guest post by JVW]

The interminable saga of University of Missouri Assistant Professor of Communication Melissa Click reached a new milestone today when the Columbia, Missouri City Prosecutor formally charged her with third-degree assault for swatting at a student journalist who was photographing a Black Lives Matter gathering on campus this past November. Recall that Click was also caught on video asking for “some muscle” to come and forcibly eject the photographer. She faces up to 15 days imprisonment if found guilty.

Meanwhile, the university is either taking due diligence or dragging their feet (depending upon one’s disposition to Click’s actions) in reaching a decision about Melissa Click’s continuing status on the faculty. This was the year that Click was to come up for tenure review, and according to the local ABC News affiliate she remains under consideration:

Interim Chancellor Hank Foley announced Monday afternoon that Click will keep her job while a task force determines whether she will receive tenure.

Foley said she is currently working from home and will continue to do so the rest of the week.

Foley said a task force made up of scholars, MUPD, administrators, and students will sort through everything that happened on November 9.

“When we deviate from our processes, we tend to make mistakes. We have our ways of doing things that are not hasty,” said Foley in regard to the task force process.

“People are held accountable for their actions at the University. This is not being looked over.”

Foley said “Dr. Click is frankly aggrieved by this. I doubt she would do anything like this again.” [emphasis added]

Is it just me, or does Foley sound like he would absolutely love to find a way to forgive and forget and grant Click tenure? I guess Mizzou simply can’t do without her ground-breaking research into the Fifty Shades of Grey novels and “Thomas the Tank” television series.

Anyone have any bright ideas for Chancellor Foley as to how he and his colleagues can grant Professor Click tenure without being the laughingstocks of academia?



Your Daily Mizzou Round-Up (Does That Aggress Anyone?) [UPDATE: What Mizzou Hath Wrought]

Filed under: General — JVW @ 2:10 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Since people still appear to be fascinated by what is going on at the University of Missouri, here are some links to interesting developments:

Melissa Click, the professor who tried to prevent student journalists from covering a public gathering of black student activists, resigned her “courtesy appointment” to the journalism department yesterday. She remains an assistant professor of communication, though the university is keeping mum on any additional disciplinary measures she may face as well as how all this affects her tenure prospects. The other staff member seen in the video interfering with the rights of the journalists, Janna Basler of the Student Affairs Office, has apologized for her actions. Her office has said it is investigating the incident.

Over at The Federalist, Sean Davis wonders if the swastika drawn in excrement in the dormitory isn’t a hoax. After being stonewalled by campus police, the online journal has filed a Freedom of Information Act demand with the state of Missouri to see what the police reports have to say.

The graduate student whose hunger strike helped galvanize the football team’s strike turns out to be from a wealthy Omaha family whose railroad executive patriarch made $8.4 million in compensation last year.

A black faculty member and minority students of various races write in to the local paper to insist that racism is common in their experience.

[UPDATE: Student protesters at Ithaca College are now demanding the firing of their campus president, Tom Rochon. It’s open season on higher ed administrators apparently.]



An Eventful Few Days in Columbia, Missouri

Filed under: General — JVW @ 8:11 pm

[guest post by JVW]

On Saturday’s college football thread we have been discussing the interesting situation at the University of Missouri involving student protesters, the football team, and upper-administration. For a brief recap, after a series of alleged racial incidents on campus, an activist group called Concerned Students 1950 (named for the year that Mizzou first admitted black undergraduate students) demanded the resignation of the university president along with other measures to combat what they see as an intolerable racial climate. Earlier today, that president, Tim Wolfe, and the university chancellor, R. Bowen Loftin [corrected spelling: thanks Diffus], both resigned from their positions.

The football team had become involved when players with ties to Concerned Students 1950 convinced somewhere between 30 and 35 players to boycott the rest of the season, effective immediately. They were ultimately joined in the boycott by the coaching staff, which probably signaled to the administration that the battle was lost. The involvement of the team, a mostly-successful program in the most competitive college football conference in the nation, almost certainly brought increased media coverage and aided the protesters immeasurably, though cynics point out that the Tigers (current record of four wins and five losses) probably wouldn’t be considering a boycott if there were 9-0 or even 8-1.

This afternoon, Concerned Students 1950 and its allies gathered on a campus lawn to demonstrate, which they immediately declared to be a “safe space” where media were not welcome, despite the fact that they were gathering on public property. In a rather remarkable (and not in a good way) video, students and faculty members, including Assistant Professor of Mass Media Melissa Click, attempt to bully student reporters from covering the gathering:

Twitchy has a round-up of reactions to the irony of a school with a prestigious journalism department blocking student journalists from exercising their First Amendment rights. In a positive development, a Mizzou journalism professor, Katherine Reed, has publicly shamed her colleague, though it’s hard to imagine a feckless administration treating this with anything other than the mildest of rebukes.

Meanwhile, Concerned Students 1950 issued the usual puerile list of demands, including mandatory diversity training for student and staff designed and implemented by their organization, a doubling of black faculty members, and the usual laundry list of impractical demands from grievance groups. The new interim chancellor has already pledged to hire a chief diversity officer for the university (you’re paying for it, Missouri taxpayers!), so no doubt further caving by cowed academic bureaucrats is in the tea leaves.

It’s easy to criticize and blame the students for their adolescent whining and grievance-mongering, but like college students throughout history they are content to get away with exactly what they are allowed to get away with. The interesting question will be whether the governor and legislature are willing to step in and restore a sense of sanity, but given today’s press release from Governor Jay Nixon, a Democrat, it is pretty unlikely. One is left to wonder if some aspiring Missouri politician might take a page from the Ronald Reagan playbook and campaign against “that mess in Columbia.” If so, I would imagine there could be a very receptive audience in the Show-Me State.



Duke Law Students Resign from Journal When Contributor Questions Whether the Trans Lobby Can Change the Definition of Words

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:44 pm

[guest post by JVW]

It’s getting so that the whiny crybully children are now taking advantage of every single opportunity for showy grandstanding. Here’s the latest:

Kathleen Stock’s essay in the latest issue of Law and Contemporary Problems was controversial before she even wrote it. Last summer eight student editors resigned from the journal, which is published by Duke University’s law school, rather than be associated with the essay. The remaining student editors elected not to work on the issue in protest, and they voiced their objections in a note appended to the journal’s masthead. The proposed topic, along with Stock’s reputation, was enough to prompt a staff revolt.

The essay, titled “The Importance of Referring to Human Sex in Language,” is part of the journal’s “Sex in Law” special issue, which is dedicated to the “high-stakes, highly polarized” debate surrounding how sex is defined by courts and legislatures. In it, Stock, who until last fall was a professor of philosophy at the University of Sussex, in England, argues against what she calls “sex-denialism.” The core of her case is the following: “Though it is normally polite and desirable to observe the preferred descriptors and pronouns of trans people in interpersonal contexts, there are times when literal and accurate reference to actual sex is important.” Among the times she cites: medical settings, sports teams, and prisons. Stock insists that “the concept woman does vital cognitive work that simply could not be done were the concept changed to refer to gender identity or social role.”

Here in full is the “note” appended to the essay by the woke budding legal eagles:

As a general matter, student staff members of the journal Law & Contemporary Problems (L&CP) do not select articles for the symposium issues in its volumes. As L&CP is organized and operates, issue proposals are approved by the journal’s faculty board and article selections are made by the special editors. The student role is typically to produce the issues once articles have been finalized by the authors and special editors. In the case of this issue, 85-1: Sex in Law, no articles have been read, edited, or reviewed by any L&CP student staff editors or executive board members acting in their official capacities as journal members. Over the summer of 2021, eight 3L students resigned from the journal and the remainder of the 3L membership voted not to have student members contribute to this symposium in their official capacities; these decisions were in response to the inclusion of Kathleen Stock’s essay and the faculty board’s rejection of the student executive board’s request for use of a style guide on uniform language for the issue which the student executive board’s membership considered necessary to avoid harm to the transgender community.

The unearned sanctimony, the denial of legitimacy of viewpoints outside of their own narrow parameters formed in the smallest of echo chambers, the snide little boycott of their assigned duties because their tender feelings were hurt, and the utterly ridiculous (but expected) invocation of the superstition that provocative ideas cause “harm” to various communities designated for hyper-vigilant protection is exactly the toxic stew we have come to expect from melting snowflakes like these students. And what sort of invitations to mayhem were hidden in Professor Stock’s otherwise dryly academic essay? Oh, I suppose the following:

For centuries, the English language concepts of woman and man have been understood as referring only to adult female and male humans respectively, whilst girl and boy have been understood as referring to the younger versions; and nearly all – perhaps all – other natural languages have had equivalent ways of systematically differentiating between male and female humans. Yet we live in a cultural moment when adjustments to the traditional understandings of womanhood, manhood, girlhood, and boyhood are being urged upon language users, sometimes by those with great institutional influence in Global North societies. We are told by progressive-styled organisations and leaders that, quite literally, transgender women (henceforth, “trans women”) are women, and transgender men (henceforth, “trans men”) are men. Since on ordinary understandings, trans women are by definition biologically male and trans men biologically female, this looks like a radical shift in usage.

Professor Stock seems to be willing to accept the definition of “woman” applying to one who was born male but has undergone the hormone therapy and cosmetic surgery necessary to align oneself with the sex one has chosen, yet she draws the line at allowing an individual to just willy-nilly declare themself to be a member of a group with which they share no defining characteristics and then forcing the rest of us to play along. And the most insidious (and effective) way for the crybullies to advance their argument is simply to redefine the language by denuding words of their millennia-long acknowledged meaning and then enforce mandatory acceptance (“. . . the student executive board’s request for use of a style guide on uniform language for the issue which the student executive board’s membership considered necessary. . .”) of the new contrived definition. For instance, it’s accomplished by conflating the established concept of “sex” which is determined by biology with the more trendy and post-modern notion of “gender” which in today’s inane parlance can be “fluid.” Foucault and Marcuse no doubt heartily approve of how far traditional standards have fallen in their old industry, but Professor Stock is having none of it.

Once upon a time, the whole point of higher education was thought to be to expose callow young minds to a world of ideas and opinions that exist outside of the narrow and insular bubbles in which they had previously existed, especially in a contentious discipline such as law. But somewhere along the way we got to the point where we grossly over-expanded our higher education industry to the degree that it became dedicated to babysitting and credentialing marginal students, some of whom will receive degrees of questionable employment value and many of whom will not receive any degree at all. It’s sad to contemplate that this sort of coddling now extends to prestigious law schools such as Duke, which once gave us the brilliant legal mind of Richard Milhouse Nixon. After years of seeing this percolating through the undergraduate body at our nation’s universities through outlandish student claims of abject fear triggered by provocative ideas, or in attempts to infantilize students by confining them to “safe spaces” of the sort you might see in a kindergarten, it is not surprising that our top professional schools — those which we are told are molding our future leaders — have gone all in with this bullshit. Frankly, I hope that future employers see these virtue signaling resignations as off-putting and a red flag, but given the way this nonsense has crept into the modern professional world I would imagine that they will not.



Shall We Talk about Emory? Sure, Let’s Talk about Emory!

Filed under: General — JVW @ 8:59 pm

[guest post by JVW]

In the never-ending chronicle of campus lunacy, we have this week’s developments from Emory University in Atlanta (fun fact: Emory is the academic partner for the nearby Carter Center). Students awoke last Monday to find that someone had chalked graffiti supporting a certain Presidential candidate on several sidewalks and walls about the peaceful and bucolic (yet urban) campus. Not unexpectedly, a certain subset of the campus activist culture found this calcium carbonate-based advocacy to be absolutely terrifying. From the campus newspaper:

Students protested yesterday at the Emory Administration Building following a series of overnight, apparent pro-Donald Trump for president chalkings throughout campus.

[. . .]

“I’m supposed to feel comfortable and safe [here],” one student said. “But this man is being supported by students on our campus and our administration shows that they, by their silence, support it as well … I don’t deserve to feel afraid at my school,” she added.

[. . .]

Grievances were not restricted to shortcomings of the administration. “[Faculty] are supporting this rhetoric by not ending it,” said one student, who went on to say that “people of color are struggling academically because they are so focused on trying to have a safe community and focus on these issues [related to having safe spaces on campus].”

The article then goes on to add that the activists presented the usual list of demands, including more minority faculty hires and the creation of safe spaces. Emory President James Wagner, who surprisingly appears to have initially defended free speech rights, was later bullied into sending a mealy-mouthed email message to the campus community promising to review procedures for advocacy postings and increase “social justice opportunities” throughout Emory. The administration at first promised to review security footage to see what dastardly rapscallions may have had the temerity to sully the campus grounds with chalk, but it appears that they have since backed down and now consider the matter closed.

Reaction, as one might imagine, was swift and generally withering. Emory and its cowardly leadership were lampooned far and wide, with unmerciful scorn coming from all quarters, from the obnoxious right to the insufferable left and all points between. Conor Friedersdorf devoted his usual 10,000 words (jeeze, I’m one to talk!) on the topic, centered around the off-campus leftist consensus that these students might be well intentioned, but they were making progressives look silly by carrying on so.

And right now, Emory’s chalk-focused activists and its president are the worst allies imaginable for anti-Trumpism. They’re not just ineffective, they’re doing all harm and no good. They’re focused on how Trump supporters make them feel rather than opposing his rise as effectively as possible. And their abandonment of liberal values bolsters the false belief of Trump supporters that such values are only ever invoked cynically.

That is fuel for more illiberalism. And insofar as America becomes a zero-sum game to see who can do the most to suppress the speech of whom, the campus left will not win. Why aren’t more tenured faculty members who understand that speaking up?

Because it just seems self-evident to the left that their opponents will gladly adopt these same anti-Constitutional tactics should they be given half a chance, despite there being virtually no evidence suggesting that this is so, apart from one candidate’s bizarre and fatuous claims that he is going to make the media pay for their insolence.

These crybully kerfuffles, whether at Mizzou or Claremont or Yale or Amherst or points yonder and afar all seem to have the same defining characteristic: students understand that in the 21st Century campus climate, grievance-mongering works! Have you ever been in a store and seen some young child whining for some toy? It’s easy to look at the kid and think, “Man, what a little brat,” but if you knew that the kid had a perfect record of having his parents give in and buy him the toy you might feel a little more understanding of the power structure dynamic at play. That’s exactly what we are seeing on campus today. Sure the crybullies are annoying and pathetic, but this goes on because there are far too many adult authority figures on campus who will eventually reward the whining. Emory is fixing to be just the latest overmatched and lily-livered parent helplessly shelling out for the toy that the kid demands.


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