Tuesday, July 2, 2013

McGinn Interview in the Chronicle

Here. It’s behind a paywall, and unfortunately I don’t know of anyone who has posted a PDF to the internet like last time. Sorry.

It paints a horrible picture of McGinn using mostly his own words. It has him saying stuff like, “a superior person is not necessarily arrogant, but just superior”; and how he is “the most enlightened person in the world”; and how “his situation will fan anti-American sentiment” (in the words of the author, but attributed to McGinn). He complains, again, of everyone else’s lack of senses of humor and irony.

(Which is really old hat, right? “It's not that I'm a jerk; it's that your sense of humor sucks.” Y’all jerks need to work on your excuses.)

But as far as I can see, it doesn’t say anything new or groundbreaking, other than a few stray details, with one fairly notable exception. It does contain what would seem to be the verbatim text of the handjob pun: he says that he “had a handjob imagining you giving me a handjob.” First off, that’s awfully yucky. Secondly, even if his claim that it was a joke in which ‘handjob’ doesn’t mean “handjob” is credible, it seems to me that it’s still pretty clearly inappropriate. Thirdly, although he makes another attempt to connect the stuff with the handjobs to his research, it still seems to me like that entire avenue is complete bullshit. Fourthly, even if you interpret it as McGinn says he intended, it’s still really weird. He, McGinn, had a manicure while imagining her, his research assistant, giving him a manicure. What? A) who thinks about their research assistant while getting a manicure? B) who thinks about getting a manicure from their research assistant under any circumstances? C) what is he talking about? I mean, he’s free to insist that he had created a context in which ‘handjob’ is to be read as “manicure,” and where anyone who doesn’t see that is has an irony-related disability. But the fact is that if you read it that way, the message doesn’t make any goddam sense. And this is why nobody who has ever read it has read it that way.

It has him describe his relationship with the RA as an “intellectual romance.” Whatever that means. Seriously: what does that mean? Why would anyone ever say something like that? If I were in his position, I think I’d be very careful to avoid using the term ‘romance’ in any capacity whatsoever.

He seems to suggest that the “genius project” literally had that name while it was going on, in spite of what he says in one of his blog posts:
Another time, the professor says, the student expressed reservations about her job prospects in philosophy. He devised a solution, an undertaking he called the “genius project.” He describes it as an experimental learning endeavor in which he hoped to help the student improve her philosophical abilities by fostering creativity and encouraging taboo busting.
I totally understand being worried about your job prospects. I could not be more sympathetic. I worried about that when I was in grad school, and my worries have not been assuaged since then. And I completely understand approaching your faculty honcho person with these concerns for advice and counsel and stuff. Makes perfect sense. And I totally get why the faculty member might start a formal or semi-formal project designed to put the student in the best position possible to go on the job market. I understand. With perhaps less explicitness, something exactly like that happened with me and with basically everybody I knew in grad school. We were all worried; we all went to our advisors for advice; our advisors all tried to help us get prepared. Nobody ever gave it a name, as though they were the first person to ever think of helping their students get ready for the job market, or they were really special for actually going through with it, but we were all engaged in some kind of Genius Project. If you twisted my arm, I would have just called it “My Graduate Training.” The “Ph.D. Project.” Whatever.

What I don't get is why “taboo busting” always so high on the list of Genius Project techniques. My “Ph.D. Project” consisted, in part, of various discussions with my advisor: what I should read; what I had read; how to approach the material; where my ideas fit into the larger literature/conceptual space; etc. Another substantial chunk of the project consisted of submitting written work; receiving withering criticism in return; revising the work in response; receiving more withering criticisms; and so on. We spent a lot of time working on my teaching, too.

Now, I understand that the Genius Project involved spending part of each day thinking about your own ideas without relying on outside texts, and that it also involved asking, “is that really true?” a lot, and that sounds good to me. And I don’t have any problem with the tennis or the paddle boarding. Seems basically normal. But I don’t get why busting taboos was such an important part of the project. Is there some reason to suspect that unbusted taboos cause problems for candidates on the job market? And what was the pedagogical purpose of agreeing that manicures will henceforth be called “handjobs”? That seems to come out of left field, as far as mentorship goes.

(Just kidding, kind of. I realize that the reason that the “taboo busting” aspect of the Genius Project has been getting so much press is that the taboo-busting stuff is what got him in trouble, and that the press its been getting is not necessarily proportional to its prominence in the Project. But seriously. It got him in a shit ton of trouble, and it served no clear pedagogical purpose. It was a bad idea, and he should have known better.)

There's also this passage,
When he saw the student, they would perform a “ceremony,” he says, during which they went through a series of “hand grips” simulating closeness and social interaction.
Which sort of makes it seem like they had a secret handshake. What the hell? Is he a Mason? And what would it mean for a “hand grip” to “simulate social interaction”? Is that something people do?

Another passage reads,
“The relationship was difficult,” he says, speaking in his living room. “It wasn’t natural. It was constrained by the fact that I was a professor and she was a student. … We couldn’t just go in the way people normally would.”
Which really makes you wonder. Hadn’t he been teaching for a long time? The ins and outs of the teacher/student relationship shouldn’t have been that bizarre for a senior professor like him. You’d think that it would be sort of normal. He’d been around the block a few times by then.

But it seems to me that the most substantial new piece of information is that according to the RA’s boyfriend,
McGinn once wrote to the student that they should “have sex three times in my office over the summer when no one else is around,” Mr. Yelle [her boyfriend, that is] says. He also says the professor once suggested that the student should wear shorts more often because he thought her legs were attractive.
McGinn denies suggesting sex, and says that he merely told her that her legs were muscular. He also declined to share the emails.

Now, there are a lot of potential reasons why he might not want to share those emails, and the fact that he doesn’t share them doesn’t mean he said what Yelle says he said. And from our standpoint, there's a very real sense in which this is just a he-said/she-said thing. And if you just look at how he describes his style of interacting with people in general and her in particular, it’s fairly clear that the best-case scenario for these emails is that there's a lot of very borderline, easy-to-misunderstand material there, interspersed with a few things that are genuinely inappropriate (such as the oft-mentioned handjob pun). So, best-case scenario, releasing the emails won’t help him very much, and it makes sense for him not to release them.

On the other hand, on the best-case scenario, McGinn seems like the kind of person who wouldn’t realize how harmful releasing the emails would be. Case in point: everything he’s said up until now.

--Mr. Zero

224 comments:

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Anonymous said...

You can view the PDF of article here: http://www.viewdocsonline.com/document/r5js7f

I apologize for the potentially sketchy file sharing service - I'd rather not host it on my own site.

I don't see any way to read McGinn's handjob comment as "manicure" at this point. EVEN IF he is being completely honest about "handjob" meaning "manicure", he is still clearly trying to create a visual of the RA giving him a handjob in the RAs mind. It's like an ultra fucked up triple entendre, and most people who are not in a sexual relationship with the sender of such a message would feel supremely uncomfortable with it.

As far as the email about having sex in his office - I say we give it a day and wait for McGinn to post a blog entry about how he said "sex", but really meant "share some pastries" and we're all idiots for not understanding his superior sense of irony.

Anonymous said...

I think it's far past time to give up the irresponsible speculations about McGinn. We don't have all of the facts and likely never will. Much of the information that we do have comes from sources that we're in no position to verify (McGinn himself, the RA's boyfriend, etc). He's resigned his position and is incredibly unlikely to get another one because his guilt has already been assumed by enough people in the field for the truth not to matter anymore. Show's over.

Anonymous said...

8:24 - Show's not really over 'til McMoron stops flapping his gums.


Just when I think it's impossible for anyone to be so colossally deluded (or stupid), he shatters the previous record he's set.

Anonymous said...

8:44, yep.
We do have pretty good information from McG himself, only it's not the content of his assertions.

Mr. Zero said...

Hi 8:24,

I'm sorry, but I don't agree with you at all. I think this case is an extremely big deal. I am not aware of another case remotely like this, in which such a high-profile philosopher was accused of sexual misconduct--officially, that is, not just whispered rumors--let alone one in which the philosopher elected/was forced to resign as a result.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported the case, which is a big deal in itself, and subsequently ran a lengthy profile on McGinn and the accusations, which just ran yesterday. Yesterday. This profile contains details not previously reported, and at least one very substantial piece of new information. And furthermore, McGinn keeps saying all this crazy shit.

All this seems to me to add up to a timely and important topic. And it's not as though we're the only blog that has mentioned it. Lots of people are talking about it. I'm sorry if you're tired of this discussion. You should always feel free to skip stuff you're not interested in.

Anonymous said...

I think Zero is right. This is a HUGE deal.

But something strikes me as odd about this new information. Why was the initial charge and story about a "hand job" email when, according to CHE, there was actual, have sex with me emails?

Why isn't the: "have sex with me three times in my office this summer" email leading the charge of sexual harassment?

Nothing in this story is really adding up for me.

Anonymous said...

8:24,

How are these irresponsible speculations? Are you suggesting that the details that McGinn himself provides are not to be trusted? Or that the details he provides demonstrate that he is without blame?

Anonymous said...

EVEN IF he wrote "share some pastries" he is still clearly trying to create a visual of the RA eating pastries, and most people who loathe pastries would feel supremely uncomfortable with it.

See the point? Just because you dislike sex with your prof, doesn't mean someone else doesn't. Get over your prudery, and enjoy life.

Anonymous said...

10:12 - If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say the have-sex-with-me emails were deleted, and so could not be offered as evidence to the university authorities. The student went forward with what she had.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:46 - If a person enjoys sex with his/her professor and it's 100% consensual, cool. More power to ya both. One could assume that the RA would not have reported McGinn's emails and advances had she enjoyed them. Had she enjoyed them, they might have gone ahead and entered into a sexual relationship, which all involved parties seem to be denying.

Basically, I think it's creepy as hell to have someone write that he/she “had a handjob imagining you giving me a handjob” if I am not into the idea of giving him/her a handjob and haven't made it very clear that I am into that idea. If my partner says it? Well, that's awesome! I don't think this makes me a prude.

I don't think your "share some pastries" criticism makes any sense. People don't go around getting offended every time someone makes a suggestion about an innocent activity that they happen to dislike. For example, I dislike tea. If someone offers me a cup of tea, my mind doesn't jump to "oh he's trying to get me to visualize drinking tea! That lecherous bastard!"

(And yes yes yes we don't know the facts of the story beyond what little the Chronicle is saying and McGinn's odd denial-but-not-total-denial of the allegations.)

Mark Alfano said...

Colin McGinn: first as tragedy, then as farce: http://memegenerator.co/Colin-Mcginn/hot

zombie said...

As long as McGinn himself won't clam up about this thing, it remains a live topic of discussion. And an important one.

Egads, McGinn needs himself a good attorney. He may be the "most enlightened person in the world," but he's also his own worst enemy.

This, though, I despair of this passage in the article:

Mr. Pinker, of Harvard, does not think Mr. McGinn should have gone unpunished, but he is concerned that the punishment is so harsh that it could inhibit even scholarly relationships between graduate students and faculty members. "It's a matter of universities' not taking a Victorian stance that anything sexual between competent adults is so unthinkably outrageous," he says,"that it merits the worst possible punishment."

Really, Pinker? The "worst possible punishment"? I can think of far worse punishments than endless opportunities for McGinn to publicly "defend" himself from his "millionaire's row" penthouse, while continuing to blame the victim. "Inhibit scholarly relationships"? Yeah, NOT. I had perfectly mature, scholarly, respectful relationships with my profs in grad school. One of them made me a peanut butter sandwich! I sat in their offices and we talked about stuff. Movies. TV. Genetics. But no, never handjobs. Nope, somehow in my non-genius-project, non-superior-being grad school experience, handjobs were never once mentioned. We did once laugh about Aristotle's disdain for masturbation, but that was in an open class discussion. Sex is a topic that philosophers discuss sometimes. And we laugh about it. Ho ho ho, ha ha ha. Hey McGinn -- in some contexts masturbation is funny. In some it's not. Grown-ups know the difference.

Anonymous said...

McGinn is a fucking creep. And by "fucking creep," I mean fucking creep.

Anonymous said...

You're right, Zombie, that Pinker shows himself to be shockingly off-kilter in that passage. It's not just the "worst punishment" nonsense; it's also his insistence on characterizing the episode[s] as something "sexual between competent adults," which can only be thought wrong if one is "Victorian." Pinker's "between" suggests that both parties are equal participants: both participating equally, and with equal levels of power. Since the female graduate student did not welcome McGinn's handjob innuendos and [apparent] request[s] that she have sex with him in his office, this was clearly not about "anything sexual between competent adults." Rather, it was about a powerful man abusing his power. But Pinker portrays this as a consensual romantic relationship. WTF?

Anonymous said...

11:01 AM - Every university I have ever been involved with keeps an archive of all emails going back several years. Deleting an email from your account will not delete from that archive: it is typically easily retrievable by the I.T. people. I've had to call on their services myself a few times after accidentally deleting important emails.

Anonymous said...

"One of them made me a peanut butter sandwich!"

Zombie, I'm not familiar with that euphemism. What is the Gricean implicature?

Anonymous said...

@ 9:06 -

Do we have any reason to think that these emails were exchanged on university accounts? A fair number of faculty in my department regularly use personal accounts for almost all work-related purposes, as do even more students, who know that they will lose access to those accounts when they graduate.

Anonymous said...

I find this quote ambiguous: "McGinn once wrote to the student that they should 'have sex three times in my office over the summer when no one else is around,' Mr. Yelle [her boyfriend, that is] says."

"My office" seems to refer to the *boyfriend's* office. Does that mean McGinn suggested the student have office sex with *her boyfriend*--not with him? The taboo busting, in that case, would presumably not be the student/teacher sex taboo, but the no sex in public places taboo.

I find the idea of "taboo busting" (only) moderately relevant to fostering creativity and "genius": customary practices may be causally linked to customary attitudes and beliefs.

However, I don't see much of a link between creativity/genius and job market preparation. Couldn't excessive creativity, even "genius" (what stupid bullshit language for philosophers to be using anyway), be a detriment on the market?

And what kind of "genius" thinks genius is something that can be taught, anyway?

Anonymous said...

Zero, what about the sexual harassment scandal at U of Oregon's Phil Dept., where the undergrad program coordinator made inappropriate advances towards undergrad students? Isn't this worse? Undergrad students are in a far worse position than grad students. And the worst part is that the perp at U of O unlike McG did not resign. He still has his position. He still stalks the halls looking for new victims.

Anonymous said...

It seems that the relevant difference between the U of O case and the McG case is that in the U of O case the offender submitted his account of how things went down to the administrative process, whereas McG resigned and instead took his case directly to the tribunal of public opinion. We don't even refer to the U of O offender by name out of respect for his privacy. Most of the public debate over the case was about whether U of O's philosophers has protected the perp, minimized the impact of student complaints and generally tried to cover it up (if they did, then we might say they succeeded since the perp is still there, the process obviously did not work and everyone has since moved on to the less damaging and perhaps more titillating McG case). While I'm not impressed by McG's actions,I dare say he was much more courageous than the U of O prof.

Mr. Zero said...

Zero, what about the sexual harassment scandal at U of Oregon's Phil Dept., where the undergrad program coordinator made inappropriate advances towards undergrad students? Isn't this worse?

Yeah, the Oregon case seems to me to be worse than the McGinn case on a variety of dimensions. Did I suggest that this was not the case somewhere? I'm not sure I get the question.

Anonymous said...

I keep hearing about ALL the sexual harassment in the discipline. I haven't seen it, but that doesn't make it any less real.

But I do think that having the discipline and blogs focusing on how hostile it is to women makes it even more hostile.

So, I would like to see all the harassers outed. The benefit is, maybe more jobs for non-harassers, and a cleaned up discipline.

Now every group of people is going to have assholes, but if it really is as bad as some claim, then we should just make it public and send these fuckers packing for the good of everyone.

I say start with the Oregon guy whoever he is.

Anonymous said...

The nice thing about definite descriptions and university service listed on a CV, makes deductions easy.

http://pages.uoregon.edu/uophil/files/warnek/cv/WarnekCV2008.pdf

Anonymous said...

Is there an update about that Oregon situation? Last I remember seeing, there was an investigation that resulted in no finding of harassment.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Peter has taken the idea of Platonic friendship a bit too far. Another predator in our midst. Probably the best thing we can do is not send our students on to grad studies at U of O. And make sure Peter is a persona non grata at major philosophy events. Despite his bumbling moves, somehow McGinn strikes me as a more endearing figure than this fellow, who makes sexual advances towards undergrads (not more mature grad students) and is protected by the administrative powers that be.

Anonymous said...

"Do we have any reason to think that these emails were exchanged on university accounts? A fair number of faculty in my department regularly use personal accounts for almost all work-related purposes, as do even more students, who know that they will lose access to those accounts when they graduate."

Even a personal account must be run through a server somewhere, and all email almost certainly will be logged. My understanding is that in a civil procedure, such email would be have to be disclosed in a discovery process. Of course it had not yet reached that point, but that would not have prevented it from being brought up in the original charge to the university about McGinn's behavior.

And indeed if the problem were deletion in any case, don't you think that that fact would have been mentioned by the boyfriend, to explain why it wasn't part of the original charge to the university, or, if it was, at least why it wasn't being taken as a matter they must adjudicate? Certainly none of the players who seemed to have access to the charges, including the chairman of the department, gave any hint in what I've seen reported that this purported email was part of what the university was considering -- the focus seemed to be entirely on the handjob email, and its significance. Why was that the big deal, if this other thing was also a component of the charges?

Something's wrong with this picture.

Anonymous said...

Nice find, 9:17. Even before your detective work provided full proof, though, it was pretty clear which faculty member was the harasser. All you have to do is look at the self-provided photos on the department website. Which faculty member seems most invested in looking like an adolescent's impression of a Sophisticated Man of the World?

Anonymous said...

I'm having a great time reading McGinn's blog:

"I do wish people would stop making ill-informed and false statements. The university did not accuse me of sexual harassment. They accused me of FAILING TO REPORT A CONSENSUAL RELATIONSHIP (sorry to have to resort to capitals)--which if anything is the opposite of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment and disclosure of consensual relationships come under different sections of the Faculty Manual--only the latter was deemed relevant. Is that CLEAR?"

But only to the already clear can one make oneself clear, Colin!

Mr. Zero said...

I just deleted a couple of comments on accident. I was using my phone, the "publish" button is really small and really close to "delete." Sorry, and feel free to repost.

Anonymous said...

Is there an update about that Oregon situation? Last I remember seeing, there was an investigation that resulted in no finding of harassment.

As the graduate student who originally contacted Leiter, I am in something of a position to report on this, even though I have since defended and am no longer associated with the UO.

The answer: Nothing.

AA investigated the issue, but declined to pursue it further because the chief accusation was beyond the 365-day statue of limitations.

The fact that the victim was a 17-year-old freshman at the time of the incident and had no idea what to do thus stood against her. Sexual predators tend to choose their victims on the basis of such considerations, and it paid off in this case.

There were at least 4 other similar complaints going back several years, but these weren't investigated by AA. Why not is a disputed topic, but many of us believe it was due to a previous department chair (no longer with the dept) who went to grad school with the pervert in question and covered for him in many other ways (e.g. he had a habit of blowing off office hours for weeks on end).

Anyway, he took some "medical leave" but is now back teaching.

Anonymous said...

Kudos to grad student (above) for having the courage to expose the Univ of Oregon Phil Department cover-up. So, to everyone else who is so shocked (or titillated) by McG's handjobs and Genius Project, why did we so easily give this UO harasser a pass? Another way to say this is that because the UO professor, admin and department chair kept the "handjobs" (or whatever other kinds of harassment took place) out of the public record, unavailable for public scrutiny, we don't care? Before this I always thought that philosophers were not like the majority of Americans, whose attention easily gravitates to sensational matters, but who instead delved deeper to find the truth that others try so hard to obscure. I'm disappointed now, to say the least. I suggest another thread on the UO scandal.

Mr. Zero said...

why did we so easily give this UO harasser a pass?

I'm not sure what you mean by this. Who is "we"?

I suggest another thread on the UO scandal.

I am disinclined to start a thread on this. We talked about it a lot when the information came to light, but that was two years ago and as far as I can tell nothing new has happened since then.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Zero,
"as far as I can tell nothing new has happened since then."

I'm not 6:09, but wasn't that kind of his/her point?

I mean, I see where you're coming from, but others in this thread have made the important point that the biggest difference between McGinn and P at U of O is that P doesn't have a blog where he posts a new rationalization for his behavior every day.

If nothing else, using what little bully pulpit you have with a widely-read blog to remind people about that case may be worth while. (Yes, calling Philosophy Smoker a bully pulpit is a real stretch, but influential folks like Leiter and people at NewApps do read it.)

Anonymous said...

I don't, on the one hand, understand how the accusation about the email suggesting sex three times might have come up only at this late date.

But on the other hand, I also don't get why it is that, on the basis of the other two emails, including of course the handjob one, McGinn might only have been accused by the university of not revealing a consensual relationship, as he is now saying on his blog.

If those emails were complained of by the student, and served as the nub of the complaint, how does that come under the heading of not revealing a consensual relationship, rather than some form of sexual harassment? Isn't the complaint that they passed the bound of what the student might have consented to, and that in general the student was not consenting to anything remotely sexual?

I think we pretty much have to concede that the charge by the university was indeed not of sexual harassment, because even the department chairman seems to be asserting this (in a letter McGinn reproduces). But what sense does it make?

Anonymous said...

The thing is, U of O philosophy has a reputation as a feminist-friendly department. So once the department whitewashed the incident, it became very difficult to criticize the handling of the sexual predator.

Anonymous said...

"The thing is, U of O philosophy has a reputation as a feminist-friendly department. So once the department whitewashed the incident, it became very difficult to criticize the handling of the sexual predator."

Do you even realize how stupid that sounds?

Anonymous said...

"Do you even realize how stupid that sounds?"

Yeah, it does sound really stupid, but where does that stupidity reside?

The problem seems to be precisely that, given how ideological campaigns are waged, an appeal to the partisan "goodness" of a person or an institution trumps almost every other consideration. If the U of O philosophy department is held to be feminist-friendly, far too much cognitive and ideological dissonance is introduced if one wants to condemn that department for bad behavior toward women. The cause comes first.

Mr. Zero said...

Does Oregon currently enjoy a reputation for being "feminist-friendly" or friendly to women or whatever? I don't think they do. I agree that they used to, but it seems to me that the whole sexual harassment thing, and the way the faculty dealt with it, completely ruined that reputation. The SWIP had recognized them for being friendly to women, and then revoked it when the allegations of harassment and subsequent cover-up came to light. Seems like their reputation was pretty much trashed after that.

I, for one, found it very easy to criticize their handling of the situation. In fact, I thought that the criticism was almost universal. A couple of people defended the way the Pluralist's Guide responded to the situation, but I can't think of anyone who defended the philosophy department at Oregon (other than Oregon faculty members, that is).

Anonymous said...

I think it does, Mr. Zero, at least in certain feminist circles.
Mr. Zero,

Criticism of U of O brought a battery of accusations against the critics. For instance, Bonnie Mann wrote "If you really arent interested in promoting women in philosophy or valuing what women and feminists have accomplished, then continue to tear UO apart publicly."

I don't know, of course, what the reputation of U of O is across philosophy, but it's pretty clear that it still does enjoy a strong reputation in some circles. At Feminist Philosophers, long after the problems with sexual harassment at U of O were revealed, a commenter wrote, "I believe the members of the department who state that Oregon provides a good environment for women to study philosophy in."

The Pluralist Guide still "Strongly Recommends" U of O, under the heading of feminist philosophy. (Of course, Naomi Zack is there, so on pure academic grounds it is obviously one of the best places to study feminist philosophy.)

Anonymous said...

I’m a graduate student at Miami and close to a lot of the people involved and considering the misinformation circulating about what happened, I feel the need to clear some things up about the case.

1.)The “sex” email was presented to the university along with a lot of other evidence. It isn't “new” evidence. The CHE reporter knew about it since the first article and for whatever reason (unknown to any of us) decided to focus on the “handjob” statement.
2.)The university didn’t officially charge or accuse McGinn of sexual harassment because he knew the evidence they had against him and resigned before they opened a formal investigation to present to the faculty senate. Considering such an investigation was going to be ongoing, they initially accused him of “failure to disclose a relationship” because they didn’t have any INITIAL concrete evidence of the student telling him to stop; initially she choose to ignore his inappropriate advances in the hopes that he would get the message and stop. She did, however, on several occasions specifically tell him that she was not interested.
3.)Erwin isn’t the chair of the department; he is a rouge member whose opinion about McGinn’s resignation is not shared by anyone else in the department.
4.)Just because someone doesn’t call something sexual harassment, doesn’t mean it isn’t an instance of it. It’s unfortunate the way this has been presented to the public. Part of this can be chalked up to the fact that McGinn resigned on the condition that the University would have a self-imposed gag order on them. Anyone who gives this case more than a passing thought realizes that someone like McGinn does not resign unless he knows that he doesn’t have a case and that something very inappropriate happened.

Mr. Zero said...

For instance, Bonnie Mann wrote...

But Bonnie Mann isn't an impartial observer. She's a tenured member of the Oregon philosophy department. And she's the one who is alleged to have engineered the cover-up. She's the one who was accused of pressuring their grad students to conceal the existence of the harassment case from the SWIP people. Her opinions concerning Oregon's reputation are completely worthless.

but it's pretty clear that it still does enjoy a strong reputation in some circles. At Feminist Philosophers, long after the problems with sexual harassment at U of O were revealed, a commenter wrote, "I believe the members of the department who state that Oregon provides a good environment for women to study philosophy in."

It's pretty clear that it enjoys a strong reputation in some circles because of one (anonymous) blog comment? No offense, but you just can't go by what anonymous people are willing to write in comments on the internet.

The Pluralist Guide still "Strongly Recommends" U of O, under the heading of feminist philosophy. (Of course, Naomi Zack is there, so on pure academic grounds it is obviously one of the best places to study feminist philosophy.)

From what I can tell, the Pluralist's Guide has completely jettisoned their horribly ill-advised and poorly-executed "climate" section. From what I can tell, the fact that the PG "strongly recommends" Oregon under the heading of feminist philosophy reflects the purely academic fact that you concede to be obviously true, and does not reflect any judgment about its atmosphere or climate. (Even if the climate guide was still up, and still had Oregon listed, that still wouldn't show anything about Oregon's reputation for women-friendliness. That thing was so poorly done that its pronouncements were completely meaningless.)

Anonymous said...

Hm, I'm not sure whether you are now agreeing that Oregon has a reputation as being feminist-friendly, or still disagreeing. Could you clarify that, Mr. Zero?

I think you misunderstood my point about Bonnie Mann. The point wasn't that her opinion of Oregon's reputation was important. I was, rather, illustrating the fact that
criticism of U of O brought a battery of accusations against the critics. (That's why that quotation immediately followed the sentence in which I noted that criticism of U of O brought a battery of accusations against the critics.)
I thought you contested this; if I was wrong, then never mind.

Finally, I'm not basing my judgment on a single blog comment, that was just an example. Like you (I assume) I am just basing my judgment on my general impressions. I freely admit that a lot of my impression does come from anonymous internet remarks. If you have much better information than that, I'd be glad to reconsider.

Mr. Zero said...

Could you clarify that, Mr. Zero?

It seems to me that Oregon has a fairly strong academic reputation in feminist approaches to philosophy, and a more-or-less demolished reputation as a department that is a friendly environment for women.

I was, rather, illustrating the fact that criticism of U of O brought a battery of accusations against the critics.

Why would the fact that Bonnie Mann defended herself against accusations of wrongdoing by criticizing her attackers have any bearing on whether the Oregon philosophy department's reputation for being friendly to women had been harmed?

I noted that criticism of U of O brought a battery of accusations against the critics. I thought you contested this

I said, "I can't think of anyone who defended the philosophy department at Oregon (other than Oregon faculty members, that is)."

If you have much better information than that, I'd be glad to reconsider.

I'm not sure I know much more about it than you do, but it seemed to me that the revelation of the harasser dude's alleged behavior combined with the revelation of the way that Mann allegedly whitewashed the investigation in order not to jeopardize their department's chances of being recognized by the SWIP for their women-friendliness, and SWIP's subsequent revocation of that recognition, would have had to have been extremely damaging to their reputation. It also seemed to me that a number of influential people, such as Jennifer Saul and Rebecca Kukla, were pretty critical of the way the Oregon department conducted itself.

Anonymous said...

Fwiw: I'm a tenured professor, a feminist, a vocal feminist in the profession, and someone who regularly has students go to graduate school. I would advise any student of mine, especially female students, to run screaming in the other direction from Oregon.

Anonymous said...

Just when things seemed as bizarre as they could get with the McGinn thing, it gets out-bizarred again.

The latest from his blog:

"If you are a rational person, you should be feeling very confused by now. What on earth happened down there in Miami? The truth is actually a lot stranger than the simpleminded fictions that are out there (based on no evidence at all). Eventually the truth will come out—a consummation devoutly to be wished. Then there will be much eating of hats and gnashing of teeth and general oh-my-godding. Meanwhile confusion will reign across the land. Mark my words."

Is this guy on the level? Or is he digging himself a hole so deep that maybe he's hoping he'll come out in China?

Anonymous said...

@ 11.16 It's unclear how the "3-times sex" email could have been ignored by the administration if, as you report, it was presented as part of the initial evidence. There's not much more you need to investigate if you have an email like that. Aren't they concerned about a lawsuit from the RA? If the bf is to be believed, she would have a strong case.

If that email is available to the administration and the bf, then it's odd that McGinn would lie about it in such a flagrant way in the CHE. It's possible that he's this brazen, but that would be nuts.

Perhaps the bf could simply put the email online and McGinn would be done and we could move on to the next scandal. Put us out of our McMisery already.

Anonymous said...

Why would the fact that Bonnie Mann defended herself against accusations of wrongdoing by criticizing her attackers have any bearing on whether the Oregon philosophy department's reputation for being friendly to women had been harmed?

Sorry, I thought that was pretty clear from the context. That example was not an example of how the reputation of U of O had been harmed, but rather an example of why it was difficult to criticize the department.



I noted that criticism of U of O brought a battery of accusations against the critics. I thought you contested this

I said, "I can't think of anyone who defended the philosophy department at Oregon (other than Oregon faculty members, that is)."


I see. So, you do agree that critics were excoriated for allegedly being anti-feminist. But you think only the U of O faculty themselves were doing the excoriating?
I remember others, but maybe it would be pointlessly personal to name them.

It also seemed to me that a number of influential people, such as Jennifer Saul and Rebecca Kukla, were pretty critical of the way the Oregon department conducted itself.

I certainly remember Kukla, but not Saul. True, with feminist credentials like Kukla’s a critic would be immune to (from?) accusations of anti-feminism.

Mr. Zero said...

That example was not an example of how the reputation of U of O had been harmed, but rather an example of why it was difficult to criticize the department.

A) I had been led to believe that the topic was whether Oregon still had a reputation for being friendly to women, not whether people who criticized the department at Oregon two years ago had been permitted to do so without response.

B) As someone who criticized the department at Oregon and who was subsequently accused of harming feminism by Bonnie Mann, I can assure you that Bonnie Mann did not make it difficult to criticize the department at Oregon.

Anonymous said...

So there's not been a finding at Oregon or in any court that anyone harassed anyone at Oregon? And yet people are talking confidently, though mostly anonymously, about there being a serial harasser at Oregon and naming this person too?
This is odd.

At least in McGinn's case the inferences to his guilt are being made from the fact that he resigned rather than face the investigation process. This isn't the case at Oregon.

Mr. Zero said...

Hi 11:16,

Thanks for posting your comment. It really clears up a lot of things I was having trouble understanding. I was drafting a post yesterday in which I listed off all the things I still don't understand about the case, but your comment sheds light on almost all of them. (On the assumption, of course, that you are who you say you are and stuff.)

8:24 asks:

It's unclear how the "3-times sex" email could have been ignored by the administration if, as you report, it was presented as part of the initial evidence. There's not much more you need to investigate if you have an email like that.

My understanding is that U. Miami doesn't have any policy prohibiting faculty members from propositioning their research assistants for sex. There is a policy against continuing to proposition your research assistant for sex even after he/she already said 'no' and asked you to stop, though. So the administration would need the RA to demonstrate that she had said declined McGinn's advances and asked him to stop.

It seems to me that this is what 11:16 is getting at when he/she says, "they initially accused him of “failure to disclose a relationship” because they didn’t have any INITIAL concrete evidence of the student telling him to stop".

If that email is available to the administration and the bf, then it's odd that McGinn would lie about it in such a flagrant way in the CHE.

I seem to have gotten the idea that the University is under a gag order as part of the negotiations that led to McGinn's resignation. I'm not sure how I got this idea, and it could be wrong. But that's my understanding. In any case, the University seems disinclined to comment. Could the RA release the emails herself? I don't know. But she seems disinclined to comment, too.

Anonymous said...

"It's unclear how the "3-times sex" email could have been ignored by the administration if, as you report, it was presented as part of the initial evidence. There's not much more you need to investigate if you have an email like that."

You may find this surprising, but administrations are often *not* looking to investigate and prosecute these kinds of cases, even when they have evidence that is more damning than this.

Often, administration's first priority is PR. Their first concern is the value of the brand; they will often go to great lengths to ensure that they avoid bad press. I will give a personal example to demonstrate:

I worked at a university where someone (in another department) was actively trading grades for sex. Everyone knew this. For 2 years, students filed complaints against this colleague, who was telling some students they could not pass if they did not sleep with him. At its worst, he was texting pictures of his genitals, and sending emails threatening those students who rejected his offers.

The administration has mountains of evidence: they had the emails, the texts, and complaints from students dating back for 2 years. The result? They allowed him to take a paid leave of absence for a semester so that he could retire from our university and land a job elsewhere. There is a non-disclosure agreement in place, prohibiting the university from discussing this matter publicly. (Which was at one point amusing because a student successfully had my colleague banned from campus by the local police, and the university had to issue a statement warning us to alert the authorities of his presence, but could not name him in that warning. It was surreal.)

Right now, from what I can tell, McGinn's bad press is largely self-generated. Yes, the CHE story didn't do him any favors, but the continued bad press puts him - not the university - in a bad light. That he resigned allows the university to believe that his bad press doesn't reflect poorly upon them. I would honestly be surprised if the university ever released another statement on this issue. They have nothing to gain, PR-wise, by doing so.

Anonymous said...

A) I had been led to believe that the topic was whether Oregon still had a reputation for being friendly to women, not whether people who criticized the department at Oregon two years ago had been permitted to do so without response.

Oh, well, it was fairly clear in the original comment that part of the topic was the difficulty of criticizing the handling of the sexual predator. I’m honestly surprised that you lost track of that and thought the only issue was the continued reputation of the University of Oregon.

The “permitted to do so without response” is just snark, I guess. No problem -- snark away.



B) As someone who criticized the department at Oregon and who was subsequently accused of harming feminism by Bonnie Mann, I can assure you that Bonnie Mann did not make it difficult to criticize the department at Oregon.

I might not be seeing your point. Did you ever sign your own actual name to your criticism, or just criticize under the name “Mr. Zero”?

Anonymous said...

"So there's not been a finding at Oregon or in any court that anyone harassed anyone at Oregon? And yet people are talking confidently, though mostly anonymously, about there being a serial harasser at Oregon and naming this person too?"

The reason there was not a "finding" was stated earlier. Did you miss that or are you just concern trolling?

Anonymously criticizing others for criticizing anonymously certainly suggests the latter.

Anonymous said...

"My understanding is that U. Miami doesn't have any policy prohibiting faculty members from propositioning their research assistants for sex."

But they do have a policy against, say, the handjob email, or the comment on her legs?

Does that make any sense?

The only way I can make sense of it is this. He started out with the proposition, and the student clearly (and maybe demonstrably) declined. He then followed up with the handjob email and the leg thing, which no longer fell under the rubric of "consensual".

But even all that strikes me as pretty insane, and exposing a rather ridiculous assemblage of policies.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous Anonymous said...
"So there's not been a finding at Oregon or in any court that anyone harassed anyone at Oregon? And yet people are talking confidently, though mostly anonymously, about there being a serial harasser at Oregon and naming this person too?"

The reason there was not a "finding" was stated earlier. Did you miss that or are you just concern trolling?"

I saw earlier that no finding was reached because no complaint was made before the Oregon equivalent of a "statute of limitations" applied. Why do people infer from this that the accused party is guilty?

Mr. Zero said...

Oh, well, it was fairly clear in the original comment that part of the topic was the difficulty of criticizing the handling of the sexual predator.

The post I was responding to said, "The thing is, U of O philosophy has a reputation as a feminist-friendly department. So once the department whitewashed the incident, it became very difficult to criticize the handling of the sexual predator." My response was, they don't have a reputation like that in a way that matters, so their reputation, such as it was, didn't make it difficult to criticize their handling of a sexual predator (alleged, that is). On the contrary, their alleged handling of the alleged sexual predator destroyed their reputation.

I support this response by pointing out that their handling of the alleged predator was widely criticized, and hardly defended. Although they had been recognized for their "women-friendliness" by the SWIP, that recognition was revoked. I acknowledged that some members of that department defended their behavior, so the Bonnie Mann material is not news; I had already acknowledged its existence, and explained that I don't think it made a difference. I'm not aware of anyone having said anything nice about Oregon in the meantime, and you haven't pointed anything out.

I might not be seeing your point. Did you ever sign your own actual name to your criticism, or just criticize under the name “Mr. Zero”?

I've been using this name consistently since 2007, anonymous. Do you think I used it in connection with the Oregon case because I was especially worried about Bonnie Mann? Are you suggesting that I'm lying about whether I found it difficult to criticize the Oregon case? Or that I don't know how difficult I found it? I used my pseudonym because I always use it. And as I have pointed out repeatedly, I am not the only one who criticized the Oregon department, lots of whom used their real names.

The bottom line is, I just don't know what you're talking about. The Oregon philosophy department seems to have behaved badly. It was very outrageous, lots of people were talking about it, and it seemed to me that it was almost all critical. But you think that their reputation withstood, and that this reputation made them difficult to criticize.

Well, I don't see it. I was there, I was one of the critics, and your description of the events doesn't match my experience at all. I guess I could be wrong, but I don't see where you've presented any compelling reason to think so. You haven't mentioned anything that comes close to mitigating the fact that SWIP revoked their "women-friendliness" award, for example, or that suggests that people were genuinely cowed when Bonnie Mann started spouting crazy bullshit.

Anonymous said...

I saw earlier that no finding was reached because no complaint was made before the Oregon equivalent of a "statute of limitations" applied. Why do people infer from this that the accused party is guilty?

Why do people infer fire from smoke, or something from a distinct something-else? You're right, it's unwarranted. Congratulations on the observation; David Hume will take his royalty check in pounds sterling.

I explained the conclusion of the investigation because someone asked for an update.

For my own part, I've seen the way the accused faculty member behaved, and have heard more sordid stories from undergrads than I can even remember. Moreover, his guilt was never seriously questioned during the entire departmental fracas by anyone other than Mann; anyone who had ever taken a class from him knew exactly what he was about. I was even approached at a conference recently by a graduate student from another department who had met the pervert a couple years previously. He told me that he knew immediately who the culprit was and figured it was only a matter of time before it caught up with him.

So, that's that...but if you prefer focusing on epistemological lacuna rather than my testimony or that of the other 32 graduate students who signed the open letter, have at it.

Anonymous said...

Is the "open letter" from the 33graduate students available online? Perhaps that would shed further light on what's known about the situation.
All I've found so far online is a statement from the University of Oregon saying that "no complaint was filed by any alleged victim" and a few Oregon newspaper articles saying that an investigation at Oregon found "insufficient" evidence to move forward with any kind of charge.
If there's a link to the open letter from the Oregon graduate students maybe those at Oregon can provide it?

Anonymous said...

"no complaint was filed by any alleged victim"

I will have my logic students symbolize that. Then I will give extra credit for an account of a truth-worthy context of assertion that preserves argumentative relevance in a broader context of defense of that claim against some broader point of feminist criticism.

Anonymous said...

Is the "open letter" from the 33graduate students available online? Perhaps that would shed further light on what's known about the situation.
All I've found so far online is a statement from the University of Oregon saying that "no complaint was filed by any alleged victim" and a few Oregon newspaper articles saying that an investigation at Oregon found "insufficient" evidence to move forward with any kind of charge.



I possess a scanned copy of the letter, but I'm hesitant to post it to the internet because: 1) It would be impossible to do so and preserve my anonymity. 2) The letter directly names the professor in question.

I'm less concerned about #1 since basically everyone at UO knows that I was the one who outed them to Leiter; #2 does pose some legal considerations however.

As far as the "no complaint was filed by any alleged victim" canard, this was perhaps the most despicable aspect of the department's response. Because the complaint wasn't filed within the 365-day limit, they denied that they had received any complaint at all.

They thereby effectively used a feature of the young woman's victimization to deny her very existence.

It is worth noting that they were rebuked by the university administration for making this absurd claim. It is also worth noting the three professors who refused to sign their names to the letter: Cheyney Ryan, Naomi Zack, and Colin Koopman.

Bob said...

Anonymous 8:03,

I guess I am confused, then how you can call this an "open letter" if it is not actually open to be read. And it is extremely easy to anonymously upload files to various free file servers and broadcast the link...

Anonymous said...

8:03, I'll understand if you would prefer not to answer this question (or perhaps don't know the answer). But if you are willing/able, I'd be grateful, because I can't begin to guess at an answer myself.

The question: why did the three faculty you named refuse to sign the letter? I don't get that; I really don't.

Anonymous said...

I guess I am confused, then how you can call this an "open letter" if it is not actually open to be read.

It was open in the sense that it was sent out to the entire department and university administration. It was not intended for dissemination beyond that.

And it is extremely easy to anonymously upload files to various free file servers and broadcast the link.

While I was involved in composing the letter, I am not its sole author. I thus do not feel I have the right to unilaterally post it on the internet. I also don't see what purpose that would serve at this late juncture.

The question: why did the three faculty you named refuse to sign the letter? I don't get that; I really don't.

They didn't sign it because they wanted nothing to do with the department's shameful attempt to deny the existence of any accusation of sexual harassment. Seems simple to me. I mentioned it precisely because they deserve to be recognized for their moral integrity and not lumped in with the rest of the UO faculty.

Anonymous said...

So, basically, it was not an open letter. Thanks for clearing that up.

Anonymous said...

I acknowledged that some members of that department defended their behavior, so the Bonnie Mann material is not news; I had already acknowledged its existence, and explained that I don't think it made a difference. I'm not aware of anyone having said anything nice about Oregon in the meantime, and you haven't pointed anything out.

I have, actually:

At Feminist Philosophers, long after the problems with sexual harassment at U of O were revealed, a commenter wrote, "I believe the members of the department who state that Oregon provides a good environment for women to study philosophy in."


I might not be seeing your point. Did you ever sign your own actual name to your criticism, or just criticize under the name “Mr. Zero”?

I've been using this name consistently since 2007, anonymous. Do you think I used it in connection with the Oregon case because I was especially worried about Bonnie Mann?


I think the fact that you posted a criticism anonymously can’t be used to show it wasn’t difficult to criticize. I can explain this at greater length if you like, but I think it’s pretty obvious so unless you ask I won’t bother.

The bottom line is, I just don't know what you're talking about.

I can see that.
Well, I have said pretty explicitly, and I’ve given examples. I don’t mind being even more explicit and giving more examples, but my sense is that there isn’t any real point in my doing so.

Mr. Zero said...

I have, actually: At Feminist Philosophers, long after the problems with sexual harassment at U of O were revealed...

That comment, which can be found here, was left on July 27, 2011. The problems at Oregon were revealed by Brian Leiter in this post, on July 22, 2011. By my math, that's five days. I don't know if your definition of "long after" is different from mine, but do you have anything from at least a week after the problems were revealed?

I think the fact that you posted a criticism anonymously can’t be used to show it wasn’t difficult to criticize.

That would be a pretty good point if I were anonymous. This may seem like a subtle difference, but I use a pseudonym, anonymous. But the fact that you are oblivious to its significance doesn't mean it's not there. I've been using it for a long time, and it is important to me to protect it. Furthermore, some people know who I am. Furthermore, there's always the possibility that I will be outed. These are things anonymous people don't have to worry about (as much), anonymous.

And, as I have pointed out repeatedly, I'm not the only one who criticized. And, as I have also pointed out repeatedly, many of the critics did so under their real names. How about if you come up with an example of someone who seems to have been genuinely intimidated? And if it's not too much trouble, lets have it be real this time.

Anonymous said...

"It was open in the sense that it was sent out to the entire department and university administration. It was not intended for dissemination beyond that."

That's not an open letter. That's a letter with multiple recipients.

I, for one, would like such a letter to be open (that letter, or a new letter).

Anonymous said...

So, basically, it was not an open letter. Thanks for clearing that up.

I guess that depends on whether you define the idiom to signify a "wide audience" or an "unlimited audience". Either way, you're welcome.

I, for one, would like such a letter to be open (that letter, or a new letter).

Neat. Unfortunately a statement of personal desire is not the same as a reason.

That said, I am willing to post the letter publicly, but given #2 above (which may impact the other authors as well as myself), I would only do so having blacked out the name of the professor in question.

I suspect, however, that this would defeat the purpose for many of you, since the main issue of concern seems to be confirming the identity of that individual. Frankly, the formula provided by July 4, 2013 at 1:19 PM is more than adequate to that end.

Anyway, I only bothered to involve myself in this thread because someone specifically asked for an update concerning the investigation. If there is some deep reason for making the letter available to all beyond semantic quibbles or prurient interest in the identity of the accused, I'd be happy to consider it, otherwise I'm out.

Anonymous said...

Even though he did not sign the letter, Koopman came to the defense of the department in his two posts on the Feminist blog. If I were in the department I would have threatened to resign and go public with everything if the administration did not hear the victim's case. But then again moral courage is sadly lacking among most philosophers today.

Anonymous said...

If I were in the department I would have threatened to resign and go public with everything if the administration did not hear the victim's case.

Good sweet lord. Woulda, shoulda, coulda.

Anonymous said...

That comment, which can be found here, was left on July 27, 2011. The problems at Oregon were revealed by Brian Leiter in this post, on July 22, 2011. By my math, that's five days. I don't know if your definition of "long after" is different from mine, but do you have anything from at least a week after the problems were revealed?

I probably could find one, but why is that important?

You're right that I was mistaken to say "long after". I take that back. Just "after".

"I think the fact that you posted a criticism anonymously can’t be used to show it wasn’t difficult to criticize."

That would be a pretty good point if I were anonymous. This may seem like a subtle difference, but I use a pseudonym, anonymous. But the fact that you are oblivious to its significance doesn't mean it's not there.


Hm. I think it's acceptable to say someone posting only under a pseudonym is posting "anonymously". But you can replace "anonymously" with "pseudonymously" if you think that's more accurate.

And, as I have pointed out repeatedly, I'm not the only one who criticized.

I know, but you asked me whether I thought you were lying about finding it difficult to criticize (or that you didn't know how difficult you found it), so that's why I explained my point about your anonymity/pseudonymity.

I acknowledged that Rebecca Kukla also criticized the handling of the U of O problem, and I further commented on the significance of that fact. So your implication that I ignored it is false.


How about if you come up with an example of someone who seems to have been genuinely intimidated?

People genuinely intimidated didn't criticize using their own names. Is that what you mean? You want me to give an example of someone who pretty clearly didn't use their own name when they wanted to criticize?

And if it's not too much trouble, lets have it be real this time.

You are unusually snotty in this thread. Not sure why.

Anonymous said...

"While I was involved in composing the letter, I am not its sole author. I thus do not feel I have the right to unilaterally post it on the internet. I also don't see what purpose that would serve at this late juncture."

"'The question: why did the three faculty you named refuse to sign the letter? I don't get that; I really don't.'"

"They didn't sign it because they wanted nothing to do with the department's shameful attempt to deny the existence of any accusation of sexual harassment. Seems simple to me. I mentioned it precisely because they deserve to be recognized for their moral integrity and not lumped in with the rest of the UO faculty."

Ah, I see. Thank you for the clarification. There were apparently two letters, one (signed by students) asking for the harasser to be dealt with, and a different, obstructive, letter signed by (some) faculty. I thought there was only one letter, the one asking for redress, and couldn't figure out why Naomi Zack, especially, would have refused to sign it.

Anonymous said...

I think the interesting comparison here is between the McGinn case and the U of O case. By any reckoning, the behavior of the offending U of O philosopher was massively more egregious. Certainly the latest wrinkle in the McGinn case, the purported 3 times suggestion, makes it seem far more serious than before. But much of the outrage over his behavior derived mostly from the handjob email, and some arrogant things he's written since, which I'd think are some awfully tiny potatoes compared to the U of O infractions.

Now I kind of get that, for ideological and political reasons, McGinn's scalp is a far more tempting target than that of The Schmoe from U of O. But I think that it's hardly fair to pile on McGinn so much out of proportion to what he has done only because it's politically expedient. One does get the sense that a lot of people are letting their ideological passions get the better of them, striking a blow against the patriarchy, or perhaps just against elite philosophers (kind of the same people of course), when they think they can.

Anonymous said...

McG is sounding more and more like a virtuous dude compared to the U of O Philosophy faculty who did practically nothing to stop this predator in their midst. It took the grad students to rise up and speak truth to power. While McG's fervor in defending himself might be imprudent, he at least had the courage to do what he thought was right: resign and defend himself publicly. I would even go so far as to claim that the U of O faculty were complicit in the sexual harassment because they knew, did nothing and allowed an administrative technicality stop the victim from being heard. I wouldn't treat any of the work by ethicists and moral philosophers at U of O as worth more than a good fire-starter. Hypocrisy becomes you.

Anonymous said...

10:07,

Good sweet Lord, I hope that you're not an ethicist. Someone once told me that the most unethical people teach ethics. They can reason their way out of almost any situation in which someone would ordinarily be held morally responsible for their action (or inaction). I'm starting to believe them.

Anonymous said...

A fair amount of (quite scandalous) information about the Oregon situation can be gleaned from this post, linked by Leiter about a year ago:

http://jasonmjordan.wordpress.com/2012/08/18/a-response-to-bonnie-manns-four-theses/

Anonymous said...

For the record mcginn continues to peddle lies on his blog and, in doing so, defame the student who was brave enough to report his actions. Using your power to sexually harass and proposition your research assistant is not the sort of thing one ought to call "courageous."

Anonymous said...

I don't know how much courage it takes to take advantage of the fact that you negotiated a gag order against the university as part of your resignation, thereby allowing you to lie on your blog.

Anonymous said...

Would McG have done the right thing by not resigning, allowing the admin to gag all parties (so we wouldn't be having this discussion), submitting his case to the process and getting off on a technicality, like the U of O prof? Then the grad student would have to continue her studies with the alleged perp lurking the halls, possibly looking for his next victim. While McG might not be courageous, the U of O Phil faculty are surely cowardly for not standing up to the administration in defense of the victim's right to be heard.

Anonymous said...

Good sweet Lord, I hope that you're not an ethicist. Someone once told me that the most unethical people teach ethics. They can reason their way out of almost any situation in which someone would ordinarily be held morally responsible for their action (or inaction). I'm starting to believe them

Gah.

I think you missed the point. Proceeding as you described at 9:36 would indeed be very commendable, perhaps even morally obligatory. I was merely cringing at your certainly about how you'd proceed were you in that situation. I could very well be wrong -- my apologies if I am -- but I doubt very seriously that you know how you'd act. My skepticism concerned your claim to knowledge, not your claim about what's moral.

And, no, I'm not an ethicist. But c'mon; no need to slam all ethicists in the hopes of insulting me.

BunnyHugger said...

McGinn demands an apology in his latest, writing: "I take it that it must now be generally acknowledged that there was never any allegation of sexual harassment against me by the University of Miami (nor by the student)."

This is a bit different, I think, than what I had understood previously. That the university did not charge him with harassment, but rather with failing to report a relationship, I understand. But if the student's complaint didn't allege harassment, then what did it allege? I suppose the student might have reported a (perhaps previous) consensual relationship, but that seems awfully odd.

Anonymous said...

"I guess that depends on whether you define the idiom to signify a "wide audience" or an "unlimited audience". Either way, you're welcome.

Neat. Unfortunately a statement of personal desire is not the same as a reason."

My statement of personal desire is a reason, though I guess that depends on whether you define the term to signify "reasonable to me" or "demonstrably well-reasoned." Either way, you're welcome.

When people use the idiom "open letter," especially in the context of speaking truth to power, they use it to mean that they have made a public statement, and are willing to stand behind it in the public eye. You have not done that. By your definition above, I send "open letters" all the time in my capacity as Faculty Senator. But usually, I just call them "emails."

If you don't want to make the letter public, you don't have to. I understand why you would not want to. But then don't call it an "open letter." And no, this is not just semantics. When you use that idiom, you seem to want people to think you've made some public statement, that you have publicly called someone out and are willing to defend your actions, and that's not true.

Personally, I would like to make these issues more public, that those who have done wrong be called out on it. They should be shamed. People should be warned against working with them. Others should fear the same public humiliation for such actions.

And for what it's worth, as much of an ass as he is, at least McGinn is willing to compose open letters.

Anonymous said...

When you use that idiom, you seem to want people to think you've made some public statement, that you have publicly called someone out and are willing to defend your actions, and that's not true.

Maybe instead of making strong and recriminatory inferences from vague semantic premises, you should go click on the link that July 7, 2013 at 12:06 PM posted. That just happens to be my website.

I would ask for an apology afterwards, but I really don't care. Half the posts on this thread are an object lesson in why people hate philosophers.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe instead of making strong and recriminatory inferences from vague semantic premises, you should go click on the link that July 7, 2013 at 12:06 PM posted. That just happens to be my website."

Maybe you should have noted this earlier?

Anonymous said...

To sum up, I think that we can all agree that the U of Oregon sexual harassment case was much worse than the current McGinn case, but because of the sensationalism of hand jobs and McG's entertaining blog posts we have become enraptured/titillated with this case, and left the much more egregious U of O case to the dustbin of history. The moral of the story is that we, as philosophers, should resist administrations that shelter sexual harassers, protecting them from public scrutiny. It is better that these harassers be exposed, punished, fired or forced to resign, than for their wrongs to be hidden by duplicitous administrators and for faculty to become willing accomplices in the fraud. To state my position in even more personal terms: I'd happily send my children to study at Miami, but I would never risk sending them to Oregon--not because of one moral degenerate who preys on undergrads, but because of an entire department and administration that are willing to cover up his activities.

Mr. Zero said...

To sum up, I think that we can all agree that the U of Oregon sexual harassment case was much worse than the current McGinn case,

I totally agree with that. Both the thing itself and that we can all agree on it.

but because of the sensationalism of hand jobs and McG's entertaining blog posts we have become enraptured/titillated with this case, and left the much more egregious U of O case to the dustbin of history.

I'm not sure I agree with this, or at least with the suggested implication/implicature. I think the main reason why the Oregon case isn't being discussed as much as the McGinn case is that the Oregon case is two years old and the McGinn case just happened. Nothing has happened in Oregon during that time, whereas McGinn just posted another astonishing blog post this morning.

We're also not talking about the Vincent Hendricks "sexy logic prof" photoshoot anymore, or the Synthese editorial scandal, or the Kenneth Howell "hate speech" thing, or the APA non-discrimination policy, or any number of other things that happened a long time ago.

I mean, right now there's a lot of talk about Paula Deen. But the discussion has already started to dwindle, and by the summer of 2015, it will be long over. Unless something happens to fire it back up.

Is there something wrong with that? Should we be talking about the Oregon sexual harassment case for two years later, and be prepared to extend that discussion indefinitely, in the absence of any actual movement in the case? (I mean, I don't think there is, but if I'm wrong, let me know.)

The moral of the story is that we, as philosophers, should resist administrations that shelter sexual harassers, protecting them from public scrutiny. It is better that these harassers be exposed, punished, fired or forced to resign, than for their wrongs to be hidden by duplicitous administrators and for faculty to become willing accomplices in the fraud.

That seems really right to me, though. Really, really right. But I think that this is one of the reasons why we should be talking about the McGinn case right now. As I said before, one of the most noteworthy things about the case is that the administration seems to have done things basically right. The system worked. I think that justifies the spilling of lots of electrons about the case.

For another thing, McGinn does not think that the system worked, and it is important to respect the rights of the accused. It is therefore worthwhile to pay attention to his story, what he says he did, and why he thinks we should disbelieve the allegations. So the fact that McGinn has defended himself publicly and the Oregon alleged harasser dude has not is a totally legitimate reason to discuss the McGinn case.

Anonymous said...

The new letters of support on Mcginn's blog are pretty rich. I love it when total jerks just straight up out themselves as such.

Anonymous said...

Oliver Sacks to eh?

What a bunch of ignorant asses. Did they even stop to wonder whether the version of events McGinn relayed was the right one or do you think they just spot their misogyny without even thinking about? If Sacks weren't too busy outing himself as an idiot he could probably study whatever neural deficit he is under and write a book about it.

Anonymous said...

Something really needs to be said about what Colin McGinn is doing to the graduate student that turned him in for inappropriate behavior. He has now posted his reply to the charges that the university was successfully able to make against him in another attempt to discredit her side of the story. It is a shame that the philosophical community, and academia in general, turn a blind eye to what he is doing publicly to this individual.

As I understand what happened, the university wasn't able to successfully charge him with sexual harassment because the student didn't have any concrete evidence of her saying no to him, other than her testimony and that of some other individual (nothing written). So they got him with the failure to report thing. And now, unfortunately, he is able to spin the story his way publicly, because the university has a gag order and say that she welcomed his sexual advances and turned him in because she was afraid of a bad report. I don't know anyone crazy enough to go through what has happened to avoid a single bad report.

Something really needs to be done about Colin McGinn, and all of the other elitist professors who think they can get away with treating women like objects (which, I might add, is what McGinn is still doing to this graduate student).

Oh vey. It's seriously time to speak out against him again people.

zombie said...

McGinn's character witnesses all say that he has been treated unfairly, or that some injustice has been done in his case. Yet, he chose to resign rather than face whatever "charges" the university was prepared to bring. Presumably, he made his choice freely, being the ├╝ber genius that he is. I don't find his reasons (disappointed with grad students, didn't want to pay his lawyer, didn't want to put his wife through it) very compelling, but whatever. Presumably, had he gone through with university procedures for dealing with whatever allegedly happened in this case, his innocence would have been proven, no? But he chose not to do that. He has been left free to try to defend himself in the court of public opinion while the university remains mum. He appears to have succeeded, at least, in persuading other influential men (Sacks, Pinker) to write letters on his behalf, despite the risk to their own reputations. But railing about unfairness and injustice are not really helping. Maybe McGinn is just disappointed that his plea bargain didn't result in the whole thing being swept under the rug, but if that's what he wanted, he should stop harping about the whole thing on his blog. Or am I missing something?

Anonymous said...

Unlike Zombie, I find McGinn's reasons for resignation to be both good and reasonable. The cost of an attorney to defend a case like this could be upwards of 200K. If McGinn wanted to work 5 more years before retiring at 70, then he essentially would be giving up at least a year's worth of pay to do so. I don't know his financial situation, but it might make sense to just retire. If he was in his early 40s, then fighting for his job might have been worth it.

And let's be honest, *allegations* are often enough to ruin a persons life. Just look at the Duke lacrosse case. Those boys lives were totally fucked and over a false allegation. And that's just a famous case. There are lots of cases not in the news that get people in trouble/fired.

And since I have *not* seen the emails and I don't understand the relationship he had with the student or her boyfriend, I have to be very careful in my judgment of the case. The entire thing just seems odd with the boyfriend speaking out so boldly.

I was once falsely accused of misconduct as a faculty member toward a student. Luckily, my in class policies and the students erratic behavior toward others in the administration made it clear that he was lying. But only after six weeks of some crazy and intense dialogue between me and the provost's office. And I didn't have tenure yet.

So for all of us who are not in our 60s, the reasons to just say "fuck it" and leave might not make as much sense to you as it does to him.

Given his personality I bet it is killing him. I wouldn't be shocked if the emails make their way into a journal article or blog post. Where is Wiki leaks when we really need them?

Anonymous said...

For someone who claims to want this whole affair to end, McGinn is doing a terrible job of moving on.

I thought he needed the time to play tennis, or some such.

BunnyHugger said...

McGinn argues that the relationship did not meet the criterion of being "romantic, amorous, or sexual" because it was not sexual. Surely the drafters of the rule made it a disjunction for a reason. Admittedly, he also states that no definition of "amorous" is given and that their relationship does not fit "a dictionary definition," whichever dictionary he has in mind. (He doesn't comment about "romantic," though the Chronicle article doesn't help him out on that count.) But he goes on to repeat that the lack of a sexual element in the relationship is the crucial factor. I suspect he has a narrow definition of "amorous" (and possibly of "sexual," too).

That is how it strikes me, anyway, though of course like (almost) everyone else I don't know what really happened. It is just difficult (for me) to believe that this is all over a failure to report a mere friendship or working relationship.

Anonymous said...

He goes on to repeat that the lack of a sexual element in the relationship is the crucial factor.

Yes, a "lack" that existed in spite of his concerted efforts to the contrary!

Apparently, if the student consented to his advances, he would be in the clear since there was consent. The fact that she rebuffed him, however, also leaves him in the clear since there was no consummation!

Anonymous said...

I find McGinn's reasons for resignation to be both good and reasonable.

As do I, but not in the same manner as you. He seems to have been primarily motivated to resign in order to secure a gag order preventing UM from releasing the emails in question, or discussing their content publicly.

Since I have *not* seen the emails and I don't understand the relationship he had with the student or her boyfriend, I have to be very careful in my judgment of the case.

That's some nice concern trolling...except the reason you have not seen the emails is due, as mentioned, entirely to Colin McGinn. He claims he is innocent, but resigned his position in order to prevent the evidence of his innocence from being release to the public.

That strikes me as all rather suspicious. McGinn, however, seems to have correctly surmised that there are a reliable stock of imbeciles eager to cite such absence of evidence as evidence of absence.

Anonymous said...

Thank you to the anon at 1:00 PM. I'm relieved that none of the actual philosophers I've discussed this case with has rushed to McGinn's defence like some of the commenters above. Quite to the contrary, most of them judge his conduct contemptible, and his subsequent statements to be equal parts damning and ridiculous.

In fact that the only hardcore McGinn apologists I've actually encountered, besides McGinn himself, have been anonymous commenters (some of whom seem probably to also be McGinn... BerkeleyGirl, anyone?).

Anonymous said...

Hey 1:00. I am *not* a troll. I just disagree with you, in a sincere way. As far as I can tell there are two versions of the story and I don't know which to believe based on the evidence.

(1) CM and his student have an adult relationship that is flirty and suggestive (but nothing more) and she allows it to her own advantage. Her BF finds out and is irritated. She has a bad summer project, it's too much in conjunction with the BF issue and she turns CM in for inappropriate behavior. Or some such thing. Maybe even SH. That's an open question still.

OR

(2) CM comes on to the student overtly. Real live SH. She hates it. But she endures the advances for as long as she can, and then can't take it any more. Turns him in for SH and it all beings with an inappropriate behavior inquiry....

Given what I have read, I can't decide which it is. If what CM writes is true, they have two papers in the works together, I suspect a version closer to (1) to be more likely than version (2). The boyfriend angle is what really bothers me.

I could write more, that I honestly believe, but given how you think I am a troll and all, I will *not* bother.
Just because I am not a complete reactionary like most of the people on the blog (Zombie's Jerry S. comment for example) doesn't mean I am trolling. It means that I don't know what to think and I am giving a bit of push back. That is all.

Anonymous said...

I am curious why the boyfriend's speaking out "boldly" seems "odd" to you. Don't you think we need some people speaking out "boldly" like that against those individual who make philosophy hostile to women if we are ever going to see anything change?

Perhaps the discipline would be better served if there was more such boldness.

Anonymous said...

I am curious why the boyfriend's speaking out "boldly" seems "odd" to you.

Apparently he/she is the type of person who would sit back and twiddle thumbs if his/her partner was sexually harassed and then smeared on the internet.

It is also amusing that, in this person's eyes, the boyfriend's speaking out is "odd" but not McGinn's incredibly creepy descriptions of the "genius project".

Anonymous said...

McGinn's treatment of these two young people in his blog is appalling. We're watching a high-status philosopher drag two graduate students through the mud and marshaling the "big guns" to help him out. This is apparently being done in retaliation for a botched administrative procedure at UM in response to sexually explicit emails. With the exception of this blog, the silence of the self-appointed moral authorities in the blogosphere is utterly shameful. If this woman has done McGinn an injustice, then he has the right to tell us. But instead, we get this steady drip of attacks on her character. It's brutal and the philosophy blogosphere for the most part is standing by silently.

BunnyHugger said...

Is "real live [sexual harassment]" anything like "legitimate rape," 9:21/1:27?

Anonymous said...

Let me correct my comment.

I find it odd that he is doing it non-anonymously. The fact that she wants to stay anonymous makes sense, but why in the world would he be speaking out non-anonymously. It's a short deduction from him to her. That's all.

I also find it that either she kept it from BY for so long or that she told him and and they did't do anything about it. If BY knew that she was being harassed, then he could have said something to CM.

But the fact that I find it odd in't crazy.

AND, just because I found BY's behavior odd, says nothing about my belief about the "genius project." Since I never mentioned the gp, you don't know what I think about it: odd or not. But since you asked, here are my thoughts.

The genius project. A silly name, but people give all kinds of silly names to things. Maybe CM gave it that name to be flattering to the student. It is more flattering to her than the "get a job project." Perhaps the name was an attempt to boost her confidence. You are a genius and we will show it to the world kind of thing.

The point is that the private names we give things, are typically not meant to be public and when they are made as such, they often seem silly or self important -- like "genius project." This is to say that I didn't think it that odd at all given how naming things, like projects, work. What if they had called it the "Manhattan Project," would that have been better?

Anonymous said...

1:52 is spot on here.

What's needed is an open letter that can be signed by anyone who wants to do so. This would only work if it was disseminated widely. That much shouldn't be too difficult (this blog, the feminist philosophy blog, possibly leiter, etc might be willing to pass along a link provided the letter was articulate). It would help to have a big name or two on at the beginning.

If you happen to be a big name and you are reading this...would you be willing to sign such a letter if it were written?

Anonymous said...

McGinn's barrage of attacks on the student's character (as well as her boyfriend's credibility) just make it easier and easier to see him as a predator because he is attempting with nearly every post on his pity party of a blog to wield his imagined power and influence to publicly shame these two grad students.

Anonymous said...

To this observer, it is far from obvious that CM's behavior is appalling, particularly given the things that have been said about him as contrasted with his side of the story. The grad students are both adults and they need to be held accountable for their actions no less than CM does. It is well to remember that we are all lacking a substantial number of facts needed to decide anything like blame or fault here. While the feminist contingent is convinced this is a case of impropriety, it is to some of us far less obvious that anything of the sort occurred. And if what CM has said about the relationship he had with the student is true--in particular, that they had discussed the possibility of disclosing their relationship to the University on account of its policy and agreed not to, and that the student had recently failed to complete an assignment--then the behavior of the boyfriend and Amie Thomasson looks much more like a case of enabling a victim-mentality than supporting a victim. The fact that a woman feels uncomfortable or has made an accusation does not suffice to show that an injustice has occurred, and as the details of the case have been brought to light it is far less clear that this is an instance of immoral behavior on CM's part. Phrases like 'sexual harassment' and 'victim' need to be reserved for cases that merit them.

No amount of rhetoric about power differentials and "teh patriarchy" should blind us to the fact that adult members of a community need to be held to account for their actions. In the absence of more information it is far from obvious that the accuser in this is a gilded saint free of responsibility for the shit-storm that's been stirred up by her relationship with CM.

Anonymous said...

@Bunny

I was thinking in person (live) rather than just email and text messages (digital). Not that one can't be harassed digitally. Certainly they can. But that the sexual banter went over the line in person as well as digitally.

My point was nothing as moronic as Todd Akin's views on rape.

Anonymous said...

Apparently CM has a new full-time job: anonymous posting to provide the veneer of widespread support. Does anyone have access to text-analyzing software to compare writings to verify this?

I have never seen anyone as pathetic as our dear mysterian. But then again maybe this is a meta-demonstration that what appears to be a mind is indeed gone, and is self-referentially mysterian about such existential questions. Who knows what such genius might attempt?

BunnyHugger said...

Anon 6:16 etc:

As you wrote, CM comes on to the student overtly. Real live SH. as the second scenario (with the first being "mere" flirting and suggestion, no reference to e-mail vs. in-person) I took you to be saying that behavior short of "overt" come-ons does not constitute "real" sexual harassment. I am glad that you did not intend that.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, 6:35. Considering he's commenting this much on his own posts, and using quite obvious sockpuppets to boot, I'd be shocked if more than one of the anonymous posters here weren't affiliated with a Miami IP address.

Anonymous said...

That's easy enough to verify 7:24; why don't the owners of the blog check it out?

Anonymous said...

I am not CM, and if you check my IP, you will learn that I am about 1500 miles from Miami, FL.

Also, CM doesn't strike me as someone who wants to be anonymous. If he thinks he has a good argument or a bon mot, he will want to get credit for it. He doesn't need to comment anonymously.

I, however, do need to since I feel like people think I am a holocaust denier for my lack of jumping on the CM is the worst person in the world and he should rot in hell bandwagon.

Anonymous said...

I am 6:13 and I am neither 9:21/1:27/6:16 nor CM. Some of us just don't see that the rush to moral condemnation in this case has been warranted.

Would those convinced of CM's guilt in this and other venues were more reflective about the fact that well-meaning people disagree with them. The behavior that some people are exhibiting in this debacle exhibits a sort of self-righteous indignation that is, for some of us, as ugly as it is unwarranted. I suspect we're only a day or two away from another reference to Sandusky, or an accusation of 'blaming the victim.'

Anonymous said...

At 6:13,

McGinn is clearly not telling the truth on his blog, he is trying to salvage his reputation by taking advantage of the fact that all the other individuals who can shed light on this case have a gag order on them.

Although one might claim that the CHE article has been written poorly, it still seems to me that something far worse than "failure to report a consensual relationship" went on. If you take into account what is said by any of the other individuals cited in either of the CHE articles, all of what McGinn is claiming on his blog seems grossly one-sided and chalked full of lies. Giving McGinn the benefit of the doubt after all he has done is to ignore his deplorable actions and the testimony of several other (more credible) individuals. And I say more credible because they aren't trying so desperately to salvage their beloved reputations, but are actually risking something by speaking out against this narcissist.

And your claim that all of the individuals were adults in the situation and need to take responsibility for their actions demonstrates nothing but ignorance of power relations between prominent professors and graduate students in philosophy. McGinn is the one who need to take responsibility, and stop defaming and attempting to discredit his accuser on his blog.

And to some of the others, I agree there needs to be a letter of condemnation of McGinn's action, at least how he has acted after the articles came out. His actions are reprehensible and people need to make it known that this type of retaliation is not accepted by the academic community.

Anonymous said...

This is 6:13,

I am in fact a graduate student in philosophy, and I am well aware of the power differentials between professors and students. But I reject the supposition that such differentials obviate the agency of the weaker party. We ought to be men and women of principle, and there is a peculiar kind of flourishing that comes from living by principle.

Not knowing any more than the he said/she said we've all seen, it is (to this observer) not at all obvious that CM is morally culpable for the sorts of things some people suppose.

8:14 however writes:

"McGinn is clearly not telling the truth on his blog...

...seems to me that something far worse than "failure to report a consensual relationship" went on."

Is your evidence for the former claim the way things seem to you, as exhibited in the latter? If so, then you're not really adding anything to the conversation, given that we are as ignorant of the facts as we are. If you have something to add by way of facts, please do so. But telling us how things 'seem' to someone with your sensibilities, and asserting that things are 'clear' on your view, only obscures the fact that we are at an epistemic impasse here. At best this serves to rally the troops in support of your position; at worst it casts those who disagree with you as themselves guilty of some moral failing. In response one can throw stones at those who disagree across the impasse, but I put it to you that those who behave in that manner in this situation are themselves the blight in the community that need to be publically 'shamed.'

Anonymous said...

7:57—if you are trying to be fair to McGinn or whatever, then why don't you try to be fair to the graduate student as well? Wouldn't this actually be the correct attitude to maintain if we don't want to condemn anyone? The reason you are being called out is because rather than remaining skeptical about McGinn and the graduate student, you just express your skepticism about the graduate student telling the truth, and give the benefit of doubt to McGinn because of the b.s. he has been posting on his blog.

Anonymous said...

What evidence is there that a gag order was imposed? The boyfriend clearly doesn't have a gag order, and it seems that most of CM's comments (at least of late) are directed at responding to what the boyfriend has said. And if what CM has written is true, it does indeed look like the boyfriend has misrepresented what happened.

Anonymous said...

The behavior that some people are exhibiting in this debacle exhibits a sort of self-righteous indignation that is, for some of us, as ugly as it is unwarranted.

Or maybe some of us have seen/experienced sexual harassment firsthand and thus take a dim view towards the sort of behaviors that McGinn himself has all but admitted to.

The fact that this whole thing has turned into a contest between the "elite club of famous old white dudes" vs. the "grad student who dared to complain" is all the more unsettling.

But then perhaps you imagine yourself as belonging to the first team. Having gone to grad school at Oregon, I feel more attached to the second...in a number of ways.

Anonymous said...

The only evidence of the gag order that has been expressed publicly can be found in the comments to the original CHE article post on feminist philosophers. A student in the department, who has more information on the process and what went on in this situation has given a pretty detailed explanation—which includes the claim that part of the resignation negotiation between CM and the university was that the university can't say anything about what went on. It has also been claimed by some individuals commenting and by McGinn himself on his blog that he is threatening to sue anyone who speaks out against him—and I am sure that he is ready to pounce on the graduate student who made the allegations if she tries to defend herself publicly. (His threats are also what lead me to believe that the BF and Thomasson are telling the truth, because it seems he would have tried suing them for slander if they weren't telling the truth).

Anonymous said...

Following up on gag orders: Who on earth would have the authority to impose a gag order on the student, or her boyfriend, or whatever? The negotiating parties -- McGinn and the University of Miami -- might sign a non-disclosure agreement. But this would in no way impose a legal duty on anyone but McGinn and the University.

Anonymous said...

Who on earth would have the authority to impose a gag order on the student, or her boyfriend, or whatever? The negotiating parties -- McGinn and the University of Miami -- might sign a non-disclosure agreement. But this would in no way impose a legal duty on anyone but McGinn and the University.

I believe the gag order is on the UM, particularly as concerns the emails.

Anonymous said...

Folks, DFTT (@6:13). Really. Try to resist. It's a pointless exercise.

On a different note: Although I think McGinn is quite obviously a horrible person, I doubt the call for an open letter speaking out against McGinn is going to gain much traction. It's also not clear to me that it's even a good idea. McGinn, all by his lonesome, is doing a tremendously fine job at humiliating himself. I can't help suspecting that there is more potential for harm in dignifying his rants with any sort of organized response.

Anonymous said...

I agree -- it seems very doubtful that there is any judicial requirement on Miami graduate students to refrain from commenting on the case.

And is there really any credible threat of CM suing detractors? I thought he agreed to resign because he wasn't willing to pay a lawyer.

Anonymous said...

In the first Chronicle piece on McGinn one Maimi phil faculty member (was it Thomassen?) stated that she had seen all emails in question and had no doubts about SH nature of these emails. Why not trust her testimony here?

Anonymous said...

Ah yes, the trite "don't feed the trolls" card. If you aren't with us, you're against us, eh? Good job 9:33. Yet more evidence that some feminists would prefer to silence dissent rather than engage in conversation over the merits of their position.

Anonymous said...

So here's something I don't get.

Why isn't the graduate student releasing the emails in question, given McGinn's aggressive pushback on her behavior?

Can't she just redact her name and do so, or allow her boyfriend to do so?

I certainly don't see how she or her boyfriend can be sued -- or at least not without any hope of success -- by releasing the emails. And it's very hard to see how she would be making matters worse for herself, rather than simply supporting her own side of the story against McGinn's current aspersions on her character.

Maybe there's some explanation of this that hasn't occurred to me. But I wonder if it is really plausible that she is an innocent in all this if she refuses herself to release the emails.

Anonymous said...

"Ah yes, the trite "don't feed the trolls" card."

It's really an appeal to those around to filter out all extraneous sounds in the echo chamber and keep focused on their groupthink.

Mr. Zero said...

But I wonder if it is really plausible that she is an innocent in all this if she refuses herself to release the emails.

Doesn't that reasoning apply just as much to McGinn, if not more? If he's innocent, why doesn't he release the emails? And McGinn, unlike the RA, has already made a lot of public statements, whereas the RA hasn't said a single thing. If he's innocent, why not just put the whole thing to rest by releasing the emails?

Anonymous said...

McGinn's ham-fisted PR campaign looks pathetic and craven to most of us in the philosophical hinterlands but notice that it has completely silenced the non-anonymous blogs. Leiter, newapps, femphil blog! McGinn is giving us a public display of the pathologies that our opinion leaders have been complaining about for years. They're silent. Do they know something we don't know or is this just a case of cowardice from our clutch of electronic bloviators?

Anonymous said...

Precisely, 11:24 PM. People trying to collapse this into a he-said/she case are being extraordinarily uncharitable toward the testimony of MANY people, not just the woman in question. Furthermore, they're being remarkably dismissive of the judgment and decisions of the administration at UMiami, who had much greater access to the facts than we do. What do we have? CM's ridiculous, narcissistic blog, where he all but calls his abuser a dumb bitch? Why should we give any weight whatsoever to this again...?

There are a lot of reasons why the student might not want to share the e-mails with you, fellow anonymous blogger. They're probably full of identifiable remarks about her and her research, for one. She'd have to redact a great deal more than her name, which would, I'm sure, only invite crass speculation from the peanut gallery as to 'what she was hiding', et cetera. As 11:24 points out, the student DID reveal the e-mails -- to people who were in a position to do something about her situation. There's certainly no onus on her to show them to the blogosphere as well, especially now that McGinn has been removed from her program, and she, I imagine, is tremendously busy (a) moving past this ordeal; and (b) finding another supervisor whose research meshes with her interests, or possibly even getting ready to apply out to another program with a better fit for her interests (if what McGinn says about her lack of fit with other faculty members is true).

I am a PhD student who has been on the receiving end of inappropriate overtures from a professor, and I know firsthand the risk and the emotional exhaustion that this kind of situation entails. Having been in my own situation, it seems pretty straightforward to me what went on in this one - there's far more observable evidence and peer testimony than there usually is in cases like these, and all of the stories that have emerged from the department and from people I know and trust in the profession seem to confirm my suspicions. McGinn basically says it himself - if you can read that giant list in his recent blog post about 'disclosing a nonsexual relationship' and not think he was subjecting his student to a hugely burdensome set of considerations through his 'taboo-busting' and lack of professionalism, then I just don't know, guys.

My instinct is to identify with the woman, and to extend to her the benefit of the doubt. I've been that woman to a far lesser degree of severity, and even that totally sucked and almost derailed my academic experience. And I know a lot of other women who have also been that woman, many of them to an equal degree of severity as what was reported here. And you know what? I don't know a lot of professors who have been driven from their institutions for totally baseless accusations. In fact, I don't know a lot of professors who have been driven from their institutions for totally SOUND accusations. That this is what happened in CM's case is very likely indicative of the severity of the situation and the abundance of evidence. Or at least that's my reading of it. Anyway, I'm bowing out of this conversation - cheers.

Anonymous said...

From the poster above, *abuser in the first paragraph above should read 'accuser'

Anonymous said...

"Doesn't that reasoning apply just as much to McGinn, if not more? If he's innocent, why doesn't he release the emails?"

Well, yes, the overall point does actually apply to McGinn as well, though perhaps my use of the word "innocent" here is not quite right.

What I have in mind is that if the emails make a slam dunk case for either side, one would expect that the dunking side would release them. I'd guess that instead they are all open to interpretation. One real possibility is that both sides played a part in this imbroglio, with McGinn being too forward and the student being too willing to play along with or even encourage the attentions, and that neither side wants the other to see the emails because they would be fuel for critics.

Whether one wants to say that such a scenario is well described as neither side being "innocent" I guess can be debated. I suppose in any case it might also be that one or both sides really didn't do anything wrong, but simply worried about how their writings would be interpreted by critics.

But I don't see how McGinn and the student much differ on this issue at this point. I can see how the student might have simply hoped that the matter would go away some time ago, and have refused to release emails genuinely damning of McGinn and genuinely exculpating of her. But I don't see how that might be true after all McGinn's criticisms.

Anonymous said...

7:39 gives some reason to doubt the conclusiveness of Amie Thomasson's testimony--not to doubt that she was convinced of some impropriety, but to doubt whether her convictions ought to sway the rest of us. The "instinct" to "identify with the woman" is fine if you're interested in sympathizing with her feeling, but the fact that a woman has come to feel a 'victim' does not suffice to show that she is, in fact, a victim. This does not mean that we should discount a woman's feelings, or the identification of other women with her supposed plight. But it does mean we should not allow a politically-motivated set of sentiments to trump basic canons of epistemic fairness and moral justice. And when the story that's been presented to us by the accuser's compatriots is compared with what CM has said, this situation is hardly a case like Sandusky (despite the hysterics of some of the accuser's supporters).

None of us know enough about this situation to decide moral culpability one way or another. It is, for instance, of the utmost importance whether, as CM says, he and the accuser had discussed disclosing their relationship to the University and she *explicitly requested* that they not do so. That, together with the behavior of the boyfriend, the shoddy reporting by the CHE, and the charge that the accuser had recently failed to complete an assignment, cannot be swept under the rug simply because some people feel inclined to identify with the accuser. We have not been provided enough information to determine with enough confidence that either CM or the accuser is in the wrong here, and people who are stoking sentiments to the contrary need to be called out for their behavior. I suspect this explains why the nonanonymous blogs have gone silent; those who converse in good faith, and who care about their professional reputation, can no longer sustain the conviction that this was obviously a case of sexual harassment.

Anonymous said...

11:24,

Because, for all we know, she may well not have been privy to the full details of the context in which the emails were sent, and she might be just as biased as the John Protevis of this world. And that's even without considering all the other arguments (Edward Erwin's testimony, McGinn's denying it, the bias of the jealous boyfriend, etc.).

Anonymous said...

"Doesn't that reasoning apply just as much to McGinn, if not more? If he's innocent, why doesn't he release the emails?"

Perhaps McGinn will release them, as part of a longer lesson plan on Grice and implicature. Maybe he will publish them in his next book.

Sure, laugh, but he's just that arrogant.

Mr. Zero said...

What I have in mind is that if the emails make a slam dunk case for either side, one would expect that the dunking side would release them.

That point seems right to me, ceteris paribus. But I don't think other things are entirely equal, because the RA has shown absolutely zero interest in any publicity of any kind. Other people have spoken on her behalf, including her boyfriend and other faculty members at UM, but that's not the same thing. I wouldn't want to say that I know what her goals were, exactly, but they do not appear to include convincing the public of anything.

(Maybe that's because the emails make her look bad. I don't know. But the way UM responded to the emails makes it seem like they make McGinn look pretty bad.)

McGinn, on the other hand, clearly has a very deep-seated need to convince the public that these accusations are untrue. If the emails support his claims, releasing them would be much more in line with his goals as they are revealed by his behavior up until now.

Anonymous said...

But I wonder if it is really plausible that she is an innocent in all this if she refuses herself to release the emails.

If the emails are on a UM server, then they would be subject to any gag order. That's the way it works.

Also, it's been stated repeatedly who is ultimately responsible for said gag order.

Anonymous said...

To 8:13:

But it's not like the student has an particular reason to release the emails. For her, the matter can be closed. McGinn has left, she has no current need to clear his name, etc. Releasing them might further sink McGinn, but perhaps she doesn't feel any need to do that. We're not dealing with case in which there are two sides battling to prove that they're right. We're dealing with a case in which one side had the case resolved to their satisfaction and the other side is still trying to defend itself.

Anonymous said...

With McGinn claiming that he will sue anyone who speaks out against him, I can certainly understand why the student wouldn't want to release the emails. Even if McGinn has no ground to win a lawsuit against her, she would still have to deal with him yet again making her life miserable, as she would have to hire a lawyer and spend what (presumably) little money she has on defending herself. I, for one, would not want to deal with even the possibility of that.

Also, several people have testified to the contents of the emails in the reports by CHE. That should be enough evidence to doubt the claims made by McGinn on his website, and to get an idea of the content of the emails, without them being released. Those individuals that choose to ignore the testimony of other individuals for the ridiculous claims made by a desperate man on his blog, well I don't know what to say to them.

Anonymous said...

Mr Zero @7:13 AM,

But McGinn maybe has a non-disclosure agreement? Furthermore perhaps he isn't the "horrible person" some people here are making him out. So while he does release a lot of data that don't intrude on the RA's privacy, maybe he just thinks the emails are too much of a private matter to release, more so in the case of non-disclosure but even if that's not applicable he may still care about her.

Anonymous said...

8:34, why is Erwin's testimony any more reliable than Thomasson's testimony? One can claim that they are both only privy to the side of the story from the person they are supporting? In that case, Erwin's testimony should be just as questionable as Thomasson's. For some reason do you not think this to be the case?

NRH said...

"Maybe there's some explanation of this that hasn't occurred to me."

She wants the unpleasant ordeal to be over.

Anonymous said...

If McGinn is innocent of any wrongdoing he has a very strange way of showing it. He could very easily take at least some responsibility for what happened, even if he genuinely believes himself to be the victim of an injustice. He was the professor, she the student. The Genius Project was his idea. He is the one who pushed "taboo breaking" as a pedagogical tool. I would think that anyone who isn't an extreme asshole, or who isn't guilty as charged, would see that the most prudent course of action would be to acknowledge that the experiment he chose to direct was a risky one, that he recognizes how someone might be hurt, that though he continues to believe he did nothing wrong he understands--and actually ENDORSES--the conclusions his opponents have reached given the nature of the evidence that has been made publicly available. If I were the person McGinn claims to be (the most open minded non-sexist person in the world, or whatever he said) I don't think I'd be inclined to attack my accuser publicly. I think I would probably judge her to be in need of psychological help. I mean, she goes from paddle boating with him, co-writing papers, depending on him for her educational and professional success, to accusing him of career-ending behavior because she was worried about some relatively minor report having to do with her research duties? If this is right, then she's got problems. If it's the boyfriend's fault, then she has other problems. In no case do I see a plausible story according to which she deserves the kind of aggressive tactics to which she is being subjected, not by a 63 year old professor who was her mentor. His behavior doesn't make sense if what he claims happened really happened.

Anonymous said...

8:52,

You're missing the point. The point is that Thomasson's testimony stands in a context of other testimony and arguments. Critical reasoning 101 I should say.

Mr. Zero said...

The point is that Thomasson's testimony stands in a context of other testimony and arguments.

Like how Erwin's account of the "handjob" remark, that it was an innocent joke that was closely related to his research on evolution and the human hand that was taken out of context and distorted, was completely inaccurate, and that Thomasson's account of the same remark was more-or-less exactly right?

Anonymous said...

9:23, I'm not missing the point. You are subjecting one individual's testimony to a certain evaluation and not other the individuals' testimony to the same sort of evaluation, within the context of other evidence and arguments...

Erwin and McGinn's remarks should be evaluated for their merit in the same manner as Thomasson's...but that isn't what you appear to be doing. Instead you appear to be discrediting Thomasson's remarks because they were made within a certain context, but not acknowledging how questionable Erwin and McGinn's remarks are when evaluated within a certain context as well. For the former, his being the only professor in the department to come to McGinn's defense publicly; the probability that like Thomasson he has only heard one side of the story, etc. And for the latter, his claims being made after he resigned with a gag order on the university for inappropriate behavior, his remarks being clearly retaliatory, and his endless attempt to say anything to salvage his precious reputation.

The point is, your "critical thinking 101" evaluation of Thomasson's remarks are unfair, unless you also evaluate the remarks made by McGinn and Erwin in their contexts as well. (And it doesn't appear you have done this, because you only question the remarks made by Thomasson.)

mabd said...

So many things about McGinn's account.

1) if the grad student's original complaint does not claim sexual harassment then what on earth is she meant to have complained about? Not disclosing the relationship? That doesn't make any sense.

B) I would be super creeped out if my advisor told me he was thinking about me giving him a manicure while giving himself a manicure. That is fucking weird.

iii) If you care so much about your mentee's reputation that you are concerned about the potential harms of disclosing a relationship with her and ceasing to be her mentor then DO NOT start a "relationship" with her.

mabd said...

Anon 8 something wrote: "the charge that the accuser had recently failed to complete an assignment."

I don't know the student's reasons for not completing the assignment. I don't know whether it is true that she did not complete the assignment. I do know though that it can be difficult to complete one's assignments, show up to work, etc. if one is being harassed at work. Again, I don't know if that is what happened, but I think it should be considered as a possibility.

Anonymous said...

This letter to The Chronicle by Schiffer is interesting.

Anonymous said...

McGinn's contorted attempts to explain away the few known bits of the emails between him and the student (e.g. the "handjob" remark) are transparent evidence that all was not on the up-and-up. Anyone who believes his "manicure" explanation for that remark is a willing idiot begging to be deceived.

His defense also seems to contradict itself. He claims that he and the student did have a consensual romantic relationship; but if this is so, why does he go to such asinine lengths to distort the meaning of said email comments? If someone is accused of rape, they usually either deny that there was sexual contact, or insist that it was consensual. They tend not to do both as that makes no fucking sense.

There is also his deeply disturbing description of the "genius project", which frankly reads like a manifesto for inappropriate student-advisor relationships.

For some reason, all of this nonsense is glossed over by McGinn's defenders, who instead cast dark aspersions against the student's boyfriend for daring to defend himself against McGinn's public attacks. Or they note that the student has not herself made a public statement as somehow evidence of her complicity, ignoring McGinn's public threats of litigation.

It's all very revealing, I must say.

Anonymous said...

"McGinn's contorted attempts to explain away the few known bits of the emails between him and the student (e.g. the "handjob" remark) are transparent evidence that all was not on the up-and-up. Anyone who believes his "manicure" explanation for that remark is a willing idiot begging to be deceived."

Maybe CM was propositioning his student; that's certainly a possibility. But his 'manicure' explanation, together with the timing of the emails, their frequency, and the pegagogical context in which they occurred, shows that the CHE misreported the facts. If the double entendre was harassment, characterize it as such. But don't obscure what was said in the interest of a salacious take-down.

"His defense also seems to contradict itself. He claims that he and the student did have a consensual romantic relationship; but if this is so, why does he go to such asinine lengths to distort the meaning of said email comments?"

Here's a possibility that seems perfectly reasonable and is consistent with what CM has said--CM has a ribaldrous sense of humor, and over the course of three months, in the context of an ongoing pedagogical focus on wordplay, he sends two emails with a sexual double entendre. Hardly a reason to get the vapors. Of course it's possible that this isn't what happened--surely the accuser and her boyfriend would have us believe CM was a lecherous pervert. But that's just the point. All we have is the he said/she said, and table-pounding as if it were otherwise misrepresents the facts.

"For some reason, all of this nonsense is glossed over by McGinn's defenders, who instead cast dark aspersions against the student's boyfriend for daring to defend himself against McGinn's public attacks. Or they note that the student has not herself made a public statement as somehow evidence of her complicity, ignoring McGinn's public threats of litigation."

None of this is glossed over, and I don't see anybody here 'defending' CM. Please try to be a bit more measured in what you say. The fact that we have a woman in a close relationship with a professor, and a boyfriend who's come to her defense in a way that has distorted the facts of the case (according to CM's account), is something that should be considered when we're weighing the relative merits of different people's testimonies.

The rhetoric and chest-thumping of those who are convinced of CM's guilt is, in the details, backed by far less conclusive justification than the chest-thumpers would have us believe. None of that is incompatible with also believing there are reasons to doubt the conclusiveness of CM's side of the story (seriously, who ever said they thought his version was beyond dispute?). And for what it's worth, I myself agree with 9:19's remarks: the better part of valor in this would have been for CM to admit outright that things got out of hand (harhar!) and proceed to defend himself from that more humble perspective.

"It's all very revealing, I must say."

Indeed it is. Having a conversation with a feminist about a political issue is often like trying to put a dress on a pig. Nothing is gained from it and everybody gets dirty in the process. Still, it can be fun to roll around with a pig every now and again, so long as you don't mind getting a bit filthy.

Anonymous said...

One thing I have to say about this discussion.

One wonders if feminism as an ideology has not had a profoundly corrupting effect on a basic sense of fairness, respect for due process, and even rational thought.

For all we know, McGinn may have behaved horribly, but, for all we know, he may have behaved more or less tolerably. I don't see how, on the facts we can really ascertain, we can plunk down in either position, or anywhere between.

I see very few people defending McGinn, or attacking the student, on the belief that they know somehow that McGinn must be telling the truth. I see a large number of people attacking McGinn, or defending the student, on the belief that somehow McGinn simply must be lying, and the student (or her champions) in no way distorting the truth. On the pretty fair assumption that virtually all of the latter would describe themselves as feminists, that would seem to be quite an indictment of the capacity for fairness of many feminists.

The only question that seems to concern these feminists is: who benefits? And it must be a woman who benefits.

Frankly, I would find it very scary to find these people on any jury, no matter the case. I'd feel far more confident with random people on the street.

Anonymous said...

Having a conversation with a feminist about a political issue is often like trying to put a dress on a pig. Nothing is gained from it and everybody gets dirty in the process. Still, it can be fun to roll around with a pig every now and again, so long as you don't mind getting a bit filthy.

And to think...right before this you made a semi-decent point.

Anonymous said...

Some weeks back there was a very insightful comment over at New APPS about certain "mentors" rather sophisticated harassing "techniques."

The scenario can unfold like this. The student and her mentor might find themselves drawn to the same phil topics, and will be often meeting for coffee to talk shop. The student is then invited to collaborate on an article, invited over to his house to play tennis and so forth. Once in a while this "mentor" will drop inappropriate phrases and maybe even call it "humor". The student's natural reaction is likely to gloss over those weird bits. She might even delude herself about developing a genuine intellectual and friendship-evolving connection with this "mentor"--after all, he acts so open with her and jokes so freely. But one day she might find herself realizing that these little inappropriate comments have been escalating in frequency and aggressiveness. At this point, the scales will likely fall from her eyes and "mentor's" creepiness will become apparent. This realization can be truly devastating and make the student feel totally stupid, gullible, ashamed. She might question her philosophical abilities. She will certainly feel a bit crazy. Any emails exchanged between those two will also reveal the student's naivete and stupidity (in her eyes) and it is totally understandable why anyone in this position would not want to show such emails to the public at large.

And by the way, of course people like McGinn are sophisticated creeps, capable of developing genuine intellectual bonds with students. The intellectual stuff did happen, I believe. But this simply cannot be the whole story. He crossed the line. And c'mon, even McGinn's semi-crazy blog rants support this theory.

Anonymous said...

10:04,

For purposes of keeping matters simple for the reader, I'll repeat the comment I responded to:

---
In the first Chronicle piece on McGinn one Maimi phil faculty member (was it Thomassen?) stated that she had seen all emails in question and had no doubts about SH nature of these emails. Why not trust her testimony here?
---

And the comment I posted in response:

---
Because, for all we know, she may well not have been privy to the full details of the context in which the emails were sent, and she might be just as biased as the John Protevis of this world. And that's even without considering all the other arguments (Edward Erwin's testimony, McGinn's denying it, the bias of the jealous boyfriend, etc.).
---

The original comment asked for reasons why not to trust her testimony. In my comment I give some reasons. One is that she may not know the full context, the other that there are other arguments and testimony. Nothing in there to suggest that those other arguments and testimony should not be subjected to the same scrutiny and rigour.

Anonymous said...

By the way, I also noticed some misrepresentation in the comment from July 10, 2013 at 11:24 PM. The Chronicle article (the one from June 4) did not quote Thomasson as stating that she had no doubts as to the sexual harassment nature of the emails. The quote is: "I read enough to see that they had explicitly sexual content".

Anonymous said...

8:15, 9:15 here. My remarks, with which you say you agree, have nothing to do with McGinn's valor. My point wasn't that it would be better for McGinn to have admitted that things got out of hand (thought this may be true). My point was that his failure to claim this suggests (to me anyhow) that he is the kind of asshole who would sexually harass one of his graduate students and then go on to publicly demean her. I don't think there is anything for him to "admit" here because I doubt very much that he views himself as being in the position of someone who has something to admit or concede. His behavior in his blog points to his being an asshole, deep down and in a special sort of way. Certainly its possible that he is an asshole and yet innocent of the graduate student's charges. My point was that, given the evidence that's currently available, and given the posture McGinn has adopted in his posts, it is far more plausible that what we have is a case of an older established man sexually harassing a younger, less established young woman. These things happen all the time. Less frequently, men are falsely accused of harassment.

Your closing remarks about feminists are unfortunate. It's a bit ironic that you should resort to pig metaphors in this context, when the preponderance of evidence (including, again, McGinn's aggressive posture) point to there being only one real pig in this story.

Anonymous said...

"On the pretty fair assumption that virtually all of the latter would describe themselves as feminists, that would seem to be quite an indictment of the capacity for fairness of many feminists."

Sounds like you are assuming that they are feminists because of their incapacity to be fair. That is, it sounds like you already doubt feminists' ability to be objective and, having found some people who (in your opinion) are not being objective, your assumption about feminists has been confirmed because they must be feminists.

Anonymous said...

"My point was that, given the evidence that's currently available, and given the posture McGinn has adopted in his posts, it is far more plausible that what we have is a case of an older established man sexually harassing a younger, less established young woman."

This is precisely where the disagreement lies. Despite the misrepresentation of the CHE (which seems to have been distorting pretty much everybody's comments on the matter), there is no clear case of sexual harassment here. People who pretend otherwise are being intellectually dishonest and socially poisonous.

"These things happen all the time. Less frequently, men are falsely accused of harassment."

The accuser is hardly the victim her enablers have made her out to be. If McGinn's version of events is, as to the facts, accurate, then Thomasson and the accuser's boyfriend are as culpable in this as is the accuser. But the point is, none of us has enough information to tell one way or another whether McGinn or the accuser and her enablers are in the wrong. Pretending otherwise, and gussying it up with "all the time" remarks about women as victims, only makes the feminist contingent look that much more hysterical.

"Your closing remarks about feminists are unfortunate. It's a bit ironic that you should resort to pig metaphors in this context, when the preponderance of evidence (including, again, McGinn's aggressive posture) point to there being only one real pig in this story."

Please try to understand: to many of us it's the groupthink-fueled feminists that come off as the pigs in this.

As to McGinn's aggressive posture--put yourself into the position of someone who has been unjustly accused, faced the prospect of a drawn-out administrative inquest and the legal fees such an inquest would incur (these proceedings are not cheap, they are not quick, and only a fool would be without legal representation through them), and then had the accusation publicly distorted in a number of ways in a variety of professional venues. Personally, I would be quite a bit more livid. This grad student and her boyfriend are fucking adults. If McGinn is right that she failed an assignment and her victim mentality was enabled by a jealous boyfriend who has no problem distorting what was said between them, then the accuser and her boyfriend deserve what they are getting. Now of course it may be that McGinn is the sexual harasser his accuser and her enablers would have us believe. But that is, again, just to say that WE DO NOT KNOW ONE WAY OR THE OTHER. So the fact that McGinn is aggressively defending himself is in NO WAY sufficient to show that, because he has been accused, he is guilty of what he has been accused.

Seriously, basic canons of epistemic and moral fairness. I weep for feminism...thank God the young people I talk to seem to more and more understand that feminism, and the perverted mentalities it breeds, are not to be taken seriously. The beneficial effects of the practice of feminism are more and more being choked out by the intellectually indefensible and socially pernicious posturing of its privileged practitioners.

Anonymous said...

"Sounds like you are assuming that they are feminists because of their incapacity to be fair. That is, it sounds like you already doubt feminists' ability to be objective and, having found some people who (in your opinion) are not being objective, your assumption about feminists has been confirmed because they must be feminists."

Really, do you seriously doubt that those who have failed to be objective -- almost entirely on the "feminist" side of the issue -- would not identify as feminists? Seriously?

I simply ask those who may be reading these comments to come to their own conclusions, based on what they have read here, and on what they already know to be true in the outside world of feminists and feminism.

If you disagree, then, fine, don't take my point. But if you think that my inference is reasonable enough, then I think my point stands.

In my view, if one wants to see just how corrupting feminism is, this case serves as excellent example.

A great deal of the evil done in this world, maybe most, is performed in the service of a cause that insists that it is only doing good.

Anonymous said...

9:31 writes:

"On the pretty fair assumption that virtually all of the latter would describe themselves as feminists, that would seem to be quite an indictment of the capacity for fairness of many feminists."

To which 6:12 responds:

"Sounds like you are assuming that they are feminists because of their incapacity to be fair. That is, it sounds like you already doubt feminists' ability to be objective and, having found some people who (in your opinion) are not being objective, your assumption about feminists has been confirmed because they must be feminists."

If that's how the above comment sounds to you 6:12, get the shit cleaned out of your ears. 9:31 clearly assumes that his/her interlocutors are feminists on the basis of their avowed views, observes that they are being unfair, and concludes that some feminists are being unfair. S/he did not pick some random sample of people who are being unfair and then, because of a prior belief that feminists are unfair, concluded this random sample was composed of feminists.

Either there is something about feminism that corrupts the mind's ability to reason, or the people drawn to feminism are poor reasoners to begin with. Either way, feminist practice needs to get its shit together if feminists want to be taken seriously outside their little cocoon of victimization.

Anonymous said...

"I simply ask those who may be reading these comments to come to their own conclusions, based on what they have read here, and on what they already know to be true in the outside world of feminists and feminism."

But if they don't come to your conclusions, they are not critical thinkers, right? What you really mean is that you want readers to come to your conclusions.

Anonymous said...

I loved the 7:57AM comment. It's cool that McGinn reads and posts at this blog like us little people.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is a dazzlingly offensive thread.

I assume I'm not the only one that suspects that McGinn has posted anonymously here.

Anonymous said...

I am 7:57, and I am not McGinn.

It is shameful that the people convinced of McGinn's guilt are having such a hard time understanding that their convictions are not universal. The tendency on the part of those who hold these convictions to in turn shame others into sharing them, or to remain silent if they don't, is yet more evidence that feminist practice is deleterious to an open society. Would that feminists were better equipped to recognize shame when they saw it...ah well, some people love the smell of their own offal.

Anonymous said...

It's cool that McGinn reads and posts at this blog like us little people.

Ha! I love it. 8:27 ftw.

Mr. Zero said...

Hi 7:57

The accuser is hardly the victim her enablers have made her out to be. ... But the point is, none of us has enough information to tell one way or another whether McGinn or the accuser and her enablers are in the wrong.

If you can't see the tension between those to remarks, then I don't know what.

This grad student and her boyfriend are fucking adults.

This seems to come up a lot. I don't get it. So is McGinn. As an adult, McGinn ought to know that there's a real chance that sex jokes about your research assistant won't go over very well.

So the fact that McGinn is aggressively defending himself is in NO WAY sufficient to show that, because he has been accused, he is guilty of what he has been accused.

Who said that? I don't think it's the fact that he defends himself; I think what's really telling is how he defends himself. Pretending that "I had a handjob while thinking about you giving me a handjob" is an innocent, research-related pun. Calling her a dumb bitch--female dog! As if you can do that, and as if it wouldn't be insulting if you did. "The Genius Project--just kidding!--no I'm not." Wordplay and handjob puns as pedagogy. And on a deeper level, I just don't see how his story makes sense. If it did, I'd be more willing to see things his way or give him the benefit of the doubt. But it doesn't.

Anonymous said...

What is it that people mean by their use of "feminist" here? Do they mean that those who practice feminist philosophy are not critical thinkers, or those who work toward political equality for women are not critical thinkers? Because it sounds like some people are refusing to make that distinction, perhaps even willfully.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr. Zero,

You're right; I should have included a clause "If what McGinn says is true..." in the first sentence. I realized that after it was posted, but I think I've been pretty good keeping that qualification in place otherwise. Still, point taken. I shall try to be more careful.

"As an adult, McGinn ought to know that there's a real chance that sex jokes about your research assistant won't go over very well."

Sure. But according to him, he and the RA had a close working relationship, and the substance of the complaint was two emails sent three months apart, the last of which was half a year before the complaint, and after the RA had failed to complete an assignment. Off-color humor does not simply by itself constitute sexual harassment, and the presentation of the facts by the boyfriend and the CHE have made it seem like it was an explicit proposition, not a couple of comments made months apart.

And it was 5:18 who said that McGinn's aggressive defense was part of the "preponderance of evidence" for his being a pig, which I took to be part-and-parcel of his/her claim McGinn's behavior is evidence "that he is the kind of asshole who would sexually harass one of his graduate students." This kind of free-association between a person defending themselves aggressively against defamation and supposing that the accusations made against them are true is what I was objecting to.

And finally, I wholly agree that McGinn's behavior does not portray him as anything like a moral saint, and I do not take myself to be "giving him the benefit of the doubt." Instead, at this point I think the evidence suggests we should all of us have a healthy dose of doubt for both sides of the story. To engage in push-back against feminist rhetoric is not to "victim blame" or otherwise support the oppression of women, no matter how that might be portrayed by some people unable to make the distinction and who are supported by the privilege of their gender and the institutions that permit them to engage in open persecution of dissenting views.

Mr. Zero said...

Sure. But according to him...

That's the thing. The Erwin/McGinn version of the handjob joke is such a crock of shit that I don't believe any of the rest of his story.

Off-color humor does not simply by itself constitute sexual harassment...

Agreed. But for one thing, it's highly misleading to describe it as "off-color humor." It was a joke that directly involves and is based entirely on the idea of her performing a sex act on him. He may have set up a context in which that expression has an alternative interpretation, but that doesn't mean it's not what the joke was about. And that actually could be harassment, if you read the UM faculty manual. (I'm not saying it is; I'm saying I don't know.)

And it was 5:18 who said that McGinn's aggressive defense

I don't interpret 5:18 that way. I took 5:18 to be saying that it was the nature of the aggressiveness that was telling, not the mere fact that he was being aggressive in defending himself. The nature of the aggression is, after all, that he is being kind of an asshole about it.

To engage in push-back against feminist rhetoric

I don't know where you're getting this. What "feminist rhetoric"?

Anonymous said...

Maybe I am misreading something but did McGinn just admit to writing the "sex three times" email?

If so, he lied in the CHE...

mabd said...

Re: The bizarre military metaphor on mcg's blog right now, which is supposed to refer to n times (have sex in his office three times?):

What on earth would be the appropriate reason for referring to this possibility? I'm trying to imagine in what context this would help "throw up ideas that would not otherwise be considered, and an optimal (in the circumstances) solution may then be discovered."

I'm trying to decide what we should do in my office this summer. Hmmm, we could have sex three times. We could have sex six times.

Oh, I know! We could do philosophy.

McGinn could be a sexual harasser. Just considering the possibility!

mabd said...

"If so, he lied in the CHE..."

He didn't say they should have sex in his office three times. He said they could have sex in his office three times. Duh.

BunnyHugger said...

I see a large number of people attacking McGinn, or defending the student, on the belief that somehow McGinn simply must be lying

Actually, I think there's quite a bit to find appalling in McGinn's conduct on the supposition that he's telling the truth as he sees it.

Anonymous said...

The Erwin/McGinn version of the handjob joke is such a crock of shit that I don't believe any of the rest of his story.

This is exactly it for me. McGinn is lying in such a bald-faced manner on this point that it makes it simply impossible to believe anything else he says.

His defenders on here seem to be either so motivated by animus towards feminism, or so wrapped up in epistemological minutiae, that they are incapable of recognizing this basic point.

Hence whenever the contradictions or obvious falsehoods in McGinn's version of events get raised, they retreat to "But maybe it was like..." modal speculations.

It's pathetic...like watching a cuckold desperately attempt to convince himself of the fidelity of his partner in spite of the glaring evidence to the contrary.

Anonymous said...

9:11, 5:18 here again. Perhaps you could provide a story on which McGinn did not behave like a pig. Or, weaker, on which he did not make sexually inappropriate comments that a reasonable graduate student might find objectionable/troubling/offensive/etc. The story should say something about what motivated the graduate student to report McGinn, and it should be at least as plausible as the story according to which McGinn is the older established man who preys on less established younger women over whom he enjoys a not insignificant degree of power.

Anonymous said...

-His defenders on here seem to be either so motivated by animus towards feminism, or so wrapped up in epistemological minutiae...

Wait, isn't this what professional Philosophers are supposed to be doing? Because honestly, it didn't take McGinn for us to start down either of these paths.

Anonymous said...

"That's the thing. The Erwin/McGinn version of the handjob joke is such a crock of shit that I don't believe any of the rest of his story."

It seems like this is the sticking point between us Mr. Zero. And I gather that others find it hard to believe as well. I am not myself convinced that McGinn is telling the truth, but comparing his version of the events to those of his accusers I am left with little confidence that either side is wholly reliable.

Here's a version of events consistent with what McGinn has said that I, for one, cannot rule out. In a project where he and his student are working closely together on alternative conceptions about the importance of the hand, McGinn was trimming his fingernails one afternoon, hit upon the thought that this was a sort of 'handjob,' chuckled to himself and thought of his RA because this is the sort of thing they'd been working on, and told her he'd been thinking of her while giving himself a handjob. While I fully agree that on the face if it this looks like an untoward sexual advance, it does not seem obvious to me that someone who made such a comment, in the context in which it was made, would be guilty of the sorts of things some people seem to think. Notice, for instance, that if this is what happened then McGinn was doing nothing like pleasuring himself sexually and telling the student about it, as the CHE article and the boyfriend would have us suppose.

Now if the comment made the student uncomfortable that's something McGinn would have needed to own up to. But if the above is at all close to what happened, and if this was one of only two such comments made (as McGinn claims), then much of the moralizing about the event seems to be a distortion of what actually occurred.

Now I don't know that that's what happened, but as I said I can't rule it out. And for that reason, the moral outrage expressed by people like 12:13 just doesn't seem warranted given what we do not know.

Anonymous said...

To 1:18, how does McGinn's blog post from today fit with your narrative? You know, the one where he basically admits to sending an e-mail that 'entertained' the notion that the student have sex with him three times in his office. Can you construct a narrative according to which this too was a jocular misunderstanding?

I'd try to guess at your response, but I think I'd pull my charity muscle even attempting it.

Anonymous said...

Zero probably won't let this go, but imagine the following:

Instead of a graduate student, imagine she were a first year assistant professor. All else is the same. Say CM gives her some money as a grant from his research fund for a summer project. They have ribald humor, play tennis, and the like. Even the genius project. The whole bit. She fails at the task and is worried about her first year review in terms of retention.

No sex, but lots of sex talk. Jokes, manicures, the whole bit. She gives over the emails to the admin.

Do people have the same problem with this if it is a first year assistant professor. Make her boyfriend a new assistant prof too.

Part of the reason I ask this question is that I really think that two people can have a close relationship that has lots of sexual overtones and joke that both parties enjoy. Even we *could* have sex in my office three times. If CM's wife had been irritated by the behavior, then she could have put a stop to it. I would bet $1000 that CM told his wife about the "handjob" joke. Certain of it. A good wife would have warned him UNLESS she new the relationship could handle that kid of stuff.

What was unknown to CM and his wife, is how the boyfriend would react and how an academic failure might change the dynamics. Clearly it changed them for the worse and the student then filed the charges.

From my point of view, I can image, very easily, this kind of scenario. Is it more than most people could handle. Yes. But philosopher talk about anything. Even stuff like is bestiality morally wrong simpliciter?

So the fact that they spent lots of time together, I am sure that sex talk and jokes were exchanged and unless she gave him signs to stop, why would he. She might have encouraged them. Notice that all we have heard from some people is that I have seen the emails in question. We haven't see all the emails and texts they sent back and forth. We know nothing about the relationship, and that's why I have to reserve judgement on McGinn's behavior. I might think he is a pompous asshole, but that doesn't make him a sexual harasser. Hell most good philosophers are pompous assholes. And that's one of the criticisms that feminists have about philosophy: all the pompous assholes.

Anonymous said...

And the rest of the story? The part that describes the motivations of the student in reporting him? It must go something like this: her boyfriend is jealous, sick of hearing from his girlfriend about how Colin is so smart and so famous and such a great tennis player. He sees the emails and they bother him. He pressures his girlfriend to report McGinn and because she accommodates him, despite her knowledge that to do so is to threaten her academic prospects and to subject her friend and mentor to an injustice. But it's not just the jealous boyfriend, it's also the bad report card (or whatever it was). So she gets to weasel out of a bad report, she satisfies her boyfriend's jealously-fueled antagonism with respect to McGinn, and all she needs to do is hide her identity in the matter, subject herself to McGinn's wrath, put her academic and professional prospects on the back burner, and alienate everyone who is a friend of McGinn, in her own department and elsewhere.

Could this have happened? Sure. You know what else could have happened? McGinn could have acted like a pig. You are right that thus far we are lacking dispositive evidence either way. I ask you, which story is more plausible?

zombie said...

Is there an implication here that the RA made this accusation b/c she's a feminist, or has somehow been duped by feminist rhetoric or some such?

That seems unlikely, if McGinn was her philosophical mentor.

Or is someone just throwing "feminist" like a pejorative (it isn't) at anyone who thinks McGinn is acting like a creep?

Mr. Zero said...

Here's a version of events consistent with what McGinn has said that I, for one, cannot rule out. ... and told her he'd been thinking of her while giving himself a handjob.

I can rule it out, I think. By all accounts, that's not what he said. He said, he “had a handjob imagining you giving me a handjob.” According to the Chronicle, this was described identically by several different people who had seen the email in question. On your interpretation, he was telling her that he had clipped his fingernails while thinking about her clipping his fingernails. And, as I say in the original post up there, this interpretation is not credible. It makes no sense whatsoever.

Now if the comment made the student uncomfortable that's something McGinn would have needed to own up to.

Agreed. And the fact that he won't own up to it is another reason not to trust him.

Anonymous said...

If CM's wife had been irritated by the behavior, then she could have put a stop to it.

Right. She could have said, "That's enough, Colin,", and I'm sure he would have stopped immediately. He's like that. Deferential, accommodating, obedient.

I would bet $1000 that CM told his wife about the "handjob" joke. Certain of it.

Yes, if anything is certain in this crazy world, that's it.

"Hey, sweetie, look at this awesome email I just sent to NN. God, I'm the most enlightened man in the fucking world. Right? I know."

Anonymous said...

"I can rule it out, I think. By all accounts, that's not what he said. He said, he “had a handjob imagining you giving me a handjob.” According to the Chronicle, this was described identically by several different people who had seen the email in question. On your interpretation, he was telling her that he had clipped his fingernails while thinking about her clipping his fingernails. And, as I say in the original post up there, this interpretation is not credible. It makes no sense whatsoever."

I'm afraid this remark obscures the fact that the CHE's recounting of events has gone through a number of iterations and has been contested by just about everybody they've quoted, with the result that the story is rather unlike what was first presented to us. That's important, I think.

Second, I don't see why this account makes no sense. He and his RA are working on a project where the role of the hand is being examined, they regularly engage in quips and puns about the different things we say about the hand, and one afternoon he's clipping his fingernails and hits upon the thought that this was a sort of handjob. Chuckling to himself, and knowing that the term 'handjob' would elicit her expectation that a pun was in the works, he tells her he was giving himself a handjob and imagining she was doing it. It's crude humor, for sure, but it's the sort of humor that close friends regularly engage in without thinking twice about. Surely such humor is not everywhere and always wrong, even in cases where there's some power disparity between the individuals involved. More importantly, it's hardly a case of an ordinary discourse assertion of "I was thinking about you when masturbating," as we were initially led to believe by the accuser's cohort.

As to 2:04--I do not know which story is more plausible, precisely because I do not know enough about the people involved. But the fact that this was initially presented to us as a case of a woman being blatantly propositioned, when it turns out there's a whole background to the speech acts, there were apparently only two such comments in question (months apart, made half a year ago), and the student had recently failed to complete an assignment, ought to make us suspicious of simply trusting the accuser. Given the misrepresentation that has gone on, misrepresentation precisely in the direction of making this seem like something far worse than it was, we should not give the accuser's version of events the definitive weight.

Anonymous said...

Continued...

The accusation of a woman is not sacrosanct simply because she's a woman making an accusation, not even in a context in which the profession needs to take problems of sexual harassment seriously (as it most certainly does), and *particularly* not in a context when that accusation has distorted the facts (as it has, for all sides agree that the speech act was not made in ordinary discourse--that was completely absent in the initial salacious retelling). The issue here is precisely whether or not this is a case of sexual harassment, and the evidence we have available to us is insufficient to decide that. The fact that the initial account misrepresented the situation in the direction of sexual harassment is something we should take seriously. I don't know whether that misrepresentation is due to the accuser, her boyfriend, the CHE reporter, or some combination, but it's there regardless.

And bear in mind, according to McGinn the University had access to the emails, interviewed people involved and concluded that this was *not* a case of sexual harassment. The posturing and outrage of others to the contrary seems, to this observer, to be a case where genuine systemic problems are being illicitly transferred to a case that does not obviously embody them, and the effort to construe the facts of the case to make it seem more obviously a case of sexual harassment should raise red flags for anyone who is interested in justice. Perhaps it is indeed a case of sexual harassment--but if it is, it ought to be evident on the face of the facts as they stand, not on the face of the facts as they are reconstructed by the accuser and her cohort.

With that all having been said, I find the 'we could have sex in my office three times' to be rather harder to account for the innocence of. Not impossible, I suppose, but they would have had to have been quite close and comfortable with one another, and she would have had to have been explicitly engaging in this repartee, for that sort of comment to be okay.

BunnyHugger said...

It's crude humor, for sure, but it's the sort of humor that close friends regularly engage in without thinking twice about.

Mutual manicure fantasy humor? Does your peer group include Zippy the Pinhead?

Anonymous said...

McGinn is harming her with his nasty insinuations about her character and philosophical abilities. He gets to retire a wealthy man. She is marked by this for the rest of her career. She should go after him for violating FERPA.

Anonymous said...

"She should go after him for violating FERPA."

Why do people who obviously know just about nothing about FERPA keep saying McGinn has done something to violate FERPA?

Anonymous said...

1:59: "What was unknown to CM and his wife, is how the boyfriend would react and how an academic failure might change the dynamics. Clearly it changed them for the worse and the student then filed the charges."

Those pronouncing McGinn guilty are faced with the shameful fact that is this is a plausible explanation of what happened. Is it the most plausible? Probably not. It's more plausible (at least to me) that McGinn did do something inappropriate. But there's a good chance that he didn't. Not a mere possibility, not a small chance, but a good chance--a chance such that, if it turns out that that's what happened, it wouldn't be terribly surprising. In light of that, it's irresponsible to pronounce McGinn guilty (or not guilty).

Those condemning McGinn must disagree on one of two counts: 1) that there is a good chance that McGinn didn't do anything inappropriate, or 2) that if there is a good chance that he didn't do anything inappropriate, it's irresponsible to pronounce him guilty (even if it's likelier than not [say, a probability of .6] that he's guilty). As far as I can see, there are no reasonable grounds for disagreeing with either (1) or (2). And if that's right, everyone moralizing about McGinn is in the wrong (dialectically or epistemically) even if they turn about to be right (ontologically) about his guilty.

This is what those criticizing McGinn's "defenders" on this blog fail to realize. He may well be guilty. If I were forced to bet on his guilt or innocence, I'd bet on his guilt. But if I was free to take the bet or not, I'd refrain. I'm a McGinn "defender" not because I'm convinced that he's innocent, but because I'm not convinced that he's guilty. A preponderance of the evidence isn't good enough when a man's career and reputation are on the line. It's more than enough to justify investigation and preventative measures, but it's not enough to justify pronouncements of guilt.

Mr. Zero said...

I'm afraid this remark obscures the fact that the CHE's recounting of events has gone through a number of iterations and has been contested by just about everybody they've quoted, with the result that the story is rather unlike what was first presented to us.

Was it? I didn't see where that happened. It's described as a joke in the first article, by Erwin, though not by the boyfriend. (Erwin also claims it is research-related, which is an exaggeration at best.) And the remark was described identically by several different people. If so, that sort of cuts down on the chance that it's being quoted inaccurately. Not that it's impossible.

Additionally, the "sex three times" remark, which McGinn seems to have acknowledged, establishes a precedent of him "joking" or whatever about her having sex with him. How many times must a person joke or otherwise entertain the possibility of having sex with you before you start to suspect that the person might actually want to have sex with you?

I don't see why this account makes no sense.

I've tried to explain it a couple of times, and I'm sorry but I don't find your gloss to be particularly helpful. I understand how you get from 'handjob' to "clipping my fingernails"; what doesn't make sense is the joke as it was actually told. Nobody thinks about their research assistant clipping their fingernails for them.

Surely such humor is not everywhere and always wrong, even in cases where there's some power disparity between the individuals involved.

Who said "everywhere and always"? Of course it's not everywhere and always wrong. But in this particular case it was obviously massively ill-advised, if not wrong. And the power disparity is clearly an intensifying factor. There are, after all, two possibilities: either it was genuinely unwelcome sexual conduct by an RA's immediate supervisor, or it was the ammunition a "delinquent student" directly used to destroy her supervisor's career. (Or both.) Either way, it wasn't such a hot idea.

And bear in mind, according to McGinn the University had access to the emails, interviewed people involved and concluded that this was *not* a case of sexual harassment.

That's true, McGinn does say that. But the investigation he refers to was informal and preliminary, however "extensive" or whatever, and by all accounts the university thought that further investigation was warranted. And there are lots of reasons why an informal, preliminary investigation might yield only a subset of the charges that would be produced by a full investigation.

Anonymous said...

Theano, the wife of Pythagoras, once remarked: "No one who understands persists in self-chosen harm." McGinn clearly does not understand how much his own defense has harmed his reputation.

I think everyone can agree that it would have been best for him to come clean right from the beginning, apologize to the young woman for his unprofessional behavior, and perhaps make some self-deprecating remarks about old men foolishly falling for young women who admire them...or some such.

If he had gone this route, I think many of us would have been willing to forgive him, and he would find another position after taking some "personal time", etc.

But McGinn is not that kind of person. He seems for all the world to be a clinical narcissist, incapable of admitting error. So he went the other route, making up obviously false excuses for his sexual remarks, casting all manner of slanderous aspersions on the young woman, and enlisting famous buddies to his defense.

He needs to take a lesson form Anthony Weiner: STFU and retire from public view for a spell.

But again...his endless vanity simply won't permit it.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading through McGinn's blog, and something I wonder is, does anyone ever use the phrase "hand job" to refer to anything other than the act of jerking someone off?

He writes in his blog: "We conventionally distinguish between 'brain jobs' and hand jobs' (literally, manual labor)" - But do we? Conceptually, yes, we distinguish between mental labor and physical labor. But do we ever use the phrases "brain jobs" and "hand jobs" in that way? Never in my life have I ever used the phrase "hand job" to refer to manual labor. Never once have I heard anyone use the phrase "hand job" to refer to manual labor.

McGinn then goes on to say that, before 1970, nobody would have batted an eye at the use of "hand job" t mean manual labor. Is this a British usage? (I honestly don't know.) And now he seems to want to "reclaim" this phrase from the narrow sexual meaning, and give us back a phrase that refers to something else.

The more I read him on this, the more it sounds like complete bullshit, like the small child who runs around the house using the word "bitch," after learning that it also means "female dog."

Anonymous said...

Ever wonder why our profession and discipline is totally in the shitter? This comment thread (along with the behavior of the man folks are commenting on) does a pretty good job of showing how and why we've come to the crossroads we have in our discipline and our profession -- it proves that the loud and unforgivable immaturity of a few people ruins it for the rest of us, who are generally sensible and hard-working.

Bobcat said...

So, on July 12, in a post called "Suggesting and Entertaining", McGinn talks about a hypothetical situation in which someone entertains, but does not suggest, the possibility of nuking Iran.

And in a comment, McGinn makes clear that this thought-experiment is supposed to be relevant to the "sex three times" remark.

This is really strange. I gather he's saying that he never suggested that he and his student have sex three times; instead, he just entertained that possibility.

It's very hard for me to imagine a context in which entertaining that possibility would be relevant to her doing her graduate work, but I look forward to the follow-up in which he demystifies this further.

bearistotle said...

@Anon 7:29:

OED attests the sexual usage from 1939.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that CM's "defenses" on his website have now disqualified any charitable interpretation for his not doing anything wrong. He's admitted to the handjob email and the sex three times email and that his whole lesson plan was "taboo busting", eg the taboo against sleeping with your graduate students. He was inappropriate. He was given the chance to step down. He did. Case closed.

Anonymous said...

12:56,

Thanks. I don't have access from where I am right now. But that only makes McGinn's defense sound even more like bullshit.

-7:29

Anonymous said...

Good comment, 8:29. Absolutely right on.

Anonymous said...

McGinn's self-damaging posts are so strange, I'm thinking there might be some mental thing going on...

Anonymous said...

"McGinn's self-damaging posts are so strange, I'm thinking there might be some mental thing going on..."

He's a narcissist. Part of being a narcissist is not just refusing to accept fault for anything in any way, but also pathologically lacking the ability to perceive oneself through the eyes of others.

That's probably why he convinced himself that his advances were "consensual". Of course she wanted him...he's Colin fuckin' McGinn!

At least the Oregon pervert was smart enough to stay off the internet and lay low. "The most interesting man in the world" isn't quite so bright.

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