Monday, August 20, 2018

"Colleagues, if you are the kind of person to whom people you have power over regularly communicate in this way, then you are the problem. Being on the receiving end of such ongoing obsequiousness is substantial evidence that you are a terrible person."

Justin Weinberg comments on the Avital Ronell controversy at NYU. Here's the beginning of his post:

“I only now [received] your beautiful and exquisite message… I thank you for your infinite understanding and sensitivities which are always beyond measure.”

Those are the words of Nimrod Reitman, in an email to his Ph.D. advisor, Avital Ronell, a professor of German and Comparative Literature at New York University. As many now know, Ronell was found by NYU to have sexually harassed Reitman.

I’ve avoided posting about the Ronell case largely because Daily Nous focuses on academic philosophy, and Ronell does not hold a position in academic philosophy, nor is her work especially significant to those who do.

I’ve also wanted to avoid contributing to the opportunistic  “Ah ha! Feminists are such hypocrites!” narrative that arose in the wake of revelations about the case and the horrible letter that certain academics wrote in Ronell’s defense (most feminists I know were outraged by that letter), and other “weaponizing” of the affair.

However, some discussions of the case, and now Ronell’s own defense, raise a matter that I was curious about: the culture of fawning sycophancy that appears to surround certain academics.

Such academic sycophancy is unprofessional, unintellectual, revolting, a danger sign, and ultimately the fault of the professor to whom it is directed and the colleagues who allow it.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Time to call in the plumbers?

From the Strib:

The city of Minneapolis has hired an outside firm to investigate the leak of a draft report that detailed how police in some cases urged paramedics to sedate people with ketamine.

The St. Paul-based firm NeuVest will interview city employees to determine the extent of the breach, which will touch on all the staff members who had access to the draft report. The City Clerk’s office said state law gives it the authority to determine if the leak of the draft report has resulted in any breach of private data, which under state law could expose someone to a misdemeanor charge.

And in case you missed it: the final report on the role of the police in ketamine use was made public last week.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The stunning lack of investigation into sexual assaults in Minnesota

Yet another jaw-dropping investigation by the Star Tribune's Brandon Stahl, this time with Jennifer Bjorhus and MaryJo Webster.

A Star Tribune review of more than 1,000 sexual assault cases, filed around the state in a recent two-year period, reveals chronic errors and investigative failings by Minnesota’s largest law enforcement agencies, including those in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

In almost a quarter of the cases, records show, police never assigned an investigator.

In about one-third of them, the investigator never interviewed the victim.

In half the cases, police failed to interview potential witnesses.

Most of the cases — about 75 percent, including violent rapes by strangers — were never forwarded to prosecutors for criminal charges. Overall, fewer than one in 10 reported sexual assaults produced a conviction, records show.

Victims see it as a stark betrayal.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

"Thank you for your question. I will tell you about how I published many papers that are not related to it."