Showing posts with label Texas boycott. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Texas boycott. Show all posts

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Public Philosophy Network boycotts Texas: Oh, the awful humiliation!

Hey you don't know me, but you don't like me
You say you care less how I feel
But how many of you that sit and judge me
Have ever walked the streets of Bakersfield?

Streets of Bakersfield

Dwight Yoakam and Buck Owens 

The Public Philosophy Network joined The Association of American Law Schools and the state of California in boycotting the state of Texas. The PPN announced that it is moving its 2018 conference from Denton, Texas to Boulder, Colorado.
 Why? The group opposes the Lone Star State's immigration policies and a new Texas adoption law, which, the PPN maintains, discriminates against gay people. "The basis of publicly engaged philosophy is the absence of barriers to participation," Robert Frodeman, a PPN spokesperson, explained. "Every person should feel welcomed regardless of their [sic] place of origin, sexual orientation or gender identity."

And besides, Frodeman might have added, the restaurants in Boulder are better than the ones in Denton, Texas.

I have a couple of thoughts about this latest boycott of Texas:

First, who gives a damn if a gang of knucklehead philosophers decides to hold its wingnut conference in Colorado instead of Texas? Philosophy programs are collapsing like aluminum beer cans at universities all over the United States. I say let these nerds nurse their delusion that what they say and do is important. 

And what exactly do the PPN professors say and do? Here's a sample of the group members' scholarly interests, taken from the PPN web site.

Wendy Lee, a PPN member and philosophy professor at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, listed her areas of scholarly expertise as follows: "philosophy of language (particularly later Wittgenstein), philosophy of mind/brain, feminist theory, theory of sexual identity, post-Marxian theory, nonhuman animal welfare, ecological aesthetics, aesthetic phenomenology, and philosophy of ecology." Total cost to attend Professor Lee's university for a year: $24,587.

Tadd Ruetenik, a PPN member and philosophy professor at St. Ambrose University in Iowa, described his interests to include pacifism, vegetarian ethics, and prophetic pragmatism. And what does it cost to take courses from professors like Mr. Ruetenik at St. Ambrose University? $30,000 a year, not counting room and board.

And then there's Maureen Linker, a PPN member who teaches at University of Michigan at Dearborn. Her academic interests: "Implicit Bias, Epistemic Privilege and Epistemic Injustice, Social Difference and Difficult Dialogues." What does it cost to attend Professor Linker's institutition? If you are a non-Michigan resident, it will cost you $29,000 for books, tuition and fees.

No wonder the discipline of philosophy is collapsing at American universities. Students have figured out they are paying too much to attend college to take courses from professors who specialize in vegetarian ethics and epistemic injustice.

And here' my second reflection on the PPN boycott. Although these kooky academics don't realize it, the boycott of a state based on prejudice is reminiscent of the Okie migration into California during the Great Depression.

As John Steinbeck chronicled in The Grapes of Wrath, California state police actually blockaded the state's highways and turned back Dust Bowl refugees at the California border. In the minds of many Californians, the Okies (who were actually from several Southwestern and Midwestern states) were a substandard class of humans who would pollute the pure and sunny atmosphere of the Golden State. 

My analogy is not perfect. The Californians of the Dust Bowl years were trying to keep disfavored people out of their state. Today's prejudice involves a refusal to visit a state deemed a pariah by political elites. But the prejudice is the same. And didn't Professor Frodeman, PPN's spokesperson, say his group believed people should be welcomed regardless of their place of origin?

On the other hand, the Public Philosophy Network's decision to boycott Texas may be a good thing. I'm not sure Texans would feel safe having a bunch of wacky philosophy professors roaming around the plains of North Texas, babbling about epistemic injustice, vegetarian ethics, and nonhuman animal welfare. 

Regional bigotry in the 1930s


Nick Roll. Philosophy Group Moves Meeting Out of Texas. Inside Higher ED, August 3, 2017, accessed August 5, 2017,

Monday, July 24, 2017

Association of American Law Schools joins California in Boycotting Texas: Silly Prigs

The Association of American Law Schools recently announced that it is boycotting Texas and moving its 2018 conference on clinical legal education from Austin to Chicago. Why? The AALS is displeased with a couple of statutes passed recently by the Texas Legislature.

I have a few comments to make about the AALS's fatuous tantrum against Texas.  First, AALS's action is a gratuitous insult to a state with a long history of progressive government and tolerance. As I said in an earlier blog, Texas is the nation's second largest economy; and its population is booming because the state offers jobs, relatively inexpensive housing, and decent public schools. It has one of the finest state universities in the United States, and it is sheltering literally millions of immigrants from all over the world.

It was Texas, after all, that accepted a quarter of a million refugees from South Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005.  Houston alone absorbed 150,000 Katrina victims; and the city did it with a smile and a howdy.

Illinois, on the other hand, where the AALS is moving its clinical legal education conference, is  a basket case.According to the Chicago Tribune, Illinois has lost more population than any other state for the last three years in a row.

Illinois' financial affairs are in shambles; its property taxes are outrageously high, and the state has billions of dollars in pension obligations that it will never repay. In short, Illinois is looking  less and less like a state and more and more like a banana republic. 

And Chicago, where the AALS's 2018 CLE conference will take place, is one of the most dangerous cities in America--more than 2,000 shooting victims this year and almost 400 murders! And the year's still young.

Second, the AALS has joined a pernicious trend that the state of California has made fashionable. California now bans state-funded travel to eight American states--including Texas. Where will this end? Is America going to collapse into a loose affiliation of warring political entities like the Italian city states of medieval Europe?

Finally, AALS's condescending attitude toward Texas seems singularly inappropriate in light of the shameful way American law schools have behaved over the last 20 years. Year after year, the law schools have brazenly raised their tuition rates even while the market for new lawyers has collapsed.  The law schools have drastically lowered admissions criteria in order to keep their enrollments up, and some law schools have standards so  low that half their students are in danger of failing the state bar exam.

American law school graduates now hit the job market with an average debt load of $140,000; and a significant percentage of the ones who graduate from bottom-tier law schools fail the bar.

In fact, Southern Illinois University's law school, in the state where the AALS will squat for its 2018 legal education conference, is near the bottom of the barrel.  According to Law School Transparency, LSAT scores for SIU's 2014 cohort are so low that 25 percent of the graduates from that cohort are at EXTREME RISK of failing the bar.  Cost to attend SIU Law School: $145,000.  USI's 2015 bar pass rate: about 70 percent.

Do you think the AALS nabobs will be talking about their own moral crisis at their conference in Chicago? Not bloody likely. 

So here's some friendly advice to all you self-righteous prigs who enjoy thumbing your noses at the Lone Star State. Be nice to the Texans, because when the national economy collapses--and it will collapse--it will be Texas that rises most quickly from the rubble; and you might be looking for a job in the state you now despise.

And after we sack Pisa let's boycott Texas.


Elyssa Cherney and Elvia Malagon. Nearing 400, homicides in Chicago continue to outpace last yearChicago Tribune, July 24, 2017.

 Marwa Eltagouri. Illinois loses more residents in 2016 than any other state. Chicago Tribune, December 21, 2016.

Richard Fossey. California bans state-funded travel to Texas: Frankly, my dear, Texans don't give a damn. Condemned to Debt, June 27, 2017.

Nick Roli. Law School Group Ditches Texas Conference. Inside Higher Ed, July 24, 2017.