Tuesday, April 15, 2014

What It Takes For A Conservative To Show Discrimination, Part 2

By Professor Doom
    Last time I revealed a news report of an amazingly rare case: a conservative successfully showing he was the victim of discrimination. This is a rare event because actually taking such a claim to court somewhat violates the conservative “take responsibility for what happens to you” mind set.
      It’s also rare because winning is a tough battle; this guy had very thorough, very dominating evidence showing that he was treated disrespectfully once he changed his point of view. He also had to be willing to fight for seven years to get justice in what was a cut and dry, blatantly obvious, case.
     This is, of course, not usually enough to win against a liberal bias, but he had more:
The university maintained that it had legitimate, non-political reasons for denying his promotion, suggesting that he had not done enough research. But he presented evidence that he had published more than the number of peer-reviewed articles generally considered to make one "safe" for promotion to full professor at Wilmington.

     Third: he had to show that others, sans such views, were having no difficulty getting such a promotion. This, too, can be very difficult to prove, as most institutions do a fine job of preventing anyone from finding out what, exactly, were the factors in determining if someone should get a promotion.
Faculty: “Putting an administrator on what policy clearly defines as a  ‘faculty only’ committee is a violation of policy. Why did you do it?”
Administrator: “I put myself there ex officio.”
Faculty: “And this means?”
Administrator: “I didn’t give myself a vote, too.”
--because the evidence of administrative shenanigans was so strong, a committee I’m aware of had an administrator forcibly added to it, in explicit violation of policy, and common sense regarding conflict of interest. The committee members privately acknowledged they were intimidated into ruling the exact opposite of what their conscience would have allowed; the administrator got another promotion later.
     He was very lucky to get that kind of information. I know when I tried to get it, “privacy laws” were cited for the most part, and I have to concede it was a reasonable explanation.
    It’s a curious thing about being faculty in higher administration: when policy hurts the faculty, admin pays close attention to policy. When policy helps the faculty, admin ignores the policy completely.
     I suspect it wouldn’t be this way if administrators and faculty were the same people, playing under the same set of rules, but I digress.
     “There’s a standard of fairness here that isn’t being met…”
--when I showed a retiring Poo-Bah what was going on in the promotion process in my own institution, he had the candor to acknowledge shenanigans. Since he was retiring, there was no interest in fixing the problem. He’s hardly the first person willing to tell the truth once retirement, and the golden parachute, beckons.
     So, access to resources for a 7 year court battle, overwhelming evidence, and access to usually secret documents. This isn’t enough to win, however. I’ve seen many cut-and-dried accusations against administrative chicanery go ignored. He needed one more thing to win, a secret weapon so powerful there’s a reason why it caught on in legitimate legal systems:
“…he was denied a promotion because of his political views, a federal jury agreed on Thursday.”
--I’ve added the boldface, the better to identify the key reason he was allowed to win.
    His secret weapon that allowed him to actually win? A fair jury. Time and again I’ve seen administrators get accused of pretty slimy things. Invariably, the administration gets to pick the committee that decides if the administration has done anything wrong. These rigged committees don’t dare vote against the administration. Obviously.
     This is the real reason administrative chicanery is seldom dragged into the light. I haven’t seen administrators lose under the “rigged committee” system in my near 25 years in higher education. On the other hand, when a victim has 7 years of time to fight, unarguable evidence, secret documents, AND a fair jury, he can actually win against administration.
     Well, maybe. While administration often tells the victims to just suck it up when the kangaroo committee rules in their favor, the famously prodigious administrative hypocrisy marches in when the shoe is on the other foot:
"The university respectfully disagrees with the jury¹s verdict and will fully explore its options for appeal…”

     No, admin doesn’t like to lose, having seldom not been able to rig the system so that loss is impossible. Maybe admin will win the appeal, and I’m sure they’ll try to get to have the appeal run in the usual way—an administration-picked jury or arbitrator. My personal vote is arbitrator, since it’s much easier to control one person in that way (there’s a reason juries are popular…). Yes, the administration is, casually, that corrupt:
--seriously, this is how corrupted the promotion process in higher education can be. I’ve seen worse, on more than one occasion. You really think admin didn’t know about the vendetta implied by that false criminal complaint? You really think even one administrator would speak up about the over-the-top lack of integrity here? There was a whole committee involved with this level of fraud, with nobody willing to speak the truth.
     Still, it seems that finally we have very powerful evidence that, indeed, there is a strong anti-conservative bias in higher education. I wish the article mentioned the lawyers involved, I might want to have a chat or two with them.
     It turns out both left and right can be victims of discrimination; the latter is just less willing to do something about (or is it the former is too corrupted?). I don’t recommend calling anyone a water buffalo anytime soon…it doesn’t seem like this conservative victory will get much in the way of press.
     For many decades, people claimed that police brutality was an everyday event. In response, police departments investigated themselves, and, outside of rare circumstances where the evidence was ridiculously overwhelming, cleared themselves of wrongdoing. Now, of course, video camera technology is so commonplace that there are millions of videos of police engaging in brutal acts…it is not nearly so rare as the public was told.
     For the last few decades, conservatives have complained of incredible bias in our institutions of higher education. Administration has formed committees and investigated themselves, and cleared themselves of wrongdoing very consistently…except in this one case, where the victim was tenacious, the evidence was ridiculously overwhelming AND the victim was allowed to get a fair jury.
"The university respectfully disagrees with the jury¹s verdict and will fully explore its options for appeal…”
--repeated for emphasis.
     Could this case of discrimination be a fluke? Well, either I believe admin, that this is just a bad verdict (their hubris will not allow even the possibility of this being a case of discrimination despite the evidence), or I believe my lying eyes. I lack the imagination to conceive of a technology as powerful as video cell phones that would serve to bring justice consistently in these types of cases, so I imagine this will be a rare victory.
     Enjoy it, professor, I hope the retaliation will not be too extreme.


  1. As usual, all of this boils down to the definitions. As for me, I've been an aggressive GDI (Gosh Darned Independent) since '82 and I'm 52 now. I firmly believe that the conservative nor the liberal ideology is pure and fair minded but rather that ideology itself is the carrier of discrimination. Pragmatism the the fairest way to go. One of many reason I hold the ideologically impaired in such low esteem.

    The Lefty Ideologues, especially in the academy, make broad-side-of-a-barn-sized targets for snark, contempt and cynical estimations from all sides. To this day, Lefties seem like the various squabbling Red faction's in Orwell's Homage to Catalonia. They'd much rather shot at each other than at Franco's guys.

    Conservatives, though, make for targets that are just as satisfying. Much of my own family resides in the rural South and Midwest and are ardent in their self-identification as Conservatives. As followers of the Prince of Peace, the vitriol they heap on Muslims, liberals, blacks and, in earlier days, Jews as well as the desire for US military intervention goes well beyond hypocrisy. (I also count myself as Christian, happily ensconced in the Episcopal Church and occasionally slumming with the Quakers. I see nationalism and theatrical religiosity as a toxic witches brew.

    So yup, depending upon one's definition of the term, it doesn't take all that much for conservatives to display extreme levels of discrimination too; certainly the equal to any Lefty out there.

    My question is as such, how much of this tendency can be found in Pragmatists? Those who eschew political ideology for tools like SWOT or cost/benefit analysis in their decision making. Granted, thinking for one's self is HARD (no snark here, it really is) but the end results will be, at the very worst, no more flawed than those who off-shore their thought process to an ideology, and at best, it will be virtuous.

  2. I have no idea, but I suspect that many Pragmatists are "hiding" within the ranks of the two ideological sides. I have no idea how there can be so many "true believers" at the top...at least a few have to be faking it, believing that's being on one side or the other is the best path to power. Even the libertarians have members saying "we need to change the system by joining it"...even though that, by definition, isn't going to work.