1. More evidence of ethics rot and educational malpractice at Harvard. The Harvard Crimson covered an “Abolish ICE” protest on its campus last month. The fact that the supposedly most prestigious college in the nation would have something as idiotic as an anti-ICE protest attended by more than a few unfortunates with closed head injuries is troubling enough, but behold: student activists attacked the daily student-run paper for “cultural insensitivity” and of “blatantly endangering undocumented students on campus.” because it contacted the immigration enforcement agency for comment after the protest had ended.
Crimson editors Angela N. Fu and Kristine E. Guillaume defended its practices in the paper this week, protesting that asking for comment is a standard journalism device, arguing in part, “We seek to follow a commonly accepted set of journalistic standards, similar to those followed by professional news organizations big and small. Foremost among those standards is the belief that every party named in a story has a right to comment or contest criticism leveled against them.”
Forget it, Angela and Kristine. You’re supposed to be partisan activists, like the mainstream media.
Ethics experts from the Student Press Law Center and the Society of Professional Journalists supported the Crimson, citing the SPJ’s Code of Ethics. That’s nice, although I would call the gesture “lip service.”
2. SkyNet is listening. Because of loopholes in their security software, hackers can use Amazon Alexa and Google Home virtual assistants to eavesdrop on user conversations without their knowledge, and even trick users into handing over sensitive information.
For once, the American Bar Association got comparatively ahead of looming legal ethics risks created by developing technology by issuing a resolution in August urging bar associations and the legal profession to develop guidelines addressing the risks posed by attorney use of artificial intelligence. It’s a long document, undoubtedly missing many issues on the horizon, and regarding those personal assistants, it lacks an essential sentence: “Don’t let those things get within ten miles of your legal work.” Continue reading →
I wonder when all those other colleges and universities are going to apologize?
No, the letter isn’t perfect: the issue isn’t that the placemat confused the community, unless the deans mean that students were confused because they thought they were attending a university that was above this kind of nonsense. Actually, I doubt many were confused at all, and correctly concluded that Harvard, having already inflicted upon itself the idiocy of an Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, was getting exactly what such authorities deliver: politically correct, leftist indoctrination.
Well, I guess the deans couldn’t say, “This embarrassed our entire institution, and we will be throwing all the hacks responsible for this monstrosity into the Charles River at 3:00 PM, tomorrow. Cucumber sandwiches and mulled wine will be served.”
(Though I wish they had…)
It’s gratifying to know the “feedback” (“ARE YOU KIDDING ME? IF YOU DON’T RETRACT THAT CRAP AND BURN THOSE STUPID THINGS IN 24 HOURS, THERE ARE GOING TO BE SOME NEW DEANS AROUND HERE, CAPICHE?” Sincerely, The Harvard Board of Overseers.) was sufficient to prompt a quick retraction, and especially gratifying to know that the nation’s flagship private college still embraces the mission of nurturing “independent minds.”
Now maybe it will examine whether a grossly unbalanced ideological culture on campus is a rational way of doing that.
You will note that I have effectively resisted the temptation to excessively mock Yale for its embarrassing anti-free speech assaults, racial spoils games and political correctness bullying outbreak. Princeton, Dartmouth and Brown have also been disgraced by their students, faculty and administrators of late, but among the Ivies, my family’s favorite university (my parents even met and fell in love in The Yaahd) has pretty much avoided major humiliation, though the Law School had a silly dust-up over its seal and there is an ongoing controversy over black tape. I knew that if their other elite institutional colleagues were going nuts, it was only a matter of time before Harvard joined the loony parade, and sure enough, Harvard has a float.
In some ways, it’s worse than anything its rivals have come up with yet.
This sounds like an Onion parody, or maybe a stunt by the Harvard Lampoon. I’m still hoping it is: the Lampoon of old would do things like this. Harvard’s Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (Wait: Harvard really has such an office? ARRRRRGHH!) distributed what it calls “Holiday Placemats for Social Justice” (How can anyone say that with a straight face? PLEASE let this be a Lampoon hoax!) to the freshman dining hall and a few upper class dining rooms to guide students through political and social policy conversations when they return home for Christmas break. (Does this remind you of the Obama administration’s directives to good little progressives about pushing Obamacare over the holidays? This is now the progressive way.)
The placemat presents talking points ( I still can’t believe I’m writing this) for students having discussions about controversial topics such as “Black Murders in the Street,” “House Master Title,” and “Islamophobia/Refugees.”
You know, when I was student, I guarantee such an insulting attempt at indoctrination would lead to a bonfire. Continue reading →
Luckily for him, the bank president who wrote this foolishness in 1969 didn’t sign his name to it…Ah, my old college days!
My attention has been drawn recently to two essays by college students, both presumably sent to me on the theory (or hope) that reading them would kill me. The first, published in the Drexel Triangle (the student paper), argues that stage directors should be prevented from casting actors who look the way the playwright envisioned them. The second, published in the Harvard Crimson, makes an even more disturbing assertion: its author asserts that Harvard should stop guaranteeing professors and students the right to advocate controversial views or pursue research that challenges liberal views and assumptions.
I don’t want to devote the bulk of this post to rebutting these two essays, which are, I think self-rebutting. In the theatrical essay, student actress Alyssa Stover argues that a stage director shouldn’t have the right to decide that, say, casting an Asian dwarf as black boxer Jack Johnson in “The Great White Hope” would lead to a less effective production (that is my example, not hers—she objects to a director of “Cabaret” refusing to cast African-Americans as a matter of historical accuracy):
“These arguments are fundamentally flawed. What the audience wants is almost impossible to measure because the “audience” is composed of anyone who can get a ticket. A director or producer’s right to deny someone a role due to their appearance is debatable because this is a judgment based on one person’s preferences and may not actually create something that is stage worthy. The current status quo allows people to be barred from the stage due to physical “flaws,” as determined by the direction. These judgments are not harmless, and when the issue of race is involved, the problem only gets bigger.”Continue reading →
There’s been a lot of gratuitous Harvard-bashing lately, lately being defined as, oh, the last two hundred years or so. The latest plot to embarrass Harvard, my alma mater, came from the campus newspaper, the Harvard Crimson. This also isn’t a new development: I often found the Crimson embarrassing to Harvard back when I was student, when its staff was as often as not on a picket line chanting “Hey, Hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?”
It’s latest effort was to send a roving reporter out with a video camera to show how ignorant Harvard students are. The question featured: “What is the capital of Canada?” Here is the video:
Sure enough, none of the students shown could answer the question, except a Canadian. How humiliating! I can only imagine how many people will be flush with pride because they know that the capital city is Ottawa, and Harvard students don’t.
Of course, the video is meaningless. One Crimson reader, a student, wrote in to point out that he was interviewed for the stunt, gave the right answer, and turned up on the cutting room floor. He theorizes that there were others like him, and I wouldn’t be surprised: “Only six out of 19 Harvard students know the capital of Canada” isn’t much of a headline, is it? “Lame” was this student’s verdict for the Crimson’s rigged version of “Jaywalking.” I agree. Continue reading →