Sunday, December 9, 2007
More data on dog bites man in the academy. Yes, if you are a conservative, you will be a stranger in a stranger land, stranger than most lands in this diverse country of ours.
I bet data would show, however, that law schools are more like economics departments than like, say, sociology departments. That is, biased against conservatives, yes, but not as much as is the norm in the academy generally. Just a guess.
Here is a point, more observation really, which I may be able to add to the debate, such as it is. (I say such as it is, because it is not really a debate whether such bias exists. Merely a fact on one side, and its denial on the other.) My point is that many people go into the academy (I suspect) because they have a higher than average demand for intellectual stimulation and entertainment. They are driven from many probably more productive pursuits by their sheer tedium. To the question, what do you want to be when you grow up, they (i.e., we) respond, "why grow up?" (N.B.: a good line, not original to me.) But the most painful thing about being a conservative in the academy is not being discriminated against, but the sheer, awful tedium of having to listen to the cant that passes for reasoning where PC-ness has taken over. If you are a pointy-head, having your intelligence insulted is one of the worst insults of all.
I feel fortunate that for whatever reason this has not happened at the law school where I work, perhaps because it actually is pretty ideologically diverse. But I have taught at schools where the most absurd, knee-jerk, dumb, soft left postures passed as assured academic wisdom. It is only comparable in terms of mental pain inflicted to having to endure the the numb-skulled cliches that would issue from the mouth of some poorly educated Babbit-type whom you can find in any midwestern town, for example. You just sit there and think "shoot me now" or "I wonder what the chances are that I would be acquitted if I speared this clod with my butter knife?" It is the sheer provincial, narrow-minded, unsophisticated, smug pusillanimity of it that really corrodes the soul. It is the exact opposite of that urge to follow the Life of the Mind that drew many of us in younger, more idealistic days to become academics in the first place. But as I say, I think law schools are better than the academy in general, and some law schools better than others. This may be because law schools still have contact, however attenuated, with a profession in the real world. A conservative who wanted to be an English or History professor, is probably just out of luck.