Monday, June 27, 2005

Chilling Effect

This is the term frequently invoked by liberals to describe the Patriot Act's impact on free speech, or Congress' latest empty threats on PBS funding or some such. Somehow, despite all these chilling effects of our "fascist" regime, the liberals and leftists that I know are never chilled out -- they're always yelling their opinions from the mountaintops, comparing Bush to Hitler, and so on. Somehow, it seems that conservatives like myself are the ones who must remain anonymous for fear of political retribution, particularly in academia.

Today, I literally got a chill down my spine when a commenter (the first to arrive via neo-neocon), told me to watch my back:
dave s said...
the more you say, the quicker folks will figure out who you
are. look at what happened to the adjunct at Southern Methodist. leave it alone
- your research area is too small a town. [link added]
On the other hand, I did get a very nice e-mail from a closeted conservative academic at a prominent medical school encouraging me to keep going (but keep secret). I wrote back to him about the profoundly alienating feeling I often have, like a Jew secretly roaming an old-school country club or a homosexual caught in the middle of insulting locker-room banter, when politics comes up in work conversations and words like "fascist" and "disgusting" (or much worse) are thrown around.

Please comment or e-mail me your thoughts and experiences, especially if you are a (closeted or out) conservative academic. Sometimes I wonder if I am just being paranoid, and I might actually be accepted as a quirky novelty. Other times, I am absolutely sickened by some of the things that I hear, when others make the casual assumption that I automatically agree with them.


Blogger Goesh said...

Some folks on the Left feel the same way no doubt - Ward Churchill comes to mind. The academic arena has always been Liberal and I suppose rightly so. I have always wanted scholars to have free reign to pontificate and ponder and question and challenge and not to be stoned by commoners for causing it to rain on parades. Professors have always been held in high esteem from where I come, but the times they are a-changing. I've been thinking long and hard on this post of yours and it has been the hardest to address, for some reason. One shouldn't have to hide under the veil of anonymity to publish his/her thoughts, but then as children, many of us kept secret journals too - it is not totally alien to us as adults. Pen names have been used too by some famous authors. Masks are still employed in many cultures throughout the world and some rituals and ceremonies cannot be conducted without them. Strangely enough, my life is so mundane that I really wouldn't want anyone to think that I have thoughts that go beyond the boundaries of the mundane. Does that make sense? Probably not, it doesn't always to me either. Goesh is a very boring person, really.

There is a sense of power and freedom that accompanies anonymity. A purpose is served and a message gets delivered. Were you to announce your name and profession and tell us all the intimate details of your life, your readership would neither increase or decrease. You might well get snubbed at some faculty functions, or something a bit worse, but then , when you are running late for a meeting, you don't drive 100 mph either to get there. Prudence is always a two-way street. My middle initial starts with a J and that's all I feel comfortable in disclosing to you about my real identity.

5:19 AM  
Anonymous dave s said...

The SMU blogger did some stuff I think was not okay - wrote disdainfully about students who were pretty much identifiable.

What I see you doing is issues blogging, which I think should be okay - but still it seems prudent for a non-tenured person whose views are not standard in the university to stay away from details (what you are researching, etc) which will identify you.

More similar to what you are facing, I think, is the story of a person who had clerked for Clarence Thomas being blackballed for a law teaching position because one of the faculty wouldn't consider hiring someone who had worked for him.

And why do it - either you are worth reading, or not. If you're worth reading, I'll come back.

9:41 AM  
Blogger Simon Kenton said...

Don't do it, pard. Many of these people live "The personal is the political," have no disinterest, are willing to distort scholarship to politically correct ends, and are vengeant. It shows up worst in the law, where they know the right answer, and bend the sorites and citations to achieve it, but it is bad enough on tenure committees.

2:15 PM  
Blogger Goesh said...

Simon - do you have ancestral connections to that famous scout? Alexander Montgomery, a maternal grandfather, was with Kenton on the Ohio when he was captured by the Shawnee. Grandpa Alex was killed and they took his scalp and slapped Kenton's face with it. Off subject here but anyway, just curious........

11:42 AM  
Anonymous dave s said...

still more on results of non-pseudonymous blogging:

6:49 AM  

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