Friday, February 18, 2005


Dishonorable discharge in academia

The NYT reports that "several professors [are] talking about taking a vote of no confidence" in Harvard President Lawrence Summers for his public remarks last month dissing the "intrinsic aptitude" of women for science and engineering careers.

The "vote of no confidence" sounds so old fashioned and parliamentary, and it makes me wonder whether there is an academic ceremony to effectuate the disgracing of a university president. I envision Summers, wearing his full academic regalia of cap, gown and hood, being slowly walked through a gauntlet of tenured professors. He stops before the Chairman of the Harvard University Board of Trustees, who rips the decorative stripes from his robe. The humiliation is complete when the chairman shifts the tassle on Summers' mortarboard from the left back to the right side...

It goes to show that a Ph.D is no prophylactic against either stupidity or intolerance.

And we know from history that intolerance and suppression in the name of justice and equality is the worst.
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