TaxProf Paul Caron points to the case of Brian McCall, a professor from Oklahoma University College of Law who wrote a book titled, To Build the City of God: Living as Catholics in a Secular Age. Apparently, the book expresses some very traditionalist views, so McCall has (by all appearances) been forced out, tenure notwithstanding.*
I should be clear that I haven’t read McCall’s book, and the reports I’ve seen do not provide a great deal of context. Based on what’s been reported, however, I do not agree with some of the statements that have been flagged (which we should probably assume are the worst that could possibly be found within its pages). I do not, notably, believe that it is “a sin against charity as well as modesty” for women to wear pants. That said, the much larger danger to our society can be found in the statement that the college’s dean, Joseph Harroz, posted on Facebook:
The OU College of Law is a place of inclusion. Beyond ensuring the college is free from illegal harassment or discrimination, the college must prepare tomorrow’s leaders – our students – for the world in which they will serve. It would be a disservice to them if we did not provide an educational experience that presents diverse subject matter, encourages thoughtful conversation and debate, and prepares them to practice in an increasingly diverse world. This commitment is reflected in our first-year class, which is the second class in the history of the OU College of Law to have more women than men, and which has the highest percentage of minority students of any class in the history of the college. Attracting students from diverse backgrounds ensures that all points of view will be heard in our classrooms and, ultimately, in our society.
Note that this paragraph appears to be the big “but” following an admission that an investigation “uncovered no evidence of workplace harassment or discrimination” on McCall’s part. Talk about a sin against charity and modesty! Indeed, Harroz’s diversity is a fraud. His college is clearly not interested in preparing students for the world by confronting them with “diverse subject matter.”
Over the past 12 months, three scholars—James Lindsay, Helen Pluckrose, and Peter Boghossian—wrote 20 fake papers using fashionable jargon to argue for ridiculous conclusions, and tried to get them placed in high-profile journals in fields including gender studies, queer studies, and fat studies. Their success rate was remarkable: By the time they took their experiment public late on Tuesday, seven of their articles had been accepted for publication by ostensibly serious peer-reviewed journals. Seven more were still going through various stages of the review process. Only six had been rejected.
One apropos sample addressing the supposedly sexist and imperialist “western astronomy” suggests that the self-professed hoax is more subversive than its perpetrators acknowledge. They didn’t send out gibberish that nobody could understand or believe, but something more like a parody:
Other means superior to the natural sciences exist to extract alternative knowledges about stars and enriching astronomy, including ethnography and other social science methodologies, careful examination of the intersection of extant astrologies from around the globe, incorporation of mythological narratives and modern feminist analysis of them, feminist interpretative dance (especially with regard to the movements of the stars and their astrological significance), and direct application of feminist and postcolonial discourses concerning alternative knowledges and cultural narratives.
What makes the matter outlandish isn’t that academics couldn’t possibly understand what this says, but that they believe it to be true.
Professor McCall’s affront was his effort to understand reality and our appropriate behavior within the context of the Christian God. His understanding of women’s sartorial choices fall within that framework, and while I’d argue against his conclusions (at least as they are presented in reports), they aren’t necessarily driven by hatred. And they are, if anything, more rational than a belief that social science methodologies applied to mythological narratives and the disciplines of identity politics can provide a better understanding of our universe.
* As Joe Smith points out in the comments, it may be that McCall just resigned as a dean, not as a professor. I should have been more careful in writing the post, but the change does not affect the underlying point of the post. (11:35 a.m. 10/9/18)