Today in Slate, I shock the pants off of everyone and go to the mat for Mike Adams, a TownHall writer (and UNC-Wilmington) prof whose every single view I abhor. However, I applaud the fact that he just won his lawsuit against the university that refused to promote him to Full, because it weakens a really awful Supreme Court case that has been devastating for the freedom of speech of public employees.

The result of this piece has been TOTAL SPITTING VITRIOL from fellow left-wingers who have basically lived up to every cliche and caricature, as well as righteous indignation from conservatives about how care I call Mike Adams a schmuck (he is, by the way, a real schmuck in print; never met the guy). Anyway, let’s call this day another one I end shrugging, with the conclusion that I can’t even please some people some of the time.


12 thoughts on “You’re Welcome, Entitled Conservative White Male Putzes Everywhere

  1. People with integrity reason from principles and accept the consequences that follow. Bullshitters start with desired results and rationalize to “principles” that support them. You are part of the former group, but a whole lot of academics are part of the latter.

    I’m interested in this line: “when a scholar has … dedicated himself … to discourse with the public, that can count as intellectual service to the university and community …”. I wonder whether Adams’ writings should qualify as ‘intellectual service’, though. Academics can provide intellectual service to the community by making the results of their field of study accessible to the general community, e.g. by writing popular books or letters to newspaper editors. I would think that Adams’ writings would only be relevant to the evaluation of his intellectual service if they rely on his expertise in criminology. The committee rejected his tenure application because they didn’t agree with what he had to say about subjects that have nothing to do with his field of expertise. Regardless of whether or not they agreed with his conclusions, I think that they should have ignored anything he submitted that wasn’t relevant to criminology, because these submissions aren’t relevant to the question of his intellectual service to the community. What he has to say about non-criminological subjects, I would argue, isn’t intellectual. On those subjects he’s just some guy with an opinion.


    1. Most of Noam Chomsky’s extensive public engagement isn’t in linguistics. I agree that any time a university professor writes something that non-professors read, at least some kind of interaction is going on between the university cloister and the big wide world. People with tenure (could PWT be a new power-differential-free acronym?) are uniquely positioned to publicly say things that other people would rather not hear. The promotion committee should certainly recognize this.

      FWIW, Schu, your piece pleased me. I wish more people could separate the principle from the message.


  2. I guess I’m trying to distinguish between academic freedom and non-academic freedom of speech. Academics should, of course have both, i.e., they should be free in their scholarly work to draw whatever conclusions they think are warranted by their research, and they should also be free to express whatever non-scholarly opinions they may hold in non-academic contexts. I’d just argue that most of Adams’ writings are non-academic. He shouldn’t have had his tenure denied based on his non-academic writings. But at the same time, the non-academic writings should not have even been considered by the committee. They are no more relevant to his tenure case than a product review Adams may have written on Amazon.


    1. Adams wasn’t denied tenure. He WAS tenured and promoted to the rank of Associate Professor. He sued because he wasn’t promoted to the faculty rank of Full Professor. Promotion to that rank is based on establishing a (usually international) reputation as an outstanding scholar in one’s academic field as well as exceptional service to the department, institution, and field. Service to the university and department usually comes in the form of contributions to committees that work on reviewing the curriculum, serving in the faculty senate, hearings, peer-review for tenure and promotion, etc., and service to the field involves serving on journal editorial boards, organizing conferences, etc. Faculty typically devote about 40 hours a week, on average, to their scholarly research and service and another 15-20 to teaching, preparing for classes, and grading. The promotion committee is charged with evaluating the body of the candidate’s work in all three areas. Many faculty never achieve the rank of Full Professor and for those who do, promotion doesn’t always come on their first application. You can reapply for promotion annually. He didn’t choose that route, instead opting to have the courts overturn the recommendations of his colleagues, administrators, and trustees (at a cost to the taxpayers of over $1 million). I doubt that the jurors or the judge had the background and training needed to make a well-informed decision on the matter.


  3. At least Mike Adams says what he believes in–unlike many academics who, soto voce, express the same retrograde attitudes in regard to gender and race but take cover behind a platitude of political correctness (and don’t get me started on PC as an obstruction to honest conversations about race/gender/sexuality).


  4. I was just wondering: Does anyone know of any examples of a conservative publicly defending the free speech of an obnoxious left-wing nutcase?


    1. Mike Adams, for one. A better question would be, are there any cases of a conservative publicly calling for the silencing of a left-wing nutcase? No, because conservatives defend constitutional liberties.

      From conservative putzes everywhere, Schuman, we salute you.


  5. Sending a mass email telling an undergraduate that the Constitution protects her “bigoted, immature, and unintelligent speech” is condescending bullying, not principled defense of free speech. Are there any examples where his stalwart belief in Constitutional rights was employed in publicly defending someone who was being attacked?


  6. I burst out laughing when I came to his chapter title “Behind Every Successful Man, There’s a Fat Stupid Woman.” I would love to read an article with this title, only reclaimed by a feminist writer.


  7. Three words: narcissistic personality disorder. Those 3 words are critical if you really want to understanding what drives Mike.


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