'tis pity she's a whore

By Diogenes (articles ) | Apr 05, 2008

The other day a friend at Boston College passed on a news item from the student newspaper detailing the university's official response to an irregularly-posted flyer with racial overtones. With wearisome predictability, the academy that prides herself as a defender of freedom of expression -- betraying zero awareness of her meretricious and self-serving contradiction -- silences and censures those particular expressions she finds offensive.

I don't mean to single-out BC for the pillory -- it's no worse, if no better, than any comparable university -- but want to make the point that we all lose something important when the academy, an institution with public responsibilities, prostitutes herself.

This magnitude of the loss struck me when pondering Rod Dreher's quotation of Pope John Paul II from Centesimus annus: "Equally worrying is the ecological question which accompanies the problem of consumerism." Do we worry? Ought we to? Many of us consider ecological concerns a joke because ecologists are a joke (men who cheerfully sterilize their wives by pumping them full of synthetic progestins but who go Chicken Little over phosphates in the Snake River aren't to be taken seriously), yet regarding the war over the environment it's at least possible that one day it'll be important to know who's right. On one hand, we hear from nay-sayers with overt self-interest (such as manufacturers) who assure us there's nothing to worry about and who cite impeccably credentialed scientists to prove their case. On the other hand we hear from doom-sayers with covert self-interest (such as population control wonks) who assure us we're on the brink of disaster and who cite impeccably credentialed scientists to prove their case. No single scientist can command enough of the data in the sundry pertinent fields to have the right to an expert opinion as to which side will prove to be correct. Those of us who are not scientists are at a loss whom to believe. Most folks, perhaps, choose to be frightened or to be reassured based on personal temperament or caprice and, since they can afford to, attend to that part of the "science" which supports their temperamental prejudice.

If we needed to know the facts of the matter regarding ecology, where would we go to find them? There are formidable pressures (billions to spend, careers to make, programs to launch) working to corrupt the investigation and falsify its findings so that the big questions be answered in conformity with some interest other than truth. It would be good, in such circumstances, if the academy were a help in distinguishing junk science from the real thing. For the academy to be trustworthy, though, she'd need an impartiality and a respect for truth demonstrated by a willingness to foster and defend it even where the truth was repellent to her members and especially where her own interests might suffer. Yet it is in this very point that the contemporary academy's harlotry has undone her. T.S. O'Rama quotes Theodore Dalrymple ad rem:

I have long realized that there is a hierarchy among prostitutes, as there is in all professions. My first patient with tertiary syphilis, for example, was an old prostitute, impoverished, raddled, and toothless, who still plied her trade on waste ground for the price of a cigarette. Her pimp was also her husband, and her cries of despair when he abandoned her still ring in my mind's ear.

As we saw above, the university will sell her honor for the equivalent of a pack of Luckies or a Hershey bar. Can we trust her where the stakes are enormous and the bribes beyond computation? Sadly, no. She is "faithful" only in the ironic sense that she can be counted on to do the bidding of the client that offers her the most gratifying rewards. As for the Pope's concern for the ecological question, it would be nice to know where our worry was best directed, but the academy won't be able to help. 'Tis pity she's a whore.

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  • Posted by: - Apr. 05, 2008 3:41 PM ET USA

    In addition to the meretricious nature of the B.C. response there is the reflexive abandonment of the principal of presumed innocence. How racist is it to assume that this hoax was an invention of racist white students? The administrators are practicing the pandering politics of victimology, and speaking volumes about their constituency. Mark Steyn has an interesting related post at The Corner-- http://corner.nationalreview.com/