sexual harassment

Did Jill Abramson Plagiarize Ian Milhiser?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 20/02/2018 - 2:59am in

Jill Abramson, the former executive editor of the New York Times, has an article in the current issue of New York making the case for the impeachment of Clarence Thomas. I don’t have any problems with the substance of the piece, though I don’t think Abramson breaks much new ground on the Thomas sexual harassment front or with respect to the fact that Thomas committed perjury in his Senate confirmation hearings. (Having co-authored, with Jane Mayer, the book on Thomas and Anita Hill, Abramson knows this case better than almost anyone.)

My problem is that Abramson seems to have lifted, sometimes word-for-word, an extended passage from a October 2016 blog post by Ian Milhiser.

Here is Milhiser:

He [Clarence Thomas] joined the majority decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, holding for the first time that an employer’s religious objections can trump the rights of their women employees. And, in one of the most under-reported decisions of the last several years, he cast the key fifth vote to hobble the federal prohibition on sexual harassment in the workplace.

In Vance v. Ball State University, a 5–4 Supreme Court redefined the word “supervisor” such that it means virtually nothing in many modern workplaces. Under Vance, a person’s boss only counts as their “supervisor” if they have the authority to make a “significant change in employment status, such as hiring, firing, failing to promote, reassignment with significantly different responsibilities, or a decision causing a significant change in benefits.”

One problem with this decision is that modern workplaces often vest the power to make such changes in employment status in a distant HR office, even though the employee’s real boss wields tremendous power over them.

Here is Abramson:

He joined the majority decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, holding that an employer’s religious objections can override the rights of its women employees.

And, in one of the most underreported decisions of the last several years, Thomas cast the key fifth vote to hobble the federal prohibition on harassment in the workplace. The 5-4 decision in 2013’s Vance v. Ball State University tightened the definition of who counts as a supervisor in harassment cases. The majority decision in the case said a person’s boss counts as a “supervisor” only if he or she has the authority to make a “significant change in employment status, such as hiring, firing, failing to promote, reassignment with significantly different responsibilities, or a decision causing a significant change in benefits.” That let a lot of people off the hook. In many modern workplaces, the only “supervisors” with those powers are far away in HR offices, not the hands-on boss who may be making a worker’s life a living hell.

The number of direct repetitions—of words, phrases, and sentences—is sizable. The faint rewording of other passages is plain. The choice of quotations from and description of the Ball State case, the set-up and syntax of the whole section, the conceptual choices (Thomas “cast the key fifth vote,” which Abramson borrows from Milhiser in order to suggest, wrongly, that Thomas was somehow the last vote cobbled together by the conservative majority, or to suggest, improbably, that if Thomas had not been approved by the Senate, a more liberal justice would have been nominated in his place and, 15 years later, would have cast a different vote) and conceptual ordering: Abramson’s passage mimics Milhiser’s to a high degree.

Abramson is not a rookie reporter. She’s one of the giants of contemporary journalism.

In case the editors at New York revise the web version of the article (it appears in the print version of the February 19 issue of the magazine), here are a screen shot of the relevant section in Abramson’s piece and three screen shots of the relevant sections from Milhiser’s.

Update (1 pm)

I just remembered that Abramson was first made managing editor in the wake of the Jayson Blair plagiarism scandal, which Bill Keller, who was made editor after Howell Raines was forced to resign over the scandal, said influenced his desire to change the Times culture. Part of that change involved bringing on Abramson as managing editor.

After some googling, I found that while she was managing editor, Abramson had to deal with at least two plagiarism incidents involving reporters at the Times. In the first incident, which seems to have involved less outright copying without attribution than Abramson utilizes in her New York piece, Abramson admitted the accusation of plagiarism that had been leveled against the Times reporter:

Did Barrionuevo commit plagiarism?

“Yes,” says Abramson. “I think when you take material almost word-for-word and don’t credit it, it is.”

In the second incident, she was more circumspect:

It appears that Alexei did not fully understand Times policy of not using wire boilerplate and giving credit when we do make use of such material. As I mentioned to you, other papers do permit unattributed use of such material. He should not have inserted wire material into his Times coverage without attribution.

That said, because the new examples do not involve many words or an original thought, the transgression does not seem to be as serious as the first instance on paco.

I’ll leave it to readers to adjudicate which of these two cases is more relevant to what Abramson did in this New York article. Either way, she seems to have violated the very policies she upheld while she was an editor at the Times. And in a link-laden piece like this, she should, minimally, have credited and linked to Milhiser.

Update (February 20)

As I expected they would do, New York has slightly addressed the problem, claiming it was due to an editing error, while skirting the larger question of what Abramson did.

In Abramson’s original piece, there were two sentences—”He joined” and “And, in one of the most underreported…”—that were lifted almost verbatim from Milhiser’s post. In their fix, New York doesn’t address the first sentence at all but does this with the second sentence:

And, as Think Progress noted, “in one of the most underreported decisions of the last several years, Thomas cast the key fifth vote to hobble the federal prohibition on harassment in the workplace.”*

And if you follow the asterisk, you’ll find this at the bottom of the piece:

*Due to an editing error, the original version failed to attribute this quoted sentence to its author.

So the magazine doesn’t address the almost verbatim lifting in the first sentence or the heavy reliance on Milhiser’s setup and usage and quotations throughout Abramson’s description of the Ball State case. It also claims that the failure to acknowledge Milhiser in the sentence that was so idiosyncratic in its usage that no one could claim it wasn’t lifted from Milhiser, that that failure to attribute was due to an editing error.

Here are the two screenshots of the changes.

The Feminist Arguments against the Metoo Activism at the Golden Globes

Last Sunday, 7th January 2018, was the Golden Globes. This got on the news around the world, not just because of the coverage of which actors and films were given awards, but because the female actors wore black in solidarity with all the women, who had suffered sexual abuse, harassment and exploitation. This culminated in one of the leading actors at the ceremony announcing that Hollywood’s ladies would stand in solidarity with every woman, who had suffered such sexual abuse and assault, and that they would be dedicating a special fund to help poor women sue their abusers.

Coming after the scandals about Harvey Weinstein, Roger Ailes and others at Fox News, including its long running host, Bill O’Reilly, such an announcement is clearly well meant, and for many women facing the cost of having to drag their abuser, who is probably their boss, through the courts, the prospect of being able to get some money from a charity dedicated to helping them would surely be welcome. But not all women, and not all feminists, saw it quite like that.

Roza Halibi in Counterpunch and the Sane Progressive on YouTube both put up pieces about it, criticising the move. Many women, including the French actress Catherine Deneuve, are critical of the #Metoo movement as they feel it demonises men. All men are now being viewed as sexual predators, real or potential. They also object to the way distasteful and unpleasant forms of sexual contact – like the boss with wandering hands – has been lumped in and conflated with far more serious forms of sexual abuse, like rape and women being told that if they don’t sleep with their boss, they’ll lose their jobs. Groping is unpleasant and humiliating, and it’s quite right that there should be a campaign to stop it. But it’s not at the same level as the other two.

They also found the stance of the individual actresses involved in the speech and this display of solidarity hypocritical. Weinstein’s behaviour was known for years by people within Hollywood, including Meryl Streep. And at the time they kept their mouths firmly shut. Some of this might have been because Weinstein was a powerful man, and no matter how respected and successful they were as ‘A’ list actors, he could have the power to destroy their careers, as he threatened numerous aspiring actresses if they wouldn’t sleep with him. But some of it no doubt was also the attitude of the time, to put up with it regardless.

But there’s also an attitude that the speeches against sexual harassment and exploitation were also a form of faux feminism, by rich, entitled women, who were trying to appropriate the protests by ordinary, middle and lower class women. Critics like the Sane Progressive and Halibi have argued that the successful protests always come from below. They are won by ordinary working people standing up for themselves and demanding further rights and change. They are not achieved by members of the upper classes deciding that they will charitably act as the saviours of the lower orders. The #Metoo activism at the Golden Globes represents very rich, entitled women trying to take control of a protest by their sisters lower down the social scale, and wrest it away from any meaningful challenge to a corrupt system as a whole.

The same critics have also made the point that the #Metoo activism has also acted as a diversion. Sexual abuse is only part of a whole series of problems corporate capitalism is inflicting on American society. This includes mass poverty and starvation, the further denial of rights to low paid workers, Trump’s attempts to repeal Obamacare and destroy Medicare, the destruction of the environment, and the political paralysis caused by a corrupt party system taking money and its orders from wealthy donors in big business, rather than acting in the interests of ordinary citizens. All of these issues need tackling, but the leadership of the Democrat party has become, under the Clintons and Obama, as thoroughly corporatist as the Republicans, and has no interest in tackling these issues. That would harm the interests of their donors in big business. So they make symbolic liberal gestures. Like Hillary Clinton’s bid for the presidency last year. Her policies were more neoliberalism, corporate greed, and aggressive militarism. For ordinary Americans she offered nothing but more poverty and exploitation. But she claimed that, because she was female, she was somehow an outsider, and that a victory for her would thus be a victory for women. Even though, as the lowest paid group, women would have suffered the most from a Clinton presidency. If you didn’t vote for Clinton, you were automatically a misogynist. And if you were a woman, and didn’t vote for her, she and her followers denied it was because you had opinions of your own. Rather, you were just doing what your husband or boyfriend told you. So much for Clinton believing in women’s independence and their agency as human beings.

But this experience of a very rich, entitled woman trying to make herself appear liberal when she was anything but, has clearly coloured some left-wing and feminist attitudes in America towards other attempts by the rich to embrace or promote left-wing causes. Clinton’s liberalism was a fraud, and so some people are suspicious that the actresses stressing their commitment to rooting out sexual abuse are less than wholehearted in their determination to ending the general poverty, exploitation and other issues plaguing American society. And just as the corporate Democrats are desperate to take power away from the real radical left, like Bernie Sanders, so these ladies are trying to take power away from ordinary women, determined to solve the problem their own way. Because this challenges their position in society and their political influence as arbiters and spokespeople of the nation’s conscience.

Now I think the #metoo speeches were well meant, regardless of the possible hypocrisy of some of the actresses involved, and hopefully some women will benefit from the money available to sue their abusers. But the Guardian’s Marina Hyde a few years ago wrote a book, Celebrity: How Entertainers Took Over the World And Why We Need an Exit Strategy, pointing out numerous instances where Hollywood celebs decided to take over a cause, only to make the situation worse. There’s a very good case to be made against such Hollywood activism. And this problem may well become more acute, as more celebs decide to promote symbolic issues, while leaving the other problems affecting ordinary people untouched.

Trump Everlasting

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 24/12/2017 - 12:46am in

I’m glad I’m not a journalist. I don’t think I could handle the whiplash of the ever-changing story line, the way a grand historical narrative gets revised, day to day, the way it seems to change, week to week, often on a dime. Or a $1.5 trillion tax cut.

In my Guardian digest this week, I deal with the media’s memory, taxes, the state of the GOP, judges, sexual harassment, and leave you at the end with my assessment of where we are.

Here’s a preview:

Last week, after the victory of Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama’s senatorial election, the media began reporting that the Republican party was facing an epic disaster. Citing insider talk of a “political earthquake” and a “party in turmoil,” the Washington Post anticipated a Democratic takeover of Congress in 2018.

A year that began with dark premonitions of a fascist seizure of power, an autocrat’s total control of the state, seemed ready to end with sunny predictions of the Republican party losing one branch of the federal government to the opposition and a stalled right-wing agenda in Congress.

One week later, after the victory of the Republican tax cut, the media has changed its tune.

Like Trump, George W Bush lost the popular vote in 2000. Unlike Trump, Bush only won the Electoral College because of the US supreme court. Despite that added spice of illegitimacy, despite having smaller majorities in both houses of Congress (razor-thin in the Senate, almost razor-thin in the House), Bush still managed to push through massive tax cuts – and, unlike Trump, got 40 Democrats to vote with him. A full six months sooner than Trump did.

Cutting taxes is in the Republican DNA. Even an idiot can do it.

So that’s how we end 2017: on the one hand, a declining movement of the right, increasingly unpopular with the voters, trying to claim a long-term hold on power through the least democratic branch of government.

On the other hand, a rising movement of women and the left, trying to topple ancient and middle-aged injustices, one nasty man at a time.

You can continue reading here.

The Overlooked, Under-Reported and Ignored Stories of 2017

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 20/12/2017 - 6:15am in

This time every year, BillMoyers.com asks reporters, editors and bloggers which key story they feel the mainstream media failed to cover adequately over the last 12 months. See what they had to say. Continue reading

The post The Overlooked, Under-Reported and Ignored Stories of 2017 appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Various Vermin

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 12/12/2017 - 2:23am in

Once again, I was unable to find the time to complete my weekly blog last week so this post has TWO WEEKS of cartoons, which my abacus tells me is FOURTEEN!

(For a righteous embiggenation, click the chick in the below pic.)

I’ve been told by scientists that the above cartoon is completely possible as long as the bungee cord is made of something much stronger and more flexible than anything we’ve yet discovered and the alien is friction proof. I chose the setting intentionally because, like Bigfoot, extraterrestrials tend to appear before inebriated country folk more than anyone else.

There’s some new stuff in my store like coffee mugs. Go have a look and get yourself (or that special someone you love or hate) something nice.

Some zoology zealot pointed out to me that cow’s udders only have four nipples, not six. I don’t know if that is correct or not because I have spent very little time underneath cattle.

I’m surprised that a Viking zealot did not point out that real Vikings didn’t wear horned helmets. Apparently, that motif was popularized by opera costuming. It is my understanding that opera singers also do not typically have six nipples.

“Germaphobia is a very real and debilitating condition that should not be made fun of. If you or someone in your family was germaphobic perhaps you would not think this was so funny. In the future please refrain from making fun of people in your “comics” just because they are different than you.”  ––a offended “reader”

I am now writing my own hate mail and I can definitely see the attraction. Righteous indignation provides a certain satisfaction that is difficult to find elsewhere.

If you are not familiar with Shriners, they are guys who belong to a secret club sort of organization that has elaborate rituals that are held at places called “temples”. They often wear fezes (no, that is not a misspelling of “feces,” it’s the plural of “fez”) and are known for supporting children’s hospitals, which is a good thing. They also frequently ride in parades and such on tiny cars and motorcycles, presumably to entertain the children they support, but I can’t be completely sure about their motivation.

One could also read this comic as a satire of any retirement community where people who are too old to drive are still doing so. Like most of Florida.

If you know anybody who likes cool art and/or coloring, my most recent book is PERFECT for them. Cheap, too! ($6! And I wish I was kidding.)

All of my sons-in-law were visiting us recently and half of them (Chris) said he’d thought of a cartoon I might like and I really loved it and here it is. If you’re from a place in the world where you’ve never been exposed to American country music, first, give thanks to whatever god you imagine is responsible for this minor good fortune, then become aware that American country music is often about sadness and two very popular reasons for this lamentation are sexual infidelity and the death of a cherished dog.

On a side note, I once heard of a country music song title that amused me: “My Wife Ran Off With My Best Friend and I Miss Him”. Perhaps the best friend was his dog. I don’t really know.

In this era of outing people for harassment of and violence against women, I thought it might be good to point out the plight of cartoon characters, many of whom experience far more creative and consistent violence than those of us in the real world.

Yes, I agree with you. Violence against women (or anyone) is a serious issue and should not be the subject of humor. I don’t know what I was thinking.

HEY, LOOK! IT’S ANOTHER TITLE PANEL (below) SO THAT MEANS WE’RE ABOUT TO EMBARK ON YET ANOTHER WEEK’S WORTH OF CARTOONS! CAN YOU BELIEVE HOW MUCH FUN WE’RE HAVING? I CAN NOT.

In this Sunday title panel, I have made my Bizarro Bunny look like Mickey Mouse. I even signed my name like Walt Disney used to. Perhaps I will soon be impossibly wealthy.

As of yet, I am not wealthy, I’m just an artist getting by. A tiny part of how I get by is by selling stuff. Here’s a place that offers some super nice, archival, limited-edition, signed-and-numbered prints of some of my favorite Bizarro cartoons. They also sell some of my original art from Bizarro. Have a look.

It recently occurred to me that training an entire nation to find vermin adorable contributed to Trump’s election. I blame Walt.

It still boggles my mind that Bill O’Reilly got any traction out of Starbucks not putting blatantly religious imagery on their coffee cups a few years back. B.O. also found all kinds of other ways in which he perceived some kind of nationwide conspiracy to undermine Christianity and convinced plenty of people to get all lathered up about it.  I usually find idiocy of this sort to be hilarious but when it occurs on the magnitude that it currently does in the U.S., it’s more frightening than funny. (See “The Handmaid’s Tale” or the way any country that combines government with religion.)

Want to help support the kind of content I supply or just toss me a holiday gift? You can do that by making a one-time donation or a monthly contribution to Rancho Bizarro here. I will immediately become your imaginary best friend!

I adore dogs and think they are close to the most perfect creatures DNA ever coughed up, except for their utter lack of discrimination when choosing what to put into their mouths. My god, they make me want to vomit.

Moments later:

Dummy: Who just stuck their hand up my ass?!

Rocco: You wouldn’t have been able to ask that question if I hadn’t.

If living with a man who wears that yellow getup 24/7 isn’t enough to frighten Curious George, the fact that a known pedophile is about to be elected to the U.S. Senate with the blessings of the president and the Republican Party certainly is. This is what the “party of family values” is up to, folks. Still think it doesn’t matter which party you vote for?

In a country with an admitted molester of women, a Nazi sympathizer, an unmitigated liar and so, so, so much more in the White House, anything is possible. It is my contention that Trump’s not being hit by lightning is evidence either that there is no god, or that the ones that exist are sadistic assholes.

I got several complaints about this cartoon. This one is my favorite:

“I am extremely disappointed and offended by your cartoon printed on 12/08/2017. Considering children read your cartoons which are for the most part entertaining, but this particular one is sadly referencing a subject matter that hits to close to home with our children and adults at any time. Not everyone needs to be reminded of depraved situations on a constraint basis especially when the funnies are read by so many for the pure enjoinment of laughing and being entertaining to them, at least that’s what I’ve always given them credit for, not to make a horrifying statement that children could and would find frightening. This could actually ruin this and many Christmases for many children. Santa Claus molesting elves and rain deer is not funny and this cartoon crossed over even Bizzaro lines!”

My paraphrased reply was something close to this: I worded this the way I did so that younger, less sophisticated children would not know what it means. If a child is educated or sophisticated enough to understand it, they’re also likely old enough to understand it is a cartoon and has no power in the real world. If I thought any child would be upset by it (without an adult’s coaching) I would not have published it.

I refrained from mentioning that I was “extremely disappointed and offended” by her grammar and punctuation skills.

 

Not long ago, a reader asked me to do a cartoon with a ninja. At first, I ignored him but then I found him clinging to the ceiling of my bedroom wearing black pajamas with only his eyes showing, so I decided to relent. We still haven’t gotten all the pajama glue off of the ceiling. At least, we hope that was pajama glue.

That’s all for now, Jazz Pickles. Have a great week––until next time, be smart, be happy, be nice, and resist fascism and ignorance.

When Libertarian Judges Rule

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 09/12/2017 - 1:44pm in

Prominent libertarian jurist Alex Kozinski has been accused of sexual harassment by six women, all of them former clerks or employees. One of the women is Heidi Bond. In a statement, Bond gives a fuller description of Judge Kozinski’s rule, sexual and non-sexual, in the workplace.

One day, my judge found out I had been reading romance novels over my dinner break. He called me (he was in San Francisco for hearings; I had stayed in the office in Pasadena) when one of my co-clerks idly mentioned it to him as an amusing aside. Romance novels, he said, were a terrible addiction, like drugs, and something like porn for women, and he didn’t want me to read them any more. He told me he wanted me to promise to never read them again.

“But it’s on my dinner break,” I protested.

He laid down the law—I was not to read them anymore. “I control what you read,” he said, “what you write, when you eat. You don’t sleep if I say so. You don’t shit unless I say so. Do you understand?”

The demands may seem peculiar, but the tyranny is typical. Employers control what workers read, when workers shit, all the time.

But Judge Kozinski has the added distinction of being one of the leading theoreticians of the First Amendment. And not just any old theorist but a libertarian theorist—he has a cameo in the film Atlas Shrugged: Part II—who claims that the First Amendment affords great protection to “commercial speech.”

Where other jurists and theorists claim that commercial speech—that is, speech that does “no more than propose a commercial transaction”—deserves much less protection than political or artistic speech, Kozinski has been at the forefront of the movement claiming that the First Amendment should afford the same levels of protection to commercial speech as it does to other kinds of speech. Because, as he put it in a pioneering article he co-authored in 1990:

In a free market economy, the ability to give and receive information about commercial matters may be as important, sometimes more important, than expression of a political, artistic, or religious nature.

And there you have it: Watching a commercial about asphalt? Vital to your well-being and sense of self. Deciding what books you read during your dinner break? Not so much.

Government regulations of advertising? Terrible violation of free speech. Telling a worker what she can read? Market freedom.

 

The Weekly Static s01e17: Sad King, Missing Thrones, No Easter, and More!

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 09/12/2017 - 8:15am in

fake news and more TV news

I’m only twenty-three for another hour, give or take, but I’m a fan of yours and I need a good mistake. I’m not a sinner or preacher, all I have is slight of hand. I do magic tricks for… The Weekly Static! Whether it’s “welcome” or “welcome back,” it’s great to have you join us as we assume squatters’ rights on this patch of pop culture property.

But before we get to that that — and not to freak you out or anything — but I think you’ve got a…

weekly static s01e09

…crawling on your shoulder. Hold on! Think I got it!

The Weekly Static is my righteously desperate-yet-endearing attempt at finding the lighter side and an interesting perspective on the past week in the land of the networks, cable, streaming, smoke signals, cloud formations, and shadow puppets.

Our goal? Pretty simple:

● Offer a blunt, honest perspective on a handful of random TV news posts from the past week that also highlights your relentless team of news-thirsty Bleeding Cool writers and the quality work they do.

● Spotlight a news item we missed, but we’re pretty damn sure you’ll find it interesting.

● Feed my insatiable ego with humble offerings of praise, adulation, social media shares, pizza, Superman Funkos, and a plethora of Eisner Award nominations. And at least one write-in vote in the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election (and I wish I was joking about that one).

Hulkamania Triumphant as WrestleMania 3 Venue Survives Attempted Demolition

Neil Gaiman’s Present to Us All on Christmas Day – A BBC Adaptation of Anansi Boys

Steven Moffat: Doctor Who Is Not Just for Progressive Liberals; It’s for Brexit Voters, Too

American Gods Season 2: Will Easter Get a Passover?

WWE Legend Jerry “The King” Lawler Talks Sexual Assault, Women’s Equality in Sexist Rant

The Exorcist Showrunner Jeremy Slater Ain’t Got Time for Twitter Homophobes

CBS All Access Books Passage to Jordan Peele’s The Twilight Zone

Twelve Forever: Netflix Nabs Julia Vickerman Animated Series for 2019

Georges St-Pierre Forfeits UFC Middleweight Title, Future Up in the Air

HBO 2018 Promo: Westworld, Sharp Objects – But No Game of Thrones?

Barack Obama-Joe Biden Animated “Bromantic Comedy” In Works With Conan O’Brien Among EPs

weekly static s01e17 tv recap

“An animated high-concept adventure series featuring Barack Obama and Joe Biden as time travelers in search of a better future has brought production company Titmouse and Conan O’Brien on board as executive producers.

‘Barry & Joe: The Animated Series’ is in development, described as a “bromantic comedy” by creator Adam Reid. The project was jump-started by more than $100,000 in pledges from liberal die-hards via Kickstarter since its August launch…”

The post The Weekly Static s01e17: Sad King, Missing Thrones, No Easter, and More! appeared first on Bleeding Cool News And Rumors.

Fresh audio product

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 08/12/2017 - 9:57am in

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link):

December 7, 2017 Jane McAlevey on power, strange alliances, and serious threats to workers • Jane McAlevey and Liza Featherstone on sexual harassment, capitalism, and power

Reporting of Sexual Assault and Harassment in Philosophy (updated)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 07/12/2017 - 1:56am in

I recently saw a post on social media comparing the current deluge of accusations of sexual harassment and assault being made and taken seriously in entertainment, news media, and politics, with how little of that seems to be happening in philosophy. The author wanted to know what explains this disparity. I don’t know, but here are some possible explanations, followed at the end by a proposal.

  1. It wasn’t long ago that the relatively large number of stories about sexual harassment and assault in philosophy had people thinking that philosophy was especially bad, compared to other professions. One interpretation of this is that philosophy was ahead of the game in revealing bad actors. If a lot of the “low-hanging fruit” of sexual misconduct in our profession has already been picked, but is currently being picked in other professions, a snapshot of today would make it look like philosophy is not doing as a good a job at identifying bad actors.
  2. If the comparison class to “philosophers” is “entertainment, media, and politics” (the fields we’ve heard the most from) then philosophy is a relatively small class, and it would not be surprising that it contained fewer bad actors, and so fewer reports, and so, fewer of the accusers being supported.
  3. The obscurity of philosophy professors, in comparison to the more well-known figures in entertainment, media, and politics, may lead would-be accusers of philosophers to think that their experiences are not important enough to report about (especially since media uptake of an accusation seems to contribute to the accusation being taken seriously by the accused and their employers).
  4. Victims may be more motivated to come forward when they know of other victims of the same bad actor, and it may be difficult to for many victims of professors to track down other victims. (For example, think of how hard it might be for an undergraduate who was harassed by a professor a decade ago to even recall who else was in their classes, let alone who else a professor might have targeted.) Relatedly, others may be more likely to believe accusations against someone if they come from multiple victims. (On this, see the proposal at the end of the post.)
  5. If the victims were students at the time, but are no longer in academia, then they may think that the incidents of sexual misconduct they endured are less significant for or connected to their current professional lives, in comparison to sexual misconduct that they endured while climbing up the ladder of their current profession, and so they may be less motivated to report it.
  6. Philosophers seem to be more prone to blending their personal and professional lives, both online and off. Any philosopher, including any philosopher who has engaged in sexual harassment or assault, is likely to have several close friends in the profession, and each of these friends are likely to have several close friends in the profession, and so on. This intraprofessional friendship may deter reporting (that is, people may be less likely to report someone who is their friend, or the friend of a friend, or the friend of someone important to their career) either because one does not want to upset so much of one’s own life, or because one anticipates that the accused will have a network of friends defending or excusing their behavior.
  7. Perhaps there is less sexual harassment and assault in academia than in most other professions. (This is, of course, compatible with there being a substantial amount of sexual harassment and assault in academia generally, and in philosophy in particular.) If true, I am not sure what would explain that.

I put these up as possibilities worth thinking about and discussing, not as explanations I’m convinced are true. Your thoughts on these, and suggested alternative explanations, are welcome.

And now the proposal, regarding 4, above: I am willing to confidentially collect information from victims of sexual harassment and assault by members of the profession with the aims of determining whether any of those accused of such behavior have more than one accuser [, and, if so, facilitating initial communication among such accusers ]. Victims can email me a description of what happened (as specific or as vague as they are comfortable with sharing) and name the perpetrator. I’ve created a new email account for this purpose: problemphilosophers@gmail.com. The contents of these emails will not be shared with anyone without their authors’ permission. If I receive more than one accusation from different parties (whose identities I’ve been able to confirm) against a person, I will inform those who’ve accused that person of this fact (though not of the details of the accounts) [and, if the accusers wish, I will put them in touch with one another or otherwise attempt to facilitate their communication]. Thoughts on this proposal are welcome, as well.

UPDATE: The aforementioned proposal has been slightly revised in light of comments here and elsewhere. The details are still a work in progress. There is a chance I may work with or completely hand the project over to a lawyer or reporter. I will keep you apprised of any developments.

UPDATE 2: Based on the advice of a few correspondents, I’ve made a further revision to the proposal, eliminating the component that facilitates communication, if desired, between the alleged victims. At this point, the proposal would simply be to let accusers know how many others have named the same person as their harasser or assailant. If, after further legal consultation, it’s determined it would be better to reinstate this component, I’ll let you know. And, as before, this remains a proposal in development.

UPDATE 3: See the comment from Junior Faculty, who links to a story about a rather sophisticated software platform, Callisto, that allows victims to report offenses to it, and then:

Once they’ve written down what happened, students have several options. They can simply save it and come back to it at any time. They can send it to their campus Title IX coordinator as a formal complaint. They can download it and go directly to police. Or, there is a special option called “matching.” In this case, the survivor names the accused with a unique identifier like a Facebook profile. If, and only if, someone else accuses the same person, the survivor agrees that their own report will be surfaced to campus authorities.

Read about it here and here. This sounds like a superior option to what I was proposing, so perhaps we can get the APA to sponsor a customized profession-wide version of it instead. I’ll inquire about that. In the meanwhile, the email coordination line, problemphilosophers@gmail.com, is still open.

UPDATE 4: The following is an excerpt from an email I wrote to someone who provided thoughtful commentary on the proposal. I thought it would be useful to share, as it sums up my current thinking:

The core of the idea is to find a way to let accusers know whether anyone else has been victimized by the same person. (I’m no longer committed to providing any information beyond that, such as the victim’s identities or contact information, etc.) 

This is based on the following three assumptions. 

(1) Victims may be more inclined to report their harasser and/or assailant if they know they are not his or her only victim. This could be for epistemic reasons (“oh, so it wasn’t something *I* did”), prudential reasons (“I’ll be more likely to be believed if there are more victims of the same person”), moral reasons (“I see that there is a pattern here and I should say something before even more people are harmed”), or whatever. 
(2) Accusers are more likely to be believed and supported if the person they are accusing is also being accused by others.  
(3) It is sometimes difficult for accusers to learn whether the person who has victimized them has victimized others.

Those are “common sense” assumptions, meaning, I have heard them offered frequently by others but have not looked at any research about whether they’re true. If they’re not, please let me know. 

The proposal was meant to help with an informational problem, that is, to help in regards to (3), so as to take advantage of (1) and, subsequently, (2). 

As for who or what should try to help with this informational problem, frankly, I’d prefer someone else do it instead of me. But, it is very easy to say “someone should do this” and very common for that to be followed by no one doing it. I volunteered to do it. But I would be happy to hand it over to someone else who could be more effective at it, or, I think, to an automated service which may appear more trustworthy than me or any particular individual. That’s why I like the idea of Callisto or something similar.

If we were to go with some version of Callisto or the like, I do not envision the APA’s role as issuing sanctions or anything like that. The APA has no teeth. I merely see it as a funder and publicizer of the service. Further, I would hope that the software of Callisto could be customized so that it does what we want it to do. We may just want it to take reports and notify users when someone else identifies the same perpetrator they have, and that’s it. Perhaps we would want it to do more. I would trust that were the APA to go ahead with something like this, they would consult both expert members of the philosophical community as well as a lawyer to figure out what would be suitable.

 


Jay DeFeo, “Origin”

The post Reporting of Sexual Assault and Harassment in Philosophy (updated) appeared first on Daily Nous.

#MeToo Solidarity: Sexual Harassment is About Labor Too

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 06/12/2017 - 3:56am in

Sexual harassment is both a labor and gender justice issue. After all, the workplace is the epicenter of women’s recent outrage about sexual harassment and assault. Hollywood titans, respected reporters, and celebrity chefs all used their power over women’s paychecks in order to gain power over their bodies. Continue reading

The post #MeToo Solidarity: Sexual Harassment is About Labor Too appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

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