I did say I was going to get around eventually to dealing with accusations of academic imbalance and liberal indoctrination in colleges and universities here in Canada, so today might as well be the day. And for this exercise, we are going to slowly and lovingly disembowel one Barbara Kay, whose Dec. 2004 piece in the National Post is such a delightfully vapid piece of idiocy, I may not have to address this issue again for quite some time. Feel free to bring up another window and follow along.
Kay sets the tone early with the title of her article, "Propaganda in the classroom," which certainly suggests that this whole issue is not open to debate, no sir, there's nasty stuff going down in Canada's hallways of higher education and, by God, Kay is going to show you just where it is. None of this namby-pamby "bias" nonsense for Kay -- she goes straight for the "propaganda" label so you figure she's done her homework and has the goods, right?
Until you read her first sentence:
Today's column is in part an amateur poll on intellectual harassment in our universities.
Excuse me? So, within her opening sentence, Kay manages to crank up the sensationalism factor even further with suggestions of "harassment," and yet ... and yet ... she now admits that what she's really doing is, in part, taking a survey. For what? Bias in the classroom? She's asking now?? Gosh, you'd think she might have actually done that research before writing her article, no? That's sort of the way most reporters work, but Kay is apparently above that sort of tedium. Think I'm being overly snarky? Read the rest of the opening paragraph, gloriously verbatim:
I'm asking Canada's future educators and lawmakers -- students in, or recent grads from, the humanities and social sciences -- if they're being ideologically brainwashed by their professors. So without further ado: Do you see a balanced ideological perspective in your courses? Does your professor direct you to alternative points of views? Is dissent or diversity of opinion encouraged in discussion? Are Judeo-Christian perspectives denigrated or mocked? Are grades a reflection of the merit of your arguments or conformity with the professor's ideology?
So many delightfully leading questions and, as you'll see shortly, so little actual evidence to answer any of them. On to paragraph two:
There are already numerous published surveys, polls and journal articles on the indoctrination of students by academics, ...
All right, evidence coming right up. Can't wait. Here it comes ...
... but none deal with Canadian universities.
Damn it! (Said with best impression of Stewie from "Family Guy".) So, to recap Kay's position: There's propaganda! Actually, no there isn't, that's why I'm asking. Wait, there are studies! But not involving Canada. You can only hope it gets better. And, sadly, you'll be disappointed:
[The studies] all catalogue the near-monolithic domination of the academy by leftists in the United States.
Oh, please, please, dear God, please, provide some evidence for that claim.
For example, one recent study shows that amongst American university teachers, Democrats outnumber Republicans 15 to one. That's on average. In anthropology, Democrats cast 30 votes for every one Republican. Similar results doubtless apply in the faculties of sociology, education, English literature, and women's studies (probably more like 1,000 to one there).
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh, damn ... I think I just wet myself. There is, of course, absolutely no reference given for this "recent study," but it might just be the same one I eviscerated back here, which was a thorougly dishonest piece of crap. And if you think Kay has embarrassed herself sufficiently, well, sweetie, you ain't seen nothing yet, as Kay continues:
Voting stats aside, there is evidence that leftist views play out in propagandist behaviours. A survey by The American Council of Trustees and Alumni finds almost half of students are exposed to only one ideological viewpoint, with teachers sanctioning none but their political views in class. An ACTA spokesperson comments: "If this were a survey of students reporting widespread sexual harassment, there would be an uproar."
Ah, yes ... ACTA. Worthless hacks. Go read. Moving on, to where Kay finally just shreds what little is left of her credibility by praising the work of (oh, Lord, you know who's coming, don't you?):
American conservatives are fighting back. The most dynamic amongst them is fiercely anti-Marxist crusader David Horowitz, founder of FrontPageMagazine.com.
Words fail me, they really do. I'm not even going to comment on this; interested readers are welcome to go back through the CC archives to see what kind of despicable, lying slime David Horowitz is. I just don't have the enthusiasm for it anymore.
Not surprisingly, the rest of Kay's piece is just as vacuous and dishonest. For corroboration, she refers to research by University of British Columbia philosophy professor Andrew Irvine, but fails to mention his participation in Canada's right-wing Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship, which is the kind of disclosure some readers might find enlightening.
Kay also bolsters her case by citing University of of Toronto psychology professor John Furedy and, oh, look, here he is, too. What an adorably closed club we have here -- just another right-wing echo chamber. Isn't that cute? To be fair, Kay does finally refer to the SAFS organization toward the end of the article, without actually mentioning Irvine's or Furedy's assocation.
But it's the last paragraph where Kay, as she did at the beginning, has to admit she has no evidence, and is reduced to begging her readers for proof:
So students (and parents), please send me your responses. Confidentiality is assured. Validate my keen assessment, or shame me for my wildly off-the-mark rush to judgment: It's your call. Survey 101 results TBA.
This might be a bit late, but I have some advice I'd like to pass on to Kay. Do your own damned research, and stop asking your readers to do it for you. It's called "being a journalist." You should try it.
BY THE WAY: When one writes an article praising an organization, it's generally considered good form to reveal one's connections to said organization. Conflict of interest, disclosure, that sort of thing. Which suggests that Kay might have wanted to mention, even in passing, her dealings with SAFS located by Google, some of which are listed here. (Note: one of those links is actually a wonderfully snarky putdown of Kay's work, so you can't hold all of those links against her.)
And, no, I'm not done with these people. In my next installment, we'll discuss the results of Kay's survey.