Saturday, January 10, 2009
Of Tom Flanagan, lying douchebags and disciplinary review hearings.
It's not that U of Calgary professor and Stephen Harper Party propagandist Dr. Tom Flanagan is a pathetic, unethical, hypocritical, lying scumbag -- we've already established that. But there's a potentially bigger story here than just Flanagan being a total douche.
See, we all understand that Flanagan is, first and foremost, a political hack and fluffer for Stephen Harper, and that's unlikely to ever change. What we don't understand is how his relentless dishonesty might be coming back to bite his U of Calgary department or faculty in the ass.
Flanagan is currently a member of the Department of Political Science in the Faculty of Social Sciences at Calgary, and one has to wonder if anyone above him in the food chain is getting a mite uncomfortable with his public misrepresentation of the very area in which he is supposed to be such an expert.
Theoretically, regardless of how partisan one might be, you'd think that tenured academics have a fundamental and non-negotiable obligation to, well, tell the truth. You know -- to not lie. But if that's the case, then it would seem Tommy Boy has some sort of special dispensation, because he lies every time he opens his festering gob, and you have to think that this has the potential to put both his department and his faculty in a very, very awkward position.
Consider, just as an example, Flanagan teaching a course in intro Canadian politics, with the final exam containing a question on the legitimacy of multi-party coalitions. As we all know now (because Flanagan conveniently explained it in his very own textbook), there is nothing whatsoever illegitimate about such a coalition. But if that question were on the final, we now have a bit of a problem:
What would be the right answer?
Would it be the one found in Flanagan's text? Or the totally contradictory one found in Flanagan's Op-Ed piece? Oh, dear. And if you don't think that has the potential for embarrassment, think of someone failing a course by just a whisker because they got that answer "wrong." Don't you think there would be grounds for appeal? "Well, sure, my prof said this in class, but he said the other thing in the Globe and Mail! Why don't you ask him what the right answer is?"
More to the point, one has to wonder whether anyone is starting to get a bit worried about the perceived honesty of Flanagan's department or faculty, in which it appears that tenured academics are free to say whatever they want, depending on the audience. At what point does Flanagan stop being a vile, lying toad and start becoming an actual danger to the integrity of his academic institution? And at what point might someone who cares about such things decide that enough is enough, and that Tommy should shut the hell up or they'll drag his sorry ass in front of a review board for conduct unbecoming a tenured academic?
All of this is, of course, unlikely since Flanagan has tenure and is almost certainly beyond the reach of mere carping and whining. But if some ambitious journo wanted a story, I wouldn't waste any time trying to talk to Flanagan -- he's a consummate liar.
Instead, why not drop a dime on a phone call to the head of his department or faculty, and ask whether anyone there is getting a wee bit antsy with Flanagan making them look like unprincipled, political hacks? And whether this kind of behaviour might come back in a wicked way if Flanagan's ignorant public pronouncements are dragged back into the classroom and compared to his lecture notes? And whether students of his are suddenly in a position to demand better grades because those "wrong" answers are, suddenly, not so "wrong" after all.
AFTERSNERK: It's going to be fun to watch how many of Stephen Taylor's Blogging Tories get caught with their panties down around their ankles over this one.
Poor Mark C.: Still failing Poli Sci 101. Is anyone surprised?