Monday, May 29, 2006

We showed him, didn't we?

Brian Leiter is a legal philosopher who runs a blog which, near as I can tell, consists largely of Professor Leiter telling us that everyone who disagrees with him is ignorant, undistinguished and dishonest. Leiter is a well-regarded academic, but there's not much hint of why on his blog.

In any event, he's taken with the New School senior who spoke before John McCain at that school's commencement and criticized the university for inviting him. Leiter thinks that the student, Jean Rohe, has written a "nice rejoinder" to her critics.

The rejoinder is full of the smugness of the unreflective. Rohe, who apparently wrote her comments in about an hour at 2 in the morning of the commencement, thinks she is all that. Of meeting McCain, she writes:

I almost wanted to warn the guy that I was about to make him look like an idiot so that he would at least have a fighting chance and an extra moment to change his speech to save himself. But he didn't even make eye contact when we shook hands, so I figured I didn't owe him anything.

After the speech, she shook McCain's hand and apologized. "Sorry, man, I just had to do it." She says McCain mumbled something in response. No doubt. He's probably unaccustomed to apologies from a mosquito.

So how did she "tear apart" McCain. She presumably thinks that comments like this are devastating:

Finally, Senator McCain will tell us that we, those of us who are Americans, "have nothing to fear from each other." I agree strongly with this, but I take it one step further. We have nothing to fear from anyone on this living planet.

Wow, man.

As Ann Coulter points out, this is laughably naive. Apparently the ability to see the world as it is is not a requirement for getting through the New School.

Rohe may have an excuse. Undue infatuation with one's point of view is a hazard of youth. But the distinguished Professor Leiter actually thinks shouting over McCain's remarks was a good idea.

There really isn't an obligation to listen politely to recycled claptrap and lies that pollute our public culture 24/7 and that we have all heard before. Among the skills the educated ought to acquire are the skills that enable them to discriminate on the merits of what is being said. If an educational institution invites a dishonest apologist for war crimes to speak, it should not expect educated young people to nod their heads approvingly.

It has generally been my experience that one must listen to what is being said to assess it's merits. But then again I suppose I am just not as smart as Professor Leiter and Ms. Rohe.

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