Scholars’ unconvincing case about the value of the humanities (essay)

A literary work is a powerful tool for simulating what it’s like to inhabit someone else’s life. Not just tolerating difference, or grudgingly giving “the other side” equal time; but generating real empathy for the diversity of humanity. There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away Nor any Coursers like a Page Of prancing Poetry – This Traverse may the poorest take Without oppress of Toll…

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The Language of Gender Violence

Oppressors deny their own agency and dehumanize their victims by using the passive voice. I want my students to recognize this deliberate strategy, and to look for hidden actors and dehumanized recpients of injustice. (I try to teach about active and passive verbs in a more lighthearted way, but I only bothered to photograph and caption sillly Lego scenes becuase I wanted more of my students to pay attention to…

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Harvard revokes admission of several students for posting “offensive” memes

The First Amendment of the constitution protects the incoming students’ right to say whatever they like, even if Harvard doesn’t like it. And, as a private institution that is not regulated by the First Amendment, Harvard has the right to kick out incoming students unwise enough to exercise their rights in this manner. (The government can’t throw you in jail simply for choosing to speak; but you’ll still have to…

Liberals and conservatives dislike reading opposing views

Most research subjects, when offered the chance to win $10 and read essays that opposed their views, or $7 and read essays that confirmed their views, chose comfort over the higher potential prize. Liberals and conservatives reacted basically the same–with liberals slightly less willing to read conservative views. (I changed the click-baity headline, which sensationalized the issue as people having “zero interest in opposing views,” which is not what the numbers actually demonstrate.)…