August 17, 2006

Academi-size it!

Gotta love Da Fish sometimes, when he uses cool jargon like "academicize" to explain the distinctions between legitimate teaching and propaganda in this tagline to the Christian Science Monitor piece on Kevin Barrett:

"That doesn't mean you can't bring current political questions into the classroom," he says. "But they have to be academicized."

Here, Stanley Fish's notion of non-propagandizing is far less, er, fishy, than his July 23 NYT op-ed (behind premium sub wall now), as I noted in this blog. I'm glad Fish has retreated from the precipice of academic freedom as mere formalism.

In other weirdness related to Barrett, AP's Justin Pope wrote an article on 9/11 conspiracy theories, stemming from the Barrett controversy, that implied that they were somehow semi-respectable among some subset. Pope failed to mention that BYU physicist Steven Jones, who is the darling of the conspiracy theorists, believes in cold fusion and that his WTC collapse theory has not been published in a refereed journal. Jones is reaching for rather rarefied accomplishments in nuttiness. One more, and he's got a trifecta.

But back to Fish. I love the term "academicize," all distancing and anesthetizing. I know that he means to put ideas in an academic context, to pin them down for studies, like an intellectual lepidopterist. I do the same myself, frequently. But the connotation is antiseptic. I'd rather have a bit of passion, myself, even if it's in counting the spots on spotted blueleaf conspiracy theory, myself. Then again, I could be accused of going overly sarcastic on occasion in blogging. Not always in an academic tone?  Hmmmn.

Okay, so accuse me of running a snidebar commentary. 

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Posted in Academic freedom on August 17, 2006 7:40 PM |