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U. Wisconsin prof worries College Fix reporting could ‘harm her career’

Chalk up another “progressive” professor who believes that reporting on what she teaches and says is somehow an attempt to damage her career.

In a Michigan Daily op-ed, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s Christina Berchini offers up her views on the campus free speech imbroglio via a mock response to Fox News’s Tucker Carlson (whose producer apparently asked Berchini to appear on the show; she refused).

The professor does not hide her disdain for Wisconsin’s legislative attempts to protect speech (and speakers) on the state’s campuses. Although she shares some concerns of civil libertarians, Berchini mainly regurgitates the tired, progressive academic talking points that not all speech is “equally valuable” — that some speech is too “morally repugnant,” “culturally toxic,” and “intellectually empty” to be afforded an audience.

She makes use of Charles Murray’s The Bell Curve as an example on all counts, apparently missing the irony that her scholarship concentrates on … “Critical Whiteness Studies.”

Such arguments have long been typical of the “Critical Studies” Left; however, what is a fairly new tactic in the ongoing campus First Amendment donnybrook is academics complaining that folks reporting on their courses’ content, as well as their social media antics, is “targeting” and “threatening.”

For example, Berchini asks “Will you pull for me, Mr. Carlson when groups like Professor Watchlist and The College Fix publish something about me and my work, in an unveiled attempt to harm my career?”

It’s not clear if the professor is speaking in general terms here, or of a specific example. I checked the Fix archives and found only one article pertaining to Berchini — one of my own, an opinion piece from March. As a veteran educator who had the misfortune of suffering through numerous “white privilege” seminars over a quarter century, I wanted to offer a different perspective on what I believe is, to quote Prof. Berchini, a rather “intellectually empty” exercise.

MORE: Yet another example of why schools of education (rightly) get a bad rap

Why would someone’s contrary view make the professor so upset? Is she so embarrassed by the seminar content that she feels someone reporting and opining on it is a threat to her livelihood?

Back on June 28 my colleague Daniel Payne wrote the following about this new strategy:

The message imparted […] is clear: Academics are upset that reporting outlets like The College FixCampus Reform and others are shining so much light on so much of the indefensible lunacy present in academia today. For example, the authors cite the attention given to Saida Grundy, whose noxious anti-white tweets were reported on by The Fix when they surfaced. Reporting on these nasty opinions, the professors claim, represented an “attack” on Grundy.

Consider the astonishing progression of events here: A professor tweets a gross and ignorant series of opinions, a news outlet reports on it – and it’s the news outlet that gets criticized! Only in academia could such pretzel logic ever be taken seriously.

Payne goes on to note that, yes, unfortunately there will be online trolls who go overboard making threats and nasty remarks to those who are focus of Fix reports. To be clear: “[a]nyone who behaves in such a way has done so in direct contravention of what The Fix stands for. The Fix does not take part in such inexcusable behavior.”

Here’s something to ponder: Would Berchini and profs who feel as she does side with, say, President Trump if he went so far as to claim that media reports were actually threatening him?

We don’t even have to go to that extreme; consider a hypothetical local report on a gent who displays a giant American flag on the side of his house — which has pissed off his neighbors. When the gent starts receiving hate mail and sinister phone calls from those who saw the news report, would it be appropriate for him to complain that the news station had “targeted” him … and “threatened” his career?

I’d like to believe that educators such as Saida Grundy, George Ciccariello-Maher, and to a lesser extent Christina Berchini are few and far between. I’d like to believe most professors control themselves on social media and in the media in general, and don’t rant and rave like lunatics in their classes about anything with which they disagree.

Grundy et. al. represent the very pinnacle of conceit — they think their work and commentary simply are above reproach: Just sit there, accept it, and keep your mouth shut.

MORE: The College Fix reports on higher education – and we’re not going to stop

MORE: Lawmakers’ attempts to protect free speech and academic freedom could backfire

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.