Sunday Roundup – Disability and Compliance

It’s been quite a week. Since the publication of my Al Jazeera America piece on the cult of compliance, I’ve done a bunch of press, written a few new essays, prepped for the start of classes (tomorrow!), and pitched some long-term projects. More news on that when there’s news.

I was so swarmed with topics that I never even blogged about my latest from the Chronicle of Higher Education – “Don’t Speak Out, the message of the Salaita Affair.” For those not following, Steven Salaita is a professor who tweeted many angry things about Israel this summer, right when he was moving to Illinois. The Chancellor invoked a rarely (or never) used clause in his contract to void the hire. A huge amount of legal and rhetorical wrangling has followed, and I do think this case reveals conflicting visions for the future of the university. Or, perhaps, the Chancellor is lying, and it’s just about Israel. I wrote:

I come to this topic not as a partisan in the specifics of Salaita’s situation but as an advocate for faculty engagement with the public. Over the last year, I have written periodic columns for The Chronicle about the ways that academics can and should write for general audiences. Recently, I even suggested that “sustained public engagement” of any sort should count for hiring, tenure, and promotion.
When I write about this topic, I often get told that the real problem is that academics are snobs. We like living in an ivory tower, goes the argument, and we look with disdain on getting our hands dirty in the public sphere. There’s plenty of snobbery to go around, it’s true, but the Salaita affair shows a different, and I think more powerful, force that keeps many academics from commenting on important contemporary issues: fear.

For more on this topic, I recommend Corey Robin’s blog, where he’s been active in collecting arguments and organizing action.  I will likely have more to say on the topic as we go forward, as it relates to corporatization and public engagement, two of my “beats.”

Now here’s the blog:

  • I wrote 2500 words or so on This American Life and their practices of using (or not) trigger warnings. As near as I can tell, they warn for racism or the existence of sex, and sometimes violence. Never disability issues.
  • I had a couple of pieces on the #cultofcompliance (hey look, a hashtag. You could use it on twitter!) – Two reactions to my writing from New York writers, a comparison of the police in Chicago during the NATO riots and those in Ferguson, and then a blog on Kajieme Powell. I wrote – it’s possible that police needed to kill Powell, but I have some questions. As I’ve learned more in the days that followed, it’s more and more clear that the police put themselves in a position in which killing Powell was the only option. I will have a CNN piece on this tomorrow (probably).
  • I mentioned that Dawkins is trolling families like mine, by linking to a piece on him by Amanda Marcotte.
  • I talk about Nico escaping from the house, or seeming to, and my babysitter calling the police. As I write about police violence, these are the stakes for me and my family on a personal level. We need the police to be better on disability issues.
  • Finally, I wrote a post on “The pencil test” for disability, in which I talk about Takei, Bieber, and Tampa Police throwing a quadriplegic out of his wheelchair to see how disabled he really was.
Have a great Sunday. 

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