From University of Rochester (NY) Professor Stephen E. Landsburg, a blisteringly refreshing view of Sandra Fluke, Rush to Judgment (via Althouse h/t Instapundit):

But while Ms. Fluke herself deserves the same basic respect we owe to any human being, her position — which is what’s at issue here — deserves none whatseover.   It deserves only to be ridiculed, mocked and jeered.  To treat it with respect would be a travesty. I expect there are respectable arguments for subsidizing contraception (though I am skeptical that there are arguments sufficiently respectable to win me over), but Ms. Fluke made no such argument.  All she said, in effect, was that she and others want contraception and they don’t want to pay for it….

But whether or not he chose the right word, what I just don’t get is why the pro-respect crowd is aiming all its fire at Rush.   Which is more disrespectful — his harsh language or Sandra Fluke’s attempt to pick your pocket?   That seems like a pretty clear call to me.

Ooooohhhhh!  Must be rebuked at the highest levels, via Althouse’s post:

Joel Seligman, president of the University of Rochester, issuing a statement:

I was deeply disappointed to read UR Professor Steve Landsburg’s recent blogs praising Rush Limbaugh for a “spot-on analogy” with respect to his offensive remarks about Georgetown student Sandra Fluke (although Landsburg parted company with Limbaugh for calling Fluke a “slut”). Landsburg went further. He stated that Ms. Fluke’s position deserved “only to be ridiculed, mocked and jeered.” He further stated that the right word for her position was “extortionist,” characterized those who disagreed with his view as “contraceptive sponges,” and added that there is nothing wrong with being paid for sex.

Why did the President of the University feel the need to get involved?  Is he the thought policeman?

Sure, the President of the University is entitled to an opinion, but it’s clear that he was trying to tamp down a dissenting view using the power of his presidency.   That may not have much impact on someone like Prof. Landsburg, but as Prof. Glenn Reynolds points out:

And Landsburg has tenure, but don’t you think that a university president going after a professor like this will serve to chill the speech of untenured professors, grad students, etc.?  And do you think Joel Seligman was unaware of that?

Prof. Landsburg was not intimidated and issued the following statement in response to the President’s public rebuke:

President Seligman says that the mission of the university is to promote the free exchange of ideas and lively debate, and I agree.  That mission is undermined whenever a member of the academic community elevates raw self-interest over the exchange of ideas.

That’s what Sandra Fluke did.  She observed that contraceptives are expensive, and therefore demanded that somebody other than herself and her fellow students pick up the tab.  She didn’t even pretend to be interested in debating any of the serious issues raised by the question of when some of us should pick up the tab for others’ expenses.

Sometimes we should, sometimes we shouldn’t, and there’s a lot to be said, discussed, and debated about the particulars.  An emotional appeal for one’s preferred outcome, ignoring all the substantive issues, is the exact antithesis of the free exchange of ideas that President Seligman claims to endorse.

I’ve had three blog posts on this subject, here, here, and here.   The commenters have offered many bright and lively arguments and observations, some of which have led me to modify some of my views. This is a wonderful thing.    It’s also the very opposite of Sandra Fluke’s approach, which amounts to a contemptuous dismissal of the very possibility of engaging these issues through intellectual discourse.  I’d have expected a distinguished academic to feel the same way.

The student thought policemen also took action, trying to prevent the Prof. Landsburg from speaking to his class:

Protesting students entered Landsburg’s room at the beginning of his mid-afternoon class.

“They formed a line between him and the class. And he continued to lecture,” said UR spokeswoman Sharon Dickman.

She noted that a couple of University Security officers were on the scene, but they didn’t need to take any action.

Prof. Landsburg provided the following statement to the student newspaper, printed in an article the students ironically titled Landsburg on Limbaugh incites dialogue at UR:

“My only comment on the events in ECO 108 today is that the protestors were stealing from the students who have paid to learn something. In their contempt for the value of ideas, they seem to be in close solidarity with Sandra Fluke.”

Will any of the students who disrupted the class and tried to prevent Prof. Landsburg from speaking be disciplined?

I doubt it, because that would inhibit their free speech. And they know their rights.  Hell, at this rate they may even be invited to speak before Democratic members of Congress to express how belittled and demeaned they felt by Prof. Landsburg’s words.

In the meantime, this is the type of video put out by the Univ. Rochester admissions department to promote the school.

Notice anything about the video?

Doesn’t look like America to me.  Will President Seligman accept responsibility and apologize for Univ. of Rochester not celebrating diversity in this video?


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