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More Debate on Lebow Brouhaha

Professor Emeritus of Psychological and Brain Sciences Rogers Elliott took to the pages of the Valley News on Sunday to respond to the VN’s reprinting of an editorial from the Los Angeles times supporting the free speech right of players to kneel during the national anthem. He asked a pertinent question: how come a player has the right to kneel under the protection of free expression, and yet an academic like Ned Lebow can be sanctioned for referring to women’s underclothing in a public place?

Ned Lebow VN Forum Roger Eliot Comp.jpg

Elliot has a point, don’t you think?

Actually the good professor is too gentle to make his real argument: in many contexts our society has replaced moral reasoning with an attenuated version of liberal guilt — the kind that John Rawls would recognize as his own handiwork. Today we look at any conflict and decide which side can claim oppressed status and which is part of a historical oppressor class. NFL owners and Ned Lebow are privileged white men — very bad. Colin Kaepernick and Simona Sharoni, as an African-American and woman respectively, deserve our support, no matter how disruptive or silly their claim of grievance. As a matter of post-truth, Washington has nothing on the academy. The application of fair-minded moral principles is no longer much of a priority.

Addendum: Rogers Elliott, who was one of the professors teaching Education 1 when I took the course lo so many years ago, has a distinguished scholarly record. He stands out in my mind for his paper, Choosing and leaving science in highly selective institutions, the first research work to focus on the mismatched preparation of certain favored groups of undergraduates to the academic workload set before them by élite institutions.

Addendum: A loyal reader writes in:

Simona Sharoni “is a feminist scholar and activist” who supports the BDS movement:

I choose Ned Lebow, humor and sanity, thank you very much.

Addendum: An alumnus writes in:

Lebow’s elevator remarks and the NFL players’ protest are entirely different. In an elevator, one’s comments are one’s own. All passengers are on equal and individual footing, free to respond, or to ignore, or to take offense as they may choose. (And any perceived indignity will be over very shortly in any event.)

But an NFL game is commercial property. It is organized, staged and paid for by the owners. For players to unilaterally co-opt the owners’ property for their own political ends is staggeringly brazen, and wrong. The League has every right to reclaim their property.

By the way, does anyone here remember the word “unmentionables”? This whole mess could have been avoided–or at least, achieved a deeper level of irony–if Professor Lebow had offered a version such as “3rd floor, ladies unmentionables.”


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