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Friday, April 25, 2003

Bad faith.

Phil Carter has some provocative things to say about the UCLA Academic Senate's resolution condemning the war with Iraq. He quotes three law school professors who publicly objected (in the LA Times, reg req'd); they point out that the resolution was passed by a special session of the academic senate, called by a small fraction of the faculty, and doesn't meaningfully represent the faculty:

But they were not content to speak out in their own names, as they had every right to do. Instead, they insisted on speaking in our names — and in the names of the more than 3,000 people on the UCLA faculty.

In their letter to the Times they put it even more strongly than the passage Carter quotes: "A rump group of our colleagues put these words — words that we find loathsome — into our mouths." Carter's comments are worth reading as a reminder that radicals sometimes prefer the appearance of deliberative democracy over its substance:

Certainly some UCLA faculty know a lot about war, strategy, international affairs and other related issues. But this resolution didn't come from those faculty — it came from the most radical members instead, who sought to stamp their views with the imprimatur of the UCLA Academic Senate. It didn't contribute anything meaningful to the debate, besides the additional voices of those who could have easily spoken as individuals instead of hijacking their faculty organization. Everyone ought to have the right to speak their mind. But I believe the UCLA faculty should use its voice with more measured judgment in the future, lest it squander the value of its collective voice on issues like this.

It's a lesson that could be applied in lots of other democratic settings, too.

Copyright © 2003 by Philocrites | Posted 25 April 2003 at 1:49 PM

Previous: Humanism in the news.
Next: Mother Jones review.

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