Philosopher’s Comments On Immigration Cause Stir On Campus


Remarks on immigration by Dan Demetriou, associate professor of philosophy at the University of Minnesota, Morris, have been a subject of controversy at the school recently, according to Inside Higher Ed.

Professor Demetriou’s comments, in the form of a non-public Facebook post, have been circulating around the campus.

(Note: let me register an objection to the practice of publicly broadcasting another person’s Facebook posts not intended for public consumption. I proceed to mention them here because Inside Higher Ed‘s article has made them a subject of public discussion.)

From IHE:

“Illegal immigrants lower the confidence in the rule of law and add people and workers and students we don’t need,” Dan Demetriou, associate professor of philosophy, recently wrote on Facebook, according to screenshots that have been made public. “They on average have IQs lower than natives and low skills. They are harmful to an economy about to automate, especially when it is a welfare state.”

Refugees, meanwhile, are “way worse,” Demetriou wrote, “as most adhere to a religious-political cult with repulsive values at war with the West from its inception. No country who has taken the current crop of refugees has made it work.”

Professor Demetriou is currently on sabbatical in Sweden. Someone at his university printed out and posted his comments around campus, causing a stir.

The Chancellor of the university, Michelle Behr, sent a campus-wide email about the controversy earlier in the week. Again, from IHE:

Chancellor Michelle Behr responded to the controversy earlier this week, saying in a campuswide email that while “democracy should and does rightfully tolerate expression of differences of opinion, some members of our community have found these communications both personally and professionally distressing.” She “strongly reaffirmed” Morris’s “vision that we celebrate and support the multicultural and international inclusiveness of our community. Differences are our strength, and our community values and respects diversity of all kinds.”

Behr said there will continue to be “differences of opinion and perspective,” and that it’s “imperative that we all make every effort to express these differences in a respectful way.” She cited the University of Minnesota Board of Regents’ Guiding Principles, including that the institution “strives to sustain an open exchange of ideas in an environment that embodies the values of academic freedom, responsibility, integrity and cooperation” and “provides an atmosphere of mutual respect, free from racism, sexism and other forms of prejudice and intolerance.”

When I asked him about the controversy, Professor Demetriou provided to me the statement he provided IHE. Here it is:

The post being distributed was written when the Trump travel ban was dominating the news and social media. Like many of my academic friends, I ranted; but unlike almost all of them, I ranted to the right as opposed to the left. No short post on such a complex topic, let alone a rant, could survive much scrutiny. But this post, read with the least charity possible, and isolated from other things I have said on the topic in discussion afterward, has been seized upon in order to further a political agenda and punish a dissenting voice.

The views I shared are not ones I promulgate in my classes, and in fact I don’t even cover these topics in my courses. I expressed my mind in a hot state on my private Facebook page. I am not sure what special “responsibilities to the community” I have there. But if I do, then what shall we say of professors who on their social media advocate for “punching Nazis” or overthrowing an elected government via the “deep state”? I don’t see such outbursts as immoral, inappropriate, or even ill-advised in the context of Facebook. People need a space to vent with their friends, frenemies, and acquaintances. Conversation usually sees us moderate or clarify our positions. 

I am ideologically right in a very ideologically left world. Although I am outspoken in private discussion, I am not involved in any political groups on campus, and I have never rallied for a cause. I am unknown to our chapter of the College Republicans. But I am persuaded that the leftist immigration and refugee policy agenda, especially given the influence of divisive social justice theory and looming automation, is an existential threat to the US and other advanced western nations. We need to talk honestly about social cohesion, assimilation, and the obligations we have to our citizens and our children who appear, as I see it, ignored in expansive homilies about immigration and refugees. As strongly as I feel this, I have done nothing more than state that these are my concerns on my Facebook page and engage in useful debate there.

Some brief comments on this:

  1. Professor Demetriou’s comments are clearly protected as extramural speech under a widely accepted understanding of academic freedom.
  2. It does not appear that the university is taking any official steps to squelch his speech or discipline him for it.
  3. That his comments are clearly protected by academic freedom and the First Amendment doesn’t mean we can’t have normative discussions about their expression.
  4. I happen to know Professor Demetriou from conferences, Facebook, and from his guest posting here at Daily Nous. He is a smart and interesting philosopher with a distinctive take on ethics and politics who is completely open to reasonable discussion about these matters. I disagree with a lot of what he says, particularly on matters pertaining to immigration, but I am glad he is a part of the profession.
  5. A robust culture of disagreement makes for a better academic environment.

Discussion welcome.

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B John Doyle
B John Doyle
4 years ago

The onus is on those who disagree to offer refutation.Report

ImmigrantPhilosopher
ImmigrantPhilosopher
4 years ago

Demetriou’s comments constitute a straightforward case of racist hate-speech. He has denigrated the intelligence of a large swathe of people (“they have lower IQs than ‘natives'”) and claims that they are people “we” (?) “don’t need”. Perhaps we should get rid of all the people with lower IQs (Republicans famously have lower IQs on average) and others we don’t “need” (like those who can’t contribute to the economy).

I wonder also if Demetriou, with a surname as ‘native’ as that (perhaps it is Iroquois?), is aware that he is himself a descendent of immigrants. Did the ‘natives’ get to decide whether his predecessors were ‘needed’?Report

Urstoff
Urstoff
Reply to  ImmigrantPhilosopher
4 years ago

If empirical claims can be classified as hate speech, then I’m not sure how any honest debate is possible.Report

Danny Weltman
Reply to  Urstoff
4 years ago

Empirical claims must count as hate speech in some contexts, mustn’t they? Say someone has been assaulted, and an angry mob has gathered to avenge them, and I point and yell “that lying Jew did it! His protestations to the contrary cannot be trusted, because Jews habitually lie!” Haven’t I engaged in hate speech? That’s not to say that Demetriou’s comments are or aren’t hate speech, but surely we can’t test for hate speech with a procedure that includes the step “is it an empirical claim? If so, it is not hate speech.” That procedure would wrongly rule out some instances of speech that are surely hate speech.Report

Urstoff
Urstoff
Reply to  Danny Weltman
4 years ago

I’m willing to accept the emendation that “empirical claims that aren’t obviously stupid and trivially falsified” shouldn’t count as hate speech. Or, perhaps, “empirical claims that are presented as empirical claims in the context of an argument whose purpose is to produce true conclusions” shouldn’t count as hate speech. Basically, let’s not assume bad faith on the part of everybody just because some racist somewhere might use that empirical claim to poorly justify racism.Report

Danny Weltman
Reply to  Urstoff
4 years ago

What makes a claim “obviously” stupid (as opposed to merely stupid, like Demetriou’s claims) or “trivially” falsified (as opposed to falsified, which, again, is something I think we can say about Demetriou’s claims) is contextual, right? We don’t have to look very far geographically or time-wise to find contexts in which “you can’t trust the Jews” is far from “obviously” stupid or “trivially” falsified. So I am not sure that criterion works very well. If instead you want to index obviousness and triviality to the truth of the matter outside of the historical context, I’m not sure I would be so quick to give Demetriou’s remarks a pass. Although perhaps I am falsely attributing to you the view that Demetriou’s remarks do not count as hate speech.

The second criterion you suggest, “’empirical claims that are presented as empirical claims in the context of an argument whose purpose is to produce true conclusions’ shouldn’t count as hate speech,” fails even when applied to my original example, because that was an instance of someone making an empirical claim in the context of an argument whose purpose was to produce true conclusions (in this case, the conclusion that the crowd ought to lynch the Jewish person). Of course, it was a mistaken empirical claim, but we make these all the time. Whether something is or isn’t hate speech thus can’t turn on whether the speaker’s goal is to make an empirical claim for a true conclusion, can it? This would probably wipe most hate speech off the map, I think – it would leave us only with hate speech lacking empirical content, or hate speech uttered duplicitously by people who don’t actually believe the hateful things they say and who are only aiming to manipulate others. Regrettably, I think that’s a small portion of all actual hate speech.

This may all sound like nitpicking, but in a world where the American government is floating plans to mobilize the National Guard to start deporting people en masse, I think we need to think long and hard about whether something like Demetriou’s comments are or aren’t akin to my example comment about Jews. Certainly we need to think with more clarity than what you’re offering, insofar as your criteria don’t do a great job of helping us sort out what’s going on.Report

Urstoff
Urstoff
Reply to  Danny Weltman
4 years ago

I’m not too concerned about hammering down necessary and sufficient conditions for what counts as “hate speech” (or “empirical claim”) for that matter. I would think the history of philosophy has taught us that such activity is a mug’s game. My point is that labeling something “hate speech” (with the implication, I presume, that the speaker is immoral for saying that and arguing in bad faith if using it as a part of an argument; without those implications, you’ll have to clarify why anyone should call anything “hate speech”) is not something that can be done by just looking at the actual speech. Context and intent, among other factors, seem to matter, as does the conversational norm of charitable interpretation. In this case, calling the statement hate speech seems to consider none of those things. Reading charitably, I don’t see a reason to classify the statement as hate speech, do you (and if so, why)?Report

ImmigrantPhilosopher
ImmigrantPhilosopher
Reply to  Urstoff
4 years ago

Once upon a time, empirical studies in various retrograde societies were conducted using then-cutting-edge methods that demonstrated the inferior intelligence of savages, negroes, and other non-whites. The appropriate stance in respect of these studies, then as now, is incredulity towards anything that even smells like racism.Report

Urstoff
Urstoff
Reply to  ImmigrantPhilosopher
4 years ago

Skepticism? By all means, be very skeptical. Hate speech? Insofar as hate speech is a statement that is immoral to say in of itself, then empirical claims shouldn’t be classified as hate speech. It might be the case that his empirical claim is true; the question is whether that is the case what follow from that, not whether he was acting morally whenever he said it.Report

Hemlock
Hemlock
Reply to  ImmigrantPhilosopher
4 years ago

Immigrant Philosopher: You seem to be suggesting that experts (e.g. researchers who have posted below) and non-experts about the philosophy and science of IQ should have the same degree of epistemic humility about the truth-value of claims about IQ. When I hear those types of claims in the absence of argument, I start thinking Dunning-Kruger Effect. If you are here to engage in philosophical discussion and not just assert your disapprobation of someone else’s views/claims, then perhaps you will (a) clarify the epistemological principle you are advocating regarding ‘bad-smelling’ propositions so that we can evaluate it and (b) offer something in the form of an argument (rather than normative labels and rhetorical questions) when you forward a claim.Report

Ghost
Ghost
Reply to  Urstoff
4 years ago

Empirical claims, when given racist explanations, ought to be considered immoral, yeah.Report

I Love Everybody
I Love Everybody
Reply to  Urstoff
4 years ago

Nothing follows from the empirical claims he makes. His claims depends on violating a fundamental principle that one should not judge an individual based on what other individuals do who are members of the same or similar identity group.

One reason the above is a solid principle is that almost every single person on Earth could likely be condemned on some ground or other if we were to use such an absurd principle to evaluate individuals.

A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution. We know that a certain number of refugees will be killed if they cannot find asylum. They are individuals. So he is saying that if someone is a member of a group with some dangerous members, then each individual must be regarded as bad or dangerous as the worst people in their group. They should not be saved from persecution or death because of what someone else has done. It’s absurd to judge any individual in that way.

I suspect a reply someone would make is that probabilities should matter. Suppose being a member of a group means that there is a higher probability one will commit some dangerous act. A moral reason that probabilities should be irrelevant here is that relying on them commits us to denying that what the individual herself does is ultimately the test of whether she deserves help.

Refugees are vetted to see whether there is anything in their past actions that gives a reason to refuse to help them. So we are stuck making decisions about whether they deserve help by speculating that their future actions will be very unlike their past actions. If we used such a flimsy standard for everyone, no one would deserve help.

Maybe his empirical claim is that every single person who belongs to those groups that he doesn’t want in the country is either intellectually inferior or dangerous. His claims about these groups taken as a whole are ridiculous. I don’t see how anyone could deny they are racist if they amount to a claim about every single individual.

Conservatives tout themselves as the strongest defenders of personal responsibility but his claims eviscerate the very basis of personal responsibility by making collective responsibility of some kind the only relevant consideration. I think few conservatives would accept the full implication of these assumptions.

His empirical claims with respect to the groups themselves are ridiculous, and easily disproved. They too are based on faulty principles about what a society needs, and speculative claims about what people will do in the future under circumstances that currently don’t exist.Report

jason Brennan
jason Brennan
Reply to  ImmigrantPhilosopher
4 years ago

ImmigrantPhilosopher: Most studies that test this question find that Republicans have slightly higher IQs on average than Democrats. However, the curve for Democrats is flatter–more people on high end and low end. Most studies that test knowledge rather than IQ also find a slight advantage for Republicans, though again the curve is flatter for Democrats. Also, Republicans are usually less biased in motivated reasoning experiments than Democrats.

E.g., on verbal intelligence:
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160289614000373Report

jason Brennan
jason Brennan
Reply to  jason Brennan
4 years ago

PS: I’m not a Republican. I sometimes vote Democrat.Report

Ghost
Ghost
Reply to  jason Brennan
4 years ago

There are many explanations for that data. The one that explains the most is this: people who have it easy and are smart, are also generous, and people who don’t have it easy score poorly on IQ tests.

Now, the underlying assumption is this: having it easy is positively correlated with performing well.

You’re free to challenge that assumption if you’d like. But it had better explain just as many phenomena.Report

Marcus
Marcus
Reply to  Ghost
4 years ago

I’m pretty sure all that data is irrelevant now.Report

Neil Levy
Neil Levy
Reply to  jason Brennan
4 years ago

Jason Brennan wrote: “Republicans are usually less biased in motivated reasoning experiments than Democrats.”

All the data I’m familiar with shows the opposite. E.g. Greenberg & Jonas, 2003; Jost, Glaser,Kruglanski, & Sulloway, 2003a; Jost, Glaser, Kruglanski, & Sulloway, 2003b; Nyhan & Reifler 2010.

The IQ measures seem to be driven by endorsement of free market beliefs; the correlation with social conservatism – and therefore, one would expect, voting for Trump – is negative. Further, there is an inverted U relationship between free-market beliefs and measures of rationality other than IQ. The most committed to free markets are also the least likely to endorse scientific explanations.Report

Dan Demetriou
Dan Demetriou
4 years ago

Just to save you some typing and outrage, a couple bullet points in addition to what Justin quoted.

1. The IQ comment: I’m making no claims about how heritable IQ is, as Jason Richwine did in his IQ-based restrictionist arguments. The same sources he used say that Greeks had an average IQ of 87 in the 60s (I select Greeks because I’m a Greek-American). Greek-American educational attainment and income is higher than the American average now, and I’m guessing that Greeks probably have a pretty average IQ (although sources tell me they are far below average when it comes to prudence).

2. Ron Unz, a conservative fwiw, has offered (as far as I can tell) the most substantive criticisms of Richwine’s views. But Richwine’s views are not the ones I was endorsing, anyway. My point is that illegal immigrants crossing the border in 2017 don’t have, as immigrants in 1917 did, a long future of demand for manual or low-skilled labor, due to advances in automation.

3. Unlike the case during earlier waves of immigration, a social safety net now exists and it is very expensive. If automation really will, as many claim, force us to institute a universal basic income, then we really need to be selective in who we allow in.

4. Re Islamization, I am against it. I think it is consistent to say that citizens shouldn’t be discriminated against/singled out on the basis of religion or cultural background, and yet that states may adopt refugee policies that weigh the cultural impact of potential refugees. Thus, I think that a traditionally Muslim state may reasonably favor Muslim refugees over, say, evangelical Christian ones.

5. As I said in the quoted material, my rant was not something I was about to send off for review. I ask people to consider their own rants when considering mine. Moreover, it is common knowledge among my Facebook friends, who are almost all left, that I invite disagreement and criticism, which I receive on a regular basis (Justin can corroborate this). I don’t mind it; I consider it worthwhile and I enjoy debate with people I know and trust. Lots of great exchanges followed this post. But when lifted out of the context of my feed in general, and separated from knowledge of who I am, my philosophical style, and personal history, it looks bad. And that’s precisely why it was done.Report

Grad Sockpuppet
Grad Sockpuppet
Reply to  Dan Demetriou
4 years ago

On (1): The Flynn Effect shows that the average results of IQ tests have increased for tested populations at a rate of about 3 points per decade. The increase isn’t in general intelligence, though. It concentrates in certain subtests, especially those linked to similarities and matrices, for which there’s a plausible (highly likely, in fact) environmental explanation (viz., we live in an increasingly symbol-rich environment whose navigation requires us to connect visual patterns to arbitrary rules, which is what those tests look for). You can’t take the FE at face value, though, or you’d get the result that Americans at the dawn of the 20th century had an average IQ of between 50 and 70 (depending on what matrices you use to adjust the scores), which is patently false. Test-makers know this, which is why they’re constantly re-norming the scores (so that test-takers have to answer a larger percentage of questions correctly to arrive at the average score of 100).

In other words, IQ comparisons between decades are not straightforward, and can’t be performed at a glance. You need to math them.

Oh, and since ImmigrantPhilosopher brought up political leanings and IQ: Yes, that’s broadly true. It comes from Kanazawa’s analyses of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and the General Social Survey. There’s a caveat, however, which is that the increase tracks *classical* liberalism.Report

Kathryn Pogin
Kathryn Pogin
Reply to  Dan Demetriou
4 years ago

I just read your full facebook post. My earlier comments were objections to principles folks put forward here in discussion rather than to your post in particular. Now that I’ve read it — and I’m sure some observers here will think I’m being a special snowflake, or an annoying SJW, or virtue signalling, or sanctimonious, but I’m responding sincerely because you said you welcome disagreement — I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed because I don’t understand how context or your philosophical style would justify what you said.

I’m from Minnesota. I grew up there, and I did my undergrad at University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. I’m still in graduate school so this wasn’t that long ago. As I’m sure you know, Minnesota has been one of the top states for refugee resettlement. I lived for years in St. Paul not too far from the IIM. Some of my neighbors were refugees. Many of them were immigrants. (I felt safe there, by the way.) I worked in retail from during high school through most of college. Lots of my colleagues were refugees. Some of my classmates were refugees. Many of them were immigrants, too. Some of them were undocumented.

I worked full-time managing a department for a couple of years after high school. There was one day around the holidays when we had a late night rush of shoppers, and the store was an utter disaster. A group of employees volunteered to stay late to help me clean up so I wouldn’t have to do it by myself. Every single one of them was a Muslim immigrant. When we left, we went our separate ways in the parking ramp, and a few minutes later I realize my car wouldn’t start — it’s Minnesota in December, I’m locked out of the Mall, and there’s no one around to give me a jump. As it turned out, a few of them caught a ride together because some of them had missed their bus to help me with the store, and they decided to drive by where I usually parked just to make sure I was ok since it was so late.

These are the people I think about when I read your comment that there are 20 year olds, raised in rubble, taught to hate us. I think about the guy who worked in the shoe department, who shared his lunch with me when he realized I forgot mine at home. I think about the cashier, who yelled at one of my co-workers for sexually harassing me. I think about my employee, who told me about how she fled her homeland, who had been to hell and back, but still some how managed to be one of the most kindhearted and hopeful people I have ever met. I think about my neighbor, who told me he would pray for me whenever I was sick.

When I read your explanation here, I think about the graduate student studying here in the US on a visa who explained to me how he needed help because he was separated from his wife, another international student, and his one year old daughter, who is an American citizen. They had traveled without him to visit her family, and had stopped half way back — in another country — when the ban was signed. As she was trying to figure out what to do, the country she’s a national of said it would prohibit Americans from entering in return for the executive order, and so, she didn’t know if she could go back to her family given that her daughter is an American. Because she is from one of the seven countries the executive order targets, she couldn’t return to her husband.

I’m not saying I don’t rant on facebook, or that I’ve never said anything hurtful. I’m also not saying it was right that someone publicized this, and I agree with Leiter that it’s protected anyway. I’m saying I don’t think this looks bad just because it’s lacking further context. I don’t know. Maybe if I did know you, knew the context, I would react differently. But the words of Elie Wiesel keep ringing in my ears — “No human being is illegal.”Report

John Protevi
John Protevi
Reply to  Kathryn Pogin
4 years ago

Thank you for that powerful comment, Kathryn. I wish “hear, hear” wasn’t so common, or that we had an alternative that was fresher and more powerful.

But as we don’t: hear, hear.Report

Eric Campbell
Eric Campbell
Reply to  Kathryn Pogin
4 years ago

I just want to say, as someone who thinks that counterproductive and otherwise vicious (in the sense of being a vice) virtue signaling (or grandstanding) has been a huge problem in our profession lately, that comments like this, which give every indication of being sincere, heartfelt, and respectful, are exactly what I for one would so dearly love to see more of in the profession. As someone who has been frustrated and depressed by the prevalence and persistence of aggressive posturing and weaponized displays of compassion, I want to thank you for your contribution to this discussion, for sharing what strikes me as genuine compassion. Since I share the sentiments you express here, I am especially gratified to see them expressed in an authentic and respectful manner, a respect which I think Dan deserves, even though I disagree with him (his rant) on this particular matter.Report

Dan Demetriou
Dan Demetriou
Reply to  Kathryn Pogin
4 years ago

Hi Kathryn,

I hear you. And even in my rant my claim was about the averages. On Facebook and elsewhere I explained that it was clear to me that there are many refugees or illegal immigrants who arrive better Americans (which is something different than being a good person) than most Americans.

(I know saying something even that concessive is charged, because many of my friends seem to be error theorists about American values or even American culture. I take it as obvious that (say) Somalia and America have two different cultures, however, so America must have a culture.)

The illegal immigrant question is different from the refugee question. I think your points speak more the latter. So let me say a little about that.

Your positive experiences with refugees in Minnesota are wonderful to hear. I could share some, too. But they are anecdotes. I won’t burden this post with discouraging anecdotes about (say) Somali-Americans leaving Minnesota to fight for terrorist organizations like ISIS or al-Shabaab or stabbing people in malls. These too are anecdotes. We need to look at non-anecdotal crime figures (murder, sex trafficking, sex offenses, etc.), employment figures, levels of welfare dependency, terrorist involvement, educational attainment, and so on.

We also need to think about what refugees are being taught both here and in their home countries. Today’s refugees are coming from highly tribal (often herding) and Islamic countries. On the tribal level, “survival” values dominate: clannishness, low-trust/uncooperativeness re: institutions, authoritarianism and unvarnished patriarchy, precarious manhood, chastity/fecundity values for women backed by brutal punishments, etc. On the level of Islam, important differences exist re: church/state separation (sharia), religiosity, polygamy, and freedom of religion and speech. Then you add the dimension that these people are mostly coming from failed states, are often illiterate in their native languages, and so forth.

None of this is the fault of you or me or the refugees themselves, of course. My point was that I was baffled at how educators couldn’t see how celebrating such refugees as a cultural resource undermines our (as educators) contribution to society, and deeply insults natives who don’t have such values and who have been so expensively educated by the state—the “widgets” bit of the rant.

My view is that extreme cultural diversity within a state is sustainable only in small numbers. At some point, however, critical mass is reached and a minority culture starts to aggressively reassert itself. For cultures with extremely powerful memes, critical mass is reached more quickly. When this happens, increasingly severe government intervention becomes necessary. Both the Muslim minority and the non-Muslim majority would be more free to live their lives if we severely limited immigration. I feel the European response to the migrant crisis supports this conclusion.Report

L
L
Reply to  Dan Demetriou
4 years ago

I’m from West Virginia. All – ALL – of the characteristics of “tribal” societies you mention apply to West Virginian society, and to the Appalachian subculture generally. We’re famous for our “clannishness” (think of the Hatfields and the McCoys), for “low trust/uncooperativeness re: institutions” (every flea market has a bunch of guys paying cash for their AKs because the guys are off the grid), and the rest of the characteristics you mention. And many Appalachians are heavily armed. No spin to give, just pointing out some facts of life for me and many others in the USA.Report

Kathryn Pogin
Kathryn Pogin
Reply to  Dan Demetriou
4 years ago

Thanks Dan, for the reply. I know these are anecdotes — but my point is not to paint a rosy picture of a progressive immigration and refugee policy as one where we take people in, and then all sing Kumbaya together. Rather my point is just that these are people. We are all individuals, and while we may tend to share characteristics in common across certain social identities, we have individual agency, moral standing, and potential. Even if I granted your characterization of certain Middle Eastern and North African cultures and the contrast with American culture (which I don’t), the language you used in that post — painting large swaths of people with broad and disparaging generalizations — I don’t know. I know this sounds dramatic, but when I read your post I almost cried. I thought about what it would be like, if I were one of those people, one of my friends, and saw those words used to describe people like me. The policy question is one issue. The language is another.

I know those discouraging anecdotes too — and I agree, data is important. But I think the data supports my view rather than yours. Yes, Europe has had difficult with the migrant and refugee crisis of the last few years — but last year we admitted a record number of Muslim refugees. How many? 38,901. Out of about 85,000 refugees in total. In 2015, more than a million refugees entered Europe. We could triple the number of refugees we take in, and still, our situation would be extraordinarily different from what’s happening in Europe.

I believe in the values we hold up as American ideals — freedom and equality chief among them — but I think the way to achieve those ideals is not by keeping out those we suspect do not share them, but rather through living by them. By making use of them to guide our lives, our institutions, our communities. And ultimately, I think these values are compelling — compelling enough to instill doxastic tension if not ultimately full-fledged commitment from those who would otherwise reject them if they experience these values in action. And in part, again, anecdotes, that’s because my experience cohere’s with what L describes above me. I’m on the left politically now, but I grew up in a conservative Christian home. Religious tribalism, opposition to freedom of religion, opposition to separation of Church and state — you can find these attitudes alive and well in American communities, and they’re not particularly fringe these days either. Our vice president has argued that intelligent design should be taught in public schools, he’s sponsored a resolution to designate the first weekend in May as “Ten Commandments Weekend,” his policy work on abortion, LGBTQ rights, and attempts to legalize discrimination under the banner of religious freedom have been openly grounded in his religious beliefs — beliefs I used to broadly share. I have a vivid memory of my youth pastor preaching about the importance of women’s chastity — he used the analogy that no one will want to buy the cow when the milk is free and told us purity is what will get us to heaven. We still have 13 states that make exceptions for marital rape. If I’m remembering correctly, intimate partner violence accounts for about 15-20% of all violent crime in the US. We have problems with child-marriage and human trafficking within our own nation. I think about a third of women murdered in the US are killed by their partners — we don’t call those honor killings, but there are some common elements.

To be clear, I am not denying that there are cultural differences. I am saying there is reason to believe those differences are less sharp than your comment suggests, and what moved my own attitudes further away from the ones you describe as un-American was developing relationships with people who had different views of the world than I did, who welcomed me into their social networks, and seeing what those views looked like in practice.Report

John Protevi
John Protevi
Reply to  Kathryn Pogin
4 years ago

I would say that Professor Demetriou is operating under a “lock-in” position such that people, once in a failed state, will always maintain the behaviors appropriate for that environment (i.e., “tribalism, distrust of institutions,” etc.). But I think that’s the fundamental attribution error, making a behavior adaptive in a certain circumstance into a permanent personal characteristic. Now I’m not gainsaying habit, but I think the “norm of reaction” concept laid out in _Beyond Biofatalism_ would let us see that the sort of behaviors Kathryn Pogin describes for her assimilated refugee friends are what we can expect in a very high percentage of cases. And it’s a nice argument against ghettoization– if you want folks to assimilate you need to not keep them penned up in ghettos.Report

I Love Everybody
I Love Everybody
Reply to  John Protevi
4 years ago

Yes. If there is anything that this political moment in the USA has taught us it is that people’s attitudes and behavior are very affected by context.Report

Jason Brennan
Jason Brennan
4 years ago

I think Demetriou is wrong about the effects of immigration on host countries. (Bas van der Vossen and I just submitted a book which defends a policy of open immigration from objections like these.) But this should be a non-issue. Obviously he has every right to say this, and the proper response to either ignore him or to produce a good counterargument.

Even the IQ comment is supported by a lot of research; see this recent book published by Stanford University Press: https://www.amazon.com/Hive-Mind-Your-Nation%C2%92s-Matters/dp/0804785961 This is a serious academic position, not hate speech. Nationalism–identify “we” as the nation–is also a serious academic position, defended by people on the Left and Right.

If you don’t like these claims, then do what Bas and I do and come up with a good response. Don’t try to punish someone for having such views.Report

Hey Nonny Mouse
Hey Nonny Mouse
Reply to  Jason Brennan
4 years ago

I agree. Furthermore, I think that the Chronicle was wrong to publicize his comments. It really does seem to be an attempt to punish him for his political opinions. Does it serve any other purpose?Report

Kathryn Pogin
Kathryn Pogin
Reply to  Jason Brennan
4 years ago

Why think serious academic positions can’t include hate-speech?Report

jason Brennan
jason Brennan
Reply to  Kathryn Pogin
4 years ago

Do you think Garrett Jones’s book, or the book IQ and the Wealth of Nations, are hate speech?Report

Kathryn Pogin
Kathryn Pogin
Reply to  jason Brennan
4 years ago

Why would we infer from two examples that the category they belong to can’t include examples of another kind?Report

jason Brennan
jason Brennan
Reply to  Kathryn Pogin
4 years ago

I’m just asking whether you think those books are hate speech.Report

Kathryn Pogin
Kathryn Pogin
Reply to  jason Brennan
4 years ago

I’m trying to figure out how it’s relevant.Report

Urstoff
Urstoff
Reply to  jason Brennan
4 years ago

They’re relevant because that is the research that at least one of Demetriou’s claims is likely rooted in. It might be possible that serious academic study could be hate speech, but the two examples here aren’t. If you think they are, can you say why and what implications that should have for the researchers and discussants (e.g., us)?Report

Kathryn Pogin
Kathryn Pogin
Reply to  jason Brennan
4 years ago

I said nothing one way or another about whether the subject of this post involved hate speech. I’m questioning the principle (because it seems false to me) that serious academic assertions cannot be hate speech. So, again, I’m not sure why that’s relevant to what I said.Report

Urstoff
Urstoff
Reply to  jason Brennan
4 years ago

It’s relevant because these are the examples that Jason asserted weren’t hate speech. It doesn’t matter if it’s possible for serious academic study to be hate speech. Who cares? The point here is that this research is serious academic work, and it’s not hate speech. Picking out a statement by Jason and lasering in on it as if it really matters to his point (it doesn’t) seems like missing the point.Report

Kathryn Pogin
Kathryn Pogin
Reply to  jason Brennan
4 years ago

I care? And I’m assuming he does too since he was the one who said it–which is why I asked him about it?Report

Stephen Krogh
Stephen Krogh
Reply to  jason Brennan
4 years ago

Hi Kathryn,

I’m just speculating here, and haven’t done any research into what constitutes hate speech, so the following might not be worth the pixels to present it (unfortunately, this threat rarely stops me from typing anyway!):

The term, “hate speech,” as commonly, i.e., non technically, used seems to imply a moral flaw in the speaker and her position. Her speech, qua hate speech, suggests that her position is (rationally) unjustified, as is her presentation of her position. One reason, then, we might think that serious academic positions can’t include hate speech, or at least wouldn’t employ them (presumably serious academic positions could be expressed using hate speech), is that, qua serious academic position, it can be entertained and presented by reasonable people of good will, something that cannot be said of hate speech by definition.

Not sure whether that’ll hold up (nor whether it could!), but something that crossed my mind nonetheless!Report

Kathryn Pogin
Kathryn Pogin
Reply to  jason Brennan
4 years ago

Thank you Stephen — I think that’s a very natural understanding of ‘hate speech,’ and it was actually exactly what I was wondering about. I don’t think it works, and that’s why I’m trying to get a grip on the issue of drawing a distinction between serious academic positions and hate speech. I’m wondering if it’s this kind of understanding that’s at work, or if there’s something else I’m not understanding.

The reason why I don’t think this understanding will work is it seems to exclude some paradigm examples of hate speech. Imagine that you were a white teenager brought up around the turn of the last century, your parents use the n-word to refer to black Americans, you live in a community where your religious and governmental leaders normalize and exhibit racism, your society and environment is structured around racial discrimination. You can imagine all kinds of scenarios where someone is deeply embedded in a racist culture such that that they could be reasonable, of good will, and not self-reflectively aware of a particular mode of hatefulness, and, for that reason, capable of uttering racist hate speech. Below I used the example of Thomas Nelson Page’s justifications for lynching as an example of something that looks to me like it is both hate speech and a series of empirical claims, but I also think it’s plausible to think of Nelson as someone who could have been reasonable and of good will. He seemed to have really thought the practice was necessary to protect white women, and he seemed to have really thought that no one who was innocent would be so brutally treated. It might seem odd to think one could sincerely utter hate speech without being unreasonable or of ill will, but when a hateful ideology like white supremacy, is all around you, it’s held by the people you love and look up to, and particularly when you’re cut off from the best sources of counter-evidence by the ideology itself (if you believe that a class of people are not credible, and yet those very people are the best sources of evidence against that belief) — well, it would be a little weird if the most racist societies were where it is most difficult to utter hate speech, but I think that’s where this understanding of the concept ends up.Report

Stephen Krogh
Stephen Krogh
Reply to  jason Brennan
4 years ago

Hi Kathryn,

That’s very helpful. Thank you! I think you’ve pointed to a tension I’d not considered (nor would have without your help). My comment suggested that serious academic positions could not of themselves be hateful by definition. My suggestion did not take into account the role various socio-political structures could play in defining what constitutes holding a position reasonably and with good will. If I understand you, your concern is that those structures could define (or otherwise act in accord with) reasonable actions of good will in a way that would be socially acceptable, but ultimately perfidious, e.g., Page could have defended lynching with a good conscience, despite the obvious fact that lynching is indefensible.

Does that sound about right? If not, then I’m sorry for misunderstanding. I’m not well versed in these sorts of issues, but I find that they’re becoming more important to those whom I care about, and so appreciate your time!Report

Kathryn Pogin
Kathryn Pogin
Reply to  jason Brennan
4 years ago

Stephen, yes, that’s the gist of what I’m thinking, except that I’m not sure I would put it in terms of Page acting in good conscience (at least insofar as that hints he could have a clear conscience). Imagine a dark twist on the Truman Show (if you’ve ever seen the movie), except instead of merely being surrounded by a simulated town, Truman is surrounded by a community of racists. Truman wasn’t being unreasonable in accepting the world he was presented with in the beginning, but still, there were clues that he could pick up on. What the people around us believe, the way our society is set up, and who we interact with all effect what evidence is subjectively available to us. Reasonable people of good will with bad evidence can do a lot of harm — so we have some responsibility (I think) not just to be responsive to the evidence we do have, but to be careful in gathering it, acting on it, seeking out potential counter-evidence, etc.Report

ladygrad
ladygrad
4 years ago

It strikes me that even if we grant for the sake of argument that the factual claims made are largely correct, we need not draw the same normative conclusions (i.e. that we are justified in restricting immigration on the basis of those factual claims). I think the factual claims are disputable, but granting them doesn’t necessarily yield a single conclusion.

Even if illegal immigration undermines confidence in the rule of law, this does not imply that the solution is to increase enforcement of immigration related crimes. This conclusion would require an argument that ‘confidence’ in the rule of law is both of overarching importance to a political society such as ours (more important than the benefits of immigration), as well as able to be best improved by a simple reversal of the fact that caused the decrease in confidence in the first place (i.e. if illegal migration undermines confidence and end to illegal migration will improve confidence).

It is also possible to make the claim that immigration “adds people and workers we do not need” from a position on the left: the free migration of people decreases class tensions by creating a greater labor supply and thus undermines the ability for workers to band together to demand better conditions (Seyla Benhabib notes a version of this argument in a recent interview on refugees and economic migrants and Walzer makes a version of this argument from the communitarian perspective in Spheres of Justice). As another aside, though, there have been strong unions in the US of undocumented workers (migrant farm labor being the prime example), so I’m not sure about the factual accuracy of such a claim. On another register though, I’m not sure what it means to be a person that a state ‘does not need.’ So, clarifying what it means for a political society to ‘need’ certain people would need to be spelled out in order to better engage with this claim in particular.

I think the most flatly bizarre implication of the fb rant is who counts as a ‘native.’ If by native you mean ‘born in the US’ then you do not mean by native what most folks mean by native (i.e. indigenous or original people). I’m also unclear about the relationship that a larger workforce has with regard to the relationship between automation and our (crumbling, if it ever really existed) social welfare state.Report

Matt
Reply to  ladygrad
4 years ago

“Even if illegal immigration undermines confidence in the rule of law, this does not imply that the solution is to increase enforcement of immigration related crimes. This conclusion would require an argument that ‘confidence’ in the rule of law is both of overarching importance to a political society such as ours (more important than the benefits of immigration)”

There is another reply possible here, too – if unauthorized immigration undermines confidence in the rule of law, we might work to make as much of the migration as possible authorized. There has obviously been a “market” for unauthorized workers in the US for a long time. Perhaps this will change, or is already changing. But, this market could have been, and could be, regularized to a very large degree in a way that would at least significantly reduce the “rule of law” worry, insofar as it’s a reasonable one. (I tend to think it is greatly over-stated here, but don’t want to argue about that right now.)Report

Joe
Joe
4 years ago

I definitely think that the publishing/distribution of Facebook posts is problematic, and as someone who strongly disagrees with Demitriou I support his right to remain free of any official or quasi-official sanctions.

That said, I have a substantive question for Demetriou, whose position seems to be based on the principle that if something will lower the overall quality of life in the USA, then it ought not to be done. This is plainly contestable in the context of global justice, and the empirical facts here make the case against the principle particularly easy: U.S. involvement in the middle east is (partly) responsible for the dire situation faced by many Muslim refugees (we destabilize the region roughly once per decade). U.S. involvement in the middle east also ensures cheap access to oil, which artificially raises the overall quality of life in the U.S by a substantial amount. Justice, if there is such a thing at all, demands that we help the worst-off of those we have hurt, even if they “hate” us and even if they (for cultural reasons) are not skilled workers. So even granting the controversial empirical claims at the heart of his position, the question is not at all settled.Report

Elio Corti
Elio Corti
4 years ago

Here is what Demetriou is basically saying (or something close to this):

P1. We should take in only immigrants who have a positive economic impact and who share our values.
P2. Illegal immigrants and refugees have a negative economic impact and/or do not share our values.
C. Therefore, we should not let illegal immigrants and refugees in.

P1 cannot be refuted since it is a normative claim. I strongly disagree with the principle but I wouldn’t say it is horrendous. It is a legitimate option on the table when arguing about the ethics of immigration.

P2 should be refuted empirically. I don’t consider any empirical hypothesis to be hate speech, no matter how much racists, sexists or other hateful people would like the hypothesis to be true.

He should try using more respectful language but this is not yet hate speech.Report

Danny Weltman
Reply to  Elio Corti
4 years ago

As I note above (http://dailynous.com/2017/02/17/philosophers-comments-immigration-causes-stir-campus/#comment-100778) it seems like an empirical hypothesis could count as hate speech in some contexts, couldn’t it? That’s not to say that Demetriou’s comments do or don’t count, but our test can’t include “is the comment an empirical one? If so, it can’t be hate speech,” can it?Report

Kathryn Pogin
Kathryn Pogin
Reply to  Elio Corti
4 years ago

Dr. Samuel Cartwright theorized in the 1850s that black slaves who attempted to flee captivity suffered from a mental illness–Drapetomania–which, in their disordered state prevented them from recognizing submission as their proper relationship to white masters. If I’m remembering correctly he prescribed whippings as a treatment for early signs of disobedience. His claims were empirical.

Thomas Nelson Page’s justifications for lynching were empirical–false but empirical.

Why think neither of these — or work in eugenics — could constitute hate speech?Report

David
David
Reply to  Kathryn Pogin
4 years ago

True empirical claims aren’t, by themselves, sufficient to establish hate speech or racism. Are his claims about IQ true or false?Report

Carnap
Carnap
4 years ago

What is hate speech?Report

Moderate
Moderate
Reply to  Carnap
4 years ago

Good question! Has any work been done on this?
Here are a few questions I have:
1) Is it part of (or implied by) the definition of hate speech that it is always morally wrong to produce it? Given how accusations of hate speech function in discourse, one would think so.
2) Is it part of (or implied by) the definition that the content of hate speech is false? This seems to be in the background of some of the discussion about whether empirical claims can be hate speech–the idea seems to be that we can’t know whether an empirical claim is hate speech until we know whether it’s true–since if it’s true it can’t be hate speech.
3) Is it morally wrong to *believe* the content of some item of hate speech, even if you never express it?Report

Kathryn Pogin
Kathryn Pogin
Reply to  Moderate
4 years ago

There’s definitely been work on hate speech (e.g., Alexander Brown, I think, published a book on it just a couple of years ago). Even if it were a necessary condition that hate speech must be false (I don’t think that’s right but supposing it were) that doesn’t get us to empirical claims can’t be hate speech–it only gets us that true empirical claims can’t be hate speech.Report

David
David
Reply to  Kathryn Pogin
4 years ago

Kathryn, are you asserting that Demetriou engaged in hate speech? Which assertion constitutes hate speech? Is it the one on IQ? Is that assertion true or false? If it’s true, why would it be hateful to assert it?Report

Kathryn Pogin
Kathryn Pogin
Reply to  David
4 years ago

If you read my comment above I noted that my objections to characterizations of hate speech in this thread were distinct from my view of Demetriou’s comments in particular. I haven’t expressed a view about whether or not his comments constitute hate speech because I don’t see that doing so would be valuable to discussion. Someone else has already expressed the view that it was; others have disagreed. I doubt my view carries any more weight than those who have already shared theirs.

But more to the point, whether or not something is hate speech is not relevant to whether it’s normatively appropriate, offensive, true, false, or actionable, or protected. Hate speech uttered alone to oneself need not offend anyone. Speech that falls short of constituting hate speech can still be deeply wrong. Hate speech, as hate speech, is protected under the first amendment (some hate speech will be actionable, but because it also constitutes, e.g., harassment).

I do think “illegals” is a slur, so I will say I believe his post included slurs. I will also say I think true statements can be hate speech (think about Danny’s example above; it might be true Jews habitually lie insofar as humans in general habitually lie–one can say something that is strictly speaking true and yet communicate something that is false and denigrating and hateful or likely to incite hatred). But my interest in the discussion about hate speech here has little to do with my thinking it’s important or productive for me to weigh in on whether these remarks were hate speech.Report

David
David
Reply to  Kathryn Pogin
4 years ago

‘Illegals’ is no more a slur than ‘criminals.’ Both words are perfectly appropriate in the right contexts.Report

Kathryn Pogin
Kathryn Pogin
Reply to  Kathryn Pogin
4 years ago

Well, you are free to assert that, but there’s no reason for me to take your word for it without argument–particularly since there are compelling arguments to the contrary.Report

Daniel Greco
Daniel Greco
Reply to  Kathryn Pogin
4 years ago

I’m curious about this:

“But more to the point, whether or not something is hate speech is not relevant to whether it’s normatively appropriate, offensive, true, false, or actionable, or protected. ”

My vague sense, which I’m willing to admit could be way off, is that in most contexts in which people use the phrase “hate speech”, it’s to distinguish it from other speech that is (or should be) protected. And I can certainly see the point asking whether some speech constitutes hate speech if “hate speech” is a legal category (or quasi-legal, e.g., if it’s a category in the rules of some non-governmental organization). If it is such a category, then determining whether some speech counts as hate speech amounts what sorts of reactions might be appropriate (e.g., if yes, some legal or other official penalties, if no, then no such penalties.) The wikipedia entry on hate speech provides lots of examples of different countries that have “hate speech” (or something closely related) as a legal category.

But if “hate speech” is not a legal or quasi-legal category, I’m not sure I have a solid grip on what the point is in asking whether some bit of speech amounts to hate speech. Relatedly, I’m not sure what’s gained over asking more direct questions about the features on which its status as “hate speech” would supervene. My vague worry is that “hate speech” is a technical term, and that outside the contexts in which it’s being used with some stipulated meaning (e.g., in legal contexts, where it’s meaning is given by relevant statutes), arguing over whether speech constitutes hate speech amounts to having a less focused argument than what you’d get by just arguing over whether speech has this or that objectionable feature.Report

Kathryn Pogin
Kathryn Pogin
Reply to  Kathryn Pogin
4 years ago

Regarding your point about how it’s not clear how useful it is to identify something as hate speech rather than ask more direct questions about features which it’s status as hate speech or not would supervene on, I agree with you, at least here. You put the point more clearly than I did, but that’s part of what I meant to be communicating the very sentence you quoted.

That said, I think understanding what hate speech is — even in a context like the US where, as I understand it, it’s legal status is pretty well established as protected — can still be useful. It seems like it’s helpful to understand what slurs are, for example, or what propaganda is, even though the status of something as a slur or propaganda will supervene on other features and neither is legally prohibited.

I don’t know about how often the concept is put to work in various concepts, but my own vague sense is that connecting the question of whether something counts as hate speech to whether or not it’s actionable is a relatively recent revival of a debate from the 90s, which I took to be otherwise settled.Report

Kathryn Pogin
Kathryn Pogin
Reply to  Kathryn Pogin
4 years ago

(Sorry for typos–on my phone)Report

Daniel Greco
Daniel Greco
Reply to  Kathryn Pogin
4 years ago

“That said, I think understanding what hate speech is — even in a context like the US where, as I understand it, it’s legal status is pretty well established as protected — can still be useful. It seems like it’s helpful to understand what slurs are, for example, or what propaganda is, even though the status of something as a slur or propaganda will supervene on other features and neither is legally prohibited.”

So I’m certainly sympathetic to the idea that it can be useful to come up with some broad categories (slurs, dog whistles, coded speech, etc.) and to then argue that some or another expression (“inner city”, “urban youth”) fits into them. Somehow arguing as to whether a whole fb post constitutes hate speech (and I know you weren’t doing it–other people were trying to get you to take a position on it, which you demurred from doing) seems to me less useful, though I’m not entirely sure why.

So one potential reason is that I feel like I have a clearer grip on what the upshot is of accepting one or another position on the more focused questions. E.g., If I become convinced that “inner city” is used as a kind of dog whistle, I might become convinced not to use it. And/or I might be convinced to ask other people to clarify their meaning when they use the expression: e..g, “by inner city, do you mean places like the financial district of Manhattan? Or Back Bay in Boston? Or do you just mean wherever black people live?” By contrast, if we’re not using a legal or quasi-legal definition of hate speech, I feel like I have less of a clear grip on what I’m committing myself to when I say that this or that post was or wasn’t hate speech. But I think we’re mainly in agreement, insofar as I misunderstood the point of your clarification at the beginning: that is, I took you to be saying that we can fruitfully argue about whether something is hate speech without taking that to have connections to “whether it’s normatively appropriate, offensive, true, false, or actionable, or protected”; I disagreed with that, because I was skeptical about the fruitfulness of debating whether or not something is hate speech independently of all that other stuff. But it sounds like we both agree that it’s typically more useful to directly argue about that other stuff.Report

CA Grad Student
CA Grad Student
4 years ago

I’m skeptical of of an idea which might lie behind Premise 1, “Professor Demetriou’s comments are clearly protected as extramural speech under a widely accepted understanding of academic freedom.” That idea is that extramural speech should be protected under academic freedom. I have no idea why I should be protected from University action if I were to announce, publicly, something like “It would be appropriate to a Professor like me to seduce a student like X, and I would be a terrible professor if I wasn’t readily imagining that during class.” I can imagine arguments that such a statement would be an upshot of a certain sort of scholarly work combined with certain empirical claims, but the comment seems to be obviously out of bounds, and I would be disappointed with an institution which did not try to sanction the utterer (barring really exceptional circumstances).

Whether these statements are more like that or are more like “I think the ethical truth is consequentialism” is not clear to me. Whether there is a bright-line test is not clear to me. Whether the possible absence of a bright-line test means that we should be allowing everything in, even the noxious example is, by contrast, absolutely clear: there are limits to what we should be saying, and there are cases where it would be appropriate for a university to boot a jerk.

(I’m likewise skeptical of Leiter: “his ignorant extramural rant is plainly constitutionally protected and so his university has no grounds for sanctioning him.”)Report

KH
KH
Reply to  CA Grad Student
4 years ago

CA Grad. I’m not sure what ‘extramural’ should mean, but your example doesn’t seem extramural. It refers explicitly to the job, and to harming people at the job. Arguing politics on FB is a different situation and seems to me less of a professional matter. If he had said on FB that he hates his colleagues and dreams of hurting them, that would be closer to your example. And that wouldn’t be extramural on my guess.

There have to be some times when I’m not working, when my words are not part of my job performance. Whatever extramural means, it has to tell us something about that. And I’m ok with the fact that reference to people I work with, like students, is relevant to what counts as extramural speech – though of course I may refer extramurally to my job, for instance if I say your quoted comment to my therapistReport

CA Grad Student
CA Grad Student
Reply to  KH
4 years ago

You’ve got two different notions of extramural in your comments, one in responding to me, where intramural seems to me to mean something like “having an effect on your performance at work,” setting up extramural as the rest of things, and the other in the second paragraph, “times when I’m not working.”

These two notions won’t always have the same extension, since much I do when I’m not working can affect what I do at work. I like your first definition, but if that’s going to make most interesting cases of speech, including the speech in this case, likely intramural, and proper grist for institutional sanction.Report

KH
KH
Reply to  CA Grad Student
4 years ago

Thank you, CA. The first definition is closer to what I meant. But when I wrote “times when I’m not at work” I meant it as an open term. I’m “at work” in the relevant sense on sundays when I email my students. Am I at work as I type this? Probably. Am I at work when I click ‘like’ on FB posts? I like to think not.

That vague expression aside, we have several criteria in play. You say ‘have an effect on what I do at work’. That’s too broad. Lots of clearly extramural speech – like family arguments not held online – may have an effect on why I do at work. My first proposal was that the speech should have a direct effect on students or colleagues. But even is not clear. What if I’m on vacation and in an argument about immigration in a hotel lobby, and my department chair walks by? I’d like to think my colleagues would not treat my speech as intramural in this case. And I don’t know exactly what it is to treat it as intramural, except to make me responsible for its defense in a later work context.

I think it’s inhumane not to allow some interesting speech to count as extramural. We have jobs, but we shouldn’t always be at them.Report

CA Grad Student
CA Grad Student
Reply to  KH
4 years ago

KH, thanks–that’s helpful and thoughtful. I think I’m inclined to something like a balancing test–it’s true that it would be very burdensome to always be on the clock, but it’s also true that we can seriously harm our employers’ interests by our behavior off the clock. I don’t have much of deep principle to say here, other than: thanks for the further comments, they are appreciated, and I’ll have to keep thinking!Report

Philippe Lemoine
4 years ago

As Demetriou himself acknowledged, the controversial post was just a rant on Facebook, so I think it’s totally unfair to expect from it the level of clarity and precision that you can expect from something that is meant for public consumption. If only for that reason, I think the people who shared his post, no doubt with the intention to hurt him, ought to be ashamed of themselves. If you read the post charitably, which I think the fact that it was just a rant on Facebook requires, I don’t think it’s so obviously mistaken that it should be considered beyond the pale and outside the realm of things which can be the object of a debate. The claim that there are between-group differences in IQ, for instance, is absolutely indisputable. What is controversial is the causes of those differences, as well as their significance, not the fact that such differences exist. Obviously, as Brennan noted above, even if the empirical claims that Demetriou makes are true, his normative conclusions don’t obviously follow, but again one can hardly blame him for not having provided a full argument in favor of these conclusions, since again it was just a rant on Facebook. As Brennan already said, if you think that either the empirical claims he makes or the normative conclusions he draws from them are mistaken, then you should just write a response to him instead of screaming for blood, like the people who are trying to get him fired.Report

John Protevi
John Protevi
Reply to  Philippe Lemoine
4 years ago

Are people trying to get him fired? I’m just beginning to follow this story and haven’t seen that. I’d be happy — well, not really, but I’d appreciate the help — to see some links on that.Report

Philippe Lemoine
Reply to  John Protevi
4 years ago

I thought I had seen that in the IHE article, but I just read it again and you’re right, it doesn’t say that anywhere. I guess Dan can tell us whether some people have asked for his termination.Report

Hemlock
Hemlock
Reply to  John Protevi
4 years ago

Seems to be some folks over there in Minnesota who would like to see him fired and say so:

http://m.startribune.com/comments/414127883/

I hope the good people at FIRE are keeping an eye on things.Report

Hemlock
Hemlock
Reply to  Hemlock
4 years ago

That last post sounds more alarmist than I intended. All but a few of the (linked) comments on the topic of firing him express dismay that yet another professor is at risk of losing their job. But, yes, there are definitely a few explicit calls for UMM to strip his tenure.Report

John Protevi
John Protevi
Reply to  Hemlock
4 years ago

Hemlock, I think there’s a corollary to Godwin’s Law that states that the longer a newspaper comment thread about a professor goes the probability of a “he/she should be fired” comment appearing approaches 1.0.

In any case the University President did the right thing and I can’t see any reason to fear that our colleague’s job is in danger. And if it does get threatened, I’ll be happy to collaborate with others to mount what counter-pressure I can to make sure Demetriou faces no employment reprisals whatsoever for his speech.Report

Hemlock
Hemlock
Reply to  John Protevi
4 years ago

I agree that Dan’s position seems secure, and I am heartened by your commitment to take action. That said, I’d rather not reduce what’s going on here to whether another edgy professor is going to get the axe.

We wring our hands when Trump tweets about defunding Berkeley and gives us Betsy DeVos. But academia is a mess, and the public knows it. I think there should be more discussion of what we (as philosophers and academics) can and should be doing about it, starting with the case at hand.

Among other things, I find myself thinking of the students who are caught up in this. Prominent figures have now publicly denied that the fb post claims are obviously false, crazy, or evil. Do you think that the professors in Minnesota who presented the pirated fb post in class, referred to its claims as outright lies, and organized a reactionary protest event are going to tell the students? And, in the aftermath of the upcoming “educational” event, do you think that the campus will be more or less hostile to those who want to explore right-leaning views? When a campus embarrasses itself to this degree, I think the broader academic community has the right and duty to call them on it.Report

John Protevi
John Protevi
Reply to  John Protevi
4 years ago

Hemlock, if you are so moved, you should by all means mount a critique of the teach-in and so on. I promise to study your analysis of it with extreme care and all the rigor I can muster, and further promise to act according to the merits, if any, I find included therein.Report

Hemlock
Hemlock
Reply to  John Protevi
4 years ago

I mean only to suggest that if we have time to debate the philosophical merits of someone’s pirated fb post rant, then we have time to discuss why this kind of thing keeps happening and what we–as philosophers, as academics, as citizens in a disoriented democracy–can/should do about it.

If the fact that you know Milo by his first name is not sufficient evidence that things have gotten wildly out of hand, I think Haidt makes a good case:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K92rOsjyLBsReport

Kathryn Pogin
Kathryn Pogin
Reply to  John Protevi
4 years ago

“Prominent figures have now publicly denied that the fb post claims are obviously false, crazy, or evil. Do you think that the professors in Minnesota who presented the pirated fb post in class, referred to its claims as outright lies, and organized a reactionary protest event are going to tell the students?”

Hemlock, I’m not seeing why that prominent figures have now publicly denied the the fb post was obviously false, crazy or evil counts against holding a teach-in. It seems that if it were obviously wrong, there would be no point in holding a teach-in.

I’m also not understanding your characterization of what happened — according to the City Pages article, the post was presented alongside testimony from differing view points and the students were given an assignment of researching the claims. If the claims were presented as outright lies, why ask students to research them? Do you know something I don’t?Report

Alastair
Reply to  John Protevi
4 years ago

Hemlock, you say ” But academia is a mess, and the public knows it.” Really? A mess in what sense? I presume you are talking about the common perception that certain viewpoints are suppressed in academia. How widespread is such suppression? How often are academics fired for expressing unpopular views (no matter which part of the political spectrum they come from)? It certainly isn’t unheard of. If happened at my institution a few years ago (in a case that involved an extreme left-wing view being expressed). Academia is pretty big. If your standard for something being a mess is the number of verified incidents of chilling of speech that have been publicized in academia over the last, say ten years, a lot more than academia is going to turn out to be a mess. In the corporate world, people can be, and are, routinely fired for expressing views unpopular with their employers. In many states they can be fired just for being gay. And if we are not just interested in chilling of speech, but in other things that are generally fucked up, it’s pretty obvious that Texas is a mess, as is Alabama, and New Jersey, and…. the list goes on.Report

Hemlock
Hemlock
Reply to  John Protevi
4 years ago

Alastair, you have a powerful voice in this community and I hold you in especially high esteem because you always speak your mind (and often with great humor). That said, I am surprised by the dismissive tone of your post.
1. Yes, I am concerned about viewpoint suppression (hence the link to Haidt, who has done considerable empirical work on this). I also worry about less fundamental problems which weaken universities, such as the (related) problems of grade inflation, adjunctification, weakened tenure protections, etc.
2. The left-leaning academic is Ward Churchill, yes? Correct me if I’m wrong, but his lefty “little Eichmanns” comment got him a spotlight, but he was fired for academic fraud. Anyway, his lies about his Native pedigree are far more germane here than his views on 9/11 victims. Ward’s pretty ponytail, Dolezal’s frizzy perm and spray-on tan, and Elizabeth Warren’s lovely cheekbones were all they needed to exploit identity politics to advance their academic careers. Trump’s recent “Pocahontas” joke is evidence that his base knows and cares about this sort of thing. So, yes, Ward and his ilk have damaged the public’s trust in us. I am not sure how this helps your case.
3. Okay, so I know that you just wanted to claim that few acadmics are getting fired (and the one example was a lefty at that!). To repeat, then, I think it is myopic to use firings as the measure of rot in the academy, just as it is myopic to measure the threat of mass immigration to the fabric of our society by the number of terrorist attacks on US soil. I’m far more worried about the increasingly trivial reasons that academics are being fired/harassed and how this lowers intellectual diversity, debate, and comedy on campus. We now live in world where a single tweet by a hack journalist can spark a global smear campaign by academic scientists which ends with a guy like Tim Hunt resigning his post in tears over a (imo funny) joke about “girls”. I don’t like this world. Anyway, here’s some data I find chilling: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/greg-lukianoff/the-10-worst-colleges-for_b_9243000.html.
4. Also, I don’t mean to open old wounds, but it strikes me as disingenuous to point to Ward while ignoring that a negative APA site report almost crashed your department just a few years back. When news gets out that Admin has threatened to close an entire R1 department, the chilling effects ripple through the broader philosophical community for years.
5. About the corporate/gays point. Yes, there’s lot of problems out there. Keeping with the idea, I think that (many) universities are guilty of false advertising w/r/t various issues related to civil discourse and freedom of speech. A corporation isn’t guilty of false advertising to its customers and stakeholders just because its run by jerks.
6. And, yep, academia is big. So is the ocean—and it still has lots and lots of healthy fish. Still, I wouldn’t shoot someone down for saying “the ocean is a mess” as they point out the massive coral death in the Great Barrier Reef, Arctic ice melting at unprecedented rates, and so on. I think (and you seem to agree) that freedom of speech is under attack in society at large. I also think that we—as sworn keepers of the sacred flame—have a special obligation to respond to that threat. If even the universities stop fostering classical liberal engagement and inquiry, then that wonderful engine of human progress is going to be lost to the world.
We already live in a world of alternative facts, Kellyanne Conway, and tedious “punch Nazis” fb posts (and, you know, everyone right of left-pole is a Nazi now). I feel we are hurtling some sort of cultural event horizon… how much closer do you think we should get before we try to turn this ship around?Report

Hemlock
Hemlock
Reply to  John Protevi
4 years ago

Kathryn: Yes, I floated some questions/worries that I had about this particular teach-in given the moral hysteria exhibited by its organizers. Maybe I was wrong to worry. Maybe it was great. But the project descriptions don’t speak to my concern that the event was framed in a way that primed motivated reasoning in those who attended and would encourage social backlash against anyone who reached the “wrong” conclusion.Report

John Protevi
John Protevi
Reply to  Mary Nau
4 years ago

Thank you, Mary, but I don’t see anyone in article or on that comment thread calling for Demetriou to be fired. Can you point to a specific comment doing so?Report

Mary Nau
Mary Nau
4 years ago

I’m sorry John. You’re right; nothing is explicitly stated. It looks like his reputation can be so damaged by this article and the events fueled by it that the possibility looms large.Report

Marcus
Marcus
4 years ago

I myself have ranted: guilty. I can feel empathy for Dan, absolutely.
But I also feel empathy for his students. His students have not doubled down and tripled down on racist and Islamaphobic rhetoric and tactics. His Islamic and First or Second generation students have not compared having to be in his class (even though he has yet to apologize for these statements) to a climate denier having to listen to science. It would be easier to feel more empathy for Dan, if he displayed some empathy for themReport

Marcus
Marcus
4 years ago

Justin, can you say a little more about your decision not to include either the original post in its entirety or the response to the immediate controversy?
I understand the hesitation to participate in what we find problematic course of action (How is a meta-discussion about the post different than those who problematically promulgated it in the first place, one might rightly wonder?) But if one believes that the subtle differences in context matter (As many of us do), then these kinds of discussions risk losing important elements that may well influence the kind of lessons we ought to take from them.Report

Marcus
Marcus
Reply to  Justin Weinberg
4 years ago

That makes sense — thanks.Report

Immigrant Lover
Immigrant Lover
4 years ago

Who cares about people’s IQ? What a weird, loaded way to measure the value of a member of our community. And why does discourse about immigration so often presume that there is an “us” that is independent of “them”? What about the many, many of us who have family members, spouses, and friends who are immigrants? Our well-being in the deepest sense depends on these life-giving and life sustaining relationships.Report

mike stanovich
mike stanovich
4 years ago

Whenever someone voices a view which the liberal left does not agree with it is deemed “hate speech” and they demand that the person saying this needs to be “punished”.
This is form of fascism where you try to silence your opponents through fear of retribution, intimidation and if all else fails, violence (as was seen at Berkley).
Have the “communists” in America (Hollywood, universities, etc.) just simply rebranded themselves with a new politically-correct title (“liberals”))??

As far as the “teach-in”:
YES – immigrants are welcome in America and are an integral part of our society and culture. My grandparents were ALL immigrants who came here LEGALLY through Ellis Island.
NO-people who entered this country illegally DO NOT belong here, should NOT be grouped with the law-abiding “immigrants” who came here legally, and should be shipped home.
Anyone who HIRES them is ONLY doing so only to avoid minimum wage rules, safe work laws and paying benefits. They should be punished for breaking the law.Report

Danny Weltman
Reply to  mike stanovich
4 years ago

I think generally one of the main claims of people who are pro-immigration (like me) as opposed to anti-immigration is that many of the laws that make it the case that immigrants are here illegally rather than legally are unjust and unwise laws that ought to be changed. So, pointing out that your grandparents came here legally and that this is entirely different from people who enter the country illegally is a bit like pointing out that a white couple got married legally whereas an interracial couple got married illegally: if laws against miscegenation had any merit, this would perhaps be a good comparison to make, but laws against miscegenation ought to be abolished. So the real question here isn’t “are your grandparents better in virtue of being here legally” but rather “we have laws that allowed your grandparents to be here legally, but which prevent lots of other people from being here legally. Are these laws okay? Or should they be changed?”Report

Another Marcus
Another Marcus
4 years ago

Although I deeply disagree with Demetriou, and understand Justin’s reasons for hosting this discussion, I want to cast a vote against discussing private facebook posts leaked to the to public. Yes, IHE broke the story, but the more the issue is discussed and disseminated, the more the behavior of violating people’s privacy is rewarded. If I recall correctly, two well-known philosophers recently had private posts of their own leaked to the public, leading (among other things) to serious threats against them. We should not reward or be complicit with the violation of people’s privacy; we should condemn it–even when it happens to people whose views we find abhorrent, and even when people might criticize us for not jumping in on the story.Report

Philippe Lemoine
Reply to  Another Marcus
4 years ago

I agree with you that, in general, we should avoid public discussion of anything, such as Facebook posts, that was not intended for public consumption. But I don’t think Justin did anything wrong here, since Dan’s post had already been made public and I saw Justin as defending him, even though he clearly disagrees with the views he expressed in that Facebook post. It seems to me that, at this point, writing a post about this on Daily Nous and allowing people to comment was unlikely to harm Dan. On the contrary, it gave many people the opportunity to defend him, whether or not they agree with his views.Report

D.C.
D.C.
4 years ago

I would agree with the comments calling any punishment of him over his extrascholastic, private facebook comments abhorrent. He has a right to his ideas.

Substantively, though, his statement that “most [of the current crop of refugees] adhere to a religious-political cult” is idiotic and self-refuting since most of them have fled because they are NOT adherents of any “religious-political cult.”Report

Tamara
Tamara
4 years ago

I´m not a philosopher and I´m not a native speaker of English, so please forget me if I don´t express myself as elegantly as other people posting here. Also, I´m a Latina, so I guess I have a low IQ , ha ha. But I would suggest that Dr. Demetriu´s Facebook post shows prejudice, and that his prejudice came out because he was expressing his ideas (or rant) in an environment he felt safe (his circle of friends). But this fact does not make his statements any better. Studies such as Project Implicit in Harvard have found that prejudice is quite widespread and that even intelligent, well-educated people hold them, although of course we don´t all hold the same prejudices (some of us are actually pro-immigrants). Therefore, I would suggest we all actively examine our biases towards immigrants, Muslims, Republicans….and right-wing philosophers.Report