Chastisements

Polemicist hereby chastises...

"If, when a man has fallen into habits of idleness, of daydreaming, and of sloth, putting off his most important duties continually til the morrow, another man were to awaken him one fine morning with the heavy blows of a whip, and were to whip him unmercifully, until he who was unable to work for pleasure now worked for fear - would not that man, the chastiser, indeed be his benefactor and truest friend?"

-Charles Baudelaire
 Intimate Journals

 

December 1989; page 2; Volume 1, No. 3
Polemicist

The editors have judged the following people and institutions-and found them wanting.

Joe Horn
Associate Dean of Liberal Arts

When we rebuked Horn in the October Polemicist, we hoped it would improve his disposition - instead he got meaner, louder and if possible, more stupid.

For starters, Horn has signed on as faculty adviser for an organization called the "University Coalition for Free Speech." Ironically, the only form of free speech this group has ever supported is the right to make racist statements without retribution.

The "coalition" opposes any University policy on racial harrassment that would "have a chilling effect on free speech." For instance, say a UT police officer calls a student a "nigger" during questioning. After all, UTPD harrassment of black and Latino students triggered the creation of the ad hoc racial harrassment committee in the first place. Horn and his student advocates fear that prohibiting such freedom of expression will somehow limit the intellectual atmosphere of the University. Coming from a man who considers torturing rats a legitimate intellectual endeavor, this attitude isn't surprising - although it is appalling.

Indeed, Horn thinks that students, like his rats, will only perform for him under duress. That's why he wrote to The Daily Texan to oppose mandatory teacher evaluations. He's worried that they would "encourage faculty to cater to those motivations of students that are themselves inimical to learning." Right Joe. Students' motivations are "inimical to learning" - that's why we pay $18 per credit hour plus fees plus living expenses and lost wages to attend college. Horn bas forgotten that the University, especially the liberal arts college, is here to help students pursue their motivations, not to stifle them. Horn is worried that teachers will "entertain" students in their classes, as if that somehow inhibits teaching. There's nothing wrong with gaining pleasure from learning, but Horn acts as if learning were only productive if it hurts. In his worldview, students should do as they're told and not talk back - student evaluations of teachers amount to talking back. Certainly if arbitrary, subjective evaluations (read: grades) are good enough for students, then they should be a reasonable way to evaluate faculty as well. But Horn likes to keep students powerless and unable to evaluate their evaluators, like rats in one of his cages.

U,S. Rep. J.J. "Jake" Pickle
U.S. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen

"I like to think I'm objective about this," Jake Pickle said of the murdering of six Salvadoran priests, "but I am not going to be spooked by the killings." What would spook the man? Apparently Pickle feels no responsibility or remorse for the role his votes played in purchasing the weapons that killed those priests. That spooks us.

Last week Pickle said that he'd consider cutting aid to the ARENA government if he saw substantial evidence that Salvador's right wing elements killed the priests. When the evidence became overwhelming that in fact the military committed the crime, Pickle said he wouldn't vote to cut aid unless he could see direct links between the murders and what he calls El Salvador's freely elected government

We don't think Pickle will ever vote against funding and arming that bloody government. Large employers in his district - Texas Instruments, for example- maintain investments in El Salvador. Some companies in his district, like Lockheed, even make profits from arms sales to the Salvadoran government. In the past, Pickle has supported massive state subsidies to these companies for high-tech research. Austin is a defense town, and because of that Pickle has an interest in escalating the war, not stopping it. What if peace broke out and suddenly no one bought weapons anymore? Pickle has the blood of priests - as well as 70,000 civilians - on his hands. We hope it's worth it to him.

The only difference between Pickle and Lloyd Bentsen is that Pickle spoke to his detractors. Bentsen was too busy preparing to run for president. The profound arrogance of not speaking to concerned constituents over the murder of priests cannot be understated. Elsewhere in Polemicist we show how UT provides institutional support for Central American oppression. As if to manifest that disgraceful alliance between UT, Texas Democrats and Salvadoran fascists, Bentsen will speak at this year's commencement ceremonies on Sunday, December 10. Quietly silting through the ceremonies will only validate Bentsen's and UT's unconscionable support for murder and terror. Graduating seniors should disrupt the speech by yelling and flashing signs that express rage at the U.S.-funded carnage in El Salvador.

Karen Adams
Texan editor

We sense in Adams a certain proud, almost defiant ignorance - the very definition of the philistine. Her musings on the recent bloodbath in El Salvador amount to a series of misconceptions, petty conceits and crude distortions. Even though the Salvadoran army indiscriminately attacked residential neighborhoods with American-made bombs resulting in at least 1500 civilian deaths, Adams reserves her worst disdain for the FMLN "and their [sic] faithful U.S. flunkies." Forget the fact that according to reports in her own newspaper, the FMLN offered a temporary cease-fire to evacuate civilians from embattled areas. According to Adams, "the rebels cowardly hid in those same neighborhoods, using civilians as shields." First, human beings don't make very good shields against artillery shells or bombs dropped from airplanes. Second, if the FMLN rebels were truly cowards, they wouldn't have hidden in poor neighborhoods - they would have sought cover in wealthy neighborhoods, where the army would never attack.

Adams calls what goes on in El Salvador is "democracy." In El Salvador last spring, presidential ballots were placed in clear plexiglass boxes under the watchful eyes of soldiers armed with American-made M16s. Is that democracy? Besides, in a country where the military ignores civilian rule and doesn't hesitate to kill priests or bomb civilians - all to preserve the wealth of a few families and U.S. investments, which requires that most of the population be poor - ballot boxes mean little.

Adams' philosophy, shameful as it is, stems less from malice than from sheer vacuity. While we don't really expect her to critically analyze the news; it would be nice, though, if she'd read it before editorializing to 50,000 readers.

The Campus Activities Office

Recently Glenn Maloney, assistant dean of students and chief of the Campus Activities Office, summoned the Polemicist editors to his office to enforce UT's restrictions on alternative press. Under UT's rules, no publication save The Texan can be distributed on campus if it sells advertising space. Under the laws of economics, of course, no publication can be printed unless it sells advertising space.

Maloney adamantly defends this rule, explaining that if it didn't exist, students would be barraged with commercialism and advertisements. We don't blame Maloney for enforcing the rules. Like the vice principal in high school doling out D-hall sentences for excessive tardiness, Maloney only does the bidding of higher administrators, brandishing his paddle on request. But in a stunning contradiction, a truly profane document reached the Polemicist offices via post: a handbill announcing the "Annual Burger King Burger Battle Contest." It seems that the Campus Activities Office has released a mailing list for all 700 official student groups to Burger King for solicitation purposes. Not surprisingly, the group that purchases the most Burger King products wins the Burger Battle - who could ask for more?

This incident proves that UT's rules banning on-campus solicitation weren't imposed to control commercialism, but rather to control the flow of information on campus - and maybe sell a few burgers on the side.

William Cunningham
UT President

Professors "are hired based on their teaching and are terminated based on their teaching," President Cunningham told an audience of UT parents at his recent "State of the University" address. The only question was whether he was lying or just displaying unspeakable naivete. Later in the speech, he answered it himself: He admitted that he must approve every hiring, promotion and pay-raise decision UT-Austin makes, which means that he was lying. In the history department, for example, pay-raise decisions are made almost solely on the basis of publishing. In a six-part form history profs are required to fill out if they want pay raises, only the sixth portion addresses the question of teaching; and even that had a disclaimer stating that measurement of teaching ability is "subjective," and therefore not a weighty consideration. Outside of the auditorium during the president's speech, students were carrying picket signs saying, "Don't let Cunningham lie to your parents." He did anyway.

We've said it before, but this man has no business running a university. He's not a scholar, he's a businessman. He lies when it's convenient. He maintains his rule by dividing students and pitting them against each other. He channels UT resources into funding military capital instead of hiring teachers. His idea of confronting problems like racism or understaffing is to form a committee, not make a decision. He should be fired, but students don't have enough clout to do that, Instead, we should harrass him on an individual basis until he leaves of his own accord. The Texan already printed Cunningham's office phone (471-1232), but feel free to call him at home, too (328-2285). Stop by his home, or maybe send him a Domino's pizza: his address is 1106 Kennan Rd - don't be embarrassed, UT picks up a $5500 per month mortgage tab for him, so it's your house too.