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

 

September 1991; page 2; Volume 3, No. 1
Polemicist

Bill Collier
Freeport Flack

In preparing for his three-part series on Freeport McMoRan's Indonesian mining operations, Austin American-Statesman reporter Bill Collier asked Polemicist to open up its files for use in his articles. After seeing his work, we are embarrassed that anyone could have viewed our files, and then written the lame, tripe-ridden fluff that appeared under Collier's byline September 1, 2, and 3.

More than one year after Polemicist editors broke the UT-Freeport-Indonesia story in the Austin Chronicle, and expanded the stories in subsequent issues of Polemicist, the Statesman finally decided to acknowledge debates that everyone else in town has read about and discussed at length. The Statesman paid for Collier to fly to Indonesia, where he toured the Freeport mining facility under the constant surveillance of company officials. Collier discussed his trip with us at length, but his conversation sounded nothing like his Statesman series, which read like a puff piece written by the Freeport public relations office. A front-page headline Sept. 2 declared, "Freeport consultants say all's well." Did Collier need to travel to Indonesia to write that story?

Collier writes that "[n]ow Freeport seems to be working hard to change its environmental image" and to "convince critics that its operations are non-polluting and beneficial to native Irianese." Collier seems to be working hard on that score as well. Collier admitted to Polemicist that he is in close, regular contact with Jim Bob Moffett, chairman and CEO of Freeport. "Jim Bob calls me all the time," Collier declared.

Sometimes Jim Bob calls him under the strangest circumstances - for example, when Collier tried to interview UT President "Dollar" Bill Cunningham, who sits on the Freeport McMoRan board of directors, for his articles. Collier explained to Polemicist that he had scheduled an interview with Cunningham just after he returned from Indonesia, but that "Dollar" Bill's secretary called him that morning and explained that the UT President would be unavailable. She asked Collier to please fax his questions instead. Collier told her he would rather conduct the interview in person, but the secretary insisted, so he obliged. Several hours later, Collier recalled, he received a phone call from his friend "Jim Bob." Toward the end of the conversation, Moffett asked Collier about his questions for Cunningham, implicitly informing the reporter that Cunningham had immediately forwarded them to his superiors at Freeport's home office.

Later, Collier discovered that Freeport personnel had been assigned to compose Cunningham's responses. One Freeport bureaucrat, Collier remembered, told him on the phone she was having trouble answering one of the questions he had posed to Cunningham. Collier said it turned out to be a vague question about what Cunningham thought of Freeport's environmental record in Indonesia. He told us he only wanted a general "bullshit" response. The Freeport bureaucrat, though, had been assigned to compose a lengthy list of the environmental precautions the company takes in its mining operations. Judging by the content of his articles, Collier appears to have reprinted the list as fact.

We appreciate Collier's telling us all these fine stories, but we didn't appreciate as much the fact that after handing over our entire Freeport file, which look several people hundreds of hours to accumulate, he still failed to reference Polemicist or even to point out that students broke the story long before the Statesman deemed it fit to print. Indeed, long after student journalists covered the Freeport-Indonesia story, Bill Collier was covering Jim Bob Moffett's ass.

Garth Davis
Dan Quayle Impersonator

We never expected a great deal from Garth Davis, but he did provide some good comedy during the tuition debates over the summer:

  • Referring to Gov. Ann Richards' comments that students all drove BMW's and therefore could afford tuition hikes, Davis announced that he drove a BMW, and felt very guilty about it.

  • Davis went on to intone that "just because students drive nice cars doesn't mean they can afford tuition."
  • Proving that his liberal heart bleeds for those whose parents didn't buy them a BMW, Davis offered the following social analysis: "Higher education is very important for people in the slums, in the ghettos. They're stuck down there unless they can get a higher education" - as opposed to "up here," where we all drive BMW's.
  • But, Davis assured his constituency, you shouldn't despair, explaining that he's "very confident the administration will protect students in many ways." (We call your attention to the nuclear fallout shelter in Garrison Hall.)
  • If his mishaps weren't so hilarious, we'd call for his public lashing. Instead, we call on Garth to donate his salary as SA president to the Beemer Fund for College-Bound Ghetto Children. He can find the address in the Polemicist staffbox Make checks payable to Polemicist magazine.

    Joe Horn's
    Affirmative Recriminations

    In a speech before the National Accuracy in Academia Conference in Washington, D.C. this summer, psychology professor and eugenicist Joe Horn lambasted the UT Law School for "abandoning the merit principle" in its admissions policy. This year's entering law class is nearly 80 percent white - but that's not white enough for Mr. Horn, whose academic interests include torturing lab mice with electrical charges and "quantifying" race- and gender-based differences in intelligence.

    Indeed, Horn insists that whites have been denied their entitlement to law degrees based on their scores on an "objective" admissions criterion called the Texas Index (TI). The TI multiplies your GPA by an arbitrary number and adds it to your LSAT score - to come up with its assessment of your "likeliness to succeed" in law school.

    Most educated people realize that standardized tests aren't actually "objective," since the choice and wording of multiple choice questions and answers cloak an entire gauntlet of cultural assumptions. On this issue, however, Horn is as blind as some of the mice he sends scurrying frantically around his lab cages. In an article published last year in the right-wing journal Academic Questions, Horn pontificated on "Truth, Gender, and the SAT," concluding that gender differences in test scores stem from intelligence differences.

    In his speech before the AIA (a right-wing group most famous for hiring students to "monitor" the classes of radical faculty in the mid-'80s), Horn charged the Law School with violating its own TI guidelines by passing up higher scoring whites in favor of African-American and Latino applicants. But according to the Law School, the TI has never been more than a partial guideline for evaluating applications, and is by no means objective. At least 45 percent of law students are accepted on other merits - background, special talents, age, etc.

    In a recent Statesman article on the law school, Laquita Hamilton, assistant dean of admissions, noted that before 1953 preference was often given to siblings of former graduates or affluent families - "But you don't hear anyone screaming about that," she noted.

    No, Horn is too busy defending the privileges of white folk against the hordes of colored folk he considers their inferiors. When this profane man emerges from his laboratory, shucks his white jacket and steps into the public sphere, he only reveals the vapidity and racism of his thought.

    We urge Joe Horn to leave the rats alone for awhile and try quantifying the number of students of all races who are passed over the next time the son of a congressman or oil man with lower scores is admitted to law school. This should make some overworked rats very happy.