The sheer nastiness

Brian Leiter collected some responses to the monstering [he calls it the defamation] of Rebecca Tuvel. They are consoling after reading the dreck from the Hypatia Associate Editors and that open letter. A few snips:

Philosopher José Luis Bermudez (Texas A&M):

I am deeply concerned about what appears, on the evidence available, to be an egregious episode of collective persecution that breaches longstanding norms, not just of academic life but of civilized behavior. I have no comments on Dr. Tuvel’s article, but the correct response to an article with which one disagrees is surely to write a response pointing out perceived flaws in argumentation and evidence.

You would think. You would especially think that in the case of academics. Standards are looser elsewhere in the intellectual world, but among academics you don’t run around demanding retractions of papers you don’t like. That’s not how any of this works.

From a PhD student in philosophy:

As a PhD student in philosophy, I wanted to thank you for taking a stand on your blog against this ridiculous thought-policing going on at Hypatia. The sheer number of “scholars” who signed that Open Letter to Hypatia was staggering, and therefore depressing; their apology was even more disappointing.

Over 500 “scholars” had signed the letter last I saw. Not all of them were philosophers though: lots were in Critical Theory and Theory of Theory and Theoretical Theorizing About Theory and the like.

Philosopher Jimmy Lenman (Sheffield):

I am deeply vexed and shaken by the sheer nastiness of l’affaire Tuvel. I seriously begin to question if I really belong in this profession. I entered it naively thinking it was a place where everything could be challenged, everything questioned, a glorious field of free inquiry where intellectual integrity counted for everything, ideological conformity for nothing. Increasingly it looks instead like a place for the enforcement of pious orthodoxies where self-righteous bullies queue up to trash the reputation of anyone foolish enough to question bien pensant received opinion, not just powerful, tenured folk like me, but vulnerable early career folk like Tuvel. I am utterly horrified and disgusted.

That rings such a bell  – that “the enforcement of pious orthodoxies where self-righteous bullies queue up to trash the reputation of anyone foolish enough to question bien pensant received opinion.” Been there, had that.

Dr. Eric Johnson-DeBaufre, librarian of the Robbins Library of Philosophy at Harvard:

I write to thank you for bringing attention to the frankly scandalous mistreatment Rebecca Tuvel has received at the hands of both the authors of the “Open Letter to Hypatia” and by the editors of that journal. Incidents like this can provoke crises of confidence in one’s choice of profession, so it has been encouraging to read on your website the expressions of support for Tuvel and outrage over the public rush to defame her.

It has indeed.

Oh this one is where I saw the number of signers:

Philosopher Graham Oddie (Colorado):

No fewer than 520 academics signed on to an inaccurate, possibly defamatory, open letter to the journal Hypatia, publicly denouncing Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Rebecca Tuvel. This is an attempt to silence a researcher with whom they disagree, through collective social media shaming.

And not just to silence her – to punish her, to disgrace her, to make everyone hate her, to humiliate her, to make her feel like shit.

Ah the life of the mind, eh?

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