I don’t plan to spend as much time on this as on previous recent blog entries, if only because these kinds of situations are becoming a dime a dozen. What will be surprising is if they do not discourage more men from pursuing academic careers. I sent as many specifics as I was able to dig up to Brian Leiter, but he’s chosen to sit on them at least as of this writing, which is unfortunate since far more people are reading his philosophy everyday than read this one.
What happened is that another male philosopher has found himself relieved of his teaching job under somewhat questionable circumstances.
A reasonably clear account of Mark McIntire’s situation is here. McIntire, it is important to note, was not accused of actual sexual misconduct. Michael Shermer (History of Science, Chapman University) was the accused. What McIntire had done, probably not even knowing that Shermer had been accused of sexual misconduct, was invite him to speak on Santa Barbara City College campus. When another faculty member, a female chemistry professor named Raeanne Napoleon, blew the whistle publicly, McIntire responded with a sharply worded defense of Shermer.
Shermer, an author and editor noted for his supposed skepticism toward religion, the so-called paranormal, etc., had defended himself here, describing the allegations against him as “unseemly and suitable for tabloid trash…” He doesn’t stop there, of course, but describes the details of some of the allegations against him and, if his account can be believed, shows them to be utterly ridiculous. Example:
…there was an Orange County conference in 2010 at which I spoke and did a public book signing. Oppenheimer quotes a woman who says that while I was sitting at a book table signing books and talking to her (in her view, “hitting on me”) I started “playing with my crotch” to get her to look at it, and apparently I did this for three or four minutes. Have you any idea how long that is? Would any man do such a preposterous thing at a public event with many people standing around, in a line to get signed books, where each exchange lasts perhaps 30 seconds at most?
The case against Shermer appears to be, shall we say, somewhat weak. He threatened legal action for defamation, but has since withdrawn the threat.
McIntire’s statement, which I’d had in front of me but for some reason was unable to locate again following a browser crash, criticized the faculty members, singling out Napoleon as she’d been the one leading the charge. He spoke of Shermer’s accusers as “calumniators” who “secreted the venom” of social justice warriors and launched “a Pearl-Harbor sneak attack” against an innocent man.
He found himself slapped with a Title IX harassment complaint, first by the Napoleon and then by three other female professors at SBCC. The complaint itself has not to my knowledge been made public, so I’ve no way to evaluate it — but are we truly to believe it is anything more than retaliation against his public criticism? In light of the prevailing ethos on campuses, and in the absence of any good reason for thinking otherwise….
The administration has (to the best of my knowledge) declined to discuss McIntire’s firing beyond statements like “the topics he chose for his course term papers and exams were too “politically charged,” his Facebook postings were inappropriate, and he failed to grasp “basic philosophical concepts.””
Failed to grasp “basic philosophical concepts”? What the dickens does that mean?
Cutting to the chase, what this looks like is the usual she-said, he said — which may well have begun with an instance of the sort of bad judgment to which we’ve all been prone from time to time (especially when alcohol is involved). McIntire looks to have done nothing except criticize his woman colleagues for accusing Shermer without any evidence beyond an inflammatory article on a website noted for its clickbait content and questionable credibility.
This is now grounds for a Title IX harassment complaint in academia?
All of this was followed by administrations doing what administrations usually do: taking the easy way out and unloading a person who has become inconvenient in the face of the dominant political tendencies of the present-day zeitgeist. The fact that Mark McIntire was an adjunct made this all the easier, and suggests that this case should be filed in with other evidence of the effects of the “adjunctification” of academia.