Thursday, July 03, 2008

Hunting the witchhunters

In a post yesterday I discussed the recent Lexington Herald-Leader article about the University of Kentucky supporting left-wing political and social activism on it supposedly diverse campus.

Art posted a comment as follows:
Is the following quote from the H-L article accurate?

"The Family Foundation of Kentucky issued the fliers, which question the
need to spend state funds supporting the six individuals, to state lawmakers who
were in Frankfort last week for a special session on pension reform."

The answer, of course, is that it is misleading at best. The quote implies that the Foundation was concerned primarily with particular staff members. What it is concerned about is two things:
  1. That there is public money being spent to support political and social activism (in this case left-wing, but right-wing activism would be equally objectionable)
  2. That UK claims to promote diversity when, in fact, it has whole academic departments in which there is no ideological diversity whatsoever.
The individuals were random examples from UK's website. Who they were or what they do is only relevant to the extent that they prove one of these two points.

8 comments:

Art said...

C'mon, Martin, was the quote accurate or not? Did the flyer contain statements along the lines of the elaborations you are fumbling with here? Or did the H-L actually peg the tone and tenor of the flyer dead-on?

Martin Cothran said...

Art,

So you're making an accusation? On the basis of the Insight Publications? Have you read them?

Anonymous said...

Martin Cothran said...
"Art,

So you're making an accusation? On the basis of the Insight Publications? Have you read them?"

Where can we get a of copy or read this obscure publication online?

Art said...

Um, I'm not making an accusation. I'm just trying to clarify what the H-L was commenting on.

Martin Cothran said...

We're in the process of putting them up on The Family Foundation's new blog, but they say little more than what is on UK's own website. Have you looked there? And the fact that Art has apparently not read them gives no justification for Art's assertion that the "quote" (it wasn't a quote: it was HL spin) was accurate.

Art said...

Well, lets look at the first of The Family Foundation's targets (from http://www.uky.edu/~rst/):

"Brief Biography:

Prof. Robert S. Tannenbaum was Director of Academic Computing Services at the University of Kentucky from 1991 to 2001. For the years 1999 - 2001, he served as a special advisor on academic computing issues and planning for the Chancellor of the Lexington Campus. On July 1, 2001, he became Director of Special Projects and Initiatives and Associate Director of Undergraduate Education in the Office of Undergraduate Education. He is also on the faculties of the Colleges of Engineering and Education. Dr. Tannenbaum has been using and teaching others to use computers at several universities for many years.

Dr. Tannenbaum is the editor of Kaleidoscope, the University of Kentucky Journal of Undergraduate Scholarship. To find out more about the journal and to see the current and previous issues, visit www.uky.edu/kaleidoscope. He also administers the Beckman Scholars program at UK. For information on this program, visit www.uky.edu/beckman. Dr. Tannenbaum is the Principal Investigator for the AMSTEMM progam (Appalachian and Minority Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Majors), funded by grant # NSF-0431552 from the National Science Foundation.

He is the author of two textbooks and a large number of articles on the applications of computers in the humanities, social sciences, medical sciences, education, and multimedia. Early in his career, Dr. Tannenbaum was voted the "outstanding young science educator" by the Association for the Education of Teachers in Science, and he has received excellent teaching evaluations from his students at UK and other universities.

Prof. Tannenbaum has been active in the field of Civil Liberties for many years. He served on the Board of Directors of the Brooklyn, NY, chapter of the ACLU when that chapter was the first in the country to call for the impeachment of President Nixon. He is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the ACLU of Kentucky and a member of the advisory committee for the ACLU of KY Reproductive Freedom Project. The background on this page, one of the original copies of the United States Consitution, was selected because of his deep concern for civil liberties. "

Um, I don't see any indications that state money is being used to support anything untoward. But I can see lots here that The Family Foundation would oppose. Undergraduate research. The Beckman Scholars Program. AMSTEMM. Excellence in science education. Computer literacy. Defense of the Bill of Rights. These are all things that are anathema to conservatives, so it's no surprise that The Family Foundation would rise up in opposition to Tannebaum's accomplishments.

So tell us, Martin. You obviously do not wish to grant to Tannenbaum the First Amendment rights that many Americans (but clearly not conservatives) hold dearly. But I cannot find any indications in this bio, from Tannebaum's UK web site, of any use of state funds for political purposes or activism. What web site did The Family Foundation get their information from?

Art said...

Moving on to #2:

"Professor Badagliacco's research and publications focus on housing distress among the poorest families in KY, including rural families; reproduction and fertility; Supplemental Security Income (SSI) among children; and the sociological implications of genomic research. She is currently the Director of the Discovery Seminar Program at UK, a key program in the newly established Chellgren Center for Undergraduate Excellence. Her teaching includes teaching in the Discovery Seminar Program, introducing students to sociology through the study of family poverty in KY, and recently offering a DSP seminar on regulating sex and gender in U.S. She regularly teaches undergraduate methods (Social Research Methods I, SOC 302), the Sociology of Family (SOC334), and a graduate seminar with topics of inequality (SOC 735) on the Social Construction of Motherhood and Reproduction. Dr. Badagliacco is Fulbright Senior Specialist, and the Chair of the Appalachian Center/University of Rome Scholar Exchange Progra. She is socially active on many fronts including family planning. As an avocation, Dr. Badagliacco is a certified Master Gardener for the State of Kentucky, and writes a regular column for the Agricultural Extension Office Master Gardener newsletter, and reviews gardening books for the Herald-Leader. "

Once again, I don't see any indications of objectional spending of state funds. (Unless one is inclined, as TFF apparently is, to oppose research that would help poor and homeless women in Kentucky. No surprise there.) I'm particularly impressed that she is looking into the intersection of genomics and poverty in Kentucky. This is a very important subject, and we need more, not fewer, scholars working on it.

There's some special irony hidden in Dr. Badagliacco's research that we may have time to consider here. But I'll wait to see just how much digging Martin cares to do.

And then there is the fact that, as with Dr. Tannenbaum, TFF is quite opposed to any exercise of Dr. Badagliacco's First Amendment rights. (I'll admit that I don't understand TFF's opposition to gardening.)

So, Martin, why did Dr. Badagliacco end up on TFF's hit list? How do you get inappropriate expenditures of state funds from her web page (http://www.uky.edu/AS/Sociology/faculty/badagliacco.html)? Have you (or anyone at TFF) ever read anything published by Dr. Badagliacco? Is so, maybe you could share the citations and some cogent remarks.

Anonymous said...

Martin is being awfuly quiet about this. I can hear the crickets chirping early this year. Chirp, Chirp, Chirp.