Sunday, March 01, 2009

Faculty Gangs

I never read much about the sociology of gangs but I did attend the types of school where people were picked on, outed and beaten up. Once the tide turned on these people I saw the worse instincts of others appear. Otherwise gutless people all of a sudden got the courage to belittle others.

It can happen on a law school faculty. For example, suppose someone on the faculty has beliefs that are not consistent with prevailing views of a faculty and that the person is a little different in other ways. At some point it evidently becomes permissible to ridicule the person. I've seen in manifested in a couple of ways. For example, at a faculty meeting which the "target" is unable to attend, he or she asks that his or her views be read to the group. One of the gutless ones in the meeting makes a snide, sarcastic remark and number of others snicker.

Or, the same target sends an email taking a position the majority does not like. For example it could be political but no less political than the vast majority of hiring and tenure decisions faculties make. One of "tough guys," not privately, but publicly, sends and email telling the "target" to shut up and stop interrupting his work (yes, the email interruption that is so dreaded). I have to concede I have never been interrupted by an email. I mean could someone tell me how that happens?)

In neither case does anyone say a word about basic respect or decency because they might be eliminated from the gang.

When the bullies actually say something out loud or in public email that takes on the administration or a member of the faculty ruling class, it may makes sense to listen but it is so sad to see adults engage in playground antics. And, more often that not the cowardly behavior comes from the children of privilege.

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