Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Petty Status, Power, and Law Profs

A really long time ago - in fact, the last century-- students were required in some schools to take ROTC. Mainly this meant putting on a uniform for an hour and marching around. Your uniform had to be spiffy. Mine was usually picked up off the floor of my dorm room after having been walked on for a week. This always led to many demerits.  But I actually got a good grade in ROTC -- a D -- when some of my other grades were lower.

The oddest thing would happen in ROTC. You could be with a group of eight kids marching around and the boss -- squad leader? -- would tell one of them to be the new boss and tell us what to do -- hut, one, two, about face, etc. With that tiny bit of power they became tyrants. They would completely change character from being regular people to shouting orders, berating you, and crazy stuff like that.

I guess things do not change. Now the version of being are regular person who is asked to do something else is  to be appointed to a search committee at a university. Simply by that,  the people, who may or may not be good teachers, good writers or anything else are, in their minds elevated. Somehow they  become more privileged to information,  more withholding, more official, and even Yoda like -- knowledgeable, wise. In effect, they view it as a promotion that means they are better in some way. Sometimes they only have the position because no one anyone actually respects appoints them.  Still is it a very big deal to them. They are now taking orders from others and a member of the inside crowd. They do not understand that they have not been promoted. Instead they have been demoted.

Where does this faux notion of status and entitlement come from? Is it because they have been powerless sycophants ever since their grade grubbing and butt kissing days in law school and they long to have power. Is it because they actually think what they are doing is important in any realistic sense.

It is not every one and not as dramatic as the 19 year olds in ROTC but it is the same illusion of importance.

1 comment:

Rafael said...

Who doesn't love being made to feel important? Everyone enjoys that feeling.

Also, I really respect how you spoke out about the lack of openness with regards to the search for a new dean in the Gainesville Sun. What a story.