At Case Western Reserve, a law school dean facing charges of harassment, and facing a retaliatory behavior lawsuit filed by one of his colleagues, has stepped down. He remains on the faculty.

At Northwestern (where UD was an undergraduate), Peter Ludlow, a high-profile philosophy professor who certainly seems to have harassed a student (a freshman!), and whose punishment for that harassment seems to many there insufficiently severe, cancelled a class today because a sit-in was planned in his classroom.

Ludlow is in even more extensive legal difficulty than the Case Western guy… Let’s see — he’s suing various media outlets for having used the word “rape” in their coverage of the case, when in fact no rape occurred. He might have to sue Rutgers University to get back the job they just offered him (this was to be his escape from NU) if they decide – now that the harassment mess is all over the papers – that they don’t want him after all. He’s being sued by the complaining student, and for all I know he may countersue her (he claims she was the sexual aggressor). Petitions and protests against his continued presence at NU are making it difficult – maybe impossible? – for him to hold class.

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5 Responses to “Purported sexual harassers dropping like flies.”

  1. Rita Says:

    Do you have any theories about why it’s almost all philosophy profs in these cases? NU, Colorado, Miami?

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Rita: I’ve certainly wondered about this. There’s the dork theory – philosophy professors – male ones – are predominantly dorks who never expected to score – but because they’re professors they do score, or they think they’re picking up messages that they can try to score, with their impressed students… But at bottom they’re still dorks, so they go about things really stupidly, thus outraging rather than intriguing these same students…?

  3. Rita Says:

    Aren’t all professors dorks though? If dorkdom were the key, I’d expect to hear about scores of sexually harassing physicists before I heard about philosophers. Something about especially the McGinn case suggests that these aren’t timid, cue-misinterpreting bumblers, but men who firmly believe they deserve to score and to have their pick while they’re at it.

  4. Stephen Karlson Says:

    A colleague from Physics noted, in some seriousness, that he could judge the quality of a physics department by how few doors he’d have to knock on before he could form a string quartet. Might not be a bad strategy for meeting ladies, either.

  5. Greg Says:

    Wittgenstein was a dork, but then he was Wittgenstein. John Rawls, my teacher, was a great philosopher and, based on my somewhat limited evidence, an exceptionally sweet man. I know one very serious, rather big time, academic philosopher, also a sweet “family man,” a mensch and anything but a dork. One wonders how exposure to moral philosophy — all academic philosophers are so exposed — would not normally act as at least something of a brake on this sort of harassment. Can the anosmic credibly teach the aesthetics of perfumes?

    Generalizations about any groups, defined in ways not dependent on the harm that they cause (e.g. domestic abusers etc.) — excepting Republicans* (it wasn’t always completely so) — are, for me, subject to a very heavy burden of proof of correlation with bad traits.

    *Ok maybe today’s Republicans — once one identifies the common agenda items — are essentially, if indirectly, defined by the harm that they are almost certain to cause.

    By the (very circuitous) way, and as for physicists, here’s a whole department of apparently lovely people, guys and gals, I think would be terrific colleagues and mentors. For those relatively innocent of physics (like me) these videos are informative and great fun:

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