I realized today that my turns of phrase are the product of a dual attack--living for several years in the South, where NOTHING is direct, and working in academe, where no one can take a stand, unless is it the accepted party-line, whatever that might be. I was reading Ms. Mentor in the Chronicle of Higher Ed and she gave a list of possible phrases and their meanings for colleagues who left or were demoted and it hit me like a bolt from the blue--I've been borged--assimilated into the indirect, euphemism-driven life of academia. Some of those examples used by Ms. Mentor are:
"If Eddie were a suddenly demoted administrator, you'd say he had decided to "spend more time with his family" or "devote himself to research and teaching." If he were a sexual harasser who'd been told to leave the campus, the official line would be something like, "He's pursuing other opportunities."I'm hoping that realizing part of the cause can lead towards a cure. But this leads my train of thought to another issue that I discussed in a previous post. The problem of having academics in positions of power, such as the Presidency. If the accepted practice in academia is to refer to the fact that a sexual harasser or predator is now "pursuing other opportunities" (and it is, I've seen it--the horrifying part is that the 'other opportunities' are other potential victims), then how can any academic face any issue head-on??
In a world where 'those who can't, teach', what kind of savvy can such a person bring to the national and international stages?? Now I've also seen academic in-fighting (so much energy goes into winning so little) and it's nasty, but not the type of nasty that will translate into any 'street-smart' tactics (like how the Russians made Obama look like a complete fool with the chair trick).
I've had enough experience outside academe, I'm no longer living in the South, AND I have a non-academic partner so I can be deprogrammed, but I don't see that happening for others.