"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Monday, August 28, 2006

Self-Debasement Among the Campus Lefties

Awhile back the Brown Journal of World Affairs asked me for a paper---sorry, no honorarium--- on important problems looming for the Chinese economy. The paper is based upon a book (Fault Lines In China's Economic Terrain) that Charles Wolf Jr. and I and a couple of others wrote a few years ago. Anyway, I agreed to do it, as I truly am a moron still laboring under the illusion that the marketplace of ideas is something worthy of sacrifice; it took about two weeks of my time.

Sent the paper in, whereupon the editors began to "fix" it so that the writing style would appeal to above-average freshman. Anyway, I put the kibosh on most of those changes, but one change that they insisted upon reveals quite an interesting dynamic. One of the problems confronting the Chinese is the spread of HIV/AIDS; unlike the incidence of more-traditional diseases spread by various forms of pestilence---which the Chinese have done a remarkable job reducing--- HIV/AIDS presents formidable problems in substantial part because it is behavioral, that is, the incidence of the disease depends crucially on various risky types of behavior by individuals.

Well. This obvious truth---denied by no one anywhere---is too "sensitive," too "controversial," and might "anger" some readers, in particular, the homosexual lobby at Brown University. And so the editors demanded that HIV/AIDS not be described as a "behavioral" disease, even though that central reality is one important dimension of the problem faced by the Chinese government, as some of the policies implemented to reduce the spread of the infection will drive part of the affected population into the shadows. Their argument---believe it or not---is that any disease is in some sense behavioral, and so describing HIV/AIDS in that way conveys no useful information. Really? Malaria? Lymphatic Cancer? Etc. I am not making this up.

And so I told them not to publish the paper; I allowed them to waste two weeks of my time, but I will not allow them to impose upon me the asinine dogmas of political correctitude. And so the efforts of lefties to impose censorship is amusing indeed, particularly in the sense that defense of their position has led them to descend into such absurdities as the argument that HIV/AIDS is not behavioral. It just doesn't get any better than that.


Hunter Baker said...

This is why I get so annoyed when the left talks about being "reality-based." There are some realities they are quite unwilling to face.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Pretty soon you right-wingers will be saying that sex has something to do with making all those babies. You never quit, do you?

It's always sex sex sex with you people. Get over it.

James Elliott said...

So long as you pointed out that, HIV/AIDS presents a risk to sexually active homosexual men and straight women and intravenuous (sp?) drug users, and it sounds like you did, I really don't see how anyone with a shred of intellectual honesty could have objected to your paper. STDs are, without a doubt, linked to one's behavior in a far more concrete way than other diseases. I am truly sorry that academia has become so cautious and that your efforts were spurned in such a ridiculous fashion.