Mooting Mutu

datePosted on 11:09, September 7th, 2011 by Pablo

Since my name was taken in vain in comparison with Margaret Mutu and her recent remarks on immigration, I would like to set the record straight as to why the comparison is false.

Margaret Mutu is a racial polemicist who received her professorship as a PC sinecure from an Auckland University administration concerned about placating key constituent groups. She is a second rate rate academic with a third rate publication record espousing fourth rate post-dependency and post-modern subaltern-focused theories. She publishes in obscure journals, mostly without peer review, and in crony academic volumes. Her books are published by local presses and receive no international mention.

She has nothing to say about the bitter employment relation disputes between the Auckland University management and its academic staff, perhaps because she is rumored to have been bought off by the management as part of that silence. She likes to talk S***t about race relations, and believes that it is impossible for non-whites to be racist. She is not the only one to think this–there are people in my old department who share that belief.

I was an internationally well respected scholar and teacher who was dismissed for sending a rude email (which was unprofessional, to be sure) to an utterly unqualified and hopeless foreign student who as it turns out invented an excuse to avoid an assignment (as happens often at Auckland). During the time I was at Auckland I published two books and over forty peer reviewed articles, chapters and reviews in major international disciplinary journals. During that time and in spite of the fact that I gave away eight years of seniority to take the Auckland job, I never made it past the Senior Lecturer rank. Now I have been blacklisted and am out of academia.

Because I said that the student’s excuse was preying on Western liberal guilt and thus were culturally driven, I was branded a racist. After litigation I was barred from returning to my career in exchange for a small monetary settlement (due to the fact that I could not afford the costs of a court case when the University had spent nearly 1 million NZ dollars keeping me out). Mutu was on the side of those who claimed I was racist even though we have never met and she was aware of my non-compromising and egalitarian atttiude towards students. Her commitment to excellence in education is, to say the least, questionable.

I was fired for jeapordising the university’s foreign student revenue stream. Mutu did no so such thing, as she only annoys white people who will send their students to the 82nd ranked university anyway. After all, where are they going to go? To a NZ university ranked 180th or so? (For the record, I taught three years at a university ranked 27th-32nd in annual rankings after my Auckland dismissal, so the place got worse after I left).

Needless to say, I have no time for Ms. Mutu and her rants. It offends me that she lumps me–an American raised in South America and who has been involved in struggles that she can only pontificate about–with Afrikkaners with attitudes.

But it offends me more that just because she says offensive things, people demand that she be fired. For better or (in this case worse), universities are supposed to be bastions of the offensive, the profane, the unfashionable and even the idiotic, simply because the role of the academe is to foster the clash of ideas and a culture of healthy, if not intense intellectual debate about subjects both esoteric and contemporary. Just because someone’s views are provocative does not mean that they should not be heard, and that is where academia plays a role.

So even if I believe that VC Stuart McCutcheon in an unethical and corrupt bully with a lot of skeletons in his closet that need to be exposed and who has an abiding hatred of intellectuals and union members (since he is neither), I applaud his defense of Ms. Mutu’s remarks. She may be offensive, and indeed quite stupid, but that is her right as an academic. It was at the point of her hire that the mistake was made, but once her position was enshrined, however bogus the rationale, she has a right to use that pulpit for public commentary without fear of employment retribution. She may not be exactly the conscience of society, but her role as a polemicist enlives its discourse. Hence, I believe that she should be retained, however overpaid she may be.

As for me–it is past time to “get a real job.”

 

77 Responses to “Mooting Mutu”

  1. Kerry on September 7th, 2011 at 11:29

    So why did Auckland University censure your ‘racism’ while they refuse to censure Mutus? More than a double standard here, isn’t there?

  2. Pablo on September 7th, 2011 at 11:34

    The university never claimed that I was racist in my emailed remarks to the student. They said that I violated its email policy (which the student also did when she sent my rude email to the media). Mutu has been known to write a hard email or two.

  3. James Rawiri Meager on September 7th, 2011 at 11:40

    Awesome, awesome, awesome.

  4. Eric Crampton on September 7th, 2011 at 12:03

    What James said.

  5. Matthew Dentith on September 7th, 2011 at 12:20

    I think you’ll find she is Dr. Mutu. Dismissively referring to her as “Ms. Mutu” does your rant no good.

  6. Pablo on September 7th, 2011 at 12:29

    Matthew:

    The proper designation for PhD’s is Mr/Mrs/ or Ms/ Only medical doctors get the title “doctor.”

    Of course you can claim that the entire post and my references to Ms. Mutu as Ms is a colonial racist leftover, but since she got her Ph.d. at a Pakeha university she probably agrees with me on this one, unless she is insecure.

  7. Matthew Dentith on September 7th, 2011 at 12:35

    Paul:

    Do you have an argument for that, or it is just your own stipulation. It certainly isn’t a view I see shared by the majority of the academics I work with and it does not reflect common use.

    Also, Dr. Mutu is also a Professor, so you probably should refer to her by that title.

  8. Pablo on September 7th, 2011 at 12:41

    Matthew:

    What part of Philosophy at Auckland are you defending (given your IP number)? I used to demolish you guys as a matter of course and am happy to do so now.

    BTW-are you a union member or a scab?

  9. chris webster on September 7th, 2011 at 12:47

    Pablo – what happened to you was harsh – - no it was crap –

    you have kept your brain ‘fertile’ and engaged – and
    we all benefit from your writings and contributions –

    margaret mutu and the vc – he really had no other path available to him – he had to endorse her right – we think it was easier that getting screamed at by her – hell he could have joined the ranks of the people she was describing – placate the locals and overcome their resistance.

    VC McCutcheon is an unethical and corrupt bully with a lot of un-exposed skeletons in his closet; and hates intellectuals and union members (since he is neither) and he is also a hypocrite -

    as you are aware current academic staff are resisting his plans to professionalise the university –

    he is also resisting their desire for communication – accordingly to the vc they have no right to make comments on his plans – and he will not deign to meet with them except on his terms – gee they should do what mutu has done – denounce him —

    the same VC ensured that a environmental law student academic graduate was threatened with non receipt of his degree at last terms capping ceremony – unless he removed a harmless brightly colored ribbon – which expressed his views on the vc’s new world order plans –
    the academic agreed as his family were in the audience and he could not let them down …

    applying the reasoning vc muttered … that mutu had the academic right to express yadda yadda – why is this so for her but for you or last terms law academic graduate?

    you know – the right to use that academic pulpit for public commentary without fear of employment retribution?

    mmm – something’s rotten in the clock-tower …

    so yes vc mccutcheon is a bully – filled with pettiness and hypocrisy and practices triple standards —

    celebrate your new opportunities and go get that real job

  10. Matthew Dentith on September 7th, 2011 at 12:50

    Paul:

    Is this some kind of pissing contest? I’m an epistemologist finishing my PhD on the epistemic warrant of conspiracy theories. I am also a union member.

  11. Pablo on September 7th, 2011 at 12:50

    BTW Matthew, Annette Sykes took apart Ms Mutu at the Jesson lecture last year (I was there) and it was an absolute lesson in the difference between the imagined and the real.

  12. Matthew Dentith on September 7th, 2011 at 13:01

    Pablo:

    You seem to be confusing two issues here: I am not making any claims about Prof. Mutu’s work, just that she has a title which you seem to have dismissively glossed over in your rant. I can defend the right to have such titles recognised without defending the holder of that title’s work.

    You also haven’t produced a defence of your claim that holders of PhDs don’t get to be referred to as “doctors.”

  13. taranaki on September 7th, 2011 at 13:14

    Excellent post Pablo. Hooray for academic freedom.

    Given this post touches upon the oeuvre of “grumpy-academic-loses-job-over-international-student-brouhaha” – does anyone have a link to the masterpiece of self-loathing from John Dolan? It’s turned into a chapter in his novel Pleasant Hell iirc

  14. Pablo on September 7th, 2011 at 13:23

    No self-loathing here Taranaki.

    As for matthew–once you finish that second rate degree call yourself exalted cyclops for all I care.

  15. marty mars on September 7th, 2011 at 13:24

    You are bitter Paul and fair enough and this rant is a first class one but it leaves me cold, empty and sad – in your rarefied world I’m a nobody so I spose you won’t give a f**k – which is entirely your prerogative, so I wish you all the best anyway.

  16. Matthew Dentith on September 7th, 2011 at 13:26

    Well, I’m sure glad that someone who hasn’t read my dissertation is, nonetheless, able to judge its merit. I’ll be sure to pass that along to my examiners.

  17. Pablo on September 7th, 2011 at 13:28

    Marty, I value your opinion. I used the first half of the post as a comparison, then defended this fools’ right to speak freely. Do you have an issue with that? And BTW, do you remember anything she said about the malicious prosecution of the Urewera 18? Because I was there, on their defense, from the bloody beginning. Where were you? Doing a Mutu?

  18. Hugh on September 7th, 2011 at 13:53

    Matthew, Pablo is on record many times as stating that he considers all degrees granted by NZ universities to be worthless, so it’s not personal.

  19. che tibby on September 7th, 2011 at 14:00

    nice of Pablo to bite the hand that feeds him.

    not to self: the internet is permanent. if i act like a cock it will be preserved for all time.

  20. marty mars on September 7th, 2011 at 14:01

    doing a mutu – classic paul – thank you for your hard work in defending the people terrorised by the police but I can’t see why you’re attacking me – try a sniper rifle instead of a shotgun – less collateral damage.

  21. Aaron Bhatnagar on September 7th, 2011 at 14:14

    Bravo Paul,

    from one of your students who thought you were outstanding, even if you were a crazy Gramscite who should not have handled weapons.

    :-)

  22. Pablo on September 7th, 2011 at 14:20

    Che:

    Read again: I am out of academia. No hand feeds me. And I do not suffer fools, especially the nitpicking types like Hugh.

  23. Hugh on September 7th, 2011 at 14:27

    And how am I nitpicking here, Pablo?

  24. Pablo on September 7th, 2011 at 14:35

    Hugh:

    Here you are just being a piss-ante. I never said all NZ degrees are worthless.Several of my UA students have gone on to greater things–including Rhodes, Bright Futures and Commonwealth scholars. I just have said that the Auckland degree is increasingly devalued because of mangerial policy and in the measure the other NZ universities follow the bums in seats policies of the UA theirs are as well. Can you tell the difference from your blanket assertion and mine?

  25. Hugh on September 7th, 2011 at 14:41

    Well Pablo, I’d go back and try to find statements of yours that contradict that, but that would be… nitpicking. Which as we know, isn’t acceptable. (Any more than being a piss-ante, although I admit I don’t know what that is)

    But getting to your post, it seems like what you’re saying is that Mutu should be dismissed, just not for what she’s said here, but instead for just being a generally crappy teacher.

  26. Morgan Godfery on September 7th, 2011 at 14:47

    Although I agree with the sentiment Mutu expressed, I do not agree with her solution nor the view that a large number of white immigrants bring racist attitudes that are “destructive to Maori”. Some immigrants, both white and non-white, bring destructive attitudes, or perhaps more accurately do not understand nor bother to understand the place of Maori and our rights as tangata whenua (i.e. as a special interest group). I can cite a wealth of anecdotal evidence – especially in the case of White South African migrants – and I know of many other Maori who can recount numerous experiences with ignorant, I’ll stop short of saying racist, immigrants.

    It is unfair to taint all white immigrants as racist and it is, by my definition at least, racist to suggest white immigration be restricted. I would love to see some sort of mechanism to screen immigrants, but I appreciate the impracticalities. Perhaps all immigrants undertake a short lesson on Maori history and the place of Maori in contemporary NZ.

    I’m disappointed that the media continues to give Mutu and her detractors, as well as supporters for that matter, any oxygen. Her views do more to fuel anti-Maori sentiment than Tame Iti. Whenever Mutu articulates herself so poorly she sets back Maori efforts for tino rangatiratanga. Rather than encourage understanding and support, her views invoke fear and encourage resentment among non-Maori.

  27. Hugh on September 7th, 2011 at 15:18

    “I would love to see some sort of mechanism to screen immigrants”

    Well, in theory at least, there already is such a mechanism. Whatever the reality, Immigration New Zealand’s stated goal isn’t just to let whoever in.

    I have to say, though, I’m very sceptical about the idea that only people who meet some kind of approved ideological litmus test will be allowed to enter the country. If that’s the case, shouldn’t we be administering this test to people born here, and expelling them if they don’t meet it? Why does somebody from South Africa not have the right to live in New Zealand while holding anti-maori sentiments, but somebody from Waitakere gets that right?

    I’ll also point out that somebody who has formulated racist sentiments is not likely to have them changed by a course about Maori history, no matter how well taught it is. I’ve seen people exit these courses with their opinions largely unchanged on multiple occasions.

  28. che tibby on September 7th, 2011 at 15:20

    @morgan i did wonder whether Mutu needed to spend a little more time with asian immigrants.

    she might find that her “only-whites-are-racist” theory needs elaborating.

  29. Morgan Godfery on September 7th, 2011 at 15:34

    That’s true, Hugh. A history lesson, or any other mechanism for that matter, is unlikely to change a person’s racist belief.

    I guess the distinction to be made between racist New Zealanders and racist immigrants is that racist New Zealanders are here by right, immigrants come at our consent. Immigration policy is our prerogative, but I agree with your scepticism around, for want of a better term, screening immigrants.

  30. phillip ure on September 7th, 2011 at 15:38

    http://whoar.co.nz/2011/commentwhoar-i-find-myself-largely-in-agreement-with-margaret-mutu/

    i have some sympathy with the concerns expressed by mutu..

    as one example:..it has long disturbed me that we have become a white-flight from south africa bolt-hole…

    (those coming here because they couldn’t handle the blacks ‘taking over’..?.)

    ..and the effects this will have on our delicate racial/cultural-mix…

    ..as they bring their ‘blacks are inferior’-baggage with them..

    ..how this problem can be ‘fixed’ tho’…i have no idea..

    ..screening of immigrants wouldn’t work…they would just learn to lie..

    ..and we have a long history of this importing of toxins..

    …the virulently-racist poms/irish/scots who flocked here..

    ..’to escape what england is becoming’..i.e..multicultural…

    ..the enoch powell/’rivers of blood’ wave of white-flight refugees.)

    ..then there were the reactionary dutch..who also bolt-holed here ‘cos of how ‘liberal’ the netherlands were becoming..

    ..the south africans are just the latest wave…

    ..and those ingrained prejudices against..say..hiring maori..?

    ..must only increase the pressures on an already marginalised/stigmatised maori..

    but as i say..i don’t know how you could solve/fix that undoubted problem..

    update:..

    actually looking at our pakeha-make-up/sources..

    ..it should come as no surprise at how uncaring the white majority/political leaders are to long-documented/easily-solvable ‘problems’ facing maori..

    ..eh..?

    (i touched on this uncaring in a poem(?) i banged out upon the exit of clark/the last labour govt..

    http://whoar.co.nz/2009/commentwhoarthe-kids-up-north-have-still-got-rotten-teethbut-heyhelens-at-the-uneh/

    (apologies/regards/obeisances paid to the gil scott-heron magnum-opus..’whitey’s on the moon’..the concept of which i have unabashedly ‘stolen’/borrowed/paid homage to..)

    (further update:..)

    mind you..thinking a bit further on this..

    ..something that could/would help…

    ..would be that any residency application-screening ..

    ..should/must include a ‘search’ for the online profile of the applicant..

    ..(facebook et. al..)

    ..and if he/she were a raging-racist…

    ..you’d think there’d be forensic-traces/slicks…eh..?

    ..and clear evidence of that being a reason to decline the application..

    ..eh..?

    ..i’m with mutu..

    ..i don’t want f#cken racists polluting our country..

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

  31. Hugh on September 7th, 2011 at 15:45

    “I guess the distinction to be made between racist New Zealanders and racist immigrants is that racist New Zealanders are here by right, immigrants come at our consent.”

    Yeah, and that’s the kind of thinking I object to, whether it’s from right wingers who want to exclude leftist immigrants, or left wingers who want to exclude rightist immigrants.

    I believe in the right of people to hold whatever views they want, even if I find those views repugnant, and I don’t think the fact that these people want to cross a border takes away that right.

    If it’s wrong to deny somebody a job because of their views, it’s even worse to deny them entry into a country, which is going to have far worse repercussions for them economically.

  32. che tibby on September 7th, 2011 at 16:01

    i’ve looked at this issue at length before. you can’t ban someone because of their potential attitudes, but you can insist that assimilation into nzl society means accepting the role of tangata whenua.

    and, well, if you can’t accept that, then you need to think about whether you want to live here.

    so come by all means, but play by our rules.

  33. Sanctuary on September 7th, 2011 at 17:12

    “…Margaret Mutu is a racial polemicist who received her professorship as a PC sinecure from an Auckland University administration concerned about placating key constituent groups. She is a second rate rate academic with a third rate publication record espousing fourth rate post-dependency and post-modern subaltern-focused theories. She publishes in obscure journals, mostly without peer review, and in crony academic volumes. Her books are published by local presses and receive no international mention…”

    Did you know Karl Marx once wrote & published a thirty page tirade of personal abuse aimed entirely at Karl Heinzen whose political views he didn’t like? One of things I hate about this country is the enforced politeness of a small, inward looking parochial society where no one wants to be rude lest they suffer the mortification of being at the same party the following weekend as the object of their polemical invective. It makes us host to a dishonest, emotionally repressed and intellectually backward culture where getting along is more important than being right and where the ability to not upset anyone is placed at the apex of our most admired social skills (if you don’t believe me, just look at the popularity of the drab mediocrity we have as a prime minister). It totally stunts our political thought and our philosophical development. Personally, if I don’t like someone I say so, f**k being to nice to them!

    So I don’t know if Pablo is right or wrong about Margaret Mutu in the quoted paragraph above, but I’m geting the popcorn and settling in to enjoy the show! So I say bravo Pablo! A whiff of breeze through the stale air of our intellectual life!!!

  34. DeepRed on September 7th, 2011 at 17:29

    Even Commissioner de Bres – a migrant from Holland and a “wet liberal” who’s been accused by reactionary elements of being soft on the Mutus and Itis of this world – publicly censured her. There was a similar blowup a few years back over Hans Kupka, a Holocaust denier at Canty Uni.

    On the other hand, Mutu does have a point about certain migrants carrying supremacist baggage. I don’t think there’s anything in the “good character” section of the immigration points system that covers that, and would probably be unworkable on a large scale.

    I’m even more concerned, as a 6th-gen Chiwi, about “model minorities” who hold views that wouldn’t look out of place at a Tea Party meeting, or much worse. Threats to hire armed Triads to combat South Auckland hoodlums is a case in point.

    And if David Duke tried to emigrate here, he’d likely be turned away. Not because of his ideologies or failing “good character”, but because of his criminal record.

  35. Exclamation Mark on September 7th, 2011 at 17:43

    and believes that it is impossible for non-whites to be racist. She is not the only one to think this–there are people in my old department who share that belief.

    Any idea where this ‘Non-whites can’t be racist’ twaddle came from? I seem to be hearing it more and more from people who want to redefine the word racism so that they can never be accused of it.

  36. Lew on September 7th, 2011 at 18:21

    I’m all for robust debate, but I think this thread has gone too far. Especially, Pablo, in your attacks on Matthew — who, after all, wasn’t defending Mutu’s character or her comments.

    L

  37. David on September 7th, 2011 at 18:35

    I watched Ms Mutu on TV the other night, and was less than impressed; it was also rather embarrassing, as I have a friend from England staying with me while the world cup is on.

    My friend, who by the way, read law at Oxford (one might say a proper university), got a first and sat the exam for All Souls, (he did ok with essay, but he thinks he failed to impress at dinner). Anyway said friend was less than impressed with Ms Mutu’s intellectual ability and was astounded to find that she was a professor let alone had a PhD.

    Needless to say the rest of the evening was spent defending the honour of my country against an onslaught of Oxbridge humour aimed at us poor colonials.

  38. Phil Sage on September 7th, 2011 at 21:56

    Pablo – That was a humdinger of a piece. My apologies for disturbing your reunion.

  39. Pablo on September 8th, 2011 at 02:32

    Exclamation Mark:

    The “non-whites cannot be racist” line originated in the fields of sub-altern and indigenous studies. It basically states that only those with power can be racist. This ridiculous claim was apparently voiced by Mutu herself on Close Up last night, as she defended herself as one who has no power (I guess being the head of a department and a full professor is a powerless position). Needless to say, the whole line of argument is to my mind rubbish, but I have gotten used to it given its common use at Auckland.

    Lew: Sorry for that but once Matthew started getting pedantic about titles–about which he is wrong–I had no time for him. Even Hugh, with whom I clash often, had enough sense to move on to substative matters. I was however, a bit harsh on Marty, whose opinions I respect, so my apologies to him.

    I thought that although the thread deviated from the thrust of my post–which was about Mutu’s right to express her views free from the fear of dismissal, set against the backdrop of her hipocrisy in accepting and cultivating her sinecure in a Pakeha institution (to say nothing of her silience on such things as the Urewera raids)–the subsequent discussion was not that bad.

  40. Joel on September 8th, 2011 at 09:00

    Pablo. I’m interested in your reference to the whole Dr. non-Dr. discussion re: the PhD.
    It’s not about whether Mutu should be identified or not. But the wider discussion, which is interesting.
    Can you go into that area? Or link to somewhere that engages in the point?

    Cheers.

  41. balti on September 8th, 2011 at 09:37

    “She is a second rate rate academic with a third rate publication record espousing fourth rate post-dependency and post-modern subaltern-focused theories.”

    So Paul, why aren’t you teaching at a top 10 school? Surely you’d find a more intellectually challenging environment in Cambridge MA or Cambridge UK? Or are you a second rate academic yourself?

    I mean, it’s a hell of a lot easier to get into a PhD program at a school like Chicago than it is to actually get a tenure-track position at one…

  42. Pablo on September 8th, 2011 at 09:52

    Balti:
    Try to address the substance of the post. I chose lifestyle over career by securing employment in nice places to live so that I could pursue my other interests, which are mostly outdoors. I did not realise how corrupt Auckland U is–but I do now.

    Joel:

    It is common English usage.

  43. Matthew Dentith on September 8th, 2011 at 10:04

    Common English usage in New Zealand is to refer to holders of PhDs as “Doctor.” I’m usually loath to cite Wikipedia as a reference, but in this matter the coverage is actually quite good.

  44. Pablo on September 8th, 2011 at 10:07

    Matthew:

    Either address the subject of the post or go away.

  45. balti on September 8th, 2011 at 10:09

    Also re: the PhD title discussion, I’ll note that in this release by Buchanan Strategic Advisors Paul is referred to repeatedly as Dr Buchanan:

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU1010/S00574/paul-buchanan-to-set-up-intel-analysis-co-in-nz.htm

    Paul, I suggest you write to the good people at Buchanan Strategic Advisors and let them know they’ve made a mistake :)

  46. Eddie C on September 8th, 2011 at 10:14

    @Joel – the Dr thing is a (rather idiosyncratic) hobbyhorse of Pablo’s. I got yelled at (in a somewhat less insulting manner than Matthew did) a couple of years ago for asking about the same thing. As far as I can tell, there’s some debate in academic circles as to whether it’s proper to use the title “Dr” if you have a PhD, but there aren’t actually any consistent or authoritative rules on the usage.

    I’m also curious as to what sort of degree a person has to have, and from what sort of institution, before his or her opinion will be treated with anything but contempt by Pablo. On a blog that’s supposed to be about genuine political debate, the vitriol in some of the above comments is astonishing.

    To the topic at hand, Mutu is wrong IMHO, but does have the kernel of a point. I.e. that structural racism (which does not mean “active racial bigotry) is not experienced by the dominant group in a binary. Thus Mutu probably suffers from discrimination and disadvantages that white people in New Zealand do not, even though she obviously has job security, wealth, and position that most New Zealanders (including white New Zealanders) do not. Extrapolating this to “I can’t be racist”, though, is a bridge too far.

  47. Pablo on September 8th, 2011 at 10:14

    OK Balti, I see that you want to be a jerk and stir rather than address the subject of the post. You are now on notice that any future comment that is off-topic will be deleted.

    I have no control over what others call me. I have repeatedly told people–as anyone who knows me knows well–that I do not like titles. I have been called many things, to include middle eastern expert, counter-terrorism expert, White house aide, and yes, doctor, none of which I have claimed to be or which I use.

    I suggest that you stop obsessing and just address the post or leave. Being a hater is just silly.

  48. Pablo on September 8th, 2011 at 10:17

    Crikey Eddie:

    It is not about the friggin credentials that moves me one way or another. It is about specious arguments and unwarranted claims to expertise that raises my dander.

    Lets keep on topic shall we, as per the latter half of your comment?

  49. Giovanni on September 8th, 2011 at 10:32

    This is a shocking character assassination of a former colleague, Paul, and although it says a lot more about you than it does about Dr Mutu it really has no place pretty much anywhere I would have thought.

  50. Pablo on September 8th, 2011 at 10:33

    Just calling it like I see it Giovanni. Concentrate on the second half of the post, which is where the real thrust is.

  51. Matthew Dentith on September 8th, 2011 at 10:34

    But Paul, that’s the problem. The second half of your argument rests upon the fact that Margaret Mutu is “Professor Margaret Mutu, of the Department of Māori Studies at the University of Auckland.” She isn’t just “Ms. Mutu,” a person who happens to have been quoted in the media, but rather a Professor at the country’s largest University (and, by numbers, the largest Polynesian university in the world). Your argument is that her position gives her, rightfully, a pulpit from which to talk about this particular issue.

    Now, you’ve attacked the quality of her qualification (in a fairly unwarranted way, I might add, and your claims about her not supporting the union action are unfounded; for one thing, her door is festooned with pro-union materials about the current industrial action and I’ve seen her around campus with a yellow rosette) but your argument rests upon her having a platform because of her position which is itself based upon her being a Dr./Prof.

    Now, perhaps you don’t share our New Zealand English intuitions and thus don’t think that referring to Prof. Mutu as merely “Ms. Mutu” is a problem, but it looks particularly dismissive from where I sit and it makes you seem even more petty in your continuing agenda to get revenge on the University of Auckland.

  52. Giovanni on September 8th, 2011 at 10:34

    Perhaps. A bit hard to see through the giant wall of spite you erect in the first half of the post, however.

  53. Paul Litterick on September 8th, 2011 at 12:04

    Matthew, is Professor Mutu a racist?

  54. Steve Parkes on September 8th, 2011 at 12:31

    - “Concentrate on the second half of the post,”

    But it isn’t even really the second half of the post; well over half the post is actually directed at attacking Dr Mutu and Auckland Uni. Only your last two paragraphs make the point that you seem to consider to be ‘the topic at hand’. You’ve used your concluding point as an excuse to have a rant about Mutu and make some digs at AU. It’s a sloppy way to make your point, and I’m not surprised there’s been divergence from what you consider the thrust of your post.

    Oh, and I agree with Eddie C’s view of Mutu’s comments.

  55. hamshi on September 8th, 2011 at 12:35

    I’m not sure if this title argument is that trivial or off-topic on a thread relating to neo-colonialist attitudes. It’s fine for immigrants to use the common English usage from their own countries but coming to a new country and telling people they’re wrong for using their own common usage is just rude. It reminds me of the primary school teachers from England, who used to come to NZ and Scotland and try to “correct” the local dialects.

  56. Hugh on September 8th, 2011 at 13:03

    Pablo, if you don’t want people to engage you on trivial points, like the whole “Doctor vs Mister” thing or the status of Auckland University as a respectable academic institution, maybe you shouldn’t post about them?

    If these issues are really so trivial and pointless and unworthy of discussion, why do you feel the need to include them in your posts?

  57. Jacob on September 8th, 2011 at 15:30

    Gosh. You know, this post just reads as being really really arrogant. It is hard to try and take whatever point you are trying to make seriously when you spend half the the post polishing your own ego while simultaneously attacking the character of someone you don’t agree with.

  58. Dean on September 8th, 2011 at 18:31

    “Now, perhaps you don’t share our New Zealand English intuitions and thus don’t think that referring to Prof. Mutu as merely “Ms. Mutu” is a problem, but it looks particularly dismissive from where I sit and it makes you seem even more petty in your continuing agenda to get revenge on the University of Auckland.”

    I don’t care if she has 10 PhDs and should be called Supreme Chancellor. The fact that you think referring to her as “Ms” instead of “Dr” is “dismissive” is just hilarious.

    As you’re a union member though, it’s completely understandable.

  59. Jude on September 8th, 2011 at 20:08

    Maybe because it is dismissive Dean?

    It is belittling, and frankly, odd, given that a key issue in question is the legitimacy of someone, in such a position – and that position is as a Professor who possesses a doctorate – using that position as a pulpit to put about quite polarising, unsubstantiated invective, and to then claim immunity based on that position.

    Essentially, the nature of Prof Mutu’s position is in this regard, integral to this discussion – as alluded to by Eddie and Matthew.

    In any case, as Lew has pointed out (thank you), Matthew’s comments above on the Dr/ Prof/ whatever are entirely distinct from what his opinion is on the nature of Prof Mutu’s carry-on, or her character in general.

  60. Phil Sage on September 8th, 2011 at 21:00

    Mathew Dentith et al – To quote Pablos “favourite” source, wiki http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Is_it_legal_to_use_the_designation_Dr_in_front_of_your_name_if_you_have_earned_a_PHd_degree
    “When being addressed verbally, “Dr. Smith” is generally used. In writing, though, it would typically be “Ellen Smith, Ph.D.”

    So you have, albeit extremely pedantic, a point that perhaps Pablo should have written PhD after Ms Mutu’s name. You don’t seem to have addressed the substance of the derision anywhere, which seems to suggest you may concur with its validity.

    Eddie C 10:14 – I have been arguing with Pablo at this blog for a few years now, and never once has he done anything other than address the substance of my points or chide me when my points were considered ad hominem, rather than to the point of the argument. Your suggestion that Pablo insists on academic credentials before engaging is simply nonsense.

    The bulk of the comments above are nit picking and Pablo is rightly dismissive. Nobody seems to address the very powerfully made conclusion which is that despite Mutu’s incompetence and UoA utter hypocrisy, Mutu and other academics should have an untrammelled right to say such things.

    As I said, Pablo, a humdinger of a post with which I completely agree.

  61. Kerry on September 8th, 2011 at 21:41

    I’m pretty sure PhDs are the only real doctors.

    We medical folk are mere pretenders to the title

  62. Paul Litterick on September 9th, 2011 at 12:26

    It is interesting to note how Matthew Dentith trivialises this discussion with his prating about academic titles. He did much the same on Public Address a while back when he chided Russell for not using a macron on the word ‘Maori.’ Note especially how Matthew ignores the issues Pablo raised whille accusing Pablo of failing to address his irrelevant concerns. Then Matthew tells us about his thesis, in case we did not know how important he is. Then he vanishes. No doubt he has better things to do. After all, he is, by his own admission, a public intellectual.

    So the argument becomes all about Matthew, once again. The uncomfortable issues about race which Matthew does not want discussed are sidelined, once again.

  63. Matthew Dentith on September 9th, 2011 at 12:46

    Although it’s not actually relevant to this discussion, the person who first labelled me a public intellectual was, in fact, Russell Brown (See here). I do use that title, albeit jokingly.

  64. helenalex on September 9th, 2011 at 13:47

    I don’t think anyone disagrees with the basic point of the post – this isn’t the kind of forum where ‘academics should be able to say what they want without being fired’ is a controversial statement. Hence no debate.

    If the thread has become sidetracked, Pablo has no one to blame but himself. He could have responded to Matthew’s original comment with something vaguely civil which actually addressed his point (‘I think all titles are stupid so which one I use isn’t really relevant’, for example). Instead he chose to be obnoxious and people have responded to that.

  65. Paul Litterick on September 9th, 2011 at 14:26

    Pablo made the mistake of responding to the Public Intellectual’s comment when he should have ignored it. Matthew (who uses his title jokingly) is always doing this. People try to have proper discussions but Matthew leaps in to take offence at some trifling point of etiquette or punctuation. And then you quickly find that the WWW exists for the purposes of Matthew’s amour-propre.

  66. Phil Sage on September 10th, 2011 at 20:49

    Paul – Thanks for that. note to self.
    Matthew – Your mother must be very proud.

  67. Giovanni on September 12th, 2011 at 09:22

    “And then you quickly find that the WWW exists for the purposes of Matthew’s amour-propre.”

    Instead of the actual reason, which is for Paul Litterick to have public and carefully staged falling outs with his friends.

  68. Lew on September 12th, 2011 at 10:02

    Enough. Please take your personal bickering, which clearly originates outside this discussion, elsewhere.

    L

  69. Pablo on September 13th, 2011 at 11:39

    I agree with Lew. This has gotten a bit weird. I started it by my attack on Mutu, which was only supposed to be a backdrop, but it looks like it gave license to vent. So let us all move on to better things, or at least a better argument.

  70. Phil Sage on September 13th, 2011 at 19:56

    69 comments to a post on your personal experience with Auckland Uni. Two on the vastly more important subject of whether or not the US is more secure 10 years after 911. Five on the anti democratic actions of the New Zealand police.

    Is that some kind of commentary itself on New Zealand public intellectuals?

  71. tochigi on September 14th, 2011 at 01:00

    @Phil:
    yes.
    (ok, i know it was rhetorical, but…)

    i would have thought that the key point of the original post was that the UoA VC is utterly corrupt, but this doesn’t seem to generate much heated discussion among Public Intellectuals in ol’ Aotearoa.

    no? oh, well, back to work then.

  72. Pablo on September 14th, 2011 at 01:01

    Indeed Phil, anything on domestic issues tends to generate much more interest than foreign affairs and international subjects. There is a bit of navel-gazing and parochialism involved, but I think that most people simply relate better to local issues that they know about. This thread just spun in a strange direction.

  73. [...] Marxist academics at the blog Kiwipolitico describe Mutu thus- Margaret Mutu is a racial polemicist who received her professorship as a PC [...]

  74. Lew on September 20th, 2011 at 07:44

    Falafulu Fisi, Pablo and I have both signalled that we want an end to offtopic personalised invective. I’ve removed your comment.

    If you want to attack Matthew’s credentials or his field of study, he has his own blog. I am quite certain he is up to the task of defending it from such as you.

    L

  75. Pablo on September 20th, 2011 at 09:17

    FF:

    Lew is right. We try to keep things clean here.

  76. Lew on September 20th, 2011 at 11:59

    The continued attacks on Matthew by Pablo and others aren’t justified here, especially when he has no ability to reply. I thought the use of this comment thread to prosecute personal vendettas was over; it seems not.

    My preference is that this sort of argument is had in private, but since it’s partially public now my inclination now is to un-moderate all the deleted comments so that, at the least, the dispute can be had in the open; permit one final round of arrant sniping to let everyone say their piece, and then shut off comments on the thread.

    Does anyone object to this course of action?

    L

  77. Lew on September 20th, 2011 at 14:42

    Pablo,

    As I’ve said privately, who you alienate on your own terms is your own business, but when you carry on like this on these pages, and in particular when you direct homophobic slurs against me for interceding in what I consider to be the mildest possible manner, it becomes mine as well.

    Your behaviour runs counter to our agreed standards of conduct. Either those standards, or the conduct, need to be revised. Which of them gets revised is over to you.

    I’m out, for a while at least.

    L

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