Breaking a Bad Habit

For the last year or so I have been reading the Inside Higher Ed website & contributing occasionally to the discussions, but I'm going to have to stop. Not just stop posting in the forums, but stop reading. It's sad but necessary, like leaving behind a bar you once loved because it has been taken over by idiots. (Check out the way the rhetoric shifts as the wingnut clowns enter the discussion.) Despite being a useful source of information about my profession, IHE has become a gathering place for anti-academic right-wing trolls. I would go so far as to say it provides a forum for bashing the academy, which is problematic only because the site's mission is, presumably, to be a resource for those who work in academic setting or are involved with academic policy. That is, the trolls have their own caves, let them retire thence. There is something seriously wrong with the way way the forums are moderated, with virtually every conversation that touches on politics or policy resulting in the stormtroopers of the radical right shouting everyone down, lying about simple facts, and engaging in on-line muggings -- all this with the apparent assistance of the site's editors. I have tried in the past to break this bad habit -- I don't like what it does to me -- but this time is for real. And it's not just that I don't like the feel of my own gorge rising: I figure the IHE troll corps has plenty of places to express their derision of academia & academics, and to create their gross caricatures of the liberal professor bogeyman, but I don't have to give the asshats any of my attention. I've always liked that word, asshats -- it's nonsensical, but perfectly suited to the sort of people who have swarmed over IHE. With the the complicity of the site's editors. I don't have to give them any of my clicks. A shame, really. I used to like that bar.

Author: jd

Joseph Duemer is Professor of Literature Emeritus at Clarkson University in northern New York state. His most recent book of poems is Magical Thinking from Ohio State University Press. Since the mid-1990s he has spent a good deal of time in Vietnam, mostly Hanoi. He lives with his wife Carole & five terriers (four Jack Russells & one Patterdale) on the stony bank of the Raquette River in South Colton.

3 thoughts on “Breaking a Bad Habit”

  1. I can’t argue with you on the aesthetics of it. Many of the regular posters are idiots, when not insane, and the signal-to-noise ratio is in general terrible. Most of the time I ignore the comments on my column entirely, on the principle that I am not paid nearly enough to wade through raw sewage.

    That said: The editors are “complicit” with the droolers only insofar as they have adopted a policy of posting any comment that is not libelous and remains more or less on topic. I don’t agree with this policy, which seems to me sort of like hosting a restaurant and allowing guests to pee anywhere they want except the salad bar. But it is consistent. There’s absolutely nothing to keep other people from making other kinds of arguments in the comments section.

  2. Scott, I agree with all you say, except the last sentence. When people are peeing anywhere they want, at some point it becomes impossible to make any arguments at all.

    What strikes me with particular force is the relentless humorlessness of the trolls. And while it’s possible that the reasons may be technical (flubbed email address or something), I’m prety sure I’ve had comments barred that were not libelous or even nasty, just pointed. I would have to see a big No Trolls sign hanging out at IHE before I’d ever return there. I’m sorry I’ll miss your columns.

  3. moody moody moody. we all get the blues. it’s those moments of clarity! pop your head out of the sand of you navel and oooooo it is awful out there. plus that comment abt hell being other people. add to that my great grandmother delehant’s saying that everybody’s odd but thee and me dearie–, an sometimes i even wonder abt you. i get dotty and down, and here’s proof of it from 3 days back. ed


    it’s a bumpy road/you’ve got a bad back/the ride infinity/no meds/throat dryingup/hiphop being blasted zillion splinter- decibels/’gift of life’ won’t end/hope a dream/bad dream if it is/some enchanced interrogation technique/you captured leader/tethered hinged to your reason/progeny of your past/your toes suckedup into your ass/burning with empty chagrin you rejected the senior housing with the concierge who could be instructed to keep all
    except for the content the elbows are where the elbows should be and the nose is straight, knees not scabby, with the waspwaist halving the shoulder width. it’s an arrow shirt with a caustic collar. whatever this refers to is lost because the smell has drained my mind.

    i have been ripped away from my meek phenomenology of the kind hawthorne sketched in the character of miles coverdale (the observer who seemed emotionally more wallpaper than wallflower) in the blythedale romance abt the american 19th cent transcendentalists, and dropping the ‘phen’ am ending in these endtimes as more an omenologist who sees the present now limned in an adumbrating fog of corrosive vomit– something not to be ameliorated by a tums after-suppermint nor obliterated by a litre of an uncle’s ulcerous homemade andorran absinthe in my niagara falls youth where i might see myself as a vast ugly squattting troll (painted in the febrile imagination of gulley jimpson the artist created by novelist joyce carey in the horses mouth trilogy 50 years ago) poised over humanity squitting poisonous vapors over the whole epocal mistake while laughing and chattering merrily. this is how the human race becomes a
    lost colony. the planet was found barren with all the towers and alleys windblown with
    trash. by then there was no smell, no people, no cats, nothing but rustling of trash.

    edward mycue

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