More Thinky Thoughts from Tepid Academics

Generally I don’t respond to comments. More often than not they’re nasty (you should see what people say when I write about Israel) and it’s not like I am going to change anyone’s mind. But I want to make a quick response to the following comment, which appeared on 3quarksdaily’s reblog of HippoRead’s reblog of this blog (got that?):

i am an adjunct, have done much work on and for contingent faculty, and am well aware of these very real conditions of exploitation and disposability. however, some of these pieces are getting truly awful and they will, i fear, start to undermine an important conversation: to say “adjuncts are starving” is to use far too blunt an instrument. yes, many, many adjuncts are living in penurious conditions. but most adjuncts have advanced degrees, work experience, and solid vitas and i hesitate to cast this condition alongside the “starving” experienced by so many others in the world. and the wide net of “tenured faculty who do not care” is likewise (as the author admits) a problem. unconsidered hyperbole is only going the damage the necessary effort to rectify many of the current injustices of higher education’s hiring and retention practices.

Well, Kara, I appreciate your comments, except I don’t. Certainly adjuncts are better off than, say, members of an Iraqi minority religion stuck on a hilltop without food or water. But adjuncts are indeed starving, or close to it. Because I know adjuncts on food stamps, adjuncts who every winter face the “heat or meat” conundrum, adjuncts whose teeth are falling out. And guess what? They have “have advanced degrees, work experience, and solid vitas [sic].”

What we have here, folks, is your basic academic relating his or her thinky thoughts, in this case about rhetoric, instead of addressing the salient question: that adjuncts are suffering and almost no one cares.*

I recall one meeting wherein we were asked to review a statement about university policy. Instead of actually addressing said policy, my colleagues spent a good 20 minutes discuss the origin, nature and etymology of “tolerance.” This was a reasoned, well-modulated discussion among academic peers and it made me want to tear my shirt off and roar like the Incredible Hulk because it had fuck all to do with the question at hand.

I have a similar reaction to the issue of “unconsidered hyperbole.” Because when you’re taking time to criticize adjunct rhetoric, as opposed to the thieving swine running American education, you are part of the problem.

“Too blunt an instrument.” Give me a fucking break.

*Note that qualifying “almost.” A week ago I didn’t clarify that some people cared about adjuncts, and ended up insulting those who do, which has led to me spending all my free time memorizing a rap song in German.

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