e-mail me at billdeg@umich.edu


Wednesday randomness

Jack Lessenberry has written a compelling op-ed on the mayor's text message scandal, a call for his resignation:
What few seem to realize is that this is not about sex.
Kwame Kilpatrick, for all I care, could have carnal knowledge of an Allis-Chalmers combine, if he paid for it. He could have had all the little girly-girls service him that he wanted. And if he paid for the rooms and broke no laws and did it on his own time, it might be disgusting or morally wrong, but it's not the public's
Abraham Lincoln once, on being told that Ulysses Grant was a drunk, asked what kind of whiskey he drank so that he could send a case to his less successful generals. No, this isn't about sex.
That's the giggle factor. What it is about is lying under oath, committing a felony and destroying people's careers and wasting millions of a poor city's money to cover his own personal mess up.
You cannot get around that. You cannot survive that, if the rule of law makes any sense.
Amen to that. As Detroit cut curbside garbage pick-up and other "non-essential services," shut down firehouses, and watched the Big Three exit stage left, Kilpatrick settled a whistleblower case for $9 million of the city's money so that the cops suing the city wouldn't testify and reveal his affair with his chief of staff. His family already knew about the affair, according to his own statement, which means his children watched him on the news as he lied under oath. His chief has already resigned, he's the subject of a criminal inquiry into his alleged perjury, but his aides snickered (!) when asked if the mayor would consider stepping down. He'll speak tonight at his church and the whole metropolitan area will watch. Most of us will be sad.

...Speaking of sad, how fast did this ugliness turn uglier? By now, the composition studies community has finished buzzing about The Chronicle's latest ill-informed "analysis" of the teaching of writing. One of the paper's columnists listed titles of papers given at our national conference and used those titles as evidence of the discipline's lack of "legitimacy." How dare they engage with the social context of language use instead of sticking to "basic writing" (a disciplinary term the author doesn't understand) and expect to be taken seriously?

At first, the online responses echoed the responses in the composition studies blogosphere and on comp studies professional listservs. Later responses, though, seem to suggest that somebody rallied the troops and shifted the tide of opinion: writing courses don't teach students to write or think, nobody on campus respects writing teachers, writing courses indoctrinate, blah, blah, blah. Should have known the conversation would go nowhere.

Listening to: The Go: Whatcha Doin' (1999); Detroit talk radio
Reading: The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold; Doing Emotion: Rhetoric, Writing, Teaching by Laura Micciche; a boatload of short stories by my English 323 students
Watching: The "Lost" recap show; Mayor Kilpatrick's address (not this second, obviously, but I think both are on tonight)
Awaiting: The new episode of "Lost," of course.

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