The Norman Transcript

Opinion

December 9, 2012

Will cherry-picked the facts

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

I read George Will’s latest screed, “Closing of the American mind,” with interest. As an alum of one Oklahoma university and faculty member at another who focuses on writing, critical thinking and persuasion and is, thus, deeply involved in the college educational system, I felt his claims were worth investigating and did so. My conclusion? His argument attempts to persuade readers through a combination of fact cherry-picking, ad hominem attacks, purposeful non sequitur and deliberate hiding of relevant information. Some examples:

George Will reports the sad case of a university student and janitor Keith John Sampson in Indiana who was accused of racial harassment by a coworker for reading a book on the job and was fired. Mr. Will did not mention that when Mr. Sampson was accused, the ACLU, an organization Will loves to vilify, flew to his defense. His implication that the Sampson case is the norm on college campuses is false. Through cherry-picking, he tries to imply that all liberals or all college faculty members want nothing more than to treat everyone this way.

Mr. Will did not mention that when a University of Oklahoma vice president sent out his well-meaning but poorly phrased email, “liberals” were the first to protest loudly about this attack on free speech. By the way, the concern was that as a state school, professional email should be sued for work-related reasons, not political causes — a cause that Mr. Will would, I suspect, embrace, were it not for his agenda to smear college faculty as much as he can.

The Rhode Island College document that Mr. Will cites as evidence of a liberal attack on free speech was taken from a larger document that carefully explains how and when a judicial case may be brought against a student. That document explains in great detail the importance of a fair and impartial process.

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