Fundamentally Muddled Rhetoric, Animal Ethics and other Stuff

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

If Toward a Civil Discourse: Rhetoric and Fundamentalism by Arizona State University English professor Sharon Crowley is academia’s latest attempt to understand Red State voters, the Ivory Tower has a long way to go. “Crowley asserts that rhetorical invention (which includes appeals to values and the passions) is superior in some cases to liberal argument (which often limits its appeals to empirical fact and reasoning) in mediating disagreements where participants are primarily motivated by a moral or passionate commitment to beliefs,” according to the book’s publisher—the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Are these the same empirical, factual and reasoned liberal arguments that conclude that tax cuts hurt the poor despite a multitude of economic data that shows otherwise?

Animal Ethics

The trendy Academic Left now contends that not only do animals have rights, they can also be ethical. An assistant professor of Philosophy at Hoffstra outlines the beasts’ code of morality in Corporal Compassion: Animal Ethics and Philosophy of Body.

“Ralph R. Acampora employs phenomenology, hermeneutics, existentialism and deconstruction to connect and contest analytic treatments of animal ethics and liberation theology,” according to Corporal Compassion’s publisher—the University of Pittsburgh again. “In doing so, he focuses on issues of being and value, and posits a felt nexus of bodily being termed symphysis, to devise an interspecies ethos.”

“Acampora uses this broad-based bioethic to engage in dialogue with other strains of environmental ethics and ecophilosophy.”


In Baltimore County’s new English class, a noun is defined as “stuff” and a verb as “what stuff does.” Correspondingly, the texts for the class, called “Studio Course,” are often teen magazines.

“Studio Course is being used in all 21 of Baltimore’s traditional middle schools—where more than 60 percent of students last school year failed the state reading test—and in two alternative schools and one kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school,” according to the Associated Press.

Early Childhood Education Errors

For years, educrats have told us that research shows that early childhood education benefits students. But they might have been wrong about this conclusion as well. Darcy Olsen of the Goldwater Institute found this research “limited in its applicability to mainstream students and plagued by methodological shortcomings, including small sample size, high attrition rates, infrequent random selection, and infrequent use of comparison groups.”

“Some of the research has been wholly discredited.”

Olsen notes that one of the founders of Head Start, the nation’s premier early education program, urged lawmakers and educators not to overestimate its benefits. “There is a large body of evidence indicating that there is little if anything to be gained by exposing middle class children to early education,” Ed Zigler said.

“Those who argue in favor of universal preschool education ignore evidence that indicates early schooling is inappropriate for many four-year-olds and that it may even be harmful to their development.” Indeed, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has found no gains in student achievement among pupils enrolled in Head Start. The NCES is the research arm of the U. S. Department of Education, the federal agency that runs the Head Start program.

Malcolm A. Kline is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia.