Something struck me the other day about the nature of academic ethics in New Zealand and some of the people who flourish by exploiting the conceits of that subculture. Check out these two stories – both are true.
1. A few months ago a gang member arrived in a Blenheim KFC where he saw a kid of about fifteen, wearing a school sports uniform. The uniform had the same colours as the ones used by a rival gang to assert themselves and their territory. So what does this drunken thug do? He gets angry, harangues the poor kid, punches him to the ground, breaks his nose and teeth, and tells him he deserved it. The kid had done nothing. The outcome? The gang member got a year in jail, and too right. It was an ugly crime.
2. My experience of the local intellectual/academic world has come through writing books on my own merits and enterprise, where the sole return is from commercial sales. Some of my books intrude into territories owned by various local intellectual-academic in crowds. So what do some of these academics do? They get instantly angry, harangue me in book reviews, and assault my repute via the media, all without once introducing themselves or approaching me in civil manner. The outcome? I get told it’s my fault for writing in their field, they insist I have no right to defend myself because of their status, although they have no compunction about publishing flat-out lies about my alleged personal and professional conduct, or asserting flat statements about what ‘I think’ – even when I have never made such statements and am on record as stating the opposite. I have, in my files, multiple examples published by NZBooks, our only academic review magazine. I use myself as an example here, but I am far from the only one to receive such treatment. And if I object to this sort of behaviour, that’s used as an excuse to abuse me too. Or they just cower behind intellectualised waffle.
I pay for all these behaviours through my taxes – variously the cost of the prison sentence meted out to the gang member, or salaries paid to the academics who lack the integrity to approach me directly and who cower behind asserted status or the fiction of ‘review’ in order to avoid the consequences of their conduct.
To me there’s no moral distinction between physically attacking strangers, or doing so through the intellectual pretensions of the academy – it’s all indicative of a moral void, and it’s ape behaviour. Chimps do the same thing. It speaks volumes about how the people doing it validate themselves. Whether it’s done through fists or via the artifice of intellectual structure makes no difference to the intent. And yet there is a fundamental practical difference: the guy who uses his fists is duly caught and sentenced. The ones who do it through intellectual constructs get away with it scot-free.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2017