There was a small contretemps at Santa Barbara Community College a while ago. Michael Shermer was invited to speak, and a few people objected publicly. They pointed out his unsavory history! They dared to use their free speech to express a strong dislike for Michael Shermer! As an ardent advocate of liberty and freedom, Shermer could do but one thing: he blustered and threatened to sue the campus newspaper and various individuals unless they shut up. Fortunately, he chickened out when his lawyer informed him how much it was going to cost — or perhaps when it sunk in how much dirty laundry a lawsuit was going to uncover.
Now for the twist. Shermer’s most vociferous defender on campus was a philosophy instructor named Mark McIntire.
McIntire’s contract was not renewed this year — he’s out of a job.
So he’s set up a GoFundMe site to “defray his legal expenses incurred defending Dr. Michael Shermer”, which is a rather curious statement. What legal expenses? He doesn’t say. He was a guy firing off angry letters to the editor of the campus newspaper. I don’t think that costs money. Also, I think Shermer is well-off enough that he doesn’t need randos incurring undefined legal expenses defending him so they can ask for donations. I suspect this is dishonest: he also recently announced that he’s signed up with FIRE’s litigation project. He’s not raising money to defend himself, but rather, to go on the offensive and sue SBCC.
Also curious is that he lists a bunch of reasons why he was fired: he was accused of using “politically charged” topics in his classes, the chairman doesn’t like his facebook postings, and that he was accused of not understanding basic philosophical concepts. What he does not do is include the contents of his actual termination letter, which I can guarantee you doesn’t say any of those things. College administrators usually know how to cover their asses better than that. He goes further and claims that:
I will argue, in any future venue, that my removal is because I publicly oppose the ‘Social Justice Warriors’ who have seized control of Santa Barbara City College of late.
The real reason I will never be rehired is that I was the sole faculty voice expressing the cause of marginalized religious, conservatives, libertarians, homeschoolers, and/or Trump voters on staff, faculty, and student population. That is unacceptable on the SBCC campus today. Therefore, these are violations of my First and Fourteenth Amendments protections, attempting to silence and remove me from the SBCC campus forever.
You know, I really don’t believe that there is one word in the official correspondence from campus administrators that said any of that, which means his hypothetical lawsuit is going to have a tough time making a case. Also, I’m sorry to say, he was temporary, adjunct faculty, and those positions have limited support and are prone to termination on a whim. Without supporting McIntire personally — I think he’s a bit of a jerk — I do think the adjunctification of academia is disastrous, inhumane, and a disgrace to the system, and that every worker deserves better protections against frivolous dismissal.
I am also amused, though, that the body of Shermer defenders aligns so well with Trump supporters. If he was the “sole faculty voice” supporting assholes like himself (which I don’t believe for a minute — there are multiple regressive voices everywhere), then SBCC has just become a much more pleasant, rational, and collegial place.
If you want further entertainment, read the update, a letter of support from Michael Shermer. Once again, his defense against accusations is that he was never investigated by the police — exactly. He was never questioned by the police because conference organizers closed ranks and never forwarded any complaints to legal authorities. He was astoundingly privileged and sheltered when preying on women, and now he thinks that means he never did anything wrong.