MIT is struggling with the disclosure that one of their star professors, Joi Ito, accepted a heck of a lot of money from the pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. So, at one of their meetings, Nicholasa Negroponte decided to “help”.
Throughout, the meeting had proceeded calmly. But as one of the organizers began to wrap things up, Negroponte stood up, unprompted, and began to speak. He discussed his privilege as a “rich white man” and how he had used that privilege to break into the social circles of billionaires. It was these connections, he said, that had allowed the Media Lab to be the only place at MIT that could afford to charge no tuition, pay people full salaries, and allow researchers to keep their intellectual property.
Negroponte said that he prided himself on knowing over 80% of the billionaires in the US on a first-name basis, and that through these circles he had come to spend time with Epstein. Over the years, he had two dinners and one ride in Epstein’s private jet alone, where they spoke passionately about science. (He didn’t say whether these occurred before or after Epstein’s 2008 conviction.) It was these interactions, he said, that warmed him to Epstein and made him confidently and enthusiastically recommend that Ito take the money.
It was at this point that Negroponte said he would still have given Ito the same advice today. Different people in attendance had conflicting interpretations of his statement. Some understood him to mean he would act the same way even knowing what he knows now about Epstein’s alleged sex trafficking. But Negroponte told the Boston Globe that in retrospect, “Yes, we are embarrassed and regret taking his money.”
Oh my god. Stop shooting yourself in the foot.
Negroponte has all these privileges. MIT is a good university with an excess of wealth and privilege. Isn’t it nice that he hangs out with capitalist looters? Shouldn’t all our science and education be funded by making friends with rich criminals? Yeah, let’s all cozy up to perverts and bankers and stock market speculators and hope they shower us with gold. Money is magic! It doesn’t matter where it comes from!
Some in the audience were shocked and horrified, the ones with some awareness and social consciousness. Negroponte just got up and admitted that all the great things that benefited all the lucky people at MIT were the product of unclean hands, and that he’d happily take any money from anyone, no matter how they acquired it.
I guess ethics isn’t one of the scholarly disciplines MIT is known for.