Very Un-Ferret

The title of your article “Ferrets Eat Babies. They Shred Human Tissue. They Drink Blood” (Cover Story, May 10) is appalling. The article itself is good, but it is titles and headlines like this that put ferrets at risk of being confiscated and hamper the legalization efforts. People may not read the article, but will remember the title so next time some crazy person reports a ferret owner because they remember your title you will have been partially responsible for the pain and suffering of the owner and the animal!

Please reprint the article in a second issue with an appropriate title.

  • Name Withheld
  • via email

No Insights Wanted

The conference at USD described in “Catfish, Tulsa, Nazis, Jefferson — Civility” (City Lights, May 10) seemed to get no further engaging the issue of Political Civility than the one I attended at UCSD a few weeks earlier. It was sponsored by a consortium of departments, importing guest speakers from top-tier universities in this country and Europe in an attempt to elevate objective science over partisan rhetoric. I understood the liberal bias of this era’s public universities, but had hoped that a conference dedicated to transcending this in political life would achieve such purity, at least in this setting.

While there have been no reports or transcripts of the presentations, I personally got a great deal out of attending the three-day event. Beyond the objective presentations, I discerned a clear subtext of the content that reflected values attributed to the left. Ironically, only a few weeks after the conference, and after I created a website based on it, a major report, “Virulent Incivility, the Academic Challenge,” was released by an association of conservative academics on the liberal bias of the University of California, exactly the issue I had attempted to engage.

I sent a critique of the analysis to their director of communication who invited me to write an article on it, as she concurred with many of my points. But, after many attempts, I was struck by the realization of the same conundrum facing both the USD and the UCSD conferences. I could not express any insights on this issue of partisanship without political self-identification, without which the message is meaningless.

My goal is to push for a space where knowledge is untainted by values, no matter how convinced its academic advocates may be of their worth.

You can read more about the UCSD conference, along with my interactions with the participants, on my personal website: AlRodbell.com.

  • Al Rodbell
  • Encinitas

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