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Jason Stanley Spirals Ever Downward

Suzanne Tucker/Shutterstock
Suzanne Tucker/Shutterstock

The moral and intellectual collapse of troubled Yale philosopher Jason Stanley continues. He’s now claiming that criticism from me and others over his (and unstable Georgetown Prof. Rebecca Kukla’s) foul public vitriol directed at Prof. Richard Swinburne and Swinburne’s defenders is because of — wait for it — anti-Semitism. From a statement he has posted:

On my public post, someone posted a disturbing comment about Swinburne’s death. I contemplated deleting it but then wanted to wait to see if anyone would ‘like’ it before addressing its horrors (no one did). It is hard to avoid the suspicion that the media discussion starting with the September 28th piece in The American Conservative, and then the Washington Times, is straightforwardly anti-Semitic. How did a non-story about the complexity of communication that results when screenshots from private conversations are made public, become a national story about two leftist Jewish professors and the dangers they pose?

At first, the story was solely about me. Then, the other Jewish philosopher who posted on that thread, Rebecca Kukla, was also targeted. What ensued was a terrible anti-Semitic narrative, channeling a virulent 20th century form of anti-Semitism, now present in Russia; that leftist Jews seek to use the issue of homosexuality to target the Christian faith. I hope we can, as a profession, have a respectful discussion about the two disputes I mentioned above. I responded to disrespect in kind, and I regret that this may have made it more difficult. We need to have these conversations, though, in a way that does not invite retribution against our gay colleagues, whose experiences of discrimination need to be highlighted, rather than forced ever more into the shadows. And we need to have it in a way that does not help bring in the stain of anti-Semitism.

Man, is that ever shameless. I didn’t know Stanley was Jewish until after I had posted about him, and I learned that Kukla is Jewish from this blog post of Stanley’s. I guess the charge of anti-Semitism is the last refuge to which a scoundrel like Stanley clings. The “non-story” is, in fact, a big story. As a college professor explained to me, the fact that eminent philosophers at places like Yale, Georgetown, and Columbia (all of whom were represented in the filthy attacks) feel at liberty to say in public fora “F–k you, assholes,” “suck my queer cock,” and similar things, in response to academic colleagues taking positions with which they strongly disagree, tells you a lot about the state of moral and intellectual life in the academy today. Left-wing professors are generally free to say any hateful thing they like about their opponents, demonizing them, cursing them, and driving them out.

For bullies like Jason Stanley to now claim that they are the real victims here is nervy. First Stanley told the Yale Daily News that a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy was out to get him. Now it’s anti-Semites. Who’s it going to be next? The guy can’t simply admit that he was wrong, and promise to be more respectful. He actually wants people to believe too that he didn’t delete a reader statement on his Facebook wall that Swinburne should be killed because he wanted to call out those villains who agreed with its “horrors” (I agree that it was horrible, but I don’t for a second believe Stanley’s rationalization). Spin, spin, spin, Jason Stanley, but you’re not convincing anybody of anything other than that you have a lot of hatred and anger in your heart, as well as having a warped sense of decorum or decency, and that you cannot deal straightforwardly with these problems.

If people outside of Yale (and Georgetown) conclude that both institutions, at least on their philosophy faculties, employ professors who talk like that about those with whom they disagree, well hey, that’s on Yale and Georgetown.

I strongly repudiate the anti-Semitism to which Stanley has been subjected. Anti-Semites are the worst people. And I hate that Stanley has been made to feel physically unsafe because of this. I know what that feels like. My newspaper employer once had to hire off-duty police officers to protect my house 24/7 for three days because a gay-rights proponent was driving through the neighborhood attacking it, and sending homeless men to our door demanding money. The world is full of bad people. I would think that Jason Stanley would do his best to avoid being among them. Try harder, Professor.

Finally, I can’t let this go:

But much worse than that is the legitimation of the very real discrimination that gay philosophers have to face on a daily basis from colleagues, from students, and from the media.

Really? The media abuse gay philosophers daily? So do students? Colleagues? Daily? Bulls*it. I’d like to see evidence of that. As for Christian philosophers, we have evidence that Jason Stanley, Rebecca Kukla, and others are willing to abuse them publicly. A Christian philosopher who spoken about gays they way they did about Christians would be severely disciplined by their university — and ought to be! But there is a double standard in the academy, and all the cowardly spin by a paranoid, emotionally unstable Jason Stanley won’t erase it.

Still, I hope there is enough compassion and camaraderie among the Yale philosophy faculty for someone to stage an intervention. He’s making them all look bad.

UPDATE: A reader writes:

You buried the lede here, which is that he apologized to Swinburne: “I will begin by apologizing to Professor Richard Swinburne. I regret that he is involved at all, and I regret even bringing his name into the conversation in my public post.” Also there’s no link to the original post:


She’s right. Sorry about that — I posted in haste. I have inserted a link into the original.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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