Monday, July 10, 2006

Frisch Meat

Even Inside Higher Ed has now taken note of Deranged Deb's Doings.

But is she--deranged, that is? There seems to be an emerging consensus that newly ex-adjunct professor Frisch, who previously also taught in Oregon, is if not certifiable, then certainly borderline. But acting against one's own best interests is not, last time I checked, necessarily evidence of pathology. And if offensive, even horrific language; "anti-intellect" intellectual rantings; and general reckless abandonment on the 'net is evidence of mental illness, we have a potential pandemic on our hands. I say this as someone whose own first--and second, and third--instinct was to categorize Frisch as someone who'd somehow managed to fly just under the radar of the mental health system, though I put it more obliquely in comments on Amba's blog.

In the light of day--and separated by many hours since reading a fair amount about Frisch's dustup with Jeff Goldstein of Protein Wisdom** and then checking out a sampling of her comments dating as far back as Jan. 3, 2005, on Left2Right; see especially those at 8:02:40 and 8:02:46--I'm inclined to view this differently. Sure, her comments could be used as evidence that she's way, way out to lunch, so to speak. But I'm coming around to thinking that characterization lets her off the hook--and more important, permits others to avoid looking at how often their own "mocking" slides right up to, if not over (though often it does go right over), the line of the utterly unacceptable and deplorable. And at how the line has been blurred between passionate advocacy/commentary and adolescent, for-shock-value, nyah-nyah posturing as in end to itself. Which is what a lot of this type of behavior is, plain and simple, no matter how much those who engage in such exercises argue that their tactics-of-choice should be viewed as simply a means to an end (of Greater Good). Pretty immature means, at best, and you have to question the credibility of those who can't see that, Left, Right, or awash in academic degrees. Or who insist that is incumbent upon us to focus on content, not form.

Of course, Deb Frisch, in the comment that leads the Inside Higher Ed piece, at least makes no bones about the fact that there is no Higher End.
“I enjoy writing things that inflame, mock and infuriate the right.”

That's not mental illness: that's junior high.

And as anyone with an ounce of sense who's lived through that scary phase of life should know full well: Those aren't the inmates we want running the asylum.

**I noted, when I went over to pick up PW's URL for my link, that Goldstein has linked to the Higher Ed piece with some commentary of his own.

Note: Slight copyediting changes made since original.

Update: In the interest of fairness, I should link to Frisch's blog since I linked that of Goldstein, of whom, as I (reader_iam) have noted before, I could not be considered a fan.