A Defense That’s Worse Than Nothing

Retired UW-Whitewater professor Brian Kevin Beck contends that Kopper shouldn’t leave [the] Chancellor post. (Candidly, there’s a chance that his defense is so bad that it’s an intentional parody of a defense. It’s hard to believe anyone who served on a worthy faculty could reason so poorly.)

Beck argues that (1) misconduct involving Kopper’s public appointee (and spouse) is not relevant to her work, (2) that she failed in no part of her job, and that – by analogy – (3) Kopper should no more resign from her role than should an avowed and repeated racist.

These contentions are easily addressed —

Relevancy and responsibility:

Multiple allegations of harassment and assault at UW-Whitewater are more than simply a matter of a spouse‘s misconduct toward others (now numbering five complainants).  They reveal the failure of the appointing official.

Pete Hill was no ordinary, unconnected spouse: he was 1) appointed publicly 2) by this chancellor, Beverly Kopper 3) to attend public events 4) present often in chancellor’s office and 5) about whom the chancellor kept investigations secret for months despite knowing of allegations against Hill, and (6) in an office where other appointees who are alleged to have known of Hill’s misconduct have been the points of contact for public records releases about that very misconduct.

That’s how she failed in her job.

See also No Ordinary, Unconnected Spouse: Public officials’ use of family appointees. and Questions Concerning a Ban on the UW-Whitewater Chancellor’s Husband After a Sexual Harassment Investigation.

Beck Tries to Defend Kopper by Comparing Her to Racists: Beck believes that Kopper should linger as avowed racists Earl Butz of the Nixon Administration and baseball player John Rocker should have stayed around.  He writes that

Former Secretary of the Department of Agriculture Earl Butz, who served in the Nixon Administration, allegedly told a racist joke. For this, he had to step down. But wasn’t he doing a difficult job well? Was the ensuing disorganization worth it?

Retired baseball star John Rocker allegedly talked trash about NYC subway riders (“a queer with AIDS…welfare mothers…foreigners”). But did this spewing disqualify his undoubted social contribution? Can he play ball and thus entertain thousands?

There’s your vulgar act utilitarianism – balancing unjust injury to some against a supposed gain for others. Beck thinks that these men had a positive social contribution – and to that the answer is – no and never. Reliance on these supposed ‘contributions’ is nothing more than reliance on anti-social bigotry.

Of federal bureaucrats and athletes, one expects both skill and decency, and there is no acceptable balancing of one against the other.

On Social Disruption:  Beck contends that replacing Kopper will cause “social upset and waste.”

On the contrary, her failures as a supervisory official have caused social upset; doing the right thing – and only by doing the right thing – will UW-Whitewater find itself on the right path (of social harmony).

Americans have developed – on the basis of individual rights and individual dignity – the most extraordinary society in human history. Those few who stand against this tradition are often the very cause of individual hardship and social disruption.  A few scheming leaders who place themselves over the individuals to whom they owe service and humility may be assured that thousands of years of moral and philosophical teaching stand against their selfish way.

Kopper’s obstinacy has exacerbated injuries to individuals and to the professionalism that places individuals first.

Beyond all this, Hyer Hall should consider how weak its position is: a supposed champion who offers a defense that relies on the careers of misfits and bigots to argue for Kopper.

It’s a strange – and ethically perverse – defense not worth having.

Previously:  Journal Sentinel: UW-Whitewater chancellor’s husband banned from campus after sexual harassment investigationQuestions Concerning a Ban on the UW-Whitewater Chancellor’s Husband After a Sexual Harassment Investigation, Chancellor Kopper Should Resign, A fifth woman publicly accuses UW-Whitewater chancellor’s husband of sexual harassmentThe UW-Whitewater Chancellor’s Lack of Individual Regard, No Ordinary, Unconnected Spouse: Public officials’ use of family appointees, An Example of Old Whitewater’s Deficient Reasoning, The Principle of Diversity Rests on Individual Rights, and Another ‘Advisory Council’ Isn’t What Whitewater Needs.

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5 years ago

Saw this letter to the RP a week ago and couldn’t believe it. Yes, it’s terrible in ideas/quality. The ending (not quoted) doesn’t make any sense.

To be honest about it Beverly doesn’t have much of a social contribution argument anyway. I say that as a liberal faculty member. Of course we could do better than this. We have done too much ignoring of women who have been harassed at this university.

At this point we are stuck with a weak leader who is a millstone around the school’s neck.

5 years ago

The same kind of people who let things like this happen are the kind of people who attract letters like this.Last comment is correct.School won’t be taken seriously until it hires res a serious person at the top.