Thursday, December 09, 2004

GIBBERISH. There is a much-remarked article in the Times this week lamenting the poor quality of writing among corporate employees. It's fine as far as it goes, but I have two cavils.

First, the article focuses on grammar and punctuation errors, which are mere symptoms of sloppy thinking, and not even determinative symptoms -- a piece of writing may be syntactically perfect, yet incoherent.

Second, it should be pointed out that corporate drones are not the only types with this problem.

To show you what I mean, here is the last paragraph of article by an American university professor, who, having endeavored to prove by use of anecdotes that the U.S. professariat is so nearly exclusively liberal as to have "a deleterious effect on the learning environment" (this last assertion bolstered by the ambiguous findings of a dicey poll), ends his meanderings thus:
What is to be done? Proponents of diversity, as measured by race, gender, sexual orientation, or what have you, long complained about the "old boys network" that dominated law school hiring. (Oddly enough, as the proponents of such diversity have achieved their own critical mass on most law school campuses, one tends to hear this complaint less often. Indeed, from what I see and hear, there seems to be something a "new boys and girls network" at work.) It's time for us conservatives and libertarians to take up that complaint. We shouldn't ask for affirmative action in favor of our fellow travelers, but we should insist that the pool of candidates not be artificially constricted by either the old or the new networks.
One can poke this from any angle and find mush. If the new boys and girls have replaced the old boys "by critical mass," and as there is nothing offered here to recommend the old boys over the new, shouldn't we just congratulate the current crop of cloth-ears on winning their power struggle? If cons & libs take up, as the professor suggests, the new kids' diversity complaint, what moral advantage over the current mob does that leave them? To whom would the professor and his confederates "insist that the pool of candidates not be artificially constricted by either the old or the new networks," and what would it accomplish, other than giving the professor something to bitch about to the like-minded readers of Tech Central Station?

Well, OK, that one sort of answers itself.

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