Thursday, February 13, 2020
Following up on my previous posts (link below): Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed: The Jerks of Academe, by Eric Schwitzgebel (UC-Riverside; author, A Theory of Jerks and Other Philosophical Misadventures (MIT Press 2019)):
This morning you probably didn’t look in the mirror and ask, “Am I a jerk?” And if you did, I wouldn’t believe your answer. Jerks usually don’t know that they are jerks.
Jerks mostly travel in disguise, even from themselves. But the rising tide (or is it just the increasing visibility?) of scandal, grisly politics, bureaucratic obstructionism, and toxic advising in academe reveals the urgent need of a good wildlife guide by which to identify the varieties of academic jerk.
So consider what follows a public service of sorts. I offer it in sad remembrance of the countless careers maimed or slain by the beasts profiled below. ...
The Big Shot. The Creepy Hugger. The Sadistic Bureaucrat. The Embittered Downdragger. This list is not exhaustive, nor are the types exclusive. Jerkitude manifests in wondrous variety, and not all the species have yet been cataloged. Hybrids abound — for example, the past-his-prime Big Shot who is becoming an Embittered Downdragger.
If you spot one of these jerks in the wild — at a conference hotel, on the other side of the seminar table, at a campuswide committee meeting — react as if you had spotted a bear. They are dangerous, unpredictable creatures, best avoided if possible. Do not try to cuddle up close, thinking you can befriend them without getting hurt. Do not try to seduce them with treats. Walk as far away as possible. Jerks are best viewed from a distance.
If surprised up close by an angry jerk, stand tall, if you can raise yourself to intimidating height. If it’s a grizzly, though, play dead.
But what if you are the jerk?
Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:
- "No Jerk" Rules and Faculty Hiring (Oct. 17, 2007)
- Are You an "Office Asshole"? (Nov. 2, 2007)
- Are Assholes More Successful in Academia? (Feb. 26, 2013)
- Collegiality: Legitimizing Tenure's Fourth Rail (June 14, 2013)
- Are You a Jerk at Work? (Nov. 26, 2014)
- Law School Special Snowflake Trigger Warning: I’m A Jerk (Dec. 24, 2014)
- How to Tell If You’re a Jerk at Work (Feb. 27, 2015)
- The Atlantic: Why It Pays To Be A Jerk (May 24, 2015)
- Why Faculty Workshops Should Not Be 'Safe Spaces': Law Profs Need To Be Adversarial (But Not Jerks) Because Of Law Reviews' Lack Of Rigor (May 5, 2017)
- Jerk Partners Beget Jerk Partners: Ending Big Law's Cycle Of Dysfunction (July 21, 2019)
- Do You Have To Be A Jerk To Be Great? (Aug. 7, 2019)