Here's a rather odd development in the SCP/Swinburne flap. Readers will recall from my previous posts the insanely nasty comment by non-Christian philosopher Rebecca Kukla and her defiant self-defense.
Kukla has since taken that self-defense non-public, but it was public for several days (I read it myself) and garnered many "likes" and expressions of solidarity with her. While it was public, Rod Dreher copied it, and I'll be quoting it below.
Suffice it to say that, though Kukla wasn't viciously cussing out everybody who disagreed with her right in that status update, she was proudly defending herself for having done so, and the only nice things she had to say were about all her "supporters" at Georgetown and about others who have tried to appease her side of the political spectrum. She also complained about the so-called "attack" on her by the Georgetown conservative blogger. The only thing in that post that could remotely be called an "attack" was putting a link to her e-mail along with links to about a gazillion other people's e-mails, tacitly suggesting that readers contact her, which could have (and in this day and age probably did) result in her getting abusive e-mails. I raised a demurral about that in my own post on the subject. But the actual content of the Georgetown Academy post was accurate and non-abusive and raised entirely legitimate concerns about her outrageous behavior and her future relationship to conservative students at Georgetown.
Okay, so why, one might wonder, would the President of the SCP, Mike Rea, who is by all accounts a very nice guy and is (one would think) hoping not to alienate (further) either the conservative or the leftist "wing" of his ideologically "diverse" but ostensibly Christian organization, signal approval of Kukla's self-defense for her virulently nasty comment? Please review again (language warning) what Kukla actually said (which was publicly viewable) concerning moral traditionalists and what she was therefore defending in her public follow-up.
Honestly, I can't imagine a single good reason.
I attach a screen cap that was gotten to me (by a source) of Mike Rea's "like" on Kukla's self-defense.
Let me stress right here, very clearly, that Kukla's post was set to public at the time. It has since been moved to non-public, but Rea's "like" was noted by my source while it was public. There has been somewhat of a kerfuffle about posting screenshots of information posted to Facebook with higher privacy settings. I consider all such debates to be distracting attention from more important issues, so I'm not getting into that, and I'm not doing that. This was publicly viewable at the time that it occurred. Moreover, anyone who uses Facebook can look right at the privacy settings on the post on which he is posting or "liking" and see if his response/reaction is going to be public or not.
Now, unlike Executive Director Christina van Dyke's disgraceful "haha" reaction to atheist Jason Stanley's nastiness, Mike Rea's "like" here was a) not a direct approval of nastiness and b) somewhat easier than a "haha" reaction to click by accident.
Frankly, I seriously doubt that it was accidental (and it was left up and for all I know is still there), but no doubt there will be those who will hold that open as a serious possibility.
I'm going to take it that it was not an accident, because that seems to me most probable.
As I said at the time that my attention was drawn to it (in a comment on Ed Feser's blog), Kukla's self-defense is long enough that Rea may say that he was just showing sadness that she has been "attacked" (though she really wasn't attacked by the Georgetown blogger) or possibly approving of her nicey talk about her "supporters" (though she shouldn't be receiving all of this "support," so that isn't really a thing to like).
Here is the text of Kukla's public self defense as copied by Rod Dreher:
On Friday, the Georgetown Academy, a far-right group loosely affiliated with Georgetown University [LM: It looks like Kukla subsequently edited this to "with no affiliation with Georgetown University"], launched an attack on me based on a comment I made on Jason Stanley’s Facebook page [LM: public comment on public page, gleefully posted], which got screenshot and posted on right-wing blogs. They have openly called for a campaign of harassment against me, challenged my right to remain tenured at Georgetown, and so forth. They are insistent about getting the university administration to respond to this call. They have claimed, among other things, that I directed a profanity at “Catholics.” This claim is not only false but Orwellian.
The backstory, briefly, is this: A philosopher gavwe a keynote speech at the Society for Christian Philosophers, in which he called homosexuality a disability that ought to be cured. The leaders of that organization, Michael Rea and Christina Van Dyke, put out lovely statements expressing their regret for the hurt caused by those remarks. Neither they, nor I, nor anyone else that I know about challenged this person’s right to make his bigoted, dangerous, and ignorant comments, nor has anyone called for any sort of retraction or apology from him. They merely expressed their regret. However, they received vicious attacks in the wake of their statement, from supposed defenders of ‘free speech.’ My first public comment on the whole issue was one I made in support of the leadership of the Society for Christian Philosophers.
Other philosophers (not me) then said some profanity-laced things on Facebook about the original talk and the attacks on those who had expressed regret. Some people got very worked up about the use of profanity and complained vocally. I and others found it profoundly ironic and awful that according to the complainers, telling people that their whole identity was pathological counted as civil discourse, whereas a few swear words in return did not. So on Jason’s thread I then responded with profanity, very much on purpose, to stand up for profanity being way less of a problem than deep, harful intolerance. I went out of my way to pick a profane image that was ‘unnatural,’ since the concept of naturalness was at issue in the original debate My comment [LM in public, deliberately] along with several others was screenshot and posted on right wing blogs, which then led to the Georgetown Academy attack.
It is exceptionally important to me that my Catholics colleagues understand that the claim that I directed profanity at them as a group is entirely, completely false. My profanity was very specifically directed at those claiming that profanity was more of a threat to civil discourse than homophobia. I assume such people came from a variety of religious backgrounds. I deeply value the many Christian (including Catholic) philosophers at Georgetown, in the Society for Christian Philosophers, and across the profession who are thoughtful and loving people making the world a better place. Indeed, I am consistently proud to be a faculty member at Georgeton, a Jesuit institution, and one that proves itself to be humane, intellectually vibrant, and committed to social justice at every turn. As usual, my wonderful institution has behaved perfectly in response to these attacks. I deeply regret the trouble and stress my remarks have created for some people in my fantastic Georgetown community.
I’ve been the recipient of maximally vulgar comments about my genitals, sex practices, and more on philosophy blogs and Facebook threads in the past. Because these comments have all been made anonymously, their authors have faced no consequences of any kind. I pride myself on saying whatever I have to say under my own name, and I will continue to do so, and to take responsibility for my words, now and always.
UPDATE: Many wonderful people are asking what they can do to help. The only thing I can think of right now is, please don’t signal boost the original article by reposting it. The last thing I or anyone at GU wants is for more right-wingers to get wind of the whole thing. Thanks and love to all of you. xoxo
Now what in the world is there to approve of there, unless you are on Kukla's side in this whole mess? Precisely nothing. Oh, wait, I know: It was her reference to Dr. Rea's "lovely statement" that he was clicking "like" for, right?
Please. Rebecca Kukla is a foul-mouthed, virulent Christianophobe. If you're on her team you get "xoxo" and "wonderful," "fantastic," and other such gooey praise. If you're opposed to her ideology you get...this.
What in the world could Dr. Michael Rea be thinking of to appear to give any approval of her brazen self-defense for her vicious behavior?
If I hadn't heard repeatedly what a nice guy he is and how he really doesn't have ill-will toward conservatives, I'd just conclude that he's a committed leftist (like Christina van Dyke appears to be from her "haha" and other comments) and leave it at that.
But in charity, I'll conclude that he's just ideologically stone tone deaf, at least in his right ear. And utterly bent in one and only one direction as far as the question of who are the "victims" in the ideological culture wars. His left ear appears to be extremely sensitive. Dr. Rea's idea of being moderate and helping the cause of unity in the SCP is apparently doing everything possible to ingratiate himself with the left, to the point of approving of the likes of Rebecca Kukla, and those the left has designated as enemies can go hang.
If you are an orthodox Christian, or if you are just starting to get creeped out by the bias here, I suggest that your money could be much better spent than on SCP dues.