SV: On S. Farmer . . .

David Salmon dsalmon at SALMON.ORG
Tue Apr 17 18:36:15 UTC 2001

> David Salmon skrev 15. april 2001 20:13:
> > Dr. Farmer,
> >
> > If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.
> I think this is off the mark. In Academia, you should be able to stand the
> heat of the *argument* in a professional discussion. You should not have
to stand the heat of personal harassment and libel. That sort of things is
for> politicians to enjoy. They usually deserve it.
> Lars Martin Fosse

My point precisely.  Dr. Farmer, and to a lesser extent, Prof. Witzel, have
been engaging in politics, attacking what they see (with considerable
justification) as fascist tendencies in some groups in India.  But along the
way, they went beyond what was necessary to defend academic theory and
facts, especially Dr. Farmer with his "satire" in which he discovered little
satellite antennas in the IVC seals, and so on.

I have supported them when they defended matters of liberty or
defended their theories, and will continue to do so.  But when Dr. Farmer
started to scornfully attack people and views, rather than defend theories
or facts or liberty, he went beyond the needs of the case, engaged in
politics, and needlessly and pointlessly offended others.  If he would stick
to his lathe, he might do fine, I don't know.  But he -has- been engaging in

I'm not saying the political effort is not worthwhile, given the stakes
and the danger.  I see no reason why we in the "West" should sit silently
by (which is what closing the Indology list to that reality would mean).  To
the contrary, we must defend our own interest--and theirs--in the freedom to
hold unpopular ideas.  I do so, after my fashion, as have you, and Dr.
Farmer and Prof. Witzel and a great many others.  But Dr. Farmer has made
the job harder than it needed to be.  (I distinguish him from Prof. Witzel
because Prof. Witzel, in my view, has been somewhat more circumspect,
particularly lately.)  The harassment Dr. Farmer faced when he first zeroed
in on Dr. Rajaram was undeserved, an attack on the messenger for bringing
an unpopular message, an attempt to shut him up.  The harassment Farmer
faces these days is much more of his own making.  It ill behooves him to
appeal to us for support against his attackers when he has been insulting
them right and left, largely for his own amusement, so far as one can tell.

One who appeals to reason must act reasonably.  If he would knock off the
personalities and snappy but cutting remarks, he would be a lot more
successful, and receive more a willing support from those like me, who
admire his courage, if not his tactics.


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