[INDOLOGY] To post or not to post

Shyam Ranganathan shyamr at yorku.ca
Fri Oct 7 14:28:56 UTC 2016

Dear list members,

I too thought I would keep quite. As a moral philosopher who deals with 
these kinds of issues, I have too much to say so I thought to say 
nothing. But I have been amazed that this thread has continued in part 
due to all the objections to the original post (which probably would 
have peacefully receded into the background had it not hit a nerve). I 
have been struck by the following:

(1) How relevant one believes sexual harassment is to Indology has to do 
with how worried one is about encountering this in one's research as an 
Indologist. The issue is not merely about whether one is male or female, 
but also about whether one is senior or junior. As our junior colleagues 
are the most vulnerable and least likely to have a voice in print and 
the scholarly community, we ought to think twice before we silence their 
concerns, as many on this list of tried.

(2) The second issue is about trial by press. There are several concerns 
here. One is the stigma attached to the victims and 
complainants---reporting sexual harassment is often described by such 
individuals as a second assault. Then there is the very real and 
credible concern that people's reputations can be damaged by false 
accusations. I take the latter possibility seriously. Berkeley seems to 
be on a role with handling sexual harassment badly, alternating between 
suppressing the issue and then publicly misrepresenting facts of cases.  
The only solution to both problems, it seems to me, is to be willing to 
talk about the issue, for if we treat the very mention of sexual 
harassment as inappropriate for public discussion in scholarly settings, 
we do nothing to deflate the stigma of reporting such cases, or the 
stigma of being falsely accused.

Best wishes,
Shyam Ranganathan
Department of Philosophy
York University

On 07/10/2016 9:28 AM, Isabelle Ratie wrote:
> Dear friends and colleagues,
> We are all tired of this discussion and I apologize for belatedly 
> adding my voice to it. My intention was to remain silent, but I have 
> changed my mind because Audrey Truschke has rightly pointed out that 
> so far those voicing their disagreement with her were all men.
> I am a woman. I am European. There is hardly any need to say that I 
> consider sexual harrassment utterly unacceptable. Yet as Walter Slaje 
> and Arlo Griffiths, I did find Audrey Truschke's message somewhat 
> disturbing. I realize that she had nothing but excellent intentions in 
> posting it and this is certainly not to hurt her feelings; besides, 
> Philipp Maas is probably right in pointing out that this whole 
> disagreement might simply betray a cultural gap between the USA and 
> Europe (which, as he also pointed out, is NOT to say that Europeans 
> would take sexual harrassment less seriously than Americans, but only 
> that for instance my French colleagues and myself would expect such a 
> grave matter to be judged by an independent court of law, not by a 
> mere university committee!). Anyway as Walter Slaje, I find public 
> pillorying extremely unpleasant and dangerous, especially when a 
> defamation lawsuit has been filed and a court decision is still 
> awaited: this defamation lawsuit is presented in the post as a devious 
> way of "silencing" the victims, and the rhetoric of the post leaves 
> little room for the possibility that a wrongly accused man may be 
> fighting to get his reputation back when his whole career and probably 
> much more are at stake. Contrary to some of those who have contributed 
> to this discussion, I believe that we cannot afford to let the medias' 
> carelessness and self-righteousness force us to "take sides" in 
> matters that are not theirs or ours - but only the courts' - to judge. 
> I entirely agree with Audrey that sexual harrassment is awful and that 
> it can occur in all academic disciplines, including ours (and indeed 
> why would it not?); but it seems to me that it's also important to 
> keep in mind that innocent men and women are sometimes wrongly 
> accused; that this is why courts must be allowed to investigate in 
> their own time and independently; that filing a defamation lawsuit is 
> not a sure sign that a guilty individual is trying to silence his 
> victims; and that a scholarly forum such as INDOLOGY is not an 
> appropriate place to discuss such matters.
> With best wishes to all,
> Isabelle
> -- 
> Isabelle Ratié
> Professor of Sanskrit Language and Literatures
> Sorbonne Nouvelle (University of Paris 3)
> http://www.iran-inde.cnrs.fr/members/permanent-members/ratie-isabelle.html?lang=en
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