The impotence of being earnest

Posted: Oct 21, 2004 12:00 AM

Well, Clifton, there you go again. I thought we were through with this little exchange but I see that you have updated ?your? website since I last wrote to you.  In reference to my second article (Shut up and sue!) you now have this to say on ?your? website:

The length of his (Dr. Adams?) quoted material in proportion to the web page it comes from takes it out of the category of "fair use" ? Furthermore, in a second "article" this person has quoted in full a private e-mail from me to him without my permission.  This clearly violates the U.S. Copyright Law.

Furthermore, I noticed that you have added a general statement on academic freedom at the bottom of ?your? webpage, which comes from another portion of the California State University website (I don?t know why you have used quotation marks, Clifton, since the CSULB website is ?your? website):

As far as academic freedom goes, "the special nature of universities protects professors from being question[ed] about their lectures" (CSULB web site).

Clifton, you are simply getting in deeper and deeper as the days go by. Of course, I am loving every minute of it. Please keep updating ?your? website. And, how about another ?private? e-mail?

You have a serious problem on your hands, Clifton. The problem originates with your apparent adoption of a philosophy of moral relativism. Like your hero Oscar Wilde, who said ?I never approve, or disapprove, of anything now? you think that your brand of ?tolerance? makes you better than others. But you fail to see the logical contradiction in your position.

Oscar Wilde also said this about making moral judgments: ?It is an absurd attitude to take towards life. We are not sent into the world to air our moral prejudices. I never take any notice of what common people say, and I never interfere with what charming people do.?

Oscar Wilde wasn?t bright enough to recognize that calling something ?absurd? and labeling some people as ?common? and others as ?charming? are forms of moral judgment. Nor do you seem to possess the intellectual firepower to recognize that referring to my opinions (on ?your? website) as ?vindictive, rude, unprofessional, inappropriate, unauthorized, and illogical? means that you are engaging in moral disapproval. Whether you like it or not, you have made a series of moral judgments.

It?s okay to make a moral judgment (notice that this sentence reflects a moral judgment) once in a while, Clifton. For example, I think that pedophilia is wrong. I also think that ?queer literary critics? are imbeciles. But life goes on.

Your hero Oscar Wilde also said that ?Imagination is a quality given a man to compensate him for what he is not, and a sense of humor was provided to console him for what he is.? Although, in my opinion, you do not possess a well-developed sense of humor, your imagination has certainly gone Wilde throughout this entire exchange.

You imagine that ?The length of (my) quoted material in proportion to the web page it comes from takes it out of the category of ?fair use.?? You imagine that my quote of a ?private e-mail from (you) to (me) without (your) permission? is an action that ?clearly violates the U.S. Copyright Law.? You imagine that ?the special nature of universities protects professors from being question[ed] about their lectures.?

Unfortunately, Clifton, your imagination is not in tune with reality. You are a ?queer literary critic? offering very queer but only semi-literate critiques.
Over the years, I have found that those who profess a belief in moral relativism often profess a belief in postmodernism, too.  These postmodernists all-to-often have God complexes that motivate them to claim both a right and an ability to form a reality of their own with truths of their own.

That was certainly true of Oscar Wilde. He sincerely felt that he was libeled so he filed a lawsuit. And, as you know, Clifton, that attempted suit was the reason for his demise.

Oscar Wilde was made rudely aware of the impotence of his earnest belief that he had been libeled.  He learned that there is an independent reality that one cannot control with one?s feelings, no matter how sincerely held.

That is why I write to you, Clifton. I want your students to get a real education. That requires giving professors like you a reality check from time to time. I look forward to our next exchange.

Dr. Adams ( will appear on the Fox Report with Shepard Smith on Thursday, October 21st at 7 p.m. EST to discuss this ongoing controversy. Fox News tried to track down Clifton Snider for the segment. Tune in to find out whether they were successful.