Friday, August 23, 2013

The Campbell Brown Show

Some people simply see earth as our home, but for legal expert Campbell Brown, it's a forum to shock us with spectacular and lurid accusations. There are 128 teachers who were accused of some sort of sexual offense. Only 33 were fired. Why can't Walcott fire the rest? The short answer is arbitrators, chosen jointly by UFT and DOE, found them not guilty.

But for legal expert Campbell Brown (who's married to some Students First bigshot, which surely has absolutely nothing to do with her crusade), that answer is just not good enough. She made it a point to confront UFT President Michael Mulgrew about it. You can see the video here.

Gotham Schools had originally written it was about "teachers who have sexually harassed students," but to their credit, they changed it after I complained. The fact is, not all these cases were about that, and I know of only one. In this case no such thing happened. However, Campbell Brown did not like it when I objected to Gotham's description.

You see how this goes, don't you? You can only answer two ways. Yes, I think it's harrassment, and I'm therefore completely wrong. Or no I don't, and I therefore condone such behavior.

Brown was not finished with me.

Goodness gracious, what an awful person I must be for thinking such a thing. Or not thinking it. I told Ms. Legal Expert Brown that I knew precisely one of the notorious 128, that this person did nothing that merited dismissal, let alone suspension, and that Gotham's original description was misleading and inaccurate. I told her she was also misleading and inaccurate.

When you watch the video, note that legal expert Brown refers to these same two cases, as always. So out of 128 cases, 33 teachers were removed, but the teachers alleged to have done these things were not among them. Legal expert Brown refers to this as a "loophole." But there is, in fact, a process, described very clearly by Mulgrew. Maintaining otherwise is tantamount to stating that accused Americans who are found not guilty are getting by because of that darn jury system, the loophole that keeps police from tossing us into prison indiscriminately.

Mulgrew states, exactly, that the teachers in question were "not found guilty of sexual impropriety." Guess what legal expert Campbell Brown decided to tweet in response?

And this:

First, Brown is lying. Mulgrew said no such thing. The UFT said no such thing. And the video proves it. Neither Mulgrew nor the UFT were the arbitrators who made the decisions. In fact, I have no idea whether or not Mulgrew is even familiar with these cases.

Apparently, though, legal expert Brown is familiar with no others. She spouts these endlessly to the Daily News, to Gotham Schools, to me, to Mulgrew, to anyone who will listen. She has her "gotcha" argument and needs no more than that. You're either with legal expert Brown or you support sexual harrassment, you think mistreating children is a great thing, and she's got no problem telling you all about it.

But there are things legal expert Brown leaves out. Like what about the teachers who are not alleged to have done these things, what about teachers who didn't do these things, and since she has no problem misleading us with clearly false statements about Mulgrew, how do we know she isn't simply lying about everything else?

The fact is Dennis Walcott wants to fire all these teachers. He denies 100% of U-rating appeals. Leaving accused teachers to his tender mercies, as legal expert Brown would like, is simply idiotic. It's not surprising when groups like Students First NY jump on the bandwagon, and I remember them tweeting me a few months ago, trying to bully me into publicly endorsing their nonsense.

Teachers who abuse children sexually belong in prison, where they can meet like-minded individuals. I can't really assess how well the arbitrators do their jobs. Are they perfect? Perhaps. Perhaps not. In the one case with which I am familiar, they judged fairly well.

But legal expert Campbell Brown, endlessly repeating the same old strawman fallacy, is pretty easy to figure out.  Her argument may be good enough for the Daily News, and it may be good enough for Gotham Schools. But it's not good enough for those of us still exercising critical thought, thank you very much.
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