May 18, 2006, - 11:27 am

“Kant on Masturbation”?: Meet Alastair Norcross, Rice U’s Moonbat Prof

Alastair Norcross is a very fancy name. But the teachings of Alastair Norcross aren’t fancy at all.
Norcross is Rice University’s own far-left, moonbat philosophy professor. That is, if you consider courses like, “Philosophy and the Simpsons” and “Animal Rights,” to be philosophy. To the rest of us, they’re just excuses to pay your kids’ tuition to the Howard Dean school of Far Left Voter Trainees.
Then there’s Norcross’ “reading lists.” For his Animal Rights course, there’s “Kant on Masturbation.” I get it. Animals and humans both do it. Therefore, we must be equal. Right?

Prof Alastair Norcross: Wears Moonbat Politics on His Sleeve AND Shirt

Apparently, Norcross thinks so. Here’s the propaganda, er . . . course description for the class:

It is commonly assumed that animals, if they have any moral significance at all, are subordinate in importance to human beings. Not only do we eat animals for our enjoyment and perform experiments on them for our benefit, but it is morally permissible that we do so. This is an assumption that most of us make without trying to justify it. In this course we will examine both attempts to justify and to challenge this assumption. We will consider both the utilitarian approach of Peter Singer that animals deserve equal consideration with humans, and the deontological approach of Tom Regan that animals have equal moral rights with those of humans. We will focus on the ethical issues raised by existing practices of factory farming and scientific experimentation.

The course text is “The Animal Ethics Reader.” Hmmm, let me guess: Professor Norcross is a vegan. Attention, students: If you wear leather or eat meat, don’t look for an A in this course.
But while he’s opposed to killing animals, this crazy academic is not so worried about abortion or euthanasia of humans. According to his curriculum vitae, he edited “Killing and Letting Die,” an anthology of that view, and has written articles and made several presentations on “Torturing Puppies and Eating Meat: It’s All in Good Taste.” He’s also written on “Disability, Marxism and Ecofeminism.” He’s not agains the latter two.

Prof Alastair Norcross Lets You Know His Views on Iraq

Then there’s Norcross’ course on my favorite cartoon show. I like “The Simpsons” just as much as the next person. But come on, are Bart and Homer really subjects for a college philosophy course? If you’re Alastair Norcross, it’s the creme de la creme of intellectual pursuit. Check out the reading list for the course–all articles from “The Simpsons and Philosophy”–and decide for yourself(I swear I did not make these up):

* “Homer and Aristotle,” by Raja Halwani
* “Lisa and American Anti-intellectualism,” by Aeon Skoble
* “Marge’s Moral Motivation,” by Gerald Erion and Joseph Zeccardi
* “Thus Spake Bart: On Nietzsche and the Virtues of Being Bad,” by Mark Conard
* “The Simpsons, Hyper-Irony, and the Meaning of Life,” by Carl Matheson
* “Simpsonian Sexual Politics,” Dale Snow and James Snow

[DS: “Simpsonian”? There’s actually a pretentious word for the study of “The Simpsons”? Incredible.]

* “The Moral World of the Simpson Family: A Kantian Perspective,” by James Lawler
* “The Simpsons: Atomistic Politics and the Nuclear Family,” by Paul Cantor
* “Springfield Hypocrisy,” by Jason Holt

[DS: Hypocrisy? Dude, it’s a cartoon.]

* “Enjoying the so-called ‘Iced Cream’: Mr. Burns, Satan, and Happiness,” by Daniel Barwick
* “Hey-diddily-ho, Neighboreenos: Ned Flanders and Neighborly Love,” by David Vessey
* “The Function of Fiction: The Heuristic Value of Homer,” by Jennifer McMahon

In case there was any doubt about Norcross’ politics–or what a student needs to spew back at him in order to get an A–he’s posted photos of his politics on his Rice University personal webpages. They include a t-shirt comparing President Bush to a chimp, and his face superimposed on the now imfamous Bush declaration of the end to combat in Iraq on the ship.
Learning about an animated cartoon show or someone’s bizarre thesis that a Americans killed in a terrorist attack are equal to animals killed for dinner isn’t the only problem with profs like Norcross.
The problem with far-left professors and nutjobs like Norcross is not just their politics. It’s that they teach our nation’s kids not HOW to think, but WHAT to think. And they are the ultimate recipients of your college tuition dollars.
Unfortunately, the Alastair Norcrosses and Ward Churchills of the academic world are not the exception.
They’re the rule.

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11 Responses

Mo Moonbats

Alastair Norcross, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Rice University is one moonbat left professor. Courses being tought are, “Philosophy and the Simpsons” and “Animal Rights,” under the guise of philosophy.

Freedom Watch on May 18, 2006 at 4:18 pm

Actually, the Simpsons are a very useful tool in analyzing human behavior. Many philosophy courses–and even religion courses–have been taught using the Simpsons, or various episodes of the Simpsons as educational demonstratives. The writing is spectacular and often equally offensive to both sides of an issue, and often does well to exemplify the pop cultural views on existential philosophy. The D’oh of Homer is an excellent book on how Eastern philosophy has found its way into the spiritual lives of most Americans and the development of a uniquely American form of esoteric religion that has led to the Megachurch revolution. As for the hypocricy, each episode of the Simpsons is well-crafted to be a testament to human nature. You’d be suprised…if you researched, of course.
The animal rights course is actually fairly run-of-the-mill, as well. Peter Singer is an extremist, but his views are also philosophically utilitarian, meaning that they have logical value in examination. Much of what appears on the reading this for this class is positivist, utlitiarian and post-Enlightenment in nature. Though you make a sweeping generalization of his views on animal rights, the very nature of post-Enlightenment thought would rely on the theory of animal intellect, as it posits that humans are merely animals in possession of reason, or a higher form of thought which can emulate reason. Its quite a common form of post-modernism.
If you looked hard enough, you would find course descriptions worse than this at nearly every college. At this point in the cultural revolution, its nearly impossible that post-modern intellecutal elitism has not moved into the shelterd world of academia. Its a natural phenomenon, given the anti-intellecutalism that pervades American culture. Either side of the ideological fence in the higher eschelons is drawn to the wing extremes. David Horowitz chronicles this phenomenon quite nicely.
Of course, one could also say that the reason this has occured is due mostly to the course of human evolution. We are quite a ways from the natural law theories and Justinian theories of human activity. Since the late 1800s the secular has replaced the sacred not because of any political movement, but because of the course of artistic expression. We’ve moved from sacred to natural to anti-natural and slowly to the current period of destabilization and banal counterculturalism. If these students are intelligent, they will absorb this information and question it. Suprisingly, most college students are not in their formative years as far as ideology is concerned.
Perhaps the gist of this explanation is, don’t knock it ’til you try it. Or at least are willing to explore positivism and utilitarianism alongside the Dworkian philosophy that you supposedly ascribe to.

E.M. on May 18, 2006 at 8:23 pm

Think he’d dare do a course on “South Park?” on May 18, 2006 at 9:39 pm

If your readers are interested a copy of my essay on Ned Flanders, Kant, and the command to love thy Neighbor, “Hey-diddily-ho, Neighboreenos: Ned Flanders and Neighborly Love,”–an essay used in the class mentioned above–is available on my website.
Like much of the volume I try to use The Simpsons to address serious philosophical issues; hopefully it is being used that way in the class as well.

vesseyd on May 24, 2006 at 5:16 pm

Ms. Schluessel,
Have you:
1. Taken one of Dr. Norcross’s classes?
2. Spoken with anyone who has taken one of Dr. Norcross’s classes?
3. Spoken with Dr. Norcross about his views on animal ethics?
4. Read “The Animal Ethics Reader”?
5. Read the “Killing and Letting Die” anthology that he (co-)edited?
6. Made any effort to discover (by conversation or by reading) how, as a co-editor of an anthology on the topic, his views relate to those of the contributors to the anthology?
6. Heard the presentation or read the paper on “Torturing Puppies, etc.”?
7. Read his comments in response to somebody else’s paper on “Disability, Marxism, and Ecofeminism”?
8. Noticed from the CV that those are in fact assigned comments on somebody else’s paper for a conference, rather than a topic Norcross wrote on himself?
9. Taken Dr. Norcross’s class on the Simpsons and Philosophy, or talked with anyone who has taken it, or talked with Dr. Norcross about it, or read the book by the same title, or, for that matter, heard of the concept of “humor”?
10. Noticed that the PhotoShop of his head onto President Bush’s body is actually a joke about Kantian ethical theory, not about the war in Iraq?
11. In general, done absolutely anything to discover what Dr. Norcross’s views are, or what his arguments for those views are, or what his courses are like, or what he’s like as a person, other than skimming very quickly over his faculty website and speculating on the titles of papers you found in his CV?
I’m just curious, because if you have done any of these things you offer no evidence of it here. But if you haven’t done any of these things, then you simply have no idea what you are talking about when you speculate on what his courses are like, what he demands of students, what he’s like as a person, what he believes, or what sorts of arguments he gives to defendthose beliefs. But if you don’t know what you are talking about, then why are you talking about it?

Rad Geek on May 27, 2006 at 1:31 pm

I just have to laugh at your assumption that Alastair Norcross must be a vegan because he is teaching a couse on Animal Rights. A well-educated person would realize that using an article in a college course doesn’t mean that one agrees with everything in that article. The point is to introduce students to representative examples of scholarly work so that students may learn to critique the various perspectives out there. And, yes, critique them from their own point of view.
To assume that Norcross is a vegan based on his reading list is hilarious! (And couldn’t be further from the truth!) It certainly suggests that you are writing from a knee-jerk, self-congratulatory, shallow point of view more aimed at getting attention than providing a serious and credible examination of the issues.

ohpuh-lease on June 14, 2006 at 2:23 pm

I know Norcross. He’s not a vegan. Your remarks about his edited volume on Killing and Letting Die are hilarious to anyone who reads more of a book than its title.
I have an idea. Why don’t you debate him? Have him on the air and debate him on some topic such as factory farming or euthanasia.
I don’t think you have the balls to do it because you haven’t a shred of intellectual courage or integrity. Also, tie-dye? Maybe that’s an old picture, but there weren’t blogs, much less computers, when you could still wear that stuff around the house.

cmlittlejohn on June 16, 2006 at 2:12 pm

“For his Animal Rights course, there’s “Kant on Masturbation.” I get it. Animals and humans both do it. Therefore, we must be equal. Right?”

Wrong! Kant considers masturbation perverse and unnatural. He calls it “wanton self abuse.” You would know this, if you had bothered to read your own link! Kant is just about the most important Western philosopher since Aristotle, and his views on sexual morality could hardly be more conservative.

Many on the right are so convinced the college professors are liberal nut jobs that they refuse to see anything else. I have no doubt that Professor Norcross’ class engaged thoughtfully with the issue of animal rights from a variety of different perspectives, including Kant’s view that animals do not have rights because they are incapable of rational thought.

brian on May 3, 2012 at 1:06 pm

I declare this officially the worst blog entry I have read in my life. Ever.

Gabriel Gertsch on July 7, 2012 at 4:45 pm

You are completely off base with this attack, Ms. Schlussel.

Speaking as one of Prof. Norcross’ former students, as well as a staunch conservative, he was one of the best professors I had. Yes, his politics are left wing, but he is not the kind of radical militant indoctrinator you make him out to be. Instead, in the best Socratic tradition, he sought to challenge one’s preconceived views, whatever they were. His teaching gave me a better and more solid critical foundation to defend conservative thought. In addition, his sense of humor and teaching ability made him a highly effective teacher.

Furthermore, he certainly does not discriminate based on political views. I was outspoken and unabashed in my defense of conservative principles in his classes, yet I not only received an “A,” but he also wrote me an exemplary recommendation as well.

You should do some research, Ms. Schlussel, before you attempt to smear a man’s good name simply because you disagree with him.

GCabot on March 9, 2014 at 11:19 pm

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