Portrait of a Useful Idiot
March 18th, 2015

I’m not sure what the real scandal is here: That we have a state-college full professor dumb enough to believe that the CIA “gave” Hugo Chavez cancer, or that Penn State – Abington considered “Women’s Agency In Hysteria and Its Treatment” and “Defending the Self In a Total Institution: Staff Prompting and Patient Burlesque” to be actual academic credentials.

Either way, you cannot miss this interview with Penn State Professor Karen Halnon. Sample awesome:

Can you comment on your arrest and on the videos of you on the plane that are circulating?
I do have a comment. I know that I expressed an act of civil disobedience. But that act was necessary.

Why so?
I’m very knowledgable about that part of the world. I teach about U.S. imperialism in Latin America. And the U.S. has declared war against Venezuela. That means military aggression. They tried to take out Hugo with a coup, and then they took him out with cancer. . . .

What is the revolution revolting against?

The problem is U.S. military global domination. And they want the oil. And they want the water. And so I found that this act was a necessary Thoreau-like act of civil disobedience. I had to speak out now. The situation is dire and urgent, and any sacrifice I make for my own self, if it saves lives — there have been far too many lives lost due to U.S. global military domination. . . .

But what of the cigarette? One reporter who covered your actions said that lighting a cigarette on a plane is just a little better than yelling “BOMB!”

Why did I have a lighter if there is such great national security? It was right in the top of my book bag.

Listen, the point is, I am a sociologist, and I live in an intellectual world. A sociologist always thinks in terms of symbols. And every revolutionary I know smokes. It was identifying with the revolutionary cause. And then, beyond that, it is a symbol that the United States is a smoking gun. The action was necessary. They are going to kill many more people.

She’s like Ward Churchill minus 30 IQ points.

Exit question: Isn’t it problematic that Halnon is accusing our first black president of declaring war on Venezuela?

  1. SkinsFanPG March 18, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    Who knew there was such a place as “Penn State Abington”?

  2. REPLY
  3. Uncle Kevvie March 19, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    It’s really hard to take this ragged bag of random cells seriously, isn’t it ?

    She actually gets paid to teach stuff like this ? Who hired her and why did they?

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  5. Gabriel March 24, 2015 at 11:55 am

    Much as it pains me to say it, a title like “Defending the Self in a Total Institution” is not self-evidently stupid. Goffman wrote works with very similar titles that are universally respected. That said, the title about agency in hysteria does smell of bullshit to me insofar as it follows the typical wishful thinking of imagining that the subordinate are constantly undermining or subverting hegemony, yada yada. Overall my rule of thumb is that any subject matter can be studied rigorously (e.g., I have a grad student working on pornography and I’m proud of his work), it’s just that some things seldom are.