[Smt-talk] Advocating for the humanities

Whitcomb, Benjamin D whitcomb at uww.edu
Fri Apr 4 11:22:25 PDT 2014

(1) There is a difference between informing people of a possible change in funding and what was sent out, especially by Dr. Judd. His was a call to take political action. His email compared the NEH budget with other, larger amounts of money, which he seemed to see an injustice. He argues as though the number of people with humanities degrees somehow equates to a reason for a particular political course of action. He talks about a certain set of political beliefs about the nature of Democracy that were held by a particular Congress forty years ago.

(2) There are different ways to fund the humanities, or any program for that matter. For example, different countries fund different programs in many different ways, with different outcomes. Also, in some of the countries with the greatest funding for humanities, there has also been greater regulation of what is and is not acceptable to those in power, resulting in a reduction in intellectual diversity and liberty. Or, with America's history of being a great pioneer in politics, we could consider taking a new direction altogether. Also, does being in the humanities mean that we should automatically favor and seek as much government funding as possible, or are there limits and trade-offs? (But again, does this discussion belong on the SMT list?)

To Dr. Jenkins: How would it be irresponsible to keep political discussions out of the SMT list? Isn't the responsibility of the list to facilitate discussions of music theory? In your opinion, is there no place at all for a list dedicated only to the discussion of one subject, such as music theory, or must everything also involve politics?

To Dr. Jablonsky: Your call for a "war on ignorance" should hopefully send chills down most readers' spines. In your war, would you eliminate all opposing points of view? What would you do to people who chose not to be "educated" with whatever ideas you would force on them? How many other such wars (i.e., war on poverty, war on drugs) have started with good intentions and then only made matters worse?

Humans are not omniscient. As such, ideally people should always allow for the possibility that others might hold an opinion (and goals, and values) different from theirs, and that they are entitled to them.

Again, how about saving SMT list for the discussion or music theory?


Dr. Benjamin Whitcomb
Professor of Cello and Music Theory
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
From: smt-talk-bounces at lists.societymusictheory.org [smt-talk-bounces at lists.societymusictheory.org] on behalf of Stephen Jablonsky [jablonsky at optimum.net]
Sent: Friday, April 04, 2014 10:40 AM
To: Danny Jenkins
Cc: Smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org
Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] Advocating for the humanities

This is not a political issue. It is a matter of civics. The money that the Federal Government spends is our money and it behooves every citizen to be aware of how it is being spent or misspent. An enlightened electorate needs all the information it can get, especially in an age when main stream media seems more concerned with entertainment than edification. How we act on that information is a matter of personal conviction. I, for one, would love our government to declare war on ignorance.

Dr. Stephen Jablonsky, Ph.D.
Music Department Chair
The City College of New York
Shepard Hall Room 72
New York NY 10031
(212) 650-7663
music at ccny.cuny.edu<mailto:music at ccny.cuny.edu>

America's Greatest Chair
in the low-priced field

On Apr 4, 2014, at 9:32 AM, Danny Jenkins <jenkins.danny at gmail.com<mailto:jenkins.danny at gmail.com>> wrote:

I think it is completely proper for the Executive Directors of SMT and AMS to inform the membership of these organizations--organizations that were founded to promote the study of music theory and musicology--when a major funding source for research in these fields has been marked for elimination from the Federal budget. In fact, it would be irresponsible to do otherwise.

All best,
J. Daniel Jenkins
Associate Professor of Music
University of South Carolina

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