Just turned in my final exam for International Communication, the last assignment of my three classes. Here’s the last paragraph in which I take issue with a scholar who claims that the authoritarian model of press freedom doesn’t exist in the real world:
Some of Nerone’s criticisms ring hollow. He complains everyone instinctively recognizes authoritarianism when they aren’t looking at themselves – “a classic constructed other.” Nerone argues that the “textbook authoritarian exists everywhere and nowhere as the fevered expression that we reject. In this way, its philosophical failure supports its ideological success.” The author argues that no authoritarians exist anywhere in the world and are really just constructs created to justify our Western way of the looking at the world (i.e., “at least we have our freedom.”) I would suggest that authoritarianism is not a construct but reality – the United States has relatively little authoritarianism and many places in the world have plenty of it. How do I know this? Because a group of Saudi journalists came to my International Communication class and told me how careful they had to be to get a news report about purse snatching on the air. Because of government censors, all they could say was that Saudis might want to “be careful” for unspoken reasons. That’s textbook authoritarianism. To say that the term is a construct boggles even the post-modernistic mind. Government officials do practice real censorship in many parts of the world. For Nerone to refer to authoritarianism as a “bogeyman” leaves the validity of his ideas up for great debate.
That’s pretty typical of my reaction to academic literature.
As for my spring semester, that’s probably the busiest I’ll be throughout my PhD program. I was teaching three classes and taking three classes. Quite a load. I’m not going to teach at Georgia Perimeter College any longer, as trying to teach there part-time and do the PhD thing is too taxing.
I’d hoped to cut back on the PhD work and get a full-time job at GPC, but I didn’t meet their requirements for communication coursework. I think it’s a blessing because if I keep up my current pace, I’ll finish my PhD courses by next fall. In fact, I could have applied for a low-paying, but full-time teaching position at GSU — decided it’s wiser to just finish the PhD.
Anyhoo, now I just need to grade my final exams for two classes and then I’m totally done. This summer I plan to polish up several papers for submissions to academic journals. If I’m serious about getting a real job at a university, then I’ll need some publications.
My next project is renovating the downstairs bathroom — new toilet, new sink, tile floor. After that, back to the boat. Expect an update on both in the coming weeks.