Why Do We Say Foolish Things?

David GilmourIn an interview the writer David Gilmour – a freelance professor of English at the University of Toronto – said he was not interested in female writers and declined to teach their works in his course.

The roof fell in.

He said it because:

It was the truth.
He wanted to shock.
He wanted to be amusing.
He wanted the publicity.
He wanted to be interesting.
He hoped women, or at least one woman, would love him for it.

Si tacuisses philosophus mansisses (Boethius, 476–524)
(If you had remained silent, you would have remained a philosopher.)


9 responses to “Why Do We Say Foolish Things?

  1. Was that a multiple-choice list, and we the readers had to pick the best answer? I hope they kicked the guy out of the University.

  2. Why do WE say foolish things? “WE “? YOU don’t.

  3. An alternative to Boethius:

    “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.”

    – King James Bible “Authorized Version”, Cambridge Edition

    Chaviva’s former colleague, the late Jean Pelletier, used to say, “What you have not said, you still control.” Verb. sap.

  4. Or, as Rex Murphy has it: ‘That’s a lot of literary birdshot to spray in a single chat-blast. Mr. Gilmour has landed himself into a War and Peace of his own invention.’

  5. I know and like David, his writing and his teaching style. He was clearly quoted out of context, using exaggeration to make a point. The point being, that, in order to encourage debate, the initiator must sometimes make an extreme statement. Styra, please do not be so concrete. Debate is one point of a University.

    Clearly a slow news day.

  6. And, in Rex Murphy’s wise departing words, ‘Language has no genitals, thank Zeus. The next time he grants an interview, Mr. Gilmour should park his at the door.’

  7. Why should a writer invited to teach what excites him about writing not choose a list of writers about whom he is passionate? He was not teaching a survey course or an introduction to literature. He didn’t say he didn’t like women writers or that he found them inferior. He said he wasn’t as passionate about them – in the context of this course.

    He’s being completely unfairly massacred, in response to a provocative question from what was apparently a pretty annoying interviewer. Shelagh Rogers ran a tape of him speaking a couple of years ago, very passionately in favour of a woman writer (not one of the Big Cheeses).

    That does not invalidate Eric’s point (proverbially supported by Alan) that he might have held his tongue – but I doubt he needs to be reminded of the power of the politically correct at the university these days.