The Lonely Activist: An American Odyssey David Demers

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Published: June 21st 2013

Kindle Edition

233 pages


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The Lonely Activist: An American Odyssey  by  David Demers

The Lonely Activist: An American Odyssey by David Demers
June 21st 2013 | Kindle Edition | PDF, EPUB, FB2, DjVu, audiobook, mp3, RTF | 233 pages | ISBN: | 7.45 Mb

Democracy. Free expression. Due process. Accountable government. Individualism. American institutions love their civil liberties and the activists who promote them. Or do they? When journalist-turned-professor David Demers uncovered a “slush fund”MoreDemocracy. Free expression. Due process. Accountable government. Individualism. American institutions love their civil liberties and the activists who promote them. Or do they? When journalist-turned-professor David Demers uncovered a “slush fund” scandal in student government, college student senators didn’t condemn the offenders, they gave the offenders a vote of confidence.

When Demers tried to investigate a story about cancer rates in a town whose major employer was one of the world’s biggest chemical companies, his corporate newspaper managers axed the story. When Demers helped journalism students obtain access to student evaluations of faculty and publish stories about faculty salaries, his university tried to fire him. When two different police departments refused to give Demers’ students access to routine criminal complaint records, Demers filed freedom-of-information lawsuits — but supreme courts in two different states each ruled that police need not be accountable.

When Demers wrote a book urging scholars to make their research more relevant to the public policymaking process because scholarly research is often ignored, university administrators admonished him and ordered him to publish more in esoteric journals. When a state auditor found that a university’s investigation of a professor was tainted by a conflict of interest, the president of the university, instead of informing the professor, concealed the auditor’s report.

When university administrators were accused of violating the free-speech rights of faculty, they denied the charges but then argued in court documents that professors, as employees, do not deserve free-speech rights. A federal District Court judge agreed. Through these stories and more, The Lonely Activist shows that American institutions most expected to defend our civil liberties — universities, the courts and news organizations — often fail to practice what they preach.

Some of the anti-liberty actions are attributable to conservative politics and fear of alienating people. But the lion’s share, Demers argues, can be explained by increasing bureaucratization of everyday life, which discourages individual activism and encourages consensus decision-making and an “other-directed” need for approval from others. Have American institutions lost their way? “With an approachable and easy style, Dr. Demers uses his life as a means to examine the history of the various sociological theories and trends that have shaped our culture to this day,” writes Nancy Barthelemy, an archivist at the Peabody Institute Library in Massachusetts.

“This book is ... incredibly well researched,” writes Amanda Scott, a librarian at Cambridge Springs Public Library in Pennsylvania. “Demers has a great voice and manages to tell his narrative without sounding holier-than-thou ...” “By tracing and reflecting on his personal initiatives and activities in the twilight decades of the twentieth century, Demers powerfully illuminates the direction of American society,” writes Dr.

Kenneth Westhues, a professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Waterloo, Canada.



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