Home > Daily Struggles > The Importance of Leadership

The Importance of Leadership

Since I don’t work I have a lot of time in the morning to listen to talk radio. One of my favorite shows is Radio Times With Marty Moss-Coane. Marty, you rock, girl! She can wrangle arguing guests or a too-chatty caller like nobody’s business.
Today’s show was all about the Michael Vick dog-fighting scandal. In the second hour she had historian Edmund Russell on the show to talk about the history of dog-fighting, and a sad tale it was. At one point he spoke about having encountered a man somewhere in the south who was involved in the related “sport” of cock-fighting; he asked him if he wasn’t worried about getting caught, since cock-fighting is illegal. The man replied that since the sheriff was there at the fights with his animals, he didn’t worry too much about the law.
It made me think about the role of leaders in society and in any group. In particular, I am thinking about the kinds of people in science who behave in egregiously harmful discriminatory and harassing ways. People will do the things they are confident they can get away with; the things they think are acceptable or, in the case where official sanctions exist, will go unsanctioned. I think most educated adult humans in university environments must be aware by now that universities have explicit policies against sexual and racial harassment. And yet such behavior continues. In part it continues because those behaving in that way have no reason to believe that their behavior is unacceptable, despite the official policies on the books.
It’s up to leaders to set an example that this kind of behavior is not tolerated. And in this case, it isn’t enough to merely abstain from attending the cock-fight, so to speak. Leaders need to speak out against academic cock-fighting, and let would-be perpetrators know it won’t be tolerated. Otherwise the discriminators and harassers will believe that the sheriff might just be stopping by to join in the fun.

Categories: Daily Struggles
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