Nothing rings my Schadenfreude chimes louder than a tale of a trendy-liberal professor teaching at a fancy college getting…royally hosed by another trendy-liberal professor teaching at a fancy college. Especially when the scene of the liberal-on-liberal hosing is California, home of likely the most trendy-liberal legal system in the country.
Here is what happened, as reported in Mother Jones (of all places): In January 2016 Elizabeth Abel, a longtime English professor at the University of California-Berkeley about to embark on sabbatical, rented out her home in Kensington, an affluent suburb in the hills just above the UC campus, to David Peritz, who teaches political science at Sarah Lawrence, the elite liberal-arts college just outside New York City. Abel had found Peritz via SabbaticalHomes, an Airbnb-style sharing-economy website designed for academics. “A Place for Minds on the Move” is its motto.
Abel, according to her account, never bothered to do a background check on Peritz because…well, he was a professor. (Even though a glance at Peritz’s web page at Sarah Lawrence doesn’t really reveal what his exact job title is, or whether he occupies a tenured or tenure-track position.) Besides, Abel and Peritz seemed to have so much up-to-the-minute postmodern ideology in common. Her web page lists her academic interests as “gender and sexuality, psychoanalysis…race, cultural studies, and visuality.” His page lists his as “cultural diversity, social complexity and political dispersal, critical social theory, social contract theory, radical democratic thought…” Mmm, two peas in a pod! So Abel handed Peritz the keys and flew off to Paris to do research on a book about Virginia Woolf.