Should APA Membership Come with Terms and Conditions?

As most of you know, the APA has recently released a statement on sexual harassment in the profession. It includes a lot to like, but as Eric Schliesser has pointed out, there is also some discussion to be had about the APA’s conclusory statement that certain punitive or ameliorative measures might expose the APA to “excessive legal liability.

I don’t doubt that taking action might open the organization up to liability it would not otherwise face. Of course, lots of things we do every day expose us to legal liability: driving a car, buying a house, operating a business, getting married. We don’t usually consider that liability when we act except to the extent that the legal rules tend to conform to moral rules we already accept (exercising reasonable care in driving a car, say). Organizations or other large actors naturally need to consider liability more explicitly than individuals, so it makes sense that the APA may have consulted with a legal team in exploring its options. I don’t know what kind of liability that consultation may have raised fears about, but my best guess involves tort liability of various sorts.

As a result of the increased exposure of being an organizational actor, most such actors set up explicit terms and conditions on interacting with the organization. Think about all those terms you click “accept” to every day. Those, for the most part, are binding on you whether you read them or not.

Why doesn’t membership in the APA and use of the APA website come conditioned on terms that could limit the APA’s liability while giving it a basis for, e.g., withdrawing membership or denying conference registration?

When a person signs up for APA membership now, they just fill out information and pay the fee, but the membership could easily come on the condition that members agree to any number of things. (The only terms and conditions I could find on the APA website were for listserv rental.) Members could agree, for example, that their membership be contingent on being in good standing with their university/not in violation of any university policy. That kind of policy wouldn’t eliminate liability and enforcing it might raise secondary legal concerns, but as I expressed in my first post, we live in a world shaped and constrained by law. We’re never free from liability, so we have to decide what’s worth doing, who we’re scared of and why, and what kind of changes our system requires.

Was the Sunday Cat a public service?

As many of our readers know, we used to have a Sunday cat video. It started as an attempt to distract people from an argument. It was surprising effective, and it turns out hat that may not have been accidental.

From a report from Indiana University:

Of the participants in the study, about 36 percent described themselves as a “cat person,” while about 60 percent said they liked both cats and dogs.

Participants in Myrick’s study reported:

* They were more energetic and felt more positive after watching cat-related online media than before.
* They had fewer negative emotions, such as anxiety, annoyance and sadness, after watching cat-related online media than before.
* They often view Internet cats at work or during studying.
* The pleasure they got from watching cat videos outweighed any guilt they felt about procrastinating.

Cat owners and people with certain personality traits, such as agreeableness and shyness, were more likely to watch cat videos. About 25 percent of the cat videos they watched were ones they sought out; the rest were ones they happened upon. They were familiar with many so-called “celebrity cats,” such as Nala Cat and Henri, Le Chat Noir.

Overall, the response to watching cat videos was largely positive.

To see past videos, try putting “Sunday Cat” into the search engine.

Dialogues on Disability – Tommy Curry

The latest in Shelley Tremain’s series of interviews is out today. In this installment, she interviews Tommy Curry, who is Associate Professor in Philosophy at Texas A&M University. It’s a fascinating read. I urge you to take a look.

Tommy specializes in Critical Race Theory, Africana Philosophy, Black Sexuality, and Black Manhood Studies. When he’s not producing articles, Tommy plays chess and games with his two daughters. He also coaches tennis, strings tennis racquets, watches the tennis channel, and gives his Facebook friends shot-by-shot analyses of Grand Slam matches. Tommy is interested in disability in part due to his experiences with what gets referred to as Trochlear Dysplasia and Patella Alta and is especially concerned with medical and social responses to pain management for members of working-class racial and ethnic groups.