Classicist and Social Commentator Thomas Palaima on ‘Good Shepherds: A Forgotten Concept’

Palaima talks about the social responsibilities of people in power.

Rag Radio VT-2

Thorne Dreyer’s guest is Thomas Palaima, a classics professor at the University of Texas at Austin who since 1999 has written regular commentary for the Austin American-Statesman where he primarily taps lessons from the classics and the classical era to comment on contemporary topics.

Tom Palaima Rag Radio 1On the show we address “Good Shepherds: A Forgotten Concept”; Tom talks about social responsibilities that used to be placed on people of power but that he says no longer exist. “The concept,” he says, “has been transformed into a recipe for elite power-monopolization and generally to maintain the status quo or worse.” We also discuss a range of related issues, primarily involving power and responsibility – like the value of Hippocratic Oath and the commitment of doctors to “do no harm,” and examples from sports, contemporary music, and failures of leadership in higher education, including among those who run the University of Texas at Austin.

For 25 years, Tom Palaima has taught honors and graduate seminars, written scholarly articles, and lectured on the human experience of war and violence, ancient and modern, and its consequences. He was the recipient of a MacArthur fellowship and has held Fulbright fellowships in Greece, Austria, and Spain. Tom is also a regular reviewer and occasional feature writer appearing in the Times Higher Education, The Texas Observer, Michigan War Studies Review, Essays in Criticism, and the Los Angeles Times. He has also appeared on NPR (national, Austin, and Boston), and on Wisconsin Public Radio and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

ragradio250x250Rag Radio is produced in the studios of KOOP 91.7-FM, an all-volunteer, cooperatively-run community radio station in Austin, Texas, in association with The Rag Blog and the New Journalism Project, a Texas 501(c)(3) nonprofit. The host and producer of Rag Radio, Thorne Dreyer, is a prominent Austin-based activist and writer who was a pioneer of the ’60s underground press movement. The show’s engineer and co-producer is Tracey Schulz and the staff photographer is Roger Baker. The syndicated show is broadcast (and streamed) live Fridays, 2-3 p.m. (Central) on KOOP in Austin, and is later rebroadcast and streamed on WFTE-FM in Mt. Cobb and Scranton, PA., on Houston Pacifica’s KPFT HD-3 90.1-FM, and by KKRN, 88.5-FM in Round Mountain, CA — and is a featured podcast at Veterans Today. All Rag Radio podcasts can be found at the Internet Archive. Contact: [email protected].

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4 Responses to "Classicist and Social Commentator Thomas Palaima on ‘Good Shepherds: A Forgotten Concept’"

  1. nawlins  June 28, 2016 at 10:55 am

    “A proud catholic” Not really something to brag about.(from those wonderful people who gave you the grand inquisition) This entire article is based on a delusional premise. That at one time leaders were socially responsible. With a few very rare exceptions, rulers have, and always will be tyrannical despots.
    I also suggest you re-read the hippocratic oath. The basic premise was for the “physicians” of the day to not be killed by the families of their vic…. er patients. The first sentence being a sop.

    • Jozsef V.  June 29, 2016 at 4:22 am

      Why are you changing the subject from man’s voluntary self-mutilation to the Inquisition?
      I’m extremely proud of the Catholic Church’s anthropological understanding of man’s dignity, which precludes such humiliating procedures as surgical and chemical self-mutilation through vasectomy, tubal ligations, and birth control pills. Oh, how foolish mainstream Protestants have become, killing their babies through abortion and mutilating themselves! Catholic intellectuals like Jonas E. Alexis understand my point, and I suspect Muslim intellectual Dr. Kevin Barrett would also agree with me. A healthy man mutilating himself through vasectomy is more foolish, and more repulsive than Wahhabist practices of amputating thieves’ hands.
      And for the record, the Spanish Inquisition served a very necessary and very legitimate purpose of weeding out fake Catholics after the Reconquista. Spain was full of Moorish Muslims and Jews who pretended that they became Catholics, but in reality they formed a fifth column, an internal enemy plotting against the Spanish people who were Catholics. So, the Inquisition worked hand-in-hand with the Spanish government, identifying threats to the safety and well-being of Spanish people.

    • Jozsef V.  June 29, 2016 at 4:57 am

      It should be mentioned also that the Spanish Inquisition was nowhere as brutal and murderous as Calvin’s troops, or the Church of England which tortured and killed scores of Catholic priests, monks, nuns, and laypeople. Let’s not even mention atheists such as the French revolutionaries (1793), and communists in Russia, China, Cuba, Latin America, Vietnam, North Korea, or Eastern Europe. Atheist Communists destroyed the careers of several of my family members, because they felt this irrational hatred towards Christians. So, nawlins, whatever’s your problem that makes you a Catholic-basher and a Christian-basher, I suggest you re-consider your attitude.
      My original point stands – healthcare professionals like me have a grave moral responsibility to apply the principle of “do no harm”, which means refusing to perform abortions, sex-change operations, euthanasia, assisted suicide, and surgical and chemical mutilations of healthy people through vasectomies, tubal ligations, and birth control pills.

  2. Jozsef V.  June 28, 2016 at 8:21 am

    As a doctor I will not touch a drug that causes infertility in a female or worse, kills her baby. IOW, no birth control pills. Taking a healthy human person, with a naturally fertile body, and chemically or surgically mutilating his/her body (birth control pill, vasectomy, tubal ligation) greatly disrespects the human person’s dignity.
    Don’t get me started on sex change operations (Bruce Jenner), abortion. and euthanasia.
    I didn’t put myself through all that education, effort and sacrifice, to become a glorified mutilator and killer of human beings. I’m a proud Catholic.

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