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

Palaima talks about the social responsibilities of people in power.


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.

On 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.

Rag 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 VT. All Rag Radio podcasts can be found at the Internet Archive. Contact: ragradio@koop.org.



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