(We temporarily abandon our normally demure tone in order to froth at the mouth. Yes, this was inspired by an article I read today, and no, it's not on the 'net.)
Try to take this in the kindest possible way. Please. All of us have had our petty sense of self-worth pricked, at some time or another, by someone who failed to appreciate our true brilliance. All of us have found our rosy fantasies of academic life undermined, at some time or another, by the realities of hiring, students, committees, and tenure review. All of us have suffered Grave Professional Injustices, at some time or another, at the hands of someone of a different scholarly, political, religious, ethnic, racial, gender, or sexual persuasion. And so, all of us have trotted out, at some time or another, our little store of anecdotes, the better to impugn "the discipline," or "the academy," or "academic publishing," or what-have-you.
Again, I mean this in the kindest possible way. But that little store of anecdotes takes on meaning only in relationship to your career. The injustice may be real--may even be legally actionable--and still mean nothing. For example, I sometimes trot out my story about the least professional, least ethical job search it was ever my misfortune to experience. As it happens, the institution running this job search was a Catholic university. I have never even remotely thought that I could make any generalizations about the professionalism or ethics of Catholic universities from this particular case. Was the experience annoying? Sure. Does it tell us anything, except that this university botched that search? Well, no, it doesn't. If I had had four such experiences, would I be justified in making grand pronouncements? Well, I could try, but I might run head-on into someone who had had four just fine-and-dandy experiences at similar institutions--heck, perhaps at the same institutions. Then what? Play games of "my anecdote is bigger than yours"?
Even worse are sweeping anecdotes about What Professors Do or What Students Are Like or How Mean People Failed to Fall Adoring at My Feet or How Somebody Important Told Me that Nobody Really Believes in this Stuff. These anecdotes are almost always safely anonymous--names, universities, and sometimes sexes carefully concealed--and always in favor of the poor, victimized teller. Never mind that none of this mock-confessional self-indulgence can ever be verified (seeing as how, you know, it's been anonymized); never mind that we only get one side of the story; never mind that, on closer examination, the teller may have founded his or her sweeping generalizations on a single institution, a single poetry reading, or a single hour with a single person; never mind that the teller may have misread the situation, may be allowing his or her ego to get in the way, or (gulp) may even be lying. Because, apparently, it's in bad form to offer evidence to support one's case--or even be expected to offer such evidence. So much for academic standards. How dare someone insinuate that my grievances might not really indicate anything about the academic world at large? How dare someone question my self-evident righteousness, my purity of motive? How dare someone, in other words, suggest that the academic world might be larger than me?
(We now return to our normal demure tone.)