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Ed Driscoll

God And Man At Dupont University

“How it is that we once again find ourselves rooting out sin, shunning heretics, and heralding the end times,” asks Joseph Bottum in the Weekly Standard, exploring “The Spiritual Shape of Political Ideas:”

Just as, for Paul in Romans, “the law entered, that the offence might abound,” so our awareness of our own racism massively increases when we realize that we are utterly formed as racists in America. And just as, for Paul, “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound,” so it is that only from this overwhelming awareness of racism can we hope to escape racism.

The doctrine of original sin is probably incoherent, and certainly gloomy, in the absence of its pairing with the concept of a divine savior—and so Paul concludes Romans 5 with a turn to the Redeemer and the possibility of hope: “As sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Think of it as a car’s engine or transmission scattered in pieces around a junkyard: The individual bits of Christian theology don’t actually work all that well when they’re broken apart from one another.

Which is why it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that an infinite sadness often haunts expressions of the white-privilege notion that we must become more aware of race in order to end the inherited sin of being aware of race. If we cannot escape it, then how can we escape it? When Prof. Jensen cries out in his chiliastic pain, “I will carry this privilege with me until the day white supremacy is erased,” he’s speaking in tones once reserved for the moral solution that only the Second Coming could provide. The strangeness of the isolated concept can be discerned in its unendingness, its never-satisfied ratchet. Discerned as well, I would suggest, in some of the disturbingly salvific terms with which President Obama’s campaign and election were first greeted.

Of course, however Christian the idea of white privilege may have been in origin, it emerged in contemporary America stripped of Christ and his church, making it available even for post- and non-Christians. For that matter, an explicit anti-Christianity is often heard alongside rejections of white privilege. At Radersma’s race conference, a fellow presenter named Paul Kivel defined white privilege as “the everyday pervasive, deep-seated and institutionalized dominance of Christian values, Christian institutions, leaders and Christians as a group, primarily for the benefit of Christian ruling elites.”

But that, too, is typical of much post-mainline moral discussion in America: the Church of Christ Without Christ, as Flannery O’Connor might have called it (to use a phrase from her 1952 novel Wise Blood). The mainline congregations may be gone as significant factors in the nation’s public life, but their collapse released a religious logic and set of spiritual anxieties that are still with us—still demanding that we see our nation and ourselves in the patterns cast by their old theological lights.

As Umberto Eco wrote in 2005, “God Isn’t Big Enough For Some People:”

It is the role of religion to provide that justification. Religions are systems of belief that enable human beings to justify their existence and which reconcile us to death. We in Europe have faced a fading of organised religion in recent years. Faith in the Christian churches has been declining.

The ideologies such as communism that promised to supplant religion have failed in spectacular and very public fashion. So we’re all still looking for something that will reconcile each of us to the inevitability of our own death.

G K Chesterton is often credited* with observing: “When a man ceases to believe in God, he doesn’t believe in nothing. He believes in anything.” Whoever said it – he was right. We are supposed to live in a sceptical age. In fact, we live in an age of outrageous credulity.

And finally, as Kate quips today at Small Dead Animals, “You Clever Matchmaker, Gaia!”, spotting someone who really red-lines the phrase “outrageous credulity:”

Afton Burton left her parents’ home in Illinois at age 19 to move to California, where she could be closer to Manson, Burton said.

It was Manson’s work as an environmentalist that drew her daughter into him, according to Burton.

“He’s an environmentalist, and she’s involved in his environmentalist program,” Burton said.

Say what you will about Charles Manson, but he took the “warrior” aspect of the phrase “Social Justice Warrior,” not to mention the quasi-religious doomsday implications of that strange mindset, seriously.

* The Chesterton Society traced the complex history of this brilliant aphorism, and concluded, “we must point out the irony that critics have chastised Chesterton for misquoting other writers, while he is the most misquoted writer of all. No one would be more pleased than G.K. Chesterton.”

Related: “Professor says she can no longer give common-sense advice for fear of being accused of victim-blaming.”

More: “Funniest Paragraph of the Day, Courtesy of the NY Times:”

“Unitarian Universalism is not a theologically grounded religion,” Ms. Brock said. “If we mess up our principles and values, we don’t have a theology to fall back on. We’re not Catholic — we can’t just keep giving communion until we figure it out. If we don’t have our values figured out, our institutions become pointless bureaucracies.”

And finally, William Voegeli writes that “MSNBC Shrill Is No Accident. It’s How Liberals Really Think:”

Convinced that no intelligent, decent person could take conservatism seriously, liberals believe it is not necessary or even possible, when engaging conservative ideas, to go beyond diagnosing the psychological, moral or mental defects that cause people to espouse them. Liberals claim to understand conservatives better than they understand themselves on the basis of seeing through the cynical self-interest of conservative leaders (and funders), and the fanaticism or stupid docility of conservative followers. The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, scourge of the Koch brothers, went on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show in 2010 to deny that the Tea Party movement was “a spontaneous uprising that came from nowhere.” In fact, Maddow explained, many of those attending its demonstrations “were essentially instructed to rally against things like climate change by billionaire oil tycoons.”

This condescension has always been part of the liberal outlook. In 1972, eight weeks after George McGovern suffered a historically massive defeat against Richard Nixon, film critic Pauline Kael told the professors at a Modern Language Association conference, “I know only one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don’t know. They’re outside my ken. But sometimes when I’m in a theater I can feel them.”

The evil sinners are out there, I can feel them! Don’t get too close or their demonic ideas and/or cooties will rub off on you, too!

Today’s edition of Ed Driscoll.com is brought to you by the word “Man-spreading.” Or as Rich Cromwell writes at the Federalist, “The Rabid Equality Crowd Finally Outright Admits They Hate Testicles:”

They’re not called the family jewels because they are ordinary. They’re not referred to as stones because they’re impervious to injury. No, they are both extraordinary and surprisingly fragile. So, sorry notsorry if we give them some breathing room when we sit, if we don’t smash them betwixt our legs on public transit. But as the horizon of “male privilege” is constantly expanding, giving the old wedding tackle ample space is now a crime against humanity.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) announced on Monday that a new campaign addressing courtesy on public transportation will come into effect by January. One of the targeted behaviors is ‘man-spreading’ — the act of spreading one’s legs so far apart that other passengers are forced to squish their own together.

Or, if you prefer a more nuanced description, one of the most infuriating and outright ridiculous display of male privilege and machismo in existence today. As Mic’s Derrick Clifton succinctly put it, ‘Hey, bro, you’re not that well-endowed.’

Maybe. You don’t know.

Granted, I don’t use public transit. I luxuriate in a nicely padded captain’s chair without panhandlers and formidable smells. If I lived in a dense urban area, I would likely take advantage of the added reading time that public transit offers. For now, though, I don’t have that option, so I crank the tunes and spread my legs far and wide. But as a member in good standing of the patriarchy, I have to stand up for my brethren who live in constant fear of oppression.

Not the least of which being this fellow, who’s rather well-known for capping off his eight years in office by man-spreading on the cover of a well-known men’s magazine:

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Stacy McCain describes the sort of person who’s a Socialist Justice Warrior obsessed with ending “man-spreading” as being one of the “Nowhere People:”

It’s important to remember that, although these people exist in real life — that is to say, there are actual human beings running those batshit crazy troll accounts — they are as altogether artificial in their politics as they are in their online personas. They themselves have never done a goddamned thing for “social justice.” They simply enjoy mouthing these slogans about “oppression” and “patriarchy,” etc., because posing as Our Moral Superiors is an emotional compensation for their own obscurity and worthlessness.

They are the Nowhere People — rootless, without loyalty to family, community or religious tradition, and thus “free” to create for themselves imagined identities and idiosyncratic belief systems. Although they usually think of themselves as unique individuals, they are really sheep in a herd, predictable and therefore ultimately boring. Any politics, as long as it’s not conservative politics; any religion as long as it’s not Christian religion; any sexuality as long as it’s not normal sexuality. One notices that the Nowhere People are seldom husbands and wives, fathers and mothers. Idle narcissism is incompatible with the dutiful commitments of marriage and motherhood.

Related:


Hey, those six figure salaries that college professors earn for classes on lesbian deconstructionist poetry aren’t going to pay for themselves, you know.

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“News You Can Use,” says our friendly neighborhood Vodkapundit, Steve Green, adding appropriately, “Oy:”

There are a lot of ways to address sexual assault on college campuses. Warning students to watch the facial expressions they make isn’t one of them.

Yet that’s what students at Ramapo College of New Jersey in Mahwah, New Jersey, were faced with during an hourlong presentation on alcohol use and sexual assault that focused heavily on what women could do to avoid being assaulted, according to the Ramapo News.

The presentation included tips from the school’s Substance Abuse & Violence Prevention coordinator Cory Rosenkranz, who advised students on how to dress, how much to drink and how to use body language that would lessen the chances of assault.

The author of this piece, Matt Connolly, adds:

The presentation’s focus on what the victim should be doing rather than what the perpetrator shouldn’t be doing — committing acts of sexual assault — drew criticism from students, faculty and alumni.

In response, Steve writes, “So the solution isn’t to badger the overwhelming majority of men who are decent and good. The solution, as pictured above, is to be prepared for the few who are bad and evil and rapey.” The photo above his post illustrates how one can prepare for such an eventuality.

Steve’s post links to article at a Website called Mic.com, which states on its “About Us” page that “Mic’s approach to news is as unique as our generation. We’re founded on a simple idea: Young people deserve a news destination that offers quality coverage tailored to them.”

Which makes sense, because I came across another piece, a very old one written in slightly more archaic language, cautioning its readers on the importance of watching one’s facial expression in a totalitarian socialist environment:

At this moment he was dragged out of his reverie with a violent jerk. The girl at the next table had turned partly round and was looking at him. It was the girl with dark hair. She was looking at him in a sidelong way, but with curious intensity. The instant she caught his eye she looked away again.

The sweat started out on Winston’s backbone. A horrible pang of terror went through him. It was gone almost at once, but it left a sort of nagging uneasiness behind. Why was she watching him? Why did she keep following him about? Unfortunately he could not remember whether she had already been at the table when he arrived, or had come there afterwards. But yesterday, at any rate, during the Two Minutes Hate, she had sat immediately behind him when there was no apparent need to do so. Quite likely her real object had been to listen to him and make sure whether he was shouting loudly enough.

His earlier thought returned to him: probably she was not actually a member of the Thought Police, but then it was precisely the amateur spy who was the greatest danger of all. He did not know how long she had been looking at him, but perhaps for as much as five minutes, and it was possible that his features had not been perfectly under control. It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself — anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offence. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime, it was called.

As Iowahawk tweeted a couple of months ago, “College: an oasis of totalitarianism in a desert of freedom.” The Ministry of Truth and Ramapo College couldn’t have said it better themselves.

Or find a college where there’s zero chance of rape, and the two-way telescreens are of a much more benign nature:

We’ll get to that time when the Gray Lady scooped the world by revealing the hidden anti-Semitic subtext of Michael Keaton and Tim Burton’s Batman Returns in just a moment, but first, some background.

As Matthew Continetti wrote in the Washington Free Beacon when Jill Abramson and the Gray Lady itself both morphed into self-parodies during and after Abramson’s firing in May, “What has been said of the press—that it wields power without any sense of responsibility—is also a fair enough description of the young adult. And it is to high school, I think, that the New York Times is most aptly compared:”

The coverage of the Abramson firing reads at times like the plot of an episode of Saved By the Bell minus the sex: Someone always has a crazy idea, everyone’s feelings are always hurt, apologies and reconciliations are made and quickly sundered, confrontations are the subject of intense planning and preparation, and authority figures are youth-oriented, well-intentioned, bumbling, and inept.

And if not to high school, then the Times can certainly be compared to sophomores in college, though Pinch and his staffers are all far too effete and collectively depressed to roust themselves into full Delta House “Let’s Party, Dude!!!!!” fury, no matter how many cannabis-laced candy bars MoDo consumes.  Yesterday, the Times once again made a parody of itself by publishing a piece co-authored by a junior at Duke that posited, “we should get rid of federal midterm elections entirely.” (This after the Times called for the end of the American Constitution at the end of 2012.)

Every young writer appreciates his first big break, and despite the damage the Times has done to itself, it still looks pretty awesome to be able to include a reference to being published by the Times on your C.V. But this isn’t the first time that the Gray Lady has embarrassed herself spectacularly by publishing a college-aged author. In the summer of 1992, the Times published a piece co-written by two seniors at Columbia college who alleged to find all sorts of “disturbing” anti-Semitic allegories in the Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer film Batman Returns. “The biblical allusions and historical references woven into the plot of ‘Batman Returns’ betray a hidden conflict between gentile and Jew,” they wrote; here’s but a sample:

Denied his own birthright, the Penguin intends to obliterate the Christian birth, and eventually the whole town. His army of mindless follower, a flock of ineffectual birds who cannot fly, is eventually converted to the side of Christian morality.

They turn against the leader who has failed to assimilate. In the final scene, Batman articulates the distinctly Christian moral of the film:  Merry Christmas and good will toward men… and women.”
The Christian ethic, like the faces beneath the heroes’ masks, is eventually revealed. Batman and Cat woman put on their costumes on and rip them off. They are both marginal and integrated, freaks and functioning citizens.
But the Penguin’s mask is no disguise. It is his face, his deformity, his ethnicity. And Tim Burton has his own mask. His movie is cloaked in extravaganza,fantasy and allusion. Behind the multimillion dollar movie set is old fear and prejudice. Moses becomes Satan, Jew becomes vengeful and Christian faith conquers all. Since the Judeo-Christian tradition provides many of our myths, we should be careful not to let our fiction turn one faith against the other.
There is enough of that in real life.

I cut and pasted the text of the piece above from here; there was a slightly edited version of the article that the Times thought highly enough to syndicate nationally, which is currently online in Google’s news archives.

It’s some piece of work, and a reminder that calling for the banning of elections might actually not be the craziest thing that the Times has published by a college journalist eager for his first national byline.

Talk About Burying the Lede

October 29th, 2014 - 7:13 pm

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Teachers unions have their panties in a bunch over the new issue of Time magazine, the Daily Caller reports:

The feud between unionized teachers and Time magazine is continuing, with the country’s second-largest teachers union planning a demonstration outside the publication’s New York City headquarters on Thursday afternoon.

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), which has about 1.5 million members, launched a petition effort against Time last week over a cover reading “Rotten Apples: It’s nearly impossible to fire a bad teacher. Some tech millionaires may have found a way to change that.”

The cover was paired with a lead story focused on efforts by education reformers, funded by wealthy businessmen, to weaken teacher tenure and otherwise make it easier to fire inept educators. The AFT claims the cover “cast[s] teachers as ‘rotten apples’ needing to be smashed by Silicon Valley millionaires with no experience in education.” The petition, which demands that Time apologize, has collected some 90,000 signatures already and may soon pass 100,000.

To send its message home, AFT president Randi Weingarten will be leading a protest on Thursday afternoon at Time’s headquarters. Accompanied by Michael Mulgrew, the head of New York City’s teachers union, and a collection of other teachers and parents, Weingarten will be dropping off tens of thousands of petitions at TIME’s Midtown office at 3 p.m.

In an effort to shame the news magazine, AFT has also been organizing a collective social media protest using the hashtag #TIMEtoApologize, which will be promoted at the same time Weingarten’s multitude delivers the petitions.

Talk about burying the lede. Isn’t the real news here that seemingly for the first time since Republican founder Henry Luce permanently left the Time-Life building in 1967, Time magazine — until recently a subsidiary of Time-Warner-CNN-HBO — has (a) actually committed journalism and (b) wrote damaging news about a key constituency of the left? Presumably though, the shrieking freakout response from the teachers unions will be enough to cause Time into going another half century resuming their role as de facto Democrat operatives with bylines.

‘The Arkansas Senate Election is Now Over’

October 21st, 2014 - 2:51 pm

“And let’s not even bring up the fact that this thesis of Pryor’s argues mightily that the Democratic party’s single most favorite piece of political mythology – the so-called ‘Southern Strategy’ – was and is a lie told to the credulous, given that in Arkansas the Democratic party continued to dominate the state for decades,” Moe Lane writes, responding to the Washington Free Beacon unearthing Democrat Mark Pryor’s neoconfederate 1985(!) college thesis. “Oh, wait, I just did bring that up.  My bad.  Guess we’ll see just how poorly the Democratic party thinks of its own base…”

As Moe adds, “OK, OK, it’s been over for a while now and Tom Cotton is going to win.  But this event counts as a moment of clarity.”

Elsewhere in the south, “New flier from Georgia Democrats: You must vote in November to … prevent another Ferguson,” as spotted by Allahpundit who writes, “Note that this comes from the Georgia Democratic Party itself, not some no-name outside outfit that’s looking to boost its profile by tossing racial grenades:”

Time for predictions. Which red-state Democrat will be next to use an over-the-top racial pander to goose black turnout? I’m tempted to say Pryor, just because he’s seemed like a dead duck for so long now, but I’m going to go with Grimes. She’s within a single point in one new poll and can’t rely on DSCC TV ads to help her going forward. She needs a cheap, dependable way to get Democratic base voters excited to vote. Time to pull the pin on another racial grenade.

Allahpundit-esque exit quotes:

Indeed.™

‘Your Dad is Not Hitler’

October 17th, 2014 - 1:26 pm

“To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil,” Charles Krauthammer wrote over a decade ago. Around that time, Christopher Caldwell of in the Weekly Standard explored the lament of the small-town wannabe “Progressive:”

At some point, Democrats became the party of small-town people who think they’re too big for their small towns. It is hard to say how it happened: Perhaps it is that Republicans’ primary appeal is to something small-towners take for granted (tradition), while Democrats’ is to something that small-towners are condemned for lacking (diversity). Both appeals can be effective, but it is only the latter that incites people to repudiate the culture in which they grew up. Perhaps it is that at universities–through which pass all small-town people aiming to climb to a higher social class–Democratic party affiliation is the sine qua non of being taken for a serious, non-hayseed human being.

For these people, liberalism is not a belief at all. No, it’s something more important: a badge of certain social aspirations. That is why the laments of the small-town leftists get voiced with such intemperance and desperation. As if those who voice them are fighting off the nagging thought: If the Republicans aren’t particularly evil, then maybe I’m not particularly special.

And as the great Theodore Dalrymple writes today concerning his travails in France, the original Blue State, no matter how much you may hate him for what you perceive as his moral shortcomings, “Your Dad is Not Hitler:”

A few weeks ago I noticed the following slogan painted on the walls of a supermarket in France:

Hitler, Sarko—même combat

[Hitler, Sarkosy—same battle]

* * * * * * * * * * *

My wife, who was with me when I saw the painted slogan, said immediately when she saw it that the young person who painted it (and painting slogans on walls is a young man’s game) must have been ignorant of history.

If so, it seems to me it must have been ignorance of a special kind, not just of the facts.

* * * * * * * * * * *

In other words, there is an unattractive egotism and grandiosity in the slogan. There is an envy of suffering because suffering is supposed to confer moral authority on the sufferer, which is not available to those who merely think about suffering without experience of its worst forms. The syllogism is as follows: the suffering have moral authority; I have moral authority; therefore I suffer.

* * * * * * * * * * *

There is another reason why people like to compare their current situation with the catastrophic past, however absurd or demeaning to past sufferings that comparison might be. It gives them license to behave badly within their own little compass. Why should anyone concern himself with my peccadilloes when we are in the midst of a moral catastrophe equivalent to Nazism? To do so is to display moral triviality; it is to fiddle while Rome burns. Therefore, I can behave badly and still think myself a moral man, because I concern myself with the important things, true morality being to have the right opinions about the big questions of the day and not to immerse oneself in the trivia of one’s own individual conduct.

Read the whole thing.

Related: Glenn Reynolds proffers a time and sanity-saving tip for his Insta-readers: “When students go on about social justice, the proper response is to tell them you don’t care what they think, because they don’t know enough to have an intelligent opinion yet. If universities were run on this principle, the 3% of students responsible for 98% of the idiocy would no longer have their destructive impact. Also, it’s true: They don’t know enough to have an intelligent opinion, as demonstrated by the opinions they do have.”

(H/T: 5′F)

“The End of Columbus Day is the End of America,” Daniel Greenfield writes at his the Sultan Knish blog, on the left’s annual groupthink black armband grievance freakout over yesterday’s holiday. But is the left taking a second look at the man who discovered America?

At Hot Air today, “St. Louis protesters refer to Columbus as the ‘first looter,’” Jazz Shaw writes:

One of the most interesting sentiments being expressed, however, touched on the fact that the latest protest was taking place on Columbus Day.

“This is the real definition of resistance … this thing right here that we’re doing right now is not only a symbolism of what we can do when we stick together, this is … It’s the beginning in a change in our consciousness as a people, as a human race,” Dhoruba Shakur said.

They noted the significance of it being Columbus Day, calling him “the first looter” and saying they were “reclaiming” the college campus. “I know this was a college a couple of hours ago, but as of right now this is our spot and we not going nowhere,” a protest leader said.

If Columbus is “The First Looter,” that’s good from the left’s perspective, isn’t it? After all, as a Salon columnist wrote in August at the height of the riots ginned up by Comcast-NBC-MSNBC in Ferguson:

It seems far easier to focus on the few looters who have reacted unproductively to this tragedy than to focus on the killing of Michael Brown. Perhaps looting seems like a thing we can control. I refuse. I refuse to condemn the folks engaged in these acts, because I respect black rage.

So win-win for all on Columbus Day, right? Centrist, conservative, libertarian and sensible moderate Americans can continue think of him as the man who discovered the New World and establishing a foothold that would lead to founding of the greatest nation on earth, which would go on to save Europe from socialist totalitarianism three times in a row in the 20th century. 21st century American socialist totalitarians can now consider Columbus as a man with wicked cool superfly gangsta street cred as the First Looter.

Problem solved! You’re welcome, America.

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“Neo-Victorianism on Campus” is explored by Heather Mac Donald at the Weekly Standard, who asks, “Is this the end of the collegiate bacchanal?

It turns out that when you decouple the sex drive from modesty and prudence, it takes armies of elected officials, bureaucrats, and consultants to protect females from “undesirable” behavior. Virginia’s governor Terry McAuliffe is establishing a task force on campus sexual violence comprising up to 30 top state officials and representatives from law enforcement and higher education. Connecticut is requiring colleges to form sexual assault response teams, on the model, presumably, of active shooter response teams. California has just enacted a law mandating that colleges receiving state funds require students to be in “affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement” in order to engage in sexual activity, agreement that is “ongoing throughout a sexual activity and that can be revoked at any time.” Gloria Steinem and a gender studies professor from New York’s Stony Brook University explain in the New York Times: The California law “redefines that gray area” between “yes” and “no.” “Silence is not consent; it is the absence of consent. Only an explicit ‘yes’ can be considered consent.” In other words, California’s new statute, like many existing campus policies, moves the sexual default for female students back to “no.”

But isn’t this bureaucratic and legislative ferment, however ham-handed, being driven by an epidemic of campus rape? There is no such epidemic. There is, however, a squalid hook-up scene, the result of jettisoning all normative checks on promiscuous behavior. A recent case from Occidental College illustrates the reality behind so-called “campus rape.” Girls are drinking themselves blotto precisely in order to lower their inhibitions for casual sex, then regretting it afterwards.

* * * * * * * *

We have come very far from the mud-drenched orgies of Woodstock. Feminists in the neo-Victorian era are demanding that written material that allegedly evokes nonconsensual sex be prefaced by warnings regarding its threatening content, so that female readers can avoid fits of vapors and fainting—a phenomenon known as “trigger warnings.”

Socialism’s heyday was a century ago, when early “Progressives” such as H.G. Wells, Margaret Sanger, and Woodrow Wilson walked the otherwise puritanical America and England. Perhaps the ideology’s growing sense of nostalgia is what’s causing it to claim puritanism for itself.

Of course, given the nightmarish portrait that campus administrators are painting of their own legacy education models, it’s a good thing that more advanced rape-free educational alternatives exist in the 21st century:

Quote of the Day

October 6th, 2014 - 6:48 pm


From “Right Behind Ya,” Anthony Sacramone’s very funny review of the new Nicholas Cage remake(!) of Left Behind. (Sacramone had the recent review of the third Atlas Shrugged movie, which he dubbed “the  libertarian Left Behind,” which is loads of fun as well. (The review, not necessarily the underlying movie.))

Well, That Didn’t Take Long

October 4th, 2014 - 11:52 am

This is the satiric Photoshop I did back in April for Roger Simon’s post titled, “College: The Sixty-Five Thousand Dollar Misunderstanding,” which referenced the Obama administration and Columbia University’s fixation on “gender-neutral bathrooms,” combined with the then-recent Facebook freakout that led to them adding 56(!) gender choices for users to pick from.

As Britain’s Malcolm Muggeridge observed a half century ago, there is no way for any satirist to outpace reality.

Of course these days, reality and Harvard are on increasingly chilly terms:

The Twitter account for Harvard Divinity School published a photograph of a sign outside a campus restroom. The restroom is labeled an “all gender restroom” and the sign adds that “anyone can use this restroom, regardless of gender identity or expression.”

Here’s the tweet:


So what will arrive next at the crossroads of gender and socialism? As often is the case in these matters, Britain leads the way

Ebola: Better Dead Than Rude?

October 3rd, 2014 - 3:08 pm

“The Case for Panic,” as calculated by Matthew Continetti of the Washington Free Beacon, who notes the theorem is simple one. “Incompetent government + corrupt elite = disaster:”

Over the last few years the divergence between what the government promises and what it delivers, between what it says is happening or will happen and what actually is happening and does happen, between what it determines to be important and what the public wishes to be important—this gap has become abysmal, unavoidable, inescapable. We hear of “lone-wolf” terrorism, of “workplace violence,” that if you like your plan you can keep your plan. We are told that Benghazi was a spontaneous demonstration, that al Qaeda is on the run, that the border is secure as it has ever been, that Assad must go, that I didn’t draw a red line, the world drew a red line, that the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups involved not a smidgen of corruption, that the Islamic State is not Islamic. We see the government spend billions on websites that do not function, and the VA consign patients to death by waiting list and then cover it up. We are assured that Putin won’t invade; that the Islamic State is the jayvee team of terrorism; that Bowe Bergdahl served with honor and distinction; that there is a ceasefire between Ukraine and Russia.

While the public remains pro-Israel, our government negotiates with Israel’s enemies. While the public wants to reduce immigration, the preeminent legislative objective of both parties is a bill that would increase it. While the public is uninterested in global warming, while costly regulations could not pass a filibuster-proof Democratic Senate, while the scientific consensus behind the green agenda is, at the very least, fraying, the president says that climate change is the greatest threat to the United States. While Americans tell pollsters their economic situation has not improved, and that things are headed in the wrong direction—while even Democratic economists acknowledge the despondent state of the middle class—the president travels to Chicago to celebrate his economic recovery.

These disjunctions and confusions, these missteps, scandals, and miscalculations, have hurt Obama’s approval numbers. They endanger the Democratic Senate majority, contribute to the widespread sense of disorder and decay, shatter trust in government and in public institutions. They have put into stark relief a political class dominated by liberal partisans, captured by ideas and interests removed from those of ordinary Americans. The stories of ineptitude or malfeasance that appear in the daily newspaper are more than examples of high ideals executed poorly. They are examples of the pursuit of ideas—of equality and diversity and progress and centralization and environmentalism and globalization—to absurd and self-destructive limits.

It is precisely the intersection of Ebola and globalization that worries me. The only response to a virus this deadly is to quarantine it. Stop flights, suspend visas, and beef up customs and security. It can be done. If the FAA can cancel flights to Israel, why can’t it cancel flights to and from the West African countries whence the outbreak originated?

Because — wait for it…wait for itracism!*

RUSH LIMBAUGH: Last night Anderson Cooper 24 spoke with author David Quammen about the book Ebola: The Natural and Human History of a Deadly Virus and How America Should Respond to It. 

Anderson Cooper said, “There are those who say that there should not be flights allowed from Liberia to US, even flights that have connected through Europe.  That’s not even really possible.  First of all, I don’t think there are many flights that directly connect from Monrovia to the US.  Most of them are connection flights, so it’s virtual impossible in real time like that to track somebody, I would think.”

QUAMMEN:  You can’t isolate neighborhoods; you can’t isolate nations.  It doesn’t work.  And people talk about, “Well, we shouldn’t allow any flights from Liberia.”  I mean, we in America, how dare we turn our backs on Liberia? Given the fact that this is a country that was founded in the 1820s, 1830s because of American slavery, we have a responsibility to stay connected with them and help them see this through.

RUSH:  There. Have you doubted anything about this that I have been attributing to political correctness all week? There you have it.  How dare we turn our backs on Liberia? How dare we ban flights!  How dare we?  Liberia only exists because of American slavery.  We owe them by sharing the burden.

A few months after 9/11, John Derbyshire summed up the existential threat of political correctness as “Better Dead Than Rude.” Even more so than how PC diminished the War on Terror (which owes its very name to political correctness, of course), we may see that theorem out tested out far too literally in the coming weeks and months.

* And its tony friend in academia, Black Armband History.

Flashback: “Senator Obama rips Bush for being unprepared for avian flu epidemic.”

‘California Sends in the Sex Police’

October 3rd, 2014 - 2:33 pm

As Ramesh Ponnuru asks in Bloomberg View, “Would a college really expel a student for not getting an explicit verbal ‘yes’ before kissing someone?”

Maybe not. Administrators might think that would be overkill, or not want the bad publicity or lawsuits that would follow. On the other hand, they might not want to deal with the consequences of letting someone they’ve labeled a perpetrator of sexual assault stay on campus, either.

One defense of the law is that it doesn’t seek to micromanage sexual activity on campus, since it applies only to cases where assault is alleged. But that’s hardly a defense at all, since it could apply to a range of overbroad laws. A vague statute that appears to criminalize some ordinary activity won’t be applied against everyone who does it; it will come into force only when authorities bring a case, a complaint is filed and so on. What the critics of the California law are worried about is the possibility that regrets or misunderstandings will lead to such allegations.

The law seeks to reduce one sort of injustice: the kind that happens when a victim of assault has to keep going to classes with her assailant. But supporters seem utterly dismissive of the idea that another type of injustice — the false or misguided accusation that results in a student’s expulsion — matters at all.

“Early ’70s California was, not to put too fine a point on it, a great place to get laid. I can vouch the same was true in the late ’80s and early ’90s, too,” Steve Green quipped last week. “But no longer. Not today. Not with the Junior Anti-Sex League running the joint.”

Sacramento really needs to stop looking at 1984 as a how-to guide for government. In the meantime though, there’s a simple solution available to the prospective student or his parent looking for a safer educational environment:

In his take on the latest dissemblings by Neil deGrasse Tyson after being caught promulgating a quote never uttered by President Bush in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 (when Bush was in full-on PC “Islam is peace” mode), Samuel James of the Patheos Website writes:

It’s difficult to understand why Tyson didn’t simply diffuse the situation via retraction and apology. I agree with The Washington Post’s Jonathan Adler that Tyson’s behavior puts his integrity on the line.

It’s frustrating to note the shortage of real public pressure on Tyson. [Left-leaning journalist--Ed] John Aziz, for example, grants that Tyson should correct the record, but then suspects that close attention on Tyson’s discrepancies is motivated by global warming denial. “[I]t should be said that none of Tyson’s errors amount to methodological or factual errors in published scientific papers,” Aziz writes. This may be true but it’s also completely irrelevant. Sean Davis’s investigation suggests that Tyson may have a considerable history of public fabulisms. Saying false things–and then doubling down on  your own brilliance when evidence of your mistake is raised–is an issue that affects the credibility of any person, scientist or no.

Aziz exemplifies here a troubling attitude that some, particularly on the Left, have towards scientific research. The notion that a fudged quotation here or a false statistic there don’t add up to a credibility problem for an accomplished scientist is valid only if one believes that scientific work is a completely closed realm of self-referential authority. That is, unfortunately, how some scientists have postured their discipline (consider Tyson’s extreme dismissiveness towards those studying philosophy). In a recent cover story for National Review, Charles Cooke noted that scientists seem of all professionals most encouraged to dispense authoritative knowledge on issues well outside their academic training. This bespeaks a change in the way society perceives what “scientist” means. Rather than a fallible observer who utilizes the scientific method to test hypotheses, the word now drums up images of a priest of culture dispensing quasi-religious wisdom to the ignorant masses. “It’s science” has become the new “it’s Gospel.”

“Dispensing authoritative knowledge on issues well outside their academic training,” you say? As Tom Wolfe has noted on numerous occasions, such as this interview 2006 interview with Bruce Cole of the National Endowment for the Humanities, that’s the very definition of being an intellectual:

Wolfe: I make a distinction between intellectuals and people of intellectual achievement.

Cole: Who are intellectuals?

Wolfe: An intellectual feeds on indignation and really can’t get by without it. The perfect example is Noam Chomsky. When Chomsky was merely the most exciting and most looked-to and in many ways, the most profound linguist in this country if not the world, he was never spoken of as an American intellectual. Here was a man of intellectual achievement. He was not considered an intellectual until he denounced the war in Vietnam, which he knew nothing about. Then he became one of America’s leading intellectuals. He remains one until this day, which finally has led to my definition of an intellectual: An intellectual is a person who is knowledgeable in one field but speaks out only in others.

This whole business was started unintentionally by my great idol, Émile Zola, in the Dreyfus case. Zola was an extremely popular novelist. A popular writer writing fiction had never been considered a person of any intellectual importance before, but in the Dreyfus case he and Anatole France and others who were trying to defend Dreyfus were singled out by Clemenceau as “the intellectuals.” The term had never been used that way before-meaning people who live by intellectual labor. That was Clemenceau’s term.

When Zola wrote his great manifesto, J’accuse . . .!, it appeared on the front page of a daily newspaper. All 300,000 copies of the newspaper were sold out by afternoon. Suddenly the world of writers and teachers and all of these intellectual laborers realized that it was possible for a mere scrivener to be called an intellectual and be considered an important person.

Zola, incidentally, was very knowledgeable about the Dreyfus case. He knew it as well as anybody, as well as any law clerk did. That part was lost later on; it was considered not necessary to go that deeply into anything. All that was required was indignation.

Marshall McLuhan once said that moral indignation is a standard strategy for endowing the idiot with dignity. I think that’s quite true these days.

It also meant–the Zola example–that the intellectual is really above the government. It doesn’t mean he hates his country or even hates his government. It just means he looks down upon it from a great height, and he’s been raised to this height by indignation. Without it, it’s impossible to be an intellectual or to be taken seriously.

It caught hold here in the twenties and thirties, this idea of the intellectual who is above all the dim bulbs who actually govern.

Back off man, I’m an intellectual.

Update: Richard Feynman on “Cargo Cult Science.”

More: “I like Neil deGrasse Tyson. I’m sure he’s a nice, smart, interesting guy. His most ardent followers, however, are not. And, if his behavior over the past month is any indication, he’s been captured by them.”

“Gov. Brown Signs Bill Telling College Kids Where, When to Have Sex,” Robby Soave writes at Reason:

California Gov. Jerry Brown affixed his signature to SB 967—the “Yes Means Yes” affirmative consent bill—which will require colleges to police their students’ sex lives.

Some congrats are in order, I suppose? To collectivist feminists, doomsayers of the “rape is an ever-worsening epidemic” variety, and other puritans: Your so-called progressivism has restored Victorian Era prudishness to its former place as a guiding moral compass. Well done, liberals.

As “liberalism” has moved further and further to the left, I thought they preferred to be called “Progressives” — at least, that’s what Hillary and Barry were telling us all around 2007 and 2008. If you’re going to dust-off a century-old Victorian-era political ideology as your namesake worldview, might as well go all the way.

Meanwhile, as Ricochet contributor “Misthiocracy” asks, linking to Soave’s post at Reason, “‘Hmm,’ I sez to myself. ‘Isn’t Victorial Era prudishness precisely the thing that social conservatives seem to want?’”

Misthiocracy links to Dan Calabrese on Herman Cain’s Weblog, who issues a modest proposal of sorts:

I would like to offer a suggestion to the college dudes of America that would protect them from legal jeopardy in the area of sexual assault, if it’s OK with the rest of you that I cite as a source for my thinking the Word of God. Here’s you guys need to play it:

Meet a girl. Do not have sex with her yet. I’ll tell you when. Get to know the girl. Let her get to know you. Do not move in with her at this point! I’ll tell you when. And no sex yet either. OK. Now, determine whether this might a girl you could commit to for the rest of your life. If so, ask her if she would be interested in such an arrangement. Not yet! Wait for it. OK, now, if she is agreeable, marry her. Spend a year planning a big wedding or elope this weekend, I don’t really care, as long as you make your commitment before God.

OK. You ready? Now . . . move in together and have all the sex you want. Follow this plan and you will not be accused of sexual assault.

Don’t want to follow this plan? Good luck.

Heh. By the way, congrats Blue Staters and Millenials in your zeal to find a war on women and a rape culture under every rock for going back to the future — way back, bypassing the groovy free love 1960s to the Victorian 1890s:

Related: “Brown Vetoes Bill Limiting Drone Surveillance.”

More: “Early ’70s California was, not to put too fine a point on it, a great place to get laid. I can vouch the same was true in the late ’80s and early ’90s, too,” Steve Green writes. “But no longer. Not today. Not with the Junior Anti-Sex League running the joint.”

The higher education bubble and the low state of the MSM combine in a facepalm-worthy twofer spotted by John Nolte at Big Journalism:

Racially-obsessed Daisy Hernández published an 8,000-word excerpt of her racially-obsessed memoir in the racially-obsessed Salon. In the excerpt, Hernández admits that at age 25, while taking graduate-level journalism classes at no less than New York University, she had absolutely no idea what a newspaper editorial was.

* * * * * * *

Incredibly, despite the fact that she had no idea what an editorial was, Hernández got the job:

Oye, and just like that I send my resume, which now includes research on indigenous maxi pads, to the editor at the Times hiring interns, even though I have no idea what an editorial is. That’s right. I am twenty-five, I am writing for a national magazine, I have been in journalism school, and I do not know what an editorial is.

I want to say that it’s never come up, that no one has ever talked to me about editorials. But they probably did, and I didn’t know what it was, and as I’ve been doing since I was in kindergarten, I probably acted like I knew what they were talking about and promptly forgot it.

How any American can make it to age 25 without knowing what an newspaper editorial is, is shocking enough. In the case of Hernández, journalism was her chosen profession, and she was taking graduate-level classes on the subject at one of the world’s elite journalism schools.

As John writes, “Hernández’ breathtaking ignorance says as much about NYU and the New York Times as it does her.” Perhaps she can collaborate on columns with fellow Timespeople Kate Zernike, Michael Barbaro, and Bill Keller, as they discover who Friedrich Hayek and Shylock were, and that Catholicism and Lutheranism aren’t “fervid subsets of evangelical Christianity.”

In 2001, Howell Raines, then editor of the New York Times, admitted, in a classic Freudian slip, that sex and skin color trumped the quality of the Times’ product:

In a speech before the National Association of Black Journalists in 2001, Raines specifically cited [Jayson] Blair as his star example of a hiring campaign that “has made our staff better and, more importantly, more diverse.”

Somewhere though just offstage, Mencken is alternately weeping with tears and gushing gales of laughter over the current standard of the MSM, and the gray lady in particular.

Or perhaps he’s simply given up on the newspaper world entirely and raising his hands in protest of Ferguson.

“Christians, and those rejecting the me-generation liberal dogma of ‘if it feels good do it,’ are no longer tolerable by the intellectual and cultural elite,” Robert P. George of Princeton notes, as quoted by Ginni Thomas of the Daily Caller:

“Christians, and those rejecting the me-generation liberal dogma of ‘if it feels good do it,’ are no longer tolerable by the intellectual and cultural elite,” says George, 59, director of the James Madison program at Princeton University. Citing the political witch hunt that forced Brendan Eich’s departure as CEO of Mozilla for a small contribution to a conservative political cause, George said politically correct mobs “threaten us with consequences if we refuse to call what is good evil, and what is evil, good. They command us to confirm our thinking to their orthodoxy, or else say nothing at all.”

Yet instead of accepting this liberal cultural dominance, George offers a call to arms with practical advice for the embattled faithful. Encouraging conservatives to model themselves off the early civil rights leaders who clung to noble bedrock free speech principles liberals claim to embrace today, George says “our first and most effective move is to hold these elites to their principles.”

As the late Kenneth Minogue wrote in the New Criterion in the summer of 2010:

My concern with democracy is highly specific. It begins in observing the remarkable fact that, while democracy means a government accountable to the electorate, our rulers now make us accountable to them. Most Western governments hate me smoking, or eating the wrong kind of food, or hunting foxes, or drinking too much, and these are merely the surface disapprovals, the ones that provoke legislation or public campaigns. We also borrow too much money for our personal pleasures, and many of us are very bad parents. Ministers of state have been known to instruct us in elementary matters, such as the importance of reading stories to our children. Again, many of us have unsound views about people of other races, cultures, or religions, and the distribution of our friends does not always correspond, as governments think that it ought, to the cultural diversity of our society. We must face up to the grim fact that the rulers we elect are losing patience with us.

And so are those we employ to educate America’s children as well, alas.

Meanwhile, whenever I get a twinge of guilt that I’m getting too out there when quoting articles that compare the quotes of radical Islamists with radical leftists (such as “Mohamed Atta, Socialist Critic of Capitalism,” linking to a 2011 article at the American Spectator), radical Islamists are unfortunately all too quick to reinforce that notion: “Anjem Choudary: ‘Muslims must reject the unIslamic ideas of democracy/freedom.’”

Thomas Friedman, Donna Brazile, Harry Reid, and RFK Jr. couldn’t have said it better themselves.

Related:

nyt_shylock_tweet_9-17-14

I’m not sure which is worse, if New York Times reporter Michael Barbaro is lying that he doesn’t know what a Shylock is to protect Joe Biden — or if he really didn’t know what the term meant when he wrote above tweet. In any case, as this unsigned article at the Washington Free Beacon notes:

New York Times political reporter Michael Barbaro took to Twitter on Wednesday to express his confusion over a recent controversy in which Vice President Joe Biden employed the anti-Semitic term “shylock” in a speech.

“Raise your hand if you were not familiar with the word ‘Shylock’ before it became a controversy in past 24 hours?” Barbaro tweeted to his followers, prompting much ridicule.

Biden employed the historically offensive and anti-Semitic word in a speech Tuesday. He was forced to apologize early Wednesday after he came under criticism from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and others.

Barbaro, purportedly a trained journalist and political expert, had apparently never heard the word before or come across it in literature. Twitter users immediately ridiculed the reporter for his ignorance. “And you admit that?” tweeted author Ben Cohen.

The Beacon claims their paper mailed Barbaro a hard copy edition of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice “for his further edification.”

Assuming that Barbaro was telling the truth (which is less and less the default position with the MSM, as they are self-admitting with increasing frequency), his admission dovetails remarkably well with another recent article at his place of employment. When I wrote my post on Monday on the Times’ culpability in regards to what Barbaro’s fellow Timesman Roger Cohen dubbed America and the world’s “Great Unraveling,” I wondered if Cohen’s reference to Kipling at the end of his article would go past many New York Times readers, given how PC modern education has become. Did Barbaro, age 34 or 35, who graduated from Connecticut’s Hamden Hall Country Day School in 1998 and Yale in 2002, miss the classes on Shakespeare, or was he no longer taught in high school by the mid-1990s?

We know the Bard is being taught less and less in the 21st century, as Andrew Klavan noted at the start of the year:

City Journal’s Heather Mac Donald is one of the best reporters in the country, one of our most courageous writers and a consistently moral voice. Last year, she gave the Manhattan Institute’s prestigious Wriston Lecture and last Saturday, the Wall Street Journal published an adaptation of that lecture under the headline “The Humanities Have Forgotten Their Humanity.” A fuller version of this brilliant piece will be in CJ’s Winter number. Get your hands on it. Read it.

Heather Mac begins by noting that the leftist academic buffoons at UCLA no longer require that the university’s English majors read Shakespeare, Chaucer or Milton. They do, however, require these students take courses in leftist theories on gender, race, ethnicity and other meaningless subjects whose names I slept through.

In other words, the UCLA faculty was now officially indifferent to whether an English major had ever read a word of Chaucer, Milton or Shakespeare, but the department was determined to expose students, according to the course catalog, to “alternative rubrics of gender, sexuality, race, and class.”

In still other words, the people tasked with teaching our young about the past have drowned out the voices of the past with their own voices. Their own whiny, unwise, small-minded and bitter voices.

Read on for how today’s low state of American elite culture was anticipated by England’s similar cultural collapse under socialist rule after World War II. In his 1999 book The Abolition of Britain Peter Hitchens wrote, “Just as Evelyn Waugh had once suggested that the Labour government of 1945 was similar to living under foreign occupation, [novelist Kingsley Amis] suggested that the trashing of our culture and literacy were so severe that only a ruthless foreign invader could possibly make them worse:”

A real occupation would almost certainly have produced a resistance, the circulation of banned texts and the holding of secret religious services. But a country which ploughs under its own culture, without violence or open suppression, has no such resistance. The objects of the attack are unaware that they are under attack, and there are no martyrs, no persecution to bring resistance into being.

Incidentally, I like the black sunglasses that Barbaro wears in his Twitter profile — they project the requisite “I’m in the media, screw you” vibe, and simultaneously illustrate how much information is blocked before it reaches yet another exquisitely-cocooned Timesman.

Update: Scott Johnson of Power Line asks, “Hath not a Timesman cultural literacy?” Heh.™

Tin Soldiers and Urban Outfitters’ Coming

September 15th, 2014 - 8:00 pm

Shot:

 

Chaser:

altamont_small

Not surprisingly, when it comes to epatering les bourgeois — and not issuing a mealy-mouthed apology afterwards — Kathy Shaidle did it better and first, five years ago.

But then, the collective pop culture history of both events is very, very wrong:

“Of Kent State’s Brick-Throwing Pacifists.”

“Altamont: When the Hippies Were Expelled From the Garden”

Exit tweet:

Exit question: Still think the early 1970s were fun, kids?

Update (9/16/14): “Alas, I can’t take credit for that brilliant ‘ALTAMONT’ t-shirt,” Kathy writes today; noting that it was created by the artists at the Hollywood Loser T-shirt Website. I think she certainly helped to popularize it, though.

“In which our brave and compassionate host, Andrew Klavan, takes a look at some real-life examples of microaggression and the deep harm such assaults can really do.”

Watching the above video, I was reminded of two quotes, one from several decades ago, and one slightly more recent, which explores how entrenched and vexing the problem of campus microagressions truly are. Back in the mid-’70s, after they shared a symposium together, Tom Wolfe quoted German intellectual Günter Grass in his Purple Decades anthology:

“For the past hour I have my eyes fixed on the doors here,” he said. “You talk about fascism and police repression. In Germany when I was a student, they come through those doors long ago. Here they must be very slow.”

Grass was enjoying himself for the first time all evening. He was not simply saying, “You really don’t have so much to worry about.” He was indulging his sense of the absurd. He was saying: “You American intellectuals—you want so desperately to feel besieged and persecuted!”

And as Christopher Caldwell wrote in the Weekly Standard a decade ago:

At some point, Democrats became the party of small-town people who think they’re too big for their small towns. It is hard to say how it happened: Perhaps it is that Republicans’ primary appeal is to something small-towners take for granted (tradition), while Democrats’ is to something that small-towners are condemned for lacking (diversity). Both appeals can be effective, but it is only the latter that incites people to repudiate the culture in which they grew up. Perhaps it is that at universities–through which pass all small-town people aiming to climb to a higher social class–Democratic party affiliation is the sine qua non of being taken for a serious, non-hayseed human being.

For these people, liberalism is not a belief at all. No, it’s something more important: a badge of certain social aspirations. That is why the laments of the small-town leftists get voiced with such intemperance and desperation. As if those who voice them are fighting off the nagging thought: If the Republicans aren’t particularly evil, then maybe I’m not particularly special.

Or to paraphrase, those who pound the table the loudest voicing complaints about micro-”aggressions” are fighting off the nagging thought: If the person who committed them isn’t particularly evil, then maybe I’m not particularly special.

And for the majority of 21st century students, college is nothing if not a four-year all-out 24-7 all-encompassing effort to repress that thought.