Category Archive 'Political Correctness'
19 Sep 2019

Snowflakes Melting Again at Yale

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Laurie Santos, new “Head” of Silliman College, famed for teaching an extremely popular course on Happiness.

The Yale Daily News reports that a Yale junior’s Instagram quip has the campus again in a turmoil over Free Speech, with many students demanding punishment, Silliman Head Laurie Santos promising action and then crawfishing, Peter Salovey timidly defending Free Speech, and faculty arguing.

All this ICE but no detention centers in sight,” read the caption, beneath an Instagram photo of a Yale junior smiling amid a backdrop of snowy mountains.

Was the gaffe a distasteful joke or an affront to undocumented immigrants? Yale administrators and faculty disagreed. Screenshots of the post — a play on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and ice itself — quickly went viral on social media. Students denounced the junior for joking about the plight of undocumented immigrants, who sometimes spend weeks and months in border detention facilities. Tweets criticizing the post received thousands of likes and more than 900 retweets. One student said he is “glad to see that Yale is still prepping for the future generations of Kavanaughs.” Others urged their peers to email the head of the junior’s residential college, psychology professor Laurie Santos and demanded consequences for the junior. …

As emails requesting the student to be held accountable for his Instagram post inundated Santos’ inbox, the Silliman Head of College responded to at least one student’s call for action against the junior.

“I have now heard about this incident from many, many students,” Santos wrote in the email, which was obtained by the News. “I’m upset that a member of my community would post something like this and I will take action on it. I will be bringing this up with the proper channels.”

While some students said they appreciated Santos’ note, many members of the University community voiced concerns about the email’s implications on whether administrators and faculty members have the jurisdiction to regulate students’ speech.

English professor David Bromwich said the idea that the junior “should somehow be punished, or cited to justify a reprimand, seems a clear overreach of authority.”

“[Of] course the result [of Santos’ email] would be to chill speech generally,” Bromwich said. “People say silly things like this all the time, on campus and in everyday life elsewhere. Will you install microphones in the potted plants and try to catch them all?”

In an interview with the News, Chairman of the Institute for Free Speech Bradley Smith said Santos’ email is “absurd and anti-liberal.” The email sends a message that students now have to be extra careful to not upset others and “gives a license to social justice warriors to pick on students they don’t like,” Smith said. He added that free speech is not only about a lack of censorship, but also about an open attitude of accepting controversial ideas.

In an email to the News on Wednesday, Santos said in hindsight, she “would have worded things differently to make it clearer that what I wanted to do was gather more information — that was the action I had in mind.” …

Salovey did not comment on whether he had spoken with Santos about her handling of the matter.

“I would like to take this opportunity to underscore that Yale is committed firmly to free expression,” Salovey said. “To learn, to create knowledge, to teach and to improve the world, we must engage in the exchange of ideas freely, especially when we disagree with one another. I have always encouraged members of the Yale community to participate in open discussions because the answer to speech that offends us is, most often, our own speech.” …

Thomas Kadri GRD ’23 — who is a fellow at the Yale Information Society Project — added that while people should have the right to speak freely, free speech does not mean that people cannot criticize others if they dislike what is said.

“That said, it might also be worrying if many students ‘fear’ the ‘consequences’ of expressing their ideas and opinions,” Kadri added. “Quite how worrying it is would depend on a few things, I think. Are their fears reasonable? What do they actually fear will happen — criticism, social ostracism, bad grades on assignments, worse job prospects?”

American Studies professor Matt Jacobson said that while the University may have some work to do, feeling uncomfortable is “emphatically not a ‘free speech’ issue of the constitutional sort.” Self-censorship is different from government censorship, and is in some cases “an organic response to the contending interests and the internalized dissonance brought about by social change and societal polarization,” Jacobson said.

He added that even if the climate issues on campus are very real and need to be addressed, it is important to recognize that there is a concerted effort on the right to use free speech as an instrument to advance a particular agenda, such as framing discrimination of ethnic, religious and racial minorities as freedom of expression.

RTWT

10 Sep 2019

Yale Today: New Issue of Humor Magazine Again Triggers Snowflakes

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How could they ever publish THIS in New Haven?

Back in the ’60s and ’70s, my own generation’s taste in humor ran to the transgressive and outrageous. We liked nothing better than violating all existing limits on expression and every conventional stricture of decorum.

Now, it seems that Cotton Mather’s generation has been reincarnated into the college students of today. With the Fall Semester opening at Yale, out comes a new issue of Rumpus, the current student humor magazine, and all over the Yale campus, the snowflakes are melting.

Goodness gracious! Mercy me! Somebody had the crudeness and insensitivity to joke about the possibility of girls getting hammered and led astray at a particular fraternity called “Leo.”

Evidently only last year an issue of Rumpus came out featuring Hookup Bingo,” some joking about campus Hookup/Blackout culture. There was outrage. At least a dozen Rumpus staff members walked out in protest, Rumpus was denounced and condemned from every pulpit on the campus, and the issue was actually officially retracted! I haven’t seen it reported, but I assume that a number of Rumpus editors spent a few days in the stocks.

Now, what do you know? Rumpus has sinned again, triggering the deacons of the Yale Daily News and all the rest of the campus elect. Lots of chin-stroking and grovelling and apologizing ensued.

Following a year of non-publication after staff backlash over jokes about sexual misconduct, the Yale Rumpus has returned — but not without controversy.

The annual Freshman Issue of the student-run tabloid magazine hit dining halls on Friday morning, greeting students with a cover that read, “ATTENTION FIRST-YEARS: YOU WILL BE REJECTED.” The issue — the first to come out since last September — was produced by a new editorial team. But despite the new staff — which includes five members who actively worked on the issue and about 12 total staffers, compared to previous staff sizes of 30 or 40, according to Rumpus co-editor-in-chief and a former photo staffer for the News Jakub Madej ’20 — the new tabloid issue has already sparked discontent among many Yalies upset with its new content. Students were particularly angered by jokes about the K2 overdoses on the New Haven Green and a “Rump’s Review” of Leo, which they believe made light of sexual misconduct once again.

“The Leo joke was not intended to make fun of rape victims in any way, shape or form,” current Rumpus Co-Editor-in-Chief Anushka Walia ’21 wrote in an email to the News. “It pointed out messed up practices of frats, and it put Leo down. Part of the point of satire is this kind of commentary anyways. I’m sorry if it offended anyone, but it wasn’t the intent.”

Last September, at least 12 staffers quit the publication in protest over several jokes about sexual assault that appeared in the Rumpus’ “Freshman Issue.” Those included a spot on the issue’s “Hookup Bingo” reading “Freshman’s First Blackout (Free)” and a line in the editor’s note making fun of a blacked out first year “let[ting] a senior on the baseball team raw [them] on that foul mattress in the Sig Nu basement.”

The objectionable content in last September’s issue had been reviewed only by members of the editorial team prior to publication, but not the remainder of Rumpus staffers. Following internal backlash, Rumpus leadership retracted the issue, removed all copies of it from dining halls throughout campus and issued an apology for the content.

According to Madej and Walia, this year’s publication — which the current board revived independent of the old editorial staff — was for the most part vetted by board members as well as several staffers prior to printing, unlike in previous years. Also unlike Rumpus leadership’s response to last September’s backlash, this year, Madej and Walia neither retracted the issue nor issued a public apology for the content.

Although Madej said the Rumpus has not established any written standards for the kinds of jokes it will publish, the editors review content on a case-by-case basis to decide if it is fit to print.

“There were some issues last year regarding controversial issues and mismanagement,” Madej said. “We noticed what happened last year, and we believe in the idea of Rumpus, no matter what they say. We do want to bring it back to life.”

Still, social media posts from Yalies this weekend argued that the publication’s “Rump’s Review” of Leo showed that Rumpus had not learned its lesson from last year’s backlash. …

Hours after the issue hit dining halls, the Instagram parody account @yaleactualweeklynews posted a picture of the review with the headline “Rumpus Learns From Mistakes; Only Publishes Subtle Rape Jokes.”

In a statement to the News, Leo leadership called “the Rumpus’s attempt to make humor out of sexual misconduct extremely misguided and disappointing.”

“We take the issue very seriously and work actively to make sure our friends and guests feel safe and have fun at our events,” the statement read.

During a Friday night interview with the News, Madej said the post from the @yaleactualweeklynews Instagram page was “nothing more” to him “than a kindergarten-level attempt to make jokes” and bring up problems from last year, adding that he did not see a connection between last year’s controversy and this year’s issue.

But Walia disagreed with Madej’s statement. In emails to the News following the interview, she stressed that she did not interpret the post as an attempt at humor, but rather as a way “to bring an important issue to light.” She explained that she did not expect the criticisms the post sparked, because she cares “very deeply about the very issues everyone else cares about” as both a woman and a feminist herself. Further, Walia underscored that the Rumpus’ intent is never to be offensive or malicious, and that she respects “people’s beliefs as well as their criticism.”

“I do care about the criticism received because I want everyone to read the Rumpus and have a good time and laugh at it,” Walia said. “I don’t want anyone to feel offended or hurt by something that someone writes in it. So as editor in chief, I do take concerns seriously and keep that in mind — I care a lot about our readers.”

Madej clarified in an email to the News on Sunday that he was not “sure of the intentions” of @yaleactualweeklynews, but “if they indeed wanted to be funny, it’d be a tremendously bad level of a joke.”

Former Rumpus staffer Leila Halley-Wright ’21 — who quit the publication in protest of last year’s jokes about sexual assault — said she was “surprised” to see that the Leo review had been “deemed appropriate” for the issue considering last year’s backlash and its thematic similarity to last year’s editor’s notes.

Mia Arias Tsang ’21, the editor in chief of Broad Recognition, said she was upset to find a screenshot of one of her posts advertising the feminist magazine featured in a collage on the front cover. She stressed that the cover upset her because of the publication’s past of making light of sexual misconduct issues, and she was disappointed to see several similar problems arise in the new issue.

“Satire, I think, is very different from rape jokes,” Tsang said. “I think there’s ways you can tackle these issues satirically, but it has to be done really well and really carefully, and you should probably have some people look at it multiple times that are outside of the sphere of your tabloid magazine if you’re trying to go for a satire angle. … I think the stuff they do satirizing Yale culture has always been pretty on the nose and good, but they’ve just veered so far into this other territory for some reason.”

RTWT

29 Aug 2019

I Guess I’m Just Too Damned Racist Myself to Buy Her Book

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Frank Kelly Freas portrait of John W. Campbell.

Students of History chuckle when the read of the famous “Cadaver Synod” of 897, when a vindictive successor Pope had the corpse of his predecessor, Formosus, disinterred from his tomb and set up in a chair in full Papal robes to be tried for perjury and illegal assumption of the Papacy. The late Formosus was, of course, convicted and signally punished.

Today, long-deceased American statesmen and soldiers whose positions and views are looked upon unfavorably by snowflakes and SJWs are having their monuments taken down and their memorials renamed right and left.

The most recent victim of the Historical Wrong-Think Purge is the famed editor of Astounding Magazine, John W. Campbell (died 1971) who fostered the careers of such Sci Fi Golden Age giants as Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, and Isaac Asimov.

Apparently, the latest winner of the book award named for the late Mr. Campbell was happy enough to receive the award but bears an animus toward its namesake.

Inkstone News:

A leading American literary magazine has dropped the name of the late sci-fi writer John W. Campbell from a major award after a Hong Kong author slammed him as a “fascist” while receiving the honor.

“John W. Campbell, for whom this award was named, was a f**king fascist,” Hong Kong-born writer Jeannette Ng said in her acceptance speech in Dublin last Sunday.

Through his control of the influential sci-fi magazine Astounding Science Fiction as editor, Ng said, Campbell was “responsible for setting a tone for science fiction that haunts the genre to this day. Stale. Sterile. Male. White,” 33-year-old Ng said.

Campbell launched the careers of some of the most notable names in sci-fi writing, including Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Robert A. Heinlein.

But he was also known as a white supremacist who published essays supporting slavery and segregation. He died in 1971 at the age of 61.

In Sixth Column, written by Heinlein and commissioned by Campbell, the United States is invaded by Pan Asians, and the story ends with the invention of a race-selective weapon that kills the “slanty” and “flat face.”

“Jeannette Ng is one of the people Campbell’s fantasy world would have murdered,” one online comment bluntly puts it.
Astounding Science Fiction was later called Analog Science Fiction and Fact.

Analog, whose publisher sponsors the writing award, said Tuesday that it will drop Campbell’s name from the honor, originally the John W. Campbell Award for the Best New Writer.

The new award will be called the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, the magazine’s editor said in a statement.

RTWT

29 Aug 2019

New Yorker Critic Condemns Renoir as a Sexist Dirty Old Man

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Pierre-Auguste Renoir, La baigneuse endormie [The Sleeping Bather], 1897, Winterthur.

The New Yorker rather outdid itself in the “PC Assaults on Civilization” Sweepstakes this week with Peter Schjedahl‘s smackdown of Renoir.

Targeting Renoir as problematic, sexist, and prurient seems not only Philistine, Puritanical, and just plain unkind, it seems to constitute a downright fascistic rejection of la douceur de vivre.

Roger Kimball identifies precisely what is so fundamentally wrong here in the Spectator.

Schjeldahl’s judgments about Renoir are a fastidiously composed congeries of up-to-the-minute elite opinion. There at The New Yorker, everyone will agree with Schjeldahl about Renoir or — the more important point — about subjugating him to the strictures prevalent among the beautiful people circa 2019. What made Schjeldahl’s essay notorious were not his particular judgments about Renoir’s art or character but rather his imperative anachronism. ‘An argument is often made that we shouldn’t judge the past by the values of the present,’ Schjeldahl writes, ‘but that’s a hard sell in a case as primordial as Renoir’s.’

Is it? As Ed Driscoll pointed out at Instapundit, Schjeldahl’s essay is sterling example of what C.S. Lewis described as ‘chronological snobbery,’ the belief that ‘the thinking, art, or science of an earlier time is inherently inferior to that of the present, simply by virtue of its temporal priority or the belief that since civilization has advanced in certain areas, people of earlier time periods were less intelligent.’ If, Driscoll observes, we add the toxic codicil that those previous times were ‘therefore wrong and also racist’ we would have ‘a perfect definition of today’s SJWs.’

Exactly. Driscoll goes on to quote Jon Gabriel, who has anatomized this process under the rubric of ‘cancel culture,’ a culture of willful and barbaric diminishment.

‘Cancel culture,’ Gabriel notes, ‘is spreading for one simple reason: it works. Instead of debating ideas or competing for entertainment dollars, you can just demand anyone who annoys you to be cast out of polite society.’ It’s already come to a college campus near you, and is epidemic on social and other sorts of media. not to mention through the so-called ‘Human Resources’ departments of many companies. Wander ever so slightly outside the herd of independent minds and, bang, it’s ostracism or worse.

There are many ironies attendant on the spread of ‘cancel culture.’ One irony is that, despite its origins in the effete eyries of elite culture, the new ethic of conformity exhibits an extraordinary and intolerant provincialism. The British man of letters David Cecil got to the nub of this irony when, in his book Library Looking-Glass, he noted that ‘there is a provinciality in time as well as in space.’

    ‘To feel ill-at-ease and out of place except in one’s own period is to be a provincial in time. But he who has learned to look at life through the eyes of Chaucer, of Donne, of Pope and of Thomas Hardy is freed from this limitation. He has become a cosmopolitan of the ages, and can regard his own period with the detachment which is a necessary foundation of wisdom.’

It has become increasingly clear as the imperatives of political correctness make ever greater inroads against free speech and the perquisites of dispassionate inquiry that the battle against this provinciality of time is one of the central cultural tasks of our age. It is a battle from which the traditional trustees of civilization — schools and colleges, museums, many churches — have fled. Increasingly, the responsibility for defending the intellectual and spiritual foundations of Western civilization has fallen to individuals and institutions that are largely distant from, when they are not indeed explicitly disenfranchised from, the dominant cultural establishment.

Leading universities today command tax-exempt endowments in the tens of billions of dollars. Leading cultural organs like The New Yorker and The New York Times parrot the ethos of the academy and exert a virtual monopoly on elite opinion.

But it is by no means clear, notwithstanding their prestige and influence, whether they do anything to challenge the temporal provinciality of their clients. No, let me amend that: it is blindingly clear that they do everything in their considerable power to reinforce that provinciality, not least by their slavish capitulation to the dictates of the enslaving presentism of political correctness.

RTWT

20 Aug 2019

“Welcome to the Land of the Perpetually Whiny and Offended”

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Jon Gabriel wrote an excellent column last Saturday in Arizona Central.

One normally only quotes some key bits with the intention of persuading readers to click on the link and read the whole thing at the original published location, but, Good God! the AzCentral page is so loaded with pop-up ads redirecting you elsewhither and, unaccountably, tosses you off the relevant page and on to later stuff with the touch sensitivity of (dry) Nitrogen Triiodide that I reluctantly came to the conclusion that this fine editorial has a very poor life expectancy and will very soon be completely inaccessible, so I’ve quoted the whole bloody thing.

Welcome to America, the land of the perpetually whiny and offended

Opinion: Instead of debating ideas, the left and right are demanding that anyone who annoys them be cast out of polite society.

Sarah Silverman has been canceled. A Hollywood director fired the progressive comedian because of a sketch she performed a dozen years ago.

“I recently was going to do a movie, a sweet part,” Silverman said on a recent podcast. “Then, at 11 p.m. the night before, they fired me because they saw a picture of me in blackface from that episode.”

The Comedy Central sketch lampooned a well-intentioned liberal who stupidly wore blackface to better empathize with African Americans.

“I was doing an episode about race,” she explained. “It was like, I’m playing a character, and I know this is wrong, so I can say it. I’m clearly liberal. That was such liberal-bubble stuff, where I actually thought it was dealing with racism by using racism.”

Silverman may have lost a movie role, but at least she still has a career. Not everyone targeted by the “cancel culture” has been so lucky. Just look at Roseanne Barr, who was fired from her TV show for a bad tweet.
No one is immune from the Cancel Culture

All comedians are watching their backs these days. Kevin Hart was fired as an Oscars host because of decade-old jokes, and Aziz Ansari spent a year in professional hiding after a date gone wrong got him lumped in with the #MeToo backlash.

Silverman now regrets the blackface skit but fears more fallout. “I think it’s really scary and it’s a very odd thing that it’s invaded the left primarily and the right will mimic it.”

She didn’t have to wait long for conservatives to join cancel culture.

Want more opinions? Subscribe to azcentral.com.

A trailer for upcoming film “The Hunt” was released online and controversy followed. The horror film shows wealthy liberal elites hunting a ragtag group of red-state “deplorables” before the backwoods heroes start fighting back.

Despite its portrayal of rural conservatives taking down villainous progressives, several right-wing media stars were outraged.

Even the president joined the backlash. “Liberal Hollywood is Racist at the highest level, and with great Anger and Hate!” Trump said on Twitter. “They like to call themselves ‘Elite,’ but they are not Elite. In fact, it is often the people that they so strongly oppose that are actually the Elite. The movie coming out is made in order to inflame and cause chaos.”

The movie didn’t seem to deal with race one way or the other, but the studio took the hint. Within a day, they pulled the film.

Cancel culture is spreading for one simple reason: it works. Instead of debating ideas or competing for entertainment dollars, you can just demand anyone who annoys you to be cast out of polite society.

Way back in the mists of time, say five years ago, if you didn’t like a TV show or movie, you wouldn’t watch it. Now you can ensure that no one watches it, just by slinging some outrage on social media.

Our woke mentality is America’s new Puritanism. Instead of a handy list of sins written thousands of years ago, modern sins are ever-changing. A joke that was deemed progressive a decade ago is retroactively condemned as hate speech.

“If you say the wrong thing,” Silverman said, “everyone is, like, throwing the first stone. It’s a perversion. It’s really, ‘Look how righteous I am and now I’m going to press refresh all day long to see how many likes I get in my righteousness.’ ”

When the mob has burned one witch, they tighten the buckles on their hats and pore through old YouTube videos for their next victim.

It’s time for the perpetually offended on the left and right to bring back two concepts the Puritans were at least familiar with: grace and forgiveness.

31 Jul 2019

Mustn’t Clean Those Sidewalks, It’s Racially Insensitive!

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Katherine Timpf, in NR,

RTWT has our daily dose of liberal insanity.

A councilman in Seattle is reportedly opposed to hosing sidewalks that reek of excrement near a local courthouse because he fears that it might be racially insensitive.

No, this is not a joke.

The area surrounding King County Superior Court includes a homeless shelter and other social-services organizations and has become an “unsanitary and potentially frightening” scene — one “that reeks of urine and excrement” — according to an article in the Seattle Times. Desperate for help with the disgusting environment, two of the court’s judges have asked the city to please power-wash the poop-covered sidewalks. That seems like a pretty reasonable request, but apparently, one councilman is worried that doing so might be a form of microaggression.

According to the Times, Councilmember Larry Gossett “said he didn’t like the idea of power-washing the sidewalks because it brought back images of the use of hoses against civil-rights activists.”

15 Jul 2019

New Republic Pulled Gay Buttigieg Slam Piece: “My Mayor Pete Problem”

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The New Republic, somewhat whimsically, decided to accept an article/personal memoir taking a poke at South Bend Mayor/democrat presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg from an unassimilated, arch homosexual perspective. After all, it can be a lot fun to listen to some witty queen dishing on another poof.

But currently ascendant Puritan sanctimony on the Left will tolerate not even favored identity group in-humor. The way the privilege of membership works, it seems, is that there is always some victim more privileged and protected than you. The victim group member who pokes fun at a fellow victim is instantly promoted to the Heterosexual White Male Oppressor category and deplatformed.

And poor Dale Peck was well and truly deplatformed. (Some straight Republican living in New York should take Dale out to a strip club for a beer, out of Solidarity.)

As is usual for me, it took me a couple of days to follow up on this little tempest in the journalistic establishment teapot, and yesterday when I went looking for the original article –to my surprise– it was really nowhere to be found. Like Lord Dunsany’s Athazar, King of Runazar, the Buttigieg piece was condemned, not only to die, but cease ever to have been.

I looked with Google.I tried Duck Duck Go. Those didn’t work, so I went to 4chan, then to 8chan. All those White Supremacists and shitlords were busy linking porn. No reference there. Frustrated, I thought I’d look for a link in Facebook, and, what do you know? a friend from Yale with ties to the “Playing for the Other Team” Community had posted the whole thing.

I’m against this kind of PC, little-finger-lifted-as-you-sip-your-tea censorship and enforced propriety, so, despite the limitations on my own sympathy for the author’s perspective, I feel obliged to post the whole thing myself, just to keep it available and to spite the Forces of Proper Thinking and Correct Speech. So, here goes.

———————–

My Yale friend introduced it, thusly:

“In which famed hatchet-man Worth David—I mean, Dale Peck—weighs in to tell you why nouvelle fague Mary Pete Buttfuck isn’t all that he’s cocked up to be.

This was originally posted in The New Republic, but the fat Bengali or someone got an advanced case of weenieitis.

For sheer homocidal glee, this thing is right up there with Gore Vidal’s Palimpsest. Mister Peck, we salute you!”

My Mayor Pete Problem

Sunday, July 14, 2019

One of the worst things I ever did happened in 1992. I was leaving the bar called The Bar (RIP) on Second Avenue and 4th Street to go to a party called Tattooed Love Child at another bar, Fez, located in the basement of Time Cafe (RIP x 2). TLC was held on Wednesdays (Thursdays?), and I often went to The Bar after work for a few hours so I wouldn’t have to go all the way home first. So it was probably 10-ish, and I know it was late winter/early spring because I was carrying a copy of the completed manuscript of my first novel Martin and John, which I’d just turned in to my publisher that very day. Which makes me 24 and old enough to know better. Or who knows, maybe this was exactly the age to learn this kind of lesson.

What happened was: I was halfway down 4th Street when I heard someone yelling. I turned to see a large fellow running after me. At first I wondered if I was getting gay-bashed. But even though this guy didn’t set off my gaydar he still didn’t seem particularly menacing. When he got closer I clocked the pleated khakis (this was the era of the ACT UP clone—Doc Martens, Levi’s tight or baggy, and activist T-shirts—which look I had embraced fully) and rust-colored Brillo hair. I love me a good ginger, but you gotta know how to style it, especially if it runs frizzy. And so anyway, this guy, whose name was Garfield but said I could call him Gar, told me he’d been in The Bar but had been too shy to talk to me and decided to try his luck on the street. As politely as I could, I told him I wasn’t interested. He asked me how I could know I wasn’t interested when I didn’t know him, which was an invitation for me to tell him that not only did he look like a potato, he dressed, talked, and ran like a potato. Alas, I chose not to indulge his masochistic invitation.

He asked where I was going and I told him. He asked if he could go with me and I told him he could go to Fez if he wanted but he shouldn’t think he was going with me. He came. I quickly learned that he’d mastered the art of speaking in questions, which put me in the awkward position of answering him or ignoring him, which made me feel rude even though I’d told him I wasn’t interested. When he found out I was a writer he got excited and said I must love the New Yorker! I told him I hated the New Yorker. He asked how I could hate the New Yorker and I told him that besides the fact that the New Yorker published shitty fiction (plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose), and the only gay fiction it published was assimilationist and boring, there was also the fact that an editor there (Dan Menaker, if we’re naming names) had rejected a story of mine by suggesting in his correspondence with my agent (by which I mean that he wasn’t embarrassed to write this down, let alone worried about repercussions) that psychological problems were preventing me from creating effective fiction. (By the way, fuck you, Dan.) None of which made any sense to Gar. The New Yorker was important so I must love it. I just didn’t know I loved it yet. Or something like that. At some point in this exchange I remember saying something along the lines of Look, I’m just going to apologize now, because it’s pretty clear that sooner or later I’m going to say something really offensive to you and your feelings are going to be hurt. I don’t want to do that, but you’re clearly not getting the fact that you and I don’t look at the world the same way, and you keep thinking that if you hang around long enough we’re going to find common ground, when all you’re really doing is making our differences that much clearer. He laughed at this, one of those confused/nervous/defensive laughs, and if I’d been more mature I would have been more blunt and told him to get lost. But I too was a little deluded. I thought he had to get the hint eventually. But although I understood pretty much everything else about him, I failed to reckon fully with his lack of self-respect.

I told him I hated the New Yorker.

So: we got to Fez, where I ran into my friend Patrick (Cox, I think, but it’s been a minute), who looked at me like, What are you doing with this weirdo? I wouldn’t let Gar buy me a drink and I did my best to exclude him from my conversation with Patrick but he still wouldn’t take a hint. He must have hung around for a good hour. My answers to his questions grew more and more peremptory. Bear in mind I wasn’t disagreeing with him or dismissing his opinions just to get rid of him: we really had absolutely nothing in common. But we both read the New Yorker and we were both gay and we both wore clothes to cover our nakedness so clearly we were birds of a feather. Finally he said he had to leave. He asked for my number. I remember Patrick laughing in his face, but maybe that’s just because I wanted to laugh in his face. I was like, Are you serious? And he was like, We have so much in common, we should get to know each other better! When I was fifteen years old a pedophile used that line on me in the Chicago bus station, and if I’m being honest I had more in common with the pedo, who was about 50, black, and urban, while I was a white teenager from rural Kansas, than I did with dear old Gar. I told him I wasn’t going to give him my phone number or accept his. He seemed genuinely shocked and hurt, which of course made me feel like shit, which of course made me mad, because why should I feel like shit when I’d spent all night trying to rebuff him? He asked what he would have to do to get me to go out with him. Without thinking, I said, Take a good look at yourself and your world, reject everything in it, and then get back to me. It was the kind of soul-killing line people are always delivering in movies but never comes off in real life, mostly because even the most oblivious, self-hating person usually has enough wherewithal to cut someone off before they’re fully read for filth. I believe I have indicated that Gar did not possess this level of self-awareness. His face went shapeless and blank as though the bones of his skull had melted. For one second I thought I saw a hint of anger, which might’ve been the first thing he’d done all night that I could identify with. Then he scurried away.

Now, I’ve said shitty things to people before and since, but this one’s always stuck with me, partly because, though I’m a peevish fellow, it’s rare that I speak with genuine cruelty, and when I do it’s because I’ve chosen to. This just came out of me. But mostly I remember it because I knew I’d seriously wounded this guy, which, however annoying and clueless he was, was never my intention. I was and still am a very ’90s kind of gay, which is to say that I believe in the brotherhood of homos and the strength of our community, that however different we are we’re all bound together by the nature of our desire and the experience of living in a homophobic world. When one of your brothers fucks up, you school him. Sure, you might get a little Larry Kramer about it, but you don’t go all Arya-and-the-Night-King on his ass.

I’m telling you this because it’s what popped into my head when I tried to pin down my distaste for Pete Buttigieg. Mary Pete and I are just not the same kind of gay. (For those of you wondering about “Mary Pete”: a couple of months ago I asked Facebook what the gay equivalent of Uncle Tom was, and this was the answer at which we collectively arrived.) But Mary Pete and I aren’t different in the same way that Gar and I were different. Gar and I had nothing in common. Mary Pete and I have a lot in common, but at a certain point we came to a fork in the road and I took the one less traveled and he took the one that was freshly paved and bordered by flowers and white picket fences and every house had a hybrid in the driveway and some solar panels on the ceiling, but discrete ones, nothing garish, nothing that would interfere with the traditional look of the neighborhood or the resale value of your home.

By which I mean: Mary Pete is a neoliberal and a Jeffersonian meritocrat, which is to say he’s just another unrepentant or at least unexamined beneficiary of white male privilege who believes (just as Jay Inslee believes he’s done more for women’s reproductive rights than Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar) that he can make life better for all those people who are not like him, not because he knows anything about their lives but because he’s smart and nice and well-meaning, and when smart nice well-meaning people run things everything works out for the best. That’s just, you know, logical. It’s like, science. Like Kirsten Gillibrand, he believes in “healthy capitalism,” which is a bit like saying you believe in “healthy cancer”: Yeah, you can (usually) treat it, but wouldn’t you rather be cured?

Pete and I are just not the same kind of gay.

Most of what I dislike about Mary Pete was expressed in this Current Affairs article, which does a good job of using his own words (mostly from, ugh, Shortest Way Home, his memoir pretending to manifesto) to damn him. Shortest Way Home conjures a young Harvard student who thinks the word “edgy” is sufficient to describe both proto-Dumpster fascist Lyndon LaRouche and Noam Chomsky. His description of Harvard Square takes in those actors who belong to the school; the homeless people who live there are invisible to him, or, even worse, not worth mentioning. He seems perfectly content to dismiss left-wing student activists as “social justice warriors” despite the fact that this phrase is paradigmatic in right-wing discourse. He speaks fondly of his time at McKinsey, a company regularly described as one of the most evil corporations in the world. He joined the military long after 9/11 could sort-of-but-not-really be invoked to justify the U.S. propensity to go to other countries and kill lots of people. By 2007 it was no longer possible to pretend that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were anything other than failed, murderous exercises in empire-building and/or revenge, but despite the fact that these were the only places he was likely to serve he signed up anyway. And though he loves to talk about the notes he left his family in case he didn’t come back, by all accounts his chances of seeing combat were as low as they could be—but boy, he sure got a lot of cute pictures in uniform out of it!

Every move is simultaneously cynical and morally oblivious. They’re the steps one takes not to learn about the world but to become a marketable political candidate (hmmm, what’s a good counter to the whole sleeps-with-men thing? I know: military service!) (side benefit: you’re surrounded by hot guys!) and if as a Harvard-educated Rhodes Scholar you decide not to be a captain of industry, then clearly the White House is where you belong. I mean, sure, he wants to make the world a better place. But the operative word in that sentence, just as it was with Bill Clinton, is “he,” not “world,” and “better,” for Mary Pete, is just the neoliberal variation of “make America great again,” which is to say that in Buttigieg’s version of American history the progressive ideals in the First, Thirteenth, and Nineteenth Amendments, in the Civil Rights Act and Roe v. Wade and marriage equality, are the only authentically American ideas, whereas slavery and Jim Crow and border security and defense of marriage campaigns and heartbeat laws are nothing but aberrations, glitches in the code rather than yin to liberalism’s yang, warp to its weft, a set of ivory chess pieces lined up across from a set of ebony chess pieces and equally powerful.

Like Obama, Buttigieg seems always to be saying that the United States is the only place where someone like him could’ve succeeded, and that he wants everyone to enjoy the same peculiarly American successes that he’s had. But unlike Obama (whose naïveté was at least partly a pose), Buttigieg’s biography belies the idea that his success was either hard won or particularly unlikely. He’s lived the life of a comfortably middle-class white male, but he acts as if it’s his natural gifts (by which he means his intelligence and his ability to speak seven languages and play the piano, although they’re actually his whiteness and maleness and financial security) that have raised him above from the rabble. It’s right there in his “Medicare for all . . . who want it” song and dance. To Mary Pete this is simple egalitarianism and freedom of choice. If you want Medicare, you should be able to have it. And if you want private insurance you should be able to have that. It seems never to occur to him to ask why one would want to pay three or four or ten times more for health care than you have to. Could it possibly be because private insurance will get you better results than Medicare? And could private health care possibly provide better service than Medicare not because of marketplace competition but because as long as there’s a profit motive in health care medical corporations will always seek to maximize profits, and thus favor those “customers” who can pay the most? Embedded in this oblivion are both the liberal delusion that people are naturally good and the neoliberal sophistry that the market, like the tide, will raise everyone up with it.
Pete is just the neoliberal variation of “make America great again.”
Or take his response at the Democratic debate to the murder of Eric Logan by the South Bend police: “I’m not allowed to take sides until the investigation comes back.” Here is a mayor—a man—whose first allegiance isn’t to the victim or the victim’s family or the other people at risk because of a racist police force, but, at the very best, to the system, and maybe to nothing more than his own political future as a centrist Democrat. “I accept responsibility,” he told us, in the same way that the white teenaged boy who gets caught stealing a car or drunk-raping a girl says “I accept responsibility” and fully expects to let off without punishment, because boys will be boys, after all, and isn’t feeling bad punishment enough? Free education? Why, that’s unfair to the working class! They’ll end up paying for the education of all those millions and millions of billionaires’ children! What are we, czarist Russia?
You keep looking for a politics rooted in justice or history or, at the very least, empathy, but everywhere you find nothing besides a kind of idealistic pragmatism, if that’s a thing: a belief that if we only talk about nice things, only nice things will happen. If we only acknowledge our strengths, our faults will fade away. If we trust smart people to do smart things, nothing dumb will happen. Hey, José loved it when Pete answered him in Spanish, right? Education has brought us closer together!

All this makes Mary Pete different from every other left-leaning neoliberal in exactly zero ways. Because let’s face it. The only thing that distinguishes the mayor of South Bend from all those other well-educated reasonably intelligent white dudes who wanna be president is what he does with his dick (and possibly his ass, although I get a definite top-by-default vibe from him, which is to say that I bet he thinks about getting fucked but he’s too uptight to do it). So let’s dish the dish, homos. You know and I know that Mary Pete is a gay teenager. He’s a fifteen-year-old boy in a Chicago bus station wondering if it’s a good idea to go home with a fifty-year-old man so that he’ll finally understand what he is. He’s been out for, what, all of four years, and if I understand the narrative, he married the first guy he dated. And we all know what happens when gay people don’t get a real adolescence because they spent theirs in the closet: they go through it after they come out. And because they’re adults with their own incomes and no parents to rein them in they do it on steroids (often literally). If Shortest Way Home (I mean really, can you think of a more treacly title?) makes one thing clear, Mary Pete was never a teenager. But you can’t run away from that forever. Either it comes out or it eats you up inside. It can be fun, it can be messy, it can be tragic, it can be progenitive, transformative, ecstatic, or banal, but the last thing I want in the White House is a gay man staring down 40 who suddenly realizes he didn’t get to have all the fun his straight peers did when they were teenagers. I’m not saying I don’t want him to shave his chest or do Molly or try being the lucky Pierre (the timing’s trickier than it looks, but it can be fun when you work it out). These are rites of passage for a lot of gay men, and it fuels many aspects of gay culture. But like I said, I don’t want it in the White House. I want a man whose mind is on his job, not what could have been—or what he thinks he can still get away with.

So yeah. Unlike my experience with Gar, I actually want to tell Mary Pete to take a good hard look at his world, at his experiences and his view of the public good as somehow synonymous with his own success, and I want him to reject it. I want to do this not because I have any particular desire to hurt his feelings, but because I made a similar journey, or at least started out from a similar place, and I was lucky enough to realize (thank you, feminism; thank you, ACT UP) that the only place that path leads is a gay parody of heteronormative bourgeois domesticity: the “historic” home, the “tasteful” decor (no more than one nude photograph of a muscular torso per room; statuary only if they’re fair copies of Greek or Roman originals), the two- or four- or six-pack depending on how often you can get to the gym and how much you hate yourself, the theatre (always spelled with an -re) subscription, the opera subscription, the ballet subscription, the book club, the AKC-certified toy dog with at least one charming neurosis and/or dietary tic, the winter vacation to someplace “tropical,” the summer vacation to someplace “cultural,” the specialty kitchen appliances—you just have to get a sous vide machine, it changed our life! Sorry, boys, that’s not a life, it’s something you buy from a catalog. It’s a stage set you build so you can convince everyone else (or maybe just yourself) that you’re as normal as they are. Call me a hick from the sticks, but I don’t want someone who fills out his life like he fills out an AP exam serving as the country’s moral compass. And no, I wouldn’t kick him out of bed.

Good thing I hadn’t closed that friend’s Facebook page. When I hit refresh, sure enough! the forces of Righteous Leftism had already eradicated it there, as well.

This posting may be the Last of the Mohicans.

11 Jun 2019

A Visual Demonstration of How Fast the NYT Got Woke

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19 May 2019

“When Some Films Are Banned, Only Outlaws Will Have Banned Films”

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Walt Disney’s “Song of the South” (1946).

As the Brave New World of 5G Streaming rapidly approaches, films on DVD are facing doom. Who wants to buy and store a gigantic pile of movies, when Amazon, Netflix, and other sites are a remote-click away and ready to stream your movie for you?

But, as Brian Watt points out, your monthly subscription fee is not going to be the only price you pay for convenience at the hands of Our Woke Corporate Overlords.

It should be apparent that the number of movies on discs are already beginning to disappear from brick-and-mortar retailers (Costco, Best Buy, Walmart) even as some brick-and-mortars themselves are beginning to disappear. If you accept the idea that the prerecorded disc market will disappear then you should have the same concerns about censorship that you already have about social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube (Google) because streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and soon Disney and Apple have already established their social justice/politically correct wokeness.

Depending on the continued rise and prevalence of SJW-tinged groupthink by those who run some of the largest media and tech companies, it seems highly likely, for example, that content that runs counter to a Left-leaning political agenda will eventually begin to fade away and be impossible to find in streaming libraries. As with the social media giants, their CEOs and ministers of information will talk a good game about how even-handed and fair they are to all content creators even as they quietly blacklist and censor filmmakers and keep their work from being seen. Amazon has recently curtailed its relationship with Woody Allen in its #MeToo wokeness and will no longer fund or release his new films. Just as others in the academic and social media domains (Brett and Eric Weinstein, Dave Rubin) have found, the authoritarian inclinations of their “liberal” brethren can be quite disturbing, Woody perhaps at some point will admit that he and William F. Buckley may have had more in common than he realized.

There are several older Disney films that already run afoul of today’s SJW zeitgeist. Song of the South will likely never make it to Disney’s soon-to-be-available streaming service. Four years ago, a very woke writer for VH1 listed other Disney films she felt were racist including Peter Pan, Dumbo, Lady and the Tramp, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and even The Princess and the Frog.

Amos n’ Andy and Uncle Remus have been missing for quite a while. The jive-talking crows from “Dumbo” recently simply got erased, just like fallen members of the 1930s Politiburo.

How much longer will it be before James Cagney’s mysogyinistic grapefruit disappears from “Public Enemy,” and Sam Spade no longer slaps Joel Cairo around, telling him he’ll take it and like it?

John Wayne represents a tall-in-the-saddle affront to everything politically correct, from the full-throated patriotism of all those war movies, to the brawl with Victor McLaglen in “The Quiet Man,” to Maureen O’Hara’s spanking in “McClintock.” How long before the most objectionable John Wayne scenes are deleted and spectacles of white male oppression of Native Americans (“The Searchers” and “The Cavalry Trilogy” and of persons of color (“Sands of Iwo Jima and “The Alamo”) vanish from the catalogs?

RTWT

28 Apr 2019

Remember When “1984” Was Only a Predicted Possibility?

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Kate Smith statue outside Xfinity live!.

Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.

–George Orwell, “1984”

05 Apr 2019

Cornell Warns 55th Reunion Geezers

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Cornell University obviously does not intend to tolerate any reactionary attitudes or politically incorrect speech on the part of anybody’s 76-year-old racist uncles from the Class of 1964. Get overheard being unsympathetic to Gender Identity as a matter of choice, use the wrong pronoun, and somebody may summon the campus police to deal with you!

HT: Robert Shibley.

06 Mar 2019

Is Peter Salovey’s Era of Misrule at Yale Coming to an End?

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Peter Salovey

Michael Rubin (DP ’94) provides a nearly complete list of Peter Salovey’s atrocities as President of Yale and reports that the chickens are finally coming home to roost: big donors are declining to support the Salovey regime.

He threw respect for free speech and decorum under the bus when he compelled the resignation of Silliman College master Nicholas Christakis in the face of the “shrieking girl” controversy. He legitimized violence when he rehired a dishwasher who smashed a historic stained glass window. In general, he catered to the loudest on campus, always willing to grease the squeaky wheel regardless of the consequence.

When students complained that the term “freshmen” disrespected women and “master” made African-Americans uncomfortable, he simply ordered their change, never mind that it was he who was racializing a term that had ancient collegiate roots. That Yale continues to issue master’s degrees only highlights the lack of intellectual consistency.

Then, when decades-long student protests persisted with regard to a residential college named after 19th century statesmen and Vice President John Calhoun due to the support Calhoun professed during his lifetime for slavery, Salovey first said he would keep the name out of respect for history but, when criticized by student activists, convened a handpicked and Orwellian “ Committee to Establish Principles on Renaming” which recommended changing the name of the college. The problem with such a move was not simply the willingness to erase history at one of the nation’s most elite universities, but also intellectual inconsistency: Calhoun may have provided intellectual sustenance to the pro-slavery south, a not uncommon position at the time, but Elihu Yale, after whom the entire university is named, actually traded slaves during his lifetime.

Salovey’s hostility toward history has extended further to university tradition. Yale long prided itself on being centered on its undergraduates. Admissions officers sang the merits of residential colleges, each a unique community within the broader university. But, Salovey, who did not attend Yale as an undergraduate, homogenized the colleges in order to eliminate any differences between them. While the freshmen class dined together in “University Commons” since 1901, he closed the iconic dining hall in order to build a student center whose need (or need in that location) most students (let alone alumni) continue to question. Most recently, Salovey has put the open stacks of Yale’s underground library on the chopping block.

Now, it seems that the university is paying the price for Salovey’s general gutlessness. Yale has, for years, been seeking to undertake a major capital campaign. Often, universities announce their campaigns after a silent stage in which they get high-profile donors to commit to the effort. According to staffers within Yale’s fundraising arm, the university was forced to delay its campaign for several years because big donors are rightly worried about Yale’s direction and its tendency to prioritize politics above academics.

Yale’s embrace of identity politics reinvigorates self-segregation and pits groups against each other. An ever-expanding array of ethnic deans spoon feeds ideology to students rather than make them organize for themselves. Yale administrators, largely for political reasons, increasingly seek to weigh in on the private lives of students off campus. Donations are declining as faculty and student antics increasingly hit national headlines or the courts. Giving in the first quarter of the last fiscal year, for example, is lower than in the period for the four previous years.

Yale is also falling behind in fundraising among its peer group of universities as alumni decide not to give. Older alum largely disagree with the direction of the university as it subordinates academe to social action, while the younger alumni whom Salovey sought to appease do not understand why they should donate to a university with a nearly $30 billion endowment. Rather than question fundamentally why the money is no longer rolling in, the university’s response is simply to cease reporting donation statistics.

While Yale cultivates a reputation as an educational and intellectual center, its emphasis under Salovey has been more about politics and social justice. The university trumpets ethnic, religious, and sexual orientation diversity, but shuns intellectual diversity which arguably should trump every other kind.

Perhaps the decline in donations is a sign that Yale’s, and, by extension, other elite universities’, ability to coast on reputation while treating its core education mission with disdain has come to an end. Perhaps it is time for Salovey to resign.

RTWT

Michael Rubin was himself too-PC to include in Salovey’s list of crimes the naming of one of the two new residential colleges for a black lesbian communist whom nobody outside the Radical Left had ever heard of.

Salovey’s concession to Charles Johnson ’54 of Franklin Resources, who ponied up the $250 million to build two new residential colleges in naming one of the new colleges after Benjamin Frankin, a particular hero of Johnson’s unfortunately lacking any meaningful connection to Yale, was regrettable, but comprehensible. He who pays the piper calls the tune and all that. But a lot of us would rather have seen New Residential College 2 named for “Benjamin Franklin’s Dog” instead of for an obscure agitator with only the tenuous connection of a post-Law doctoral degree acquired at Yale Law at the age of 55. Only Peter Salovey would overlook the opportunity to name one of two new colleges located at the foot of Science Hill for Josiah Willard Gibbs.

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