Friday, February 28, 2003

Oh, for the Love of God, People

It's just a graffiti tunnel! Perhaps I should have saved the "Tempest/Teapot" post title for this one. Hold on while I take a deep cleansing breath.....okay, here goes.

From our campus paper, The Technician, this story regarding the "clash of ideological titans" in the graffiti tunnel. Note how the disagreement has now escalated into a full-blown "ohmygoditsahatefilledcampus" kerfluffle, complete with a Statement on Tolerance from the Chancellor.

To me, the money quote is this statement, prepared by the students who were confronted in the tunnel:

"As people who believe that white supremacy and heterosexism are fundamental stumbling blocks to any sort of meaningful humanity, we feel it is our duty to challenge racist and homophobic violence whenever we see it," the statement read. "We have come here today to demand that the administration of N.C. State denounce the environment of hatred and violence that faces its students every day." (emphasis mine)

Okay, look. There was apparently a threat of physical violence, which is criminal behavior and can be prosecuted as such. The slogans were offensive and in poor taste. But someone needs to explain how we got from that to the need for a definition of "meaningful humanity" from a sociology major. And how this one incident has now become indicative of an "environment of hatred and violence."

There are the usual calls for "mandatory diversity training," and a need for the university to "do more," while everyone mouths platitudes about respecting "free speech." No they don't.

Frankly, I think the training needed is a course in etiquette by Emily Post.

Thursday, February 27, 2003

Oh, Hello Tempest! Your Teapot is Right Over Here.

Reading this forum on childbirth and leave from The Chronicle of Higher Ed was eye-opening, to say the least. The article to which it refers was, to my mind, a pretty straightforward accounting of ways in which universities need to prepare themselves to meet the needs of students when the unforeseen happens. In this case, three female professors in a fairly small department were going to have overlapping maternity leaves, raising some legitimate questions about leave policy, preparation, etc.

However, as tends to happen when resident "deep thinkers" get hold of an issue, discussion soon devolved into name calling and disparaging comments toward those women who have the ABOSLUTE GALL to want CHILDREN when they're tenure track professors. Then of course we had to have the whole "what really defines a family" posts, the smug asides about family leave policies in Scandinavia and Canada, etc. etc. My personal fave was this one, entitled "use birth control." Here's an excerpt:

"Having babies is a choice -- already, people who have babies are getting tax breaks, getting hugely discounted insurance (forcing those more reproductively responsible to subsidise them), and often getting to slack off work for some 15 years using children as an excuse to reschedule meetings and avoid heavy committee work. This is NOT a women's issue -- it is a matter concerning a specific group of people taking advantage of the rest of their department."

Bitter, much? Her sentiments are breathtakingly condescending. I'm assuming that the writer, Lisa Jenkins, counts herself among the "reproductively responsible" here. Wonder if it's occurred to her that if all women were similarly responsible, she'd have no one to impart her wisdom to? Oh, but I'm sure she's merely referring to those within her profession. Because, after all, it's ALL ABOUT LISA. Sounds like the girl's got issues, to me. Speaking of issues:

"It seems to me that if employees want special "perks" for having a baby, then they should be responsible enough to schedule their baby having time, with their department.
With Ithaca, had the three faculty agreed to the dates when each want to be with child, and scheduled these dates with the department, the department wouldn't be so shorthanded."

Yes, because as we all know, the human body is a simple clockwork mechanism, and that's why everyone can schedule when they want children, and infertility doesn't exist, and all birth control is 100% effective. Let's see, set the timer for May 15, procure sperm, preheat the problem! Oh, and I'll switch the safety lock on, so that there will be no premature labor or complications. This is so easy! There's absolutely no excuse for anyone, anywhere, ever to have a problem with scheduling maternity leave! La, la, la! Look at the pretty green sky! At least, in my world, that's its color. Wheee!

I never cease to be amazed by people who cry freedom all day in their classrooms, but deny it to anyone who might inconvenience THEM by exercising free will. People who support all kinds of radical feminism, but who are enraged by women who then use their freedom of choice to "go traditional." Hey, professors? Here's a nice big cup of Get Over It. Will that be one lump, or two?

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

War Bad! Arrrrrrr!

I think I may have actually reached critical pissed-offitude today. Oh, it's been building for a while--a really long while, now that I think about it--but it's finally hit the whole cartoonish "head with exploding thermometers for eyes and steam-emitting ears" phase today. Why? First, let's just make a list:

  • From Cold Fury--this piece about "educators" deliberately villifying children's parents who serve in the military.

  • From Juan Gato--well, pretty much everything, but particularly the existence of the Wonder Twins Morford and MoDo,and their continuing, unreasonable belief in their own superiority.

  • Hollywood. My, they're full of themselves lately, aren't they? (via Andrea Harris)

  • And just read Critical Mass for a distillate of distasteful declarations from the dissolute dimbulbs who inhabit Ivory Tower land.

I could go into a lengthy analysis of knee-jerk anti-war leftism descending into the depths of contentless ad hominem crapola, but it's been done. Perhaps the problem is that we've been spending too much time trying to lend intellectual discussion to a debate which is quickly becoming a Usenet flamewar writ large, instead of, as we are taught in "Instructor 101," making our message "audience appropriate." So in the interest of time and clarity, here goes:

Grow. The. Fuck. Up.

No, really. You don't like Bush? Fine, whatever. Vote against him in 2004, write your congressfolk and senators, have bake sales to support his opponent. But stop letting your hatred of one man blind you to, well, everything else. The world has changed in the past 18 months, and the rest of us don't have time to wait for you to catch up.

Stop letting your belief that he "stole the election" send you into hyper conspiracy mode, wherein every single person who may have even considered voting for him somehow manages to be stupid, evil, yet diabolical enough to aid and abet the Wellstone assassination. Stop. It. NOW. And don't even try with the whole "nuanced debate" bullshit. Bush=Hitler? Where's the friggin' nuance? I see no nuance! I see a bunch of people so enraged by the fact that "our side lost" almost THREE FREAKING YEARS AGO that they're throwing a mass tantrum. I include Hollywood, France, The New York Times, and the current democratic petty obstructionism in that list. And when it's pointed out that their tantrum is actually having the opposite effect re: making war more likely, as well as being directly responsible for the subjugation of an entire nation by a fellow who would, incidentally, set their anti-war asses on fire as soon as they stopped proving useful, what happens? They get naked! What the fuck is that?

I'll tell you what it is. They're channeling my toddler. Scream and cry when thwarted. Reason doesn't work--the screaming merely intensifies, sometimes coupled with throwing things, or tossing a diaper at my head. Do you know what works? Ignoring the toddler. And it looks like the "eeeeville Bush Junta" (aside: stop with the junta, okay? Likewise with the whole hegemony thing. It doesn't make you seem smart or clever. It makes it seem like you just spent 10 minutes in a post-colonial theory course and you jotted down the glossary terms 'cause you thought it might help you get laid at the kegger later on) is going to do just that.

Everyone loses sometime. You can either accept it, learn from it and try harder next time, or you can throw a fit. But it doesn't change reality. No, not even if you click your heels together three times, hug your blankie and wish REALLY REALLY hard.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Damn You, February!

Ya know, for the shortest month, this one does seem to go on and on and on. Sorry, Sartre, you were wrong. Hell isn't other people--it's February.

I hate you, February. I hate you with fiery, burning, lava hate. And a good thing, too, because that's all that's keeping my feet warm at work right now. There's a reason why I live in the South, February, and apparently you haven't been paying attention, because you Aren't. Leaving. Quickly. Enough. Oh, and the ice storms? The hell? Look, February, maybe you've had some hard times. Maybe people have been cruel to you in the past--calling you names, making fun of your relative size, or the way you spell your name (what IS with that "silent r", anyway?), whatever. Is that really any reason to act like a big bully, overstay your welcome, and piss all over my gardenia bush? I think not. You're never going to make people love you that way, February, especially when you try to force us to love you by tacking on that stupid holiday with the chalky candy so that we can all add tooth decay to the list of ills you bring us. I mean, the flu? Dude, that's just harsh. Get some counseling, February. You know, anger management? And maybe you should lay off the booze. You get ugly when you've been drinking.

Monday, February 24, 2003

The Wages of Sociology

See, this is what happens when an otherwise talented student is exposed to 4 years of unmitigated sociology--they get all huffy and release self-important statements like this one:

"For some time now, the inequalities that are embedded into the American system have bothered me. As they are becoming progressively worse and it is clear that the government's priorities are not on bettering the quality of life for all of its people, but rather on expanding its own power, I cannot, in good conscience, salute the flag,'' Smith said in a statement released Thursday.

To which the soc-whipped administration must reply:

Manhattanville President Richard Berman said he told Smith "what she's doing is courageous and difficult.''

No, no it's not. This is America, and the worst thing that will happen to Ms. Smith is that she'll be mocked. Not stoned to death, not imprisoned, not prevented from pursuing a career in sports or the private sector, just mocked. Of course, in a world where our students are so sheltered that the occasional appearance of snow porn is enough to cause PTSD, this could be construed as an horrific punishment, but your mileage may vary. Mine sure as hell does.

Life is inequality, Ms. Smith. I'm sure that I would enjoy being able to play basketball as well as you do, but alas! I cannot. How do you propose we address this inequality? Oh, I get it. Inequality only counts in cases where the government can step in and intervene through preferential treatment for the oppressed. But doesn't that create a different kind of inequality? Ah, that inequality doesn't count. It's all so very clear to me now. Thanks for the help.

Via Campus Nonsense.