Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Don't try this at home, kids

I was listening to Diane Rehm this morning, interviewing two writers who penned an Atlantic article about "political correctness" on college campuses (a term they never once tried to define, which I thought bizarre and a blotch on the work of a lawyer and a college professors, two professions where sourcing is vital to publication); and I'm thinking the whole time that one anecdote here and another there doth not a representative picture make.

And then some students at Duke got everybody's attention by objecting to reading the book Fun Home,  a graphic novel I've never heard of but which apparently would repay my attention.  Why do they object to it?  Not just because it includes scenes of "graphic sexuality" (no pun intended, I presume) but because:

Grasso and his peers imply that they’re being bullied when they’re encouraged to read Fun Home.
Precisely the kind of "trigger warning" mentality the authors of the Atlantic piece were complaining about.

I hate it when that happens.

Jacob Brogan is right about these students:

Much like Bruce in one of the book’s most famous sequences, they’re choosing to live their lives in narrowly circumscribed circles, willfully blind to the stories unfolding around them.
Which is not so much "politically correct" as it is extending adolescence further and further into adulthood, which is something that's been happening since as identified "teenagers" and then decided they could be "juvenile delinquents" and finally came up with the purportedly scientific category of the "teenage brain."

And yet science, of course, has nothing to do with culture, and is only concerned with Truth.  But I think if we're "coddling" students, it has less to do with "political correctness" and "helicopter parents" than it does with the root notion that childhood is to be protected at all costs, and the upper limits of childhood are to be extended further and further with each generation.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact we seem to be living longer; and we still worship at the fountain of youth culture.  At one point "Boomers" were the most important people on the planet; now it's Millenials.  It would seem the problem is far more fundamental than how a few identifiable groups are behaving.

The stories I grew up on were warnings about pushing children into college at too young an age, and breaking them with the sudden burdens of adulthood.  Now we seem afraid to let them take on the burdens of adulthood at all, and we push them into college while insisting they remain children.

And where it stops, nobody knows.


  1. As I said at Charles P Pierce's place: Decisions, decisions. Books like "Fun Home" were on the Roman Catholic Index of Forbidden Books in the ancient days when I was at Loyola in New Orleans, so I didn't have to make decisions about whether to read assigned books that violated my Christian conscience. My conscience then was a whole different thing from my conscience now. By the time I went to LSU for graduate school, I probably read some stuff that would have violated my Loyola Christian conscience. Go ahead and read the damned books, kids.

  2. I grew up on Grimm's Fairy Tales. That was some fucking dark shit.

  3. ntodd, me too. Scared the living daylights out of me. Tenniel's illustrations in the "Alice" books gave me nightmares.

  4. Nightmares? There should have been a "trigger warning" on Disney's "Sleeping Beauty."

    Maleficent still scares hell outta me.

  5. My daughter, who's in her 40s, still blames me for Maleficent.