The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Monday, June 09, 2014

Disinvitation and the expanding intestine

Yes, it is that time of the year again and hence something of a silly season here in this our Great Republic, where the lengthening days and abundant sunshine turn many a soon to graduate college senior’s mind to thoughts of how they’re going to pay off the mountain of debt they’ve managed to wrack up with a bachelor’s degree in Queer Vegan Studies.  It’s a puzzlement to me too, to paraphrase Yul Brynner in The King and I, but one that will not prevent our graduate to be one last radical hurrah before they go out into the workaday world and sell out to The Man. So, yes, it is that time of year again, the time wherein the disgruntled, the disaffected, and the more than usually dysfunctional student and all of his or her ilk goes forth and denounces the commencement speaker and demands that he, she, it, or they slink away in shame.

The commencement speaker, for those of you have managed to skip the whole college experience, is a distinguished person brought in by the college to give a speech to the assembled graduates. The speech is usually long and tedious and often tendentious as well, and as filled with untruths as a politician’s campaign speech. Knowing this, I skipped the speech and the graduation itself when I got my bachelor’s; I went to see Field of Dreams instead. But when I got my master’s I had to go; my mother made me. She wanted to be proud of her oldest boy and she wanted to see me get the piece of paper that would entitle me to a permanent position in the civil service, so I had to go. It was, as I anticipated, a fairly gruesome experience, although not as bad as a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. The dean of the college gave the commencement, and while the speech was too damn long, he did end it with some pithy remarks and a good joke, so all was not lost. My brother, on the other hand, spent much of the speech slouching lower and lower in his chair, the better to see the valedictorian’s legs, which were, I have to admit, very nice, but there is a time and a place for everything and that was neither the time or the place.

I bring this largely unnecessary family history up because the august institution that granted me my master’s degree has succumbed to the madness of campus commencement disinvitation syndrome.  A former student of said august institution—not me, unfortunately, because I’d give the grads an earful—is returning to deliver the commencement address and the campus radicals are already busy at work trying to get the man disinvited. The would-be speaker, an immigrant from a war-torn Third World country where large numbers of the populace believe that sheep are an acceptable alternative to having a date on Saturday night, made a fortune selling yogurt through hard work, living right, and sheer business acumen. This in itself would render the man unacceptable to the fevered minions of the neo-Marxist anti-capitalist left, who infest the groves of American academia like Dutch elm disease, as well as to the more radical African-American activist groups, who consider all such tales of immigrant success as examples of racial oppression and a testament to the power of whiteness in a Jim Crow society. But the loudest shrieks against our prospective speaker came from the radically lactose intolerant, who have made it clear to anyone who will listen that they regard our speaker as a vicious poisoner on a par with Lucrezia Borgia in the bad old days before she became a feminist icon.

Now, you must understand that when I first heard this I thought it was a joke. I have seen a lot of peculiar things in my life, from the re-election of the former junior senator from Illinois to learning that there may be as many different genders in this world as Heinz has varieties of ketchup, but I must admit that the idea of a genetic inability to digest dairy products could be the basis of a political movement had never occurred to me. Peculiar or not, however, it is so, and therefore the television stations here in the Vampire State are showing the demonstrations against our commencement speaker on almost every broadcast.

From a purely objective point of view, I will grant that there may be something to the complaints of the lactose intolerant community. Seeing your alma mater honor a man you regard as hateful does not do much to improve the climate of inclusion that all institutions of higher learning here in this our Great Republic do their utmost to foster nowadays. That being said, there is a point when the propaganda of the deed makes the propagandist look foolish, as when the lactose intolerant threaten to go to the commencement speech after eating the speaker’s product and turn the venue into a vile and noisome hellhole of reeking flatulence. Lactose intolerance does reduce the quality of one’s life, I’m sure; it can’t be easy growing up and having Mom tell you that you can’t have the ice cream the rest of the kids are eating because it will give you a bad tummy ache, but these dolts are now making themselves look ridiculous. I realize that they will call me insensitive, which I can live with—my mother calls me worse things every time I see her—but they will always call anyone they disagree with something.  This is one of the reasons that our campus comrades love speech codes so much—Alinsky was right: ridicule is a powerful weapon, but only if you’re not the target. If you are the target, if you can tell the people telling you that you’re dumber than a box of rocks to shut up, then by definition you can’t be ridiculous.  Remember, Winston, two and two are five, if the Party says so.

Of course, all of this controversy has horrified and appalled our commencement speaker, as well as the president of the university, who thought that he’s hit the jackpot with our speaker; after all, is there a less controversial subject in this world than yogurt?  Who could object to yogurt?  Now that he’s knows, the papers say that he may disinvite the speaker, since there are rumors floating around that the lactose intolerant activists may occupy the main administration building and burn it down if the president doesn’t meet their demands.  As a concerned alumnus, I think I should offer what seems to me a perfectly workable solution to the problem: let the speaker speak and tell the lactose intolerant to avoid his product. Eating the man’s yogurt is not a requirement for graduation nor is it a violation of anyone’s constitutional rights.  He’s not making the stuff to damage anyone’s sense of self-esteem nor is the dairy industry engaged in a vast conspiracy to make the lactose intolerant feel bad about themselves.  Commencement is about finally leaving school and entering the adult world. It is not nor has it ever been about anyone’s gastrointestinal problems.  As this is a practical solution to this alleged problem, I fear, it will not happen and I suspect that those lactose intolerant radicals who like to foam at the mouth about their genetic oppression will have none of it.  My second suggestion is to call in the state police and have them teargas the campus thoroughly and then crack some skulls. Frankly, I don’t think that’s not going too happen either.  Universities don’t do that sort of thing anymore, which is a pity, I think. Sometimes you really do have to pound some common sense into some people.

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  • At 4:11 PM, Blogger Dick Stanley said…

    My own commencement speaker, way back in 1967 before the groves became the home of the Left was one Spiro Agnew, the U being that of Maryland and he being the governor at the time. I have no recollection of anything he said but I was vaguely satisfied at his punishment when he was later forced to resign the vice presidency after disclosures of his having routinely entertained bagmen in the governor's mansion bringing his latest bribe. It was a lesson of sorts, beyond whatever he intended with his speech, I'm sure.


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