• Cambridge students given trigger warnings: Shakespeare plays may distress them

    The delicacy of these students pales beside that of theology students at the University of Glasgow. More on that in a minute.

    At Cambridge, one of the “distressing” Shakespeare plays is named perfectly: Comedy of Errors.

    According to The Telegraph (link here):

    English literature undergraduates have been advised that a lecture which focusses on Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus and The Comedy of Errors will include “discussions of sexual violence” and “sexual assault”.

    The trigger warnings were published in the English Faculty’s “Notes on Lectures” document, which is circulated to students.  –The Telegraph

    As is so often the case, the warning were included by the ubiquitous bureaucrats and administrations that now attempt to control academic life.

    The best response came from David Crilly, artistic director of the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival:

    If a student of English Literature doesn’t know what Titus Andronicus contains scenes of violence they shouldn’t be on the course.

    This degree of sensitivity will inevitably curtail academic freedom. If the academic staff are concerned they might say something students find uncomfortable they will avoid doing it. –David Crilly, quoted in The Telegraph

    The Topper???

    You think the Shakespeare warning is bad?? Oh, you delicate soul.

    Wait for this gem:

    The University of Glasgow alerted theology students that they may see distressing images of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and gave them the opportunity to leave the room. –The Telegraph

    To assist these students, I have xxx’d out the discomforting parts of these images.

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  • ZipDialog Roundup for Saturday, September 23

    Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
    Linked articles in bold purple

    ◆ John McCain puts a dagger in the heart of “repeal and replace.” Won’t support bill of his close friend, Lindsey Graham (New York Times)

    Comment: There is still a thin path, but it is only a sliver since several Republicans are likely “no” votes.

    Even if the Senate passes something, it might not make it through the House.

    If this bill fails, as expected, then Congress will move onto tax reform and tax cuts.

    Trump in his element: Gives a rousing speech to enthusiastic crowd in Alabama, offers strong support to underdog Senate candidate, Luther Strange (Al.com)

    Comment: Strange is running behind former Alabama state judge, Roy Moore, who redefines the word “controversial.”

    Besides the usual kind words for “Big Luther,” Trump underscored two points.

    1. Strange had given him crucial support on legislation without making demands (Trump emphasized the Senator’s loyalty to him, Trump, and not to Mitch McConnell).
    2. Strange is sure to win in the General Election; Moore is far less certain to win, though Trump said he would back him in the general.

    Handling Sexual Assault Investigations on Campus: Sec. of Ed. Betsy DeVos Reverses Obama-Era Policy (New York Times)

    The nub of the matter: Under Obama, standards of proof were lowered significantly. DeVos is allowing colleges to raise the standard, once again, to “clear and convincing evidence.”

    DeVos on Friday scrapped a key part of government policy on campus sexual assault, saying she was giving colleges more freedom to balance the rights of accused students with the need to crack down on serious misconduct.

    The move, which involved rescinding two sets of guidelines several years old, was part of one of the fiercest battles in higher education today…

    The most controversial portion of the Obama-era guidelines had demanded colleges use the lowest standard of proof, “preponderance of the evidence,” in deciding whether a student is responsible for sexual assault, a verdict that can lead to discipline and even expulsion. On Friday, the Education Department said colleges were free to abandon that standard and raise it to a higher standard known as “clear and convincing evidence.” –New York Times

    The Obama Administration lowered the standard unilaterally, without the normal discussion associated with regulatory changes. They simply sent colleges a “dear colleagues” letter of advice that effectively told them what they had to do to keep their federal funds.

    FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, hailed DeVos’ decision: “Dear Colleague: It’s over! Education Department rescinds controversial 2011 letter”

    Comment: It is fitting that the Obama Administration skirted all procedural restrictions to impose its policy. That’s exactly what Campus Kangaroo Courts do.

    Second, since colleges can now set their own standards of proof, expect the battle to shift there. Administrators are in total control of these campus investigations, so the wrongly-accused students’ main hope will be federal courts.

    Responding to the Opioid Crisis: CVS will limit prescriptions to 7-day supply (CNN)

    Comment: The scale of the emergency is staggering.

    Every three weeks, the number of Americans who die from drug overdoses equals the deaths in the Twin Towers.

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  • Marching into the Past: Self-Segregation as a Natural Outcome of Identity-Group, Victimization Politics

    Brown University will offer segregated student dinners for black, Muslim students (The College Fix)

    The contorted logic is straight out of Orwell’s Big Brother state.

    Separate dining, they say, will promote “racial reconciliation” as the segregated groups discuss common issues.

    It looks like the Muslim group is only for women.

    Private donors are actually paying for this.

    Funds come from Newman’s Own Foundation and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation via the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

    Comments:

    Student discussion groups are valuable. Nothing wrong with them. Discussing common issues is good, too.

    Sometimes students want to get together with like-minded people. That’s usually okay, barring some forms of invidious discrimination, but more and more university administrators want veto power over such private associations. That’s dreadful.

    Still, there are some problems with Brown’s new arrangements.

    • Since the students are already paying for meals, I don’t see why any extra money is needed, beyond the symbiotic relationship between do-good donors and the putative oppressed. The donors get to flaunt their virtue, the oppressed their continuing victimhood, even if they are attending a great university where they are clearly welcomed.
    • Does anyone really think that Brown University, one of the most progressive, selective institutions in the country, needs segregated dining to promote “racial and religious reconciliation” on campus? If Brown students are this intolerant, what hope is left for the rest of us?
    • If the students simply want to self-segregate to discuss issues, why can’t they do that already?
    • Sitting together as voluntary groups and organizing such private groups is perfectly acceptable, usually. But there are two problems with Brown’s arrangement.
      1. What would happen if a voluntary group at Brown wanted to exclude blacks or Muslims? That is, what are the boundaries of segregation at Brown these days?
      2. The university is officially promoting this. Inclusion is presumably still voluntary, but it comes with Big Brother’s seal of approval. It shouldn’t.  Big Brother shouldn’t play any role. Let the students do it unless there’s a problem.
    • By the way, do you notice one missing “oppressed victims group?” Hispanics. Know why? Because most Hispanic students see themselves as upward bound and taking advantage of America’s opportunities. For the most part, they aren’t buying into “victimization as a political strategy” on campus. Of course, progressive leaders and teachers in ethnic studies programs hate this attitude, which portends successful social integration. These “leaders” are trying their best to stamp it out. Let’s hope they keep failing.

    The Brown initiative comes as Cal State LA offers segregated housing for black students, while students at Michigan demanded a “no-whites-allowed” space on campus. (College Fix)

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Tuesday, September 19

    Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
    Linked articles in bold purple

    ◆ Trump’s campaign manager wiretapped. That’s a big deal.

    The story was broken by CNN: Exclusive: US government wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman, starting in 2014 and continuing, off an on, until this year. The tap, authorized under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), would include periods when he was known to speak with Donald Trump. (Manafort also owned an apartment in Trump Tower; that might be relevant because Trump spoke of wiretaps in Trump Tower.)

    There is increasingly strong public speculation that Manafort will be indicted by Robert Mueller’s office.

    At this point, we do not know who the FISA warrant(s) targeted.

    Comment: At this point, we simply don’t know enough about this surveillance. (In fact, the information released to CNN was almost certainly a felony violation of secret proceedings.)

    • Anti-Trump people think the fact that a federal judge would authorize surveillance on such a senior figure in the Trump campaign suggests something very bad was afoot and that collaboration with the Russians may have been Manafort’s aim (if not necessarily that of others in the campaign).
    • Pro-Trump people think this information vindicates his repeated claims that he was wiretapped.
    • And, of course, a lot of people, myself included, want to know more before they reach a conclusion.

    I think a lot of people will agree with Dan Drezner (a centrist and no friend of Trump’s):

    Trump at the UN: Very tough talk. Threatens to “totally destroy” North Korea, calls Kim “rocket man,” and labels Iran a “rogue nation” (New York Times)

    He included terms he had seldom used recently: “radical Islamic terrorism.”

    The full speech is available here on YouTube.

    Comment: Trump’s speech was an unusually blunt, full-throated defense of America’s interests, as opposed to globalism, and included particularly sharp and detailed attacks on Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela.

    Critical responses to the speech line up as expected.

    More censorship calls on campus, this time because a professor wrote a scholarly article called “The Case for Colonialism” 

    The article, by Prof. Bruce Gilley of Portland State, was published in a peer-reviewed journal that is very anti-colonial, which presumably thought the piece was serious, well-researched, and would spark scholarly debate. The basic argument does not deny the evils of colonialism but says they must be balanced against the benefits and that anti-colonialism has itself carried high costs.

    Recently, Gilley publicly resigned from the American Political Science Association for its ideological bias.

    Here’s the report at Legal Insurrection.

    Comment: Given the political climate on today’s campuses, especially those on the coasts, what Gilley’s article sparked was not discussion but calls for him to be fired, censured, and tarred-and-feathered.

    Will the End of Syria’s civil war spell disaster in Europe as battle-hardened terrorist fighters return? (BESA Center)

    Mordechai Kedar says “yes” and adds that Iran has now effectively taken over Syria, strengthened Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and given a free hand to Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

    Comment: Iran’s expansion across the region was facilitated by the Obama administration and will cause death and destruction for years to come.

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