• 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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  • 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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  • Who is Ben Shapiro and why is Berkeley treating his upcoming speech like a nuclear attack?

    On Thursday, Ben Shapiro is scheduled to speak at the University of California, Berkeley, which has tried very hard for months to prevent him from speaking.

    Some Background on Ben Shapiro

    Shapiro is a reasonably well-known talk show host with conservative views, multiple books to his credit, and a superb academic record.

    He has strident views, but he is neither a kook nor a (metaphorical) bomb-thrower. (With Antifa rioters throwing real bombs, you have to add “metaphorical” to the Shapiro description.)

    He’s smart and extremely well-educated: As an undergraduate at UCLA, he graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. At Harvard Law, he graduated cum laude.  He practiced briefly with a top national firm in Los Angeles before turning to journalism.

    Smears against Shapiro

    The left has smeared him as a “fascist” and a “white nationalist.” He is neither. He is not a Trump supporter and, in private life, an orthodox Jew.

    He has the odd and unhappy distinction of being attacked both as a Jew (by numerous anti-Semites, a group increasingly prominent on the left) and as an Alt-Right White Nationalist.

    His association with Andrew Breitbart, with whom he work for several years, is another lightning rod. Shapiro continued to work with Breitbart.com after the founder’s death but resigned on grounds of principle when the news outlet refused to defend one of its reporters allegedly manhandled by Corey Lewandowski, then-campaign manager for Donald Trump.

    College Speeches

    The left and anti-Israel activists have decided Shapiro should be prevented from speaking on college campuses, including public universities, and the target of physical confrontations when he does try to speak.

    In 2016, protesters form human chains around an auditorium at Cal State LA to prevent him from speaking. (They failed.)

    Later that year, DePaul University banned him from setting foot on their campus. He was banned from participating in an event to which he had been invited. DePaul, it should be noted, is one of the worst offenders against free speech in the country. Their treatment of Shapiro was par for their substandard course.

    When Shapiro appeared on television with a transgender activist, Zoey Tur, he was threatened with physical assault again after referring to Tur with male terminology.

    Cal-Berkeley

    Berkeley is so fearful of Shapiro’s speech that they are closing off nearby buildings on the day of the event.

    They are also–incredibly–offering psychological counseling for Cal students traumatized by the mere thought of Shapiro speaking on campus. That’s a real thing.

    What is also sadly read: anarchists and crazies are likely to show up and riot.

    Comment:

    The willingness to use violence to stop opposing views is a fundamental threat to our constitutional democracy. That willingness is rising, and people of all political stripes need to speak out clearly and forcefully against it. 

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  • ZipDialog Roundup for September 2

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

    ◆ Melania Trump–to her great credit–wore high heels to Texas today. 

    Comment: I normally would not comment on such trivia. But the haters in Manhattan, Cambridge, and San Francisco and their fellow travelers in the media made it a big deal on Melania’s trip earlier this week.

    It was their behavior, not her’s, that was disgusting.

    By wearing high heels today instead of sneaker, she effectively gave the finger to the haters. This from the NY Post:

    Btw, you might not remember that the media said nothing about Michelle Obama’s shoes or outfit during the Hurricane Sandy relief.

    Know why?

    She didn’t bother to visit.

    ◆ Corrupt justice? Comey wrote his “no charges against Hillary and friends” memo long before the FBI interviewed all the key witnesses

    He will wriggle out of any legal trouble. He told Congress he did not make a decision until after the interviews. That now seems like perjury. But he will claim that the memo was merely a draft.

    Equally damning was his decision to let two people who demanded immunity in the investigation sit in on Hillary’s interview. No prosecutors ever do that.

    Comment: This whole thing stinks.

    California prosecutor, leading a murder trial against a gang, beaten unconscious “Buckets of blood” from her (CBS Los Angeles)

    No robbery. No sexual assault. Just a beating.

    Comment: Sounds like a message.

     Good News in Higher Ed: Turns out parents and students shy away from colleges that cave to far-left demonstrators. Mizzou and Evergreen State pay the price. (Fox News)

     

    The University of Missouri had to temporarily close seven dormitories – renting them out for special events, such as homecoming games – and planned to cut 400 jobs. –Fox News

    Bad news: The level of political correctness has reach ridiculous levels: Students at the Univ of Minnesota vote down remembrance of 9/11 out of fear it would “incite racism” and “offend Muslim students” (Minneapolis Star Tribune) 

    Comment: The refusal of students to attend schools without robust free speech is the best sanction of all.

    Nothing strikes fear in the hearts of administrators like the loss of revenue.

    Meanwhile, the locust-plague of social justice warriors continues on many campuses, shutting down free speech, often with help from the university administration.

    Judge Richard Posner retires from senior status. Most important judge in US not on Supreme Court (Chicago Tribune)

    Posner [age 78] said in a statement he has written more than 3,300 opinions in his time on the bench and is “proud to have promoted a pragmatic approach to judging.” He said he spent his career applying his view that “judicial opinions should be easy to understand and that judges should focus on the right and wrong in every case.”

    Posner’s biting and often brilliant written opinions as well as his unrelenting questioning from the bench have made him an icon of the court for years.

    Known as a conservative at the time of his appointment, Posner’s views skewed more libertarian through the years, and he often came down in favor of more liberal issues such as gay marriage and abortion rights. –Chicago Tribune

    Comment: I have known Judge Posner for many years, as a neighbor and a colleague. And, man oh man, do the lawyers who appear before him tell stories bout his razor-sharp tongue on the bench and his penetrating questions.

    In every generation, there are one or two judges not on SCOTUS who have enormous impact because of their clear thinking and writing. Judge Posner was the one of his generation. His academic impact was equally vast since he helped forge the entire field of “law and economics” (essentially the application of microeconomic logic to a wide range of legal issues).

     

     

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  • ZipDialog Roundup for Friday, June 30

    Articles chosen with care. Comments welcomed. Linked articles in bold purple

     Trump’s twitter fury, aimed at MSNBC’s Morning Joe and its hosts, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski

    The Washington Post headline says, quite accurately: ” Trump and ‘Morning Joe’: How a long and ugly feud just got even uglier

    Comments: 

    1. Yes, Scarborough and Brzezinski have said outrageous, hyperbolic, defamatory things about Donald Trump
      • Many other media outlets have done the same
      • Far more show consistent partisan bias, damaging their reputations, hurting the President, and eroding trust in media
    2. No, that is absolutely no excuse for the President of the United States to respond with noxious, personal attacks
      • Trump’s response would be objectionable, but not so different from many Twitter spats, if he were merely a private citizen
      • But he is not a private citizen and should not be held to those standards. As President, he is not only a political figure, he is the head of state. One requirement of that office is to maintain dignity and decorum consistent with the office.

    Politically, this is self-inflicted damage to Trump. Few approve it except for his most avid supporters. And it takes him off-message, at a time when Americans want results on healthcare and taxes.

    But the worse damage is to our public life and discourse, which had already sunk so low, and to trust in our institutions, which are crucial to our democracy.

     Far Different from the first time: “Trump travel ban takes effect to minimal disruption (Fox News)

    The revised order, which the US Supreme Court approved in part (with some aspects reserved for future decisions), covers 6 countries and does not block foreign individuals with strong personal ties to the US.

    A scaled-down version of President Donald Trump’s travel ban took effect at 8 p.m. ET Thursday, with none of the dramatic scenes of protest and chaos that greeted the original version of Trump’s executive order five months ago.

    The Departments of Homeland Security, State and Justice went ahead with the implementation after the Supreme Court partially restored the order earlier this week. –Fox News

    Comment on Media bias:

    The Fox report was straightforward. Others, not so much.

    It was almost impossible to find a news report that actually gave the news instead of an editorial. The news is that the revised ban went into effect, worked smoothly (so far), and met with only modest demonstrations at airports, far different from the bureaucratic mess and large demonstrations that surrounded the initial order.

    Kudos to the BBC for this neutral headline: “Trump travel ban comes into effect for six countries.”

    Bronx cheer for many others. CNN headline makes no mention of the smooth rollout and modest demonstrations. It does mention further court challenges, even though the main one will come in the autumn at SCOTUS. The challenges are from Democratic state AGs, such as Hawaii, and they mainly ask for clarification. A nothingburger.

    Most of the headlines looked like this. Others emphasized the demonstrations.

     

    Major legal victory: Jury decides US can seize a major Manhattan skyscraper, owned by Iran (New York Times)

    The jury . . . found that the Alavi Foundation, which owns 60 percent of the 36-floor skyscraper at 650 Fifth Avenue, violated United States sanctions against Iran and engaged in money laundering through its partnership with Assa Corporation, a shell company for an Iranian state-controlled bank that had owned the remaining 40 percent. . . .

    The [US] government has agreed to distribute proceeds from the building’s sale, which could bring as much as $1 billion, to the families of victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorist attacks, including the Sept. 11 attacks. –New York Times

    Comment: The same foundation has made donations to Columbia University (link here). The stench runs deep.

    ◆  Washington football team will remain the Redskins. Native American groups and DOJ drop lawsuit after Supreme Court ruling.  (Washington Post)

     Major lawsuit again San Francisco State University over its systematic anti-Semitism, including violent suppression of Jewish speakers, shouted curses, calls for an “intifada,” etc. The suit alleges the university administration was indifferent to repeated complains and actively protected the disrupters.  (Newsweek)

    The lawsuit has been filed by a pro bono organization, the Lawfare Project. The suit

    calls SFSU “among the worst of the worst offenders and is largely recognized as being among the most anti-Semitic campuses in the country.”

    The heckling of Barkat is one of several incidents that the suit argues contributed to an atmosphere hostile to Jewish students, one that was created with the alleged complicity of the school’s administrations. –Newsweek, reporting on Lawfare Project’s suit against SFSU

    Comment: Long overdue. The SFSU administration actually blamed the Israelis for one disruption against them, saying the only reason the mayor of Jerusalem (Nir Barkat) came to speak at SFSU was that he knew the Palestinians and the leftist allies at SFSU would riot to prevent it–and that’s just what Barkat wanted.

    So, this is the logic: the mayor of a large city comes to speak at your university; your students riot and prevent him; you blame the mayor; and then, after promising citizens the rioters would be punished, you do nothing at all.

    Those administrators should be held fully and personally accountable. Their next jobs should be flipping burgers until they are replaced by robots.

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