There’s plenty not to like about Caitlin Flanagan’s new article in The Atlantic. For instance:
Meanwhile—as obvious reaction to all of this—frat boys and other campus punksters regularly flout the thought police by staging events along elaborately racist themes, events that, while patently vile, are beginning to constitute the free-speech movement of our time. The closest you’re going to get to Mario Savio—sick at heart about the operation of the machine and willing to throw himself upon its gears and levers—is less the campus president of Human Rights Watch than the moron over at Phi Sigma Kappa who plans the Colonial Bros and Nava-Hos mixer.
However, her depiction of campus culture rings all too true and can be seen in patterns which can often emerge at certain types of schools. In response to the article, a friend emails:
College is becoming a sad place.
I was dressed up one day because I had to give a lecture or something. My students asked me what I was lecturing about and I said whatever it was. Then I joked that it could really be anything, though, since I was dressed up. I said, “If you wear a tie and act like you know what you’re doing, people will assume you’re an expert.” A female student raised her hand to tell me I was being sexist.
But is it really a new thing? Probably not and more like: Campuses can be too P.C. and The Atlantic is on it! Yes colleges can be depressing, but maybe this was something from an old unpublished Culture War essay upcycled with a shiny new Chris Rock quote?
The film P.C.U. covers much of the same ground and is over 20 years old. Go watch it (again if you haven’t seen it a while). It holds up and the music in fantastic (score by Steve Vai, party by George Clinton). And honestly, P.C.U. doesn’t just hold up as dystopian college fic, but as model of contemporary social media outrage cycles as well.