28 thoughts on “Critical Thinking Strikes Again: Or What Colleges Nowadays Teach

  1. And perhaps I shall supply the first comment — this in respect of the second of the three posters, which triptych I photographed yesterday while on walkabout between classes.

    The phrase, “consent can be withdrawn at any time,” setting itself no limit, invites absurdity. The “consent” in question is, of course, sexual because the New Puritanism is in command and, as it always has been, it is obsessed with the sexual act and with the sexual parts of the body. It is, however, the non-limiting qualifier “any time” that most interests me. Presumably under this ukase, the female partner in the sex act would be permitted to withdraw her consent not only immediately after her disappointing lover departs her rumpled mattress in the early morning hours, but days later, or weeks later, or months, or years, or decades. By such verbal legerdemain, a regrettably insipid or embarrassing roll-in-the-hay will become criminal sexual assault or rape. Not incidentally, the phrase assumes that consent is an exclusively female prerogative: Its author or authors (these things always float up from some wretched committee or other) would be unable to imagine a scenario in which, those days, weeks, months, years, or decades later, the man withdraws his consent and transforms the woman into a criminal sexual assailant or rapist.

    The language of the pronouncement is, naturally, ungrammatical: “Can” ought to be replaced by may, as in, “May I have this dance?” Only a villain would ask, “Can I have this dance?”

    • There’s a kind of humor in the idea. I’m reminded of this famous trial (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICwHhj92WOk) in which the defendant sought to avoid a contractual commitment due to “buyers remorse” so to speak. Just something very silly about the idea. Imagine a world where nothing anyone says means anything. Can I withdraw consent for my credit card company to charge me interest? I regret that very deeply these days.

      • There is indeed a kind of bleak, unintentional humor in the arrogance and un-self-critical, ungrammatical character of the proposition, but that is what we critics make of it. As for the proposition’s authors — they are assured, righteous, and implacable.

    • In the way it is stated, many former lovers whom one has had are rapists — because who wants to sleep with those exes whom one no longer loves? That so many men are rapists seems to agree with Andrea Dworkin. It’s idiocy to think that way.

    • There’s my pet peeve again. My hatred is a choice. Why can’t they say “hatred”.

      Not that I’m sure it really is a choice. Could I make myself truly believe that they are real women merely by an act of will?

      On the other hand, I won’t dispute the use of “can”. My position is that one cannot alter the fact of whether one consented to a past act, not that one may not. (One may not say that one did not consent when one actually did.) So I suppose I must grant that people who disagree believe that, somehow, one actually can change such facts about the past.

      JMSmith: I’ve wondered about that withdrawal allowance time issue myself.

      • I agree with you in this way: The Left has so scrambled language, drilling destructively right into the bedrock of grammar, as to make it almost impossible to unscramble their sentences. “Can” in a fantasy-world and “can” in the actual world, we must distinguish. From the Left’s perspective, “can” makes sense; but from any actual perspective, it corresponds to an ultra-nominalist fantasy. And yes, hatred is the noun; and to hate is the verb.

        “Can” is the verb of determinism; “may” is the verb of freedom.

  2. When consent is withdrawn, something else must be withdrawn as well. No matter how quickly the male brings himself into compliance with his partner’s wishes, there must be a measurable space of time when he is manifestly out of compliance. Is there some sort of grace period or grandfather clause that gives him time to vacate the property?

    • The feminist mentality knows neither grace nor a grace-period, and no grandfather clause; there is only the fierce desire of the misandryst to get her clause in the man. To quote another of the three posters, the offended subject feels “no shame for who I am.”

  3. @Betty: The first of the three posters has very much the look of something created by kindergartners — in its bold blues and pinks and in the childish style of its all-capital letters. The formulaic attestations at the bottom, which are supposed to be free and spontaneous expressions, suggest the narcissism of eighth-graders and borrow from the mentally narrow, pre-formed sloganeering of the SJWs. It is natural, I suppose, that mental narrowness and narcissism should appear together, and that there should be no spontaneity whatever in their co-presence.

  4. Then there is the irony of claiming as a “human” right (to what? self-define? remake reality into a fantasy as you go along?) the right to escape the human condition as biologically, sexually embodied, into a transhuman, and hence post-human, condition; claiming human dignity as the basis of their claims to self-definition beyond the human body, or even the human species for those who logically go beyond gender identity and reassign their selfhood as pixies or dragons (with suitable newfangled pronouns to boot), all of that within a discourse that decries the speciesism of human privilege over against all other real or imagined forms of organisms, not limited to carbon-based ones, since robots and bodies of water are to be granted rights and the facilities to enforce them (through human sponsors and legal assistants until these can be dispensed with). SJW logic dictates that all rights claimed not be limited to humans, and even be independent of human status. It is then merely for rhetorical effect, as a proven tug on liberal guilt, that what are really transhuman rights are disingenuously (or just illogically) still claimed as unalienable “human” rights. For “rights” trump “human”, as arbitrary will does “being”. Essentialism is decried and denied in principle, except insofar as it is politically “strategic” (see Gayatri Spivak on “strategic essentialism”) to advance the claims of marginal(ized) “identity” (etymologically “being something”, or the very essence of essentialism!).

    • Categorically the claim that “Trans Rights are Human Rights” is thoroughly confused. The claim implies — although certainly not intentionally — that “Human Rights” are super-ordinate to “Trans Rights.” But if so, why invoke “Trans Rights”? Those “Human Rights” should be sufficient, subsuming as they do “Trans Rights.” That is not what the claimants mean, of course, but what do they mean? They would arrogate to themselves salience in the public square, so as to monopolize it as long as possible, and so as to command from the advantage of their salience, which is exactly what everyone else in the identity business also wishes. This observation ties in with Betty’s comment on the childishness of such activity: It is a jejune “Look at Me” totally inappropriate to the higher education, in the context of which one is supposed to step outside oneself — into the Not-I of greatness in (say) Homer, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Beethoven, van Gogh, or Ingmar Bergman. (Or Newton, or Planck, or Einstein. Just step out of the ego, for God’s sake.) Instead the postmodern faculty encourages the student to seal himself up in, well… himself. Nothing transcendent must occur. Everything must confine itself to the body, which becomes the impoverished sign of being.

      P.S. Under the notion of a contradictory essentialism, consider also the implications of the phrase, added at the bottom of the poster, to the effect that, “Hate [sic] is a choice — being Trans is not”: Once identity shrinks down to the physical body, then the self, insofar as it exists, falls under the sway of a purely material dominion; it declares itself enslaved by its own flesh, which makes upon it a dumb but absolute demand. By an irony which no doubt passes beyond the slogan-writer’s awareness, the first part of the dichotomy ascribes to the supposed hater nothing less than free will. The hater can and may choose, but the object of hatred lacks all choice. The analysis can push itself further: No one enters the category of the trans-sexual except by submitting voluntarily to chemical and physical alteration of the body through medical procedure, which the recipient must first request or choose. Organectomy in this context is a choice; taking drugs is also a choice. The slogan reveals itself as extraordinarily mixed up. The poster as a whole becomes a symptom of extraordinary confusion — which the institution not only refuses to remediate, but validates as legitimate and authentic.

      • I am not sure how much choice I have in the matter of whether to hate or not. My reaction to these people is often a visceral disgust. Is that a choice?

      • Ryan: In my estimation it *is* a choice when you boil it all down. Try to think of it in (Biblical) terms like this: “they have their reward.” In my personal estimation, that is not a thing much to be desired. There are really only two kinds of people in the world when you boil it (or them) all down: those who say to their Lord in prayer “thy will be done,” and those to whom The Lord says, “thy will be done.” Towards that latter sort I for one have quite a bit of sympathy in a lot of cases. Been there, done that, and all of that. I feel especially for some of the younger generations because they are so far ‘out there’ in a lot of cases, due to, in many many cases, no real fault of their own…

      • The first thing that caught my eye was the phrase “being Trans is not [a choice].” As R.R. Reno has pointed out, we often see this shifting between “choice” and “non-choice.” One moment, we are told that we must be free to choose our identities, and the imperative to respect one another’s choices is THE reason behind the call for tolerance. Then the next moment we are told that those identities are etched in stone, which is THE reason behind the call for tolerance. So, which is it?

        Besides, it isn’t so much passive tolerance they seek as loud affirmation, to be seen as “brave” or pioneering. As far as I’m concerned, if a man wishes to pretend he’s a woman or a woman wishes to pretend she’s a man, hey, it’s a free country; I’m willing to be “tolerant,” just as I’ll “tolerate” bad weather when I have to. But if I am forced to humor them and go along with their fantasies–to the point of losing my employment if I use an offending pronoun–then perhaps we’re not such a free country after all.

  5. Pingback: Critical Thinking Strikes Again: Or What Colleges Nowadays Teach | Reaction Times

  6. The emphasis on consent is interesting. Human embryos and fetuses do not consent to being killed in the womb, and yet the people who made these signs no doubt believe that it’s okay to kill them – to violate their consent in the most violent manner possible – if the woman so chooses. But if you express skepticism about the transgender narrative, your mere words will be taken as “violence” and you will be accused of “denying” trans people their “humanity.”

    • That is a good point. Notice the slogan at the bottom of the poster: “We will not be erased.” First of all, who threatens to “erase” them? The institution encourages their “Look at Me” behavior. For the Left, as you write, “erasing” babies in the womb is practically a sacrament.

  7. @Ryan: My ire seeks the generators and abettors of the general confusion who exploit neuroses and encourage a sense of victimization; I reserve it for the ideologues of anti-nature, who are the enemies and destroyers of customs and traditions. In a healthy polity, frankly, people would keep their sexual secrets to themselves. It is called modesty, but since modesty is a custom that descends to us from the past, it becomes a target of destruction.

  8. Dr. Bertonneau: it is just sad (and pathetic!) that this is where “higher education” in our country has led. Predictable I guess, due in no small part to what you have iterated above re the whole Puritan ideology thing and all of that. Still sad, to me at least.

    • America was founded in Puritanism, that is in Calvinism, not Catholicism or Orthodoxy. Puritanism is now ascendant. How do we oppose it?

      Terry, please call me Tom.

      • How do we oppose it (Puritan ascendancy) , Tom? I suppose by becoming more Catholic and Orthodox.

        I don’t mean as a society; that would be nice and all, or a ‘best case scenario,’ but I mean as individuals and as families.

        One way I personally oppose it is by encouraging my children to live faithful lives independently of all the newfangled rages. The *absolute necessity* of everyone receiving a college education being one of them in my estimation. Or to borrow from JMSmith in another thread, I try very hard to instill in my own children and grandchildren the principle that though we are in the world, we are called not to be of it; that there is more to life than big houses and fancy cars, a growing stock market and “good paying jobs.” And, yes, there is more to life than the vaunted (amongst public schoolers) “world class education” our children are supposedly receiving in the government schools.

        Nevertheless, we are all, to one extent or the other, Yankees now. By “Yankees” I mean Puritans in the sense that you use the term. That is to say, persons obsessed with sex and ‘sexual liberation’; unsexed persons, as not a few Southrons referred to their spiritual grandparents many moons ago.

  9. @T.Morris: “I feel especially for some of the younger generations because they are so far ‘out there’ in a lot of cases, due to, in many many cases, no real fault of their own…”

    Yes, Terry, they are in fact victims, but not in the way that they think they are victims. The “haters” of their narrative are a myth, in the Girardian sense of that word; but the real haters are the exploiters, just as the real victims are the exploited. The massively sexually confused young people are the exploited. I was going to write that their narrative is self-serving, but it does not serve them; it serves those who require them for an agenda of social manipulation.

  10. @Roger: “if I am forced to humor them and go along with their fantasies – to the point of losing my employment if I use an offending pronoun – then perhaps we’re not such a free country after all.”

    We are precisely not a free country anymore: The corporate and managerial structures would compel us to assent to fantasies and neuroses on pain of employment. And thus on pain of our existence. We face the compulsion to violate our own consciences so as to conform to a perverse ideology. (There is no non-perverse ideology.)

  11. @T.Morris: “How do we oppose it (Puritan ascendancy), Tom? I suppose by becoming more Catholic and Orthodox.”

    Puritanism is ostentatious, which makes opposing it tricky. So yes — one might oppose Puritanism by becoming, as you write, more Catholic or Orthodox. There is a cavil, however: One must do so without imitating the ostentation in that which one rejects.

    Otherwise, your intuitions are as good as mine: Sustain one’s continuous self-education; read lots of books, and read challenging ones; study art and music; cultivate civilization and endeavor to share it with others; cultivate private society and good conversation; cultivate humor and jokes; avoid the sources of cultural corruption. I would add, insist on your rights, and insist on truth, but never let yourself become ensnared in phony debate. Turn your back on absurdity and obscenity and walk away from them.


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