In which we marvel at the mental contortions of our self-imagined betters.
The year began with searing insights from the world of academia. Specifically, London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, where black student activists denounced objectivity as an “alienating” concept, and issued numerous demands, allegedly to challenge stereotypes of student laziness and inadequacy. It turns out that the way to avoid any appearance of such things is to complain about the “stress and anxiety” of being corrected, or disagreed with, especially by people who are insufficiently brown and deferential. Elsewhere, the psychological reverberations of Donald Trump’s election victory continued to be felt, as when a charmingly progressive lady sensed a fellow plane passenger’s failure to vote as she did and promptly threatened to vomit on him. Other pious lefties signalled their moral superiority by planning to sabotage transport infrastructure, stranding and distressing countless random people, and thereby reminding us that “social justice” posturing is often difficult to distinguish from petty malice or outright sociopathy. Meanwhile, Laurie Penny preferred to advocate “spite” as a guiding progressive principal, as if this were a new and novel development.
February provided further illustrations of this fashionable malice, as when educators at the University of Cincinnati bemoaned the fact that their attempts to inculcate unrealism, dishonesty and pretentious racial guilt were still being met with pockets of resistance. Objecting to slander and brow-beating by bigoted mediocrities is, we learned, merely “white fragility” and therefore, somehow, damning proof of racism. Racial fixations were also in play at the Writing Centre at the University of Washington, Tacoma, the stated goal of which is to “help writers succeed in a racist society,” a goal to be achieved by denouncing grammar as “an unjust language structure,” and the correction of punctuation as “an oppressive practice.” Because those ungrammatical job applications, the ones enlivened with incomprehensible sentences and lots of inventive spelling, will do just fine. We also learned of the steep price to be paid for small acts of courtesy – namely, holding open a door for a Guardian contributor with weight issues and a gift for hysterical screaming.
Accessorising was an unexpected topic of discussion in March, when the crushingly put-upon students at Pitzer College, Claremont, California, informed the world that “winged eyeliner and big hoop earrings” are “an everyday act of resistance,” and should therefore be the exclusive ornamentation of the slightly brown and radical. Elsewhere, at Middlebury College, Dr Charles Murray attempted to give a lecture on, among other things, the dangers of tribalism and social fragmentation, only to be met with tribal hysteria and an actual riot, complete with slanderous chants, hospitalised staff and students wearing ski masks.
In April, the immense, frustrated love machine Caleb Luna wondered why his Grindr profile attracts so little interest. Carefully sidestepping the possibility of weight loss, Mr Luna decided that the rest of us must “interrogate” our “phobias,” which is to say our preferences, and consequently start lusting after “alternative bodies.” Specifically, bodies like Mr Luna’s. Avoiding the obvious was also a theme in the world of performance art, where Shannon Cochrane and Márcio Carvalho unwittingly entertained us with their deep thoughts, shifting paradigms and heads wrapped in meat. Another highlight of the month came via Everyday Feminism’s Emily Zak, who wanted us to know that the allure of fresh air is, like everything else, terribly oppressive, due to the “painfully heteronormative” nature of wildland firefighting, and a shortage of adverts featuring gay people kayaking in a suitably gay-affirming manner.