April 01, 2013

Why is it that those who pride themselves on slaughtering sacred cows always seem to have a herd of them in their own barnyard?

As a politically unaffiliated agnostic iconoclastic skeptic asocial lone wolf with perhaps a spicy dash of intermittently explosive personality disorder, I can”€™t think of anything I hold sacred besides the truth. Well, there’s also my own life and the lives of those close to me, but I covered that last week.

So when I write about human social groups and their quirks, peccadilloes, and seemingly congenital incapability to refrain from engaging in large-scale guilt-projection, scapegoating, and hypocrisy, I approach these subjects as an outsider and a critic rather than a participant and an advocate.

Sorry that all needed explaining, but apparently it can”€™t be explained enough. Such is the eternal curse of Wandering Jims such as myself who care far more about facts than I do about social approval. It’s an often lonely and thankless existence, but I prefer it to being a lemming. I don”€™t mean to offend any (or all) of you lemmings out there, but lemmings seem hardwired to believe that anyone who isn”€™t with them is somehow against them.

It is this sort of binary ingroup/outgroup herd mentality that breeds and encourages the exasperating persistence of the whole “€œleft/right”€ delusion rather than the real struggle, which should be between true and false. If those were the teams, I”€™d join Team True and fight on the frontlines until death. This is why I lament the seeming nonexistence of real journalism these days, because it seems as if almost all modern writers approach facts from ideological bias rather than anything resembling an interest in, well, facts. They tend to put the cart before the horse. In many cases there’s no horse at all”€”only a prefabricated cart that’s perpetually stuck in the mud.

“Why is it that those who pride themselves on slaughtering sacred cows always seem to have a herd of them in their own barnyard?”

As Jack Webb said, “€œAll we want are the facts, ma”€™am.”€ When did that become blasphemous? I suspect it was right around the time that Dragnet got canceled”€”namely, 1970 or thereabouts.

These unforgivably long introductory statements were pried out of me by the recent “€œStomp on Jesus“€ contretemps at Florida Atlantic University.

The facts of the case are still frustratingly blurry, rife as they are with denials, disputations, disciplinary actions, gag orders, and paid administrative leave.

Roughly, it seems to have proceeded something like this: About a month ago, a certain Dr. Deandre Poole (“€œDeandre,”€ in case you didn”€™t know, is a French term meaning “€œof Andre”€) was teaching a class in “€œIntercultural Communications”€ as if it was something that students needed to learn more than logic and math. Poole is a graduate of the “€œhistorically black“€ Howard University and a member of the “€œpredominantly African-American“€ Church of God in Christ, but don”€™t you for a minute dare to think that this might color his views, because that would be a slight upon the inviolable sanctity of black American cultural traditions. Hardly an objective type, Poole focuses on “€œissues of justice and inequality”€ and peddles some sanctimonious doggerel about how “€œinfluential authorities dominate and oppress marginalized groups of people.”€

Never mind that a natural-born oppressor such as myself would kill for the sort of perks he enjoys as a Professor of Nonsense and the pension he’s promised by whining ad nauseam about how oppressed he is. In fact, I”€™m deeply remorseful for even bringing it up. One must never question modern notions of what’s sacred lest one be deemed a witch.

The teacher’s manual for Poole’s “€œIntercultural Communications”€ class encourages students to engage in the following activity:

Have the students write the name JESUS in big letters on a piece of paper. Ask the students to stand up and put the paper on the floor in front of them with the name facing up. Ask the students to think about it for a moment. After a brief period of silence, instruct them to step on the paper. Most will hesitate. Ask why they can”€™t step on the paper. Discuss the importance of symbols in culture.

Sure, cultures and the sheep they breed are generally organized around collective notions of what’s sacred and taboo, but isn”€™t asking students to step on the name JESUS a mite douchey?

Well, not unless the students in question are Christians.


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