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May 20, 2014

Of Course: Anti-Weapon Crusaders Force North Dakota College's Fencing Team Off Campus

They're doing this for your own benefit, you know.

The current interpretation of the non-weapon policy [at] NDSU . . . understands our fencing equipment as weapons, the clubs coach told Valley News Live, meaning that use or possession of the swords is prohibited and the club will have to find a home off campus.

It's a new club, which is irrelevant. More relevant is the fact that none of the weapons used in fencing has an edge because, you know, this is a sport, not Game of Thrones.

The fencing club tried to argue that baseball bats were more serious weapons than a fencer's slender, flexible, ball-tipped sport foil, and that argument was rejected by the college, for the usual reason: Because it's True, and colleges are now officially opposed to things that are true.

Glenn Reynolds writes that colleges have become jokes.

Even fancy schools such as Harvard and Dartmouth have seen applications decline, with Dartmouth's dropping 14% last year, a truly staggering number.

It's no picnic for public institutions either. "There have been 21 downgrades of public colleges and universities this year but no upgrades," reported Inside Higher Ed. It's gotten so bad that schools are even closing their gender studies centers, a once-sacrosanct kind of spending.

....

From the economics to the politics, colleges and universities are looking less like serious places to improve one's mind and one's prospects, and more like expensive islands of frivolity and, sometimes, viciousness. And that is likely to have consequences.

A Yale law professor penned a commencement address even though no one asked him to:

And, before I go any further, I would like to express my personal thanks to all of you for not rescinding my invitation. I know that matters were dicey for a while, given that I have held and defended actual positions on politically contested issues. Now and then Ive strayed from the party line. And if the demonstrators would quiet down for a moment, Id like to offer an abject apology for any way in which I have offended against the increasingly narrow and often obscure values of the academy.

In my day, the college campus was a place that celebrated the diversity of ideas. Pure argument was our guide. Staking out an unpopular position was admired -- and the admiration, in turn, provided excellent training in the virtues of tolerance on the one hand and, on the other, integrity.

Your generation, I am pleased to say, seems to be doing away with all that. Theres no need for the ritual give and take of serious argument when, in your early 20s, you already know the answers to all questions. How marvelous it must be to realize at so tender an age that you will never, ever change your mind, because you will never, ever encounter disagreement! How I wish Id had your confidence and fortitude. I could have spared myself many hours of patient reflection and intellectual struggle over the great issues of the day.


...

The literary critic George Steiner, in a wonderful little book titled "Nostalgia for the Absolute, long ago predicted this moment. We have an attraction, he contended, to higher truths that can sweep away complexity and nuance. We like systems that can explain everything. Intellectuals in the West are nostalgic for the tight grip religion once held on the Western imagination. They are attracted to modes of thought that are as comprehensive and authoritarian as the medieval church. You and your fellow students -- and your professors as well; one mustnt forget their role -- are therefore to be congratulated for your involvement in the excellent work of bringing back the Middle Ages.


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posted by Ace at 01:26 PM

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