P.C. Porn

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Maybe this is a good sign. In the conservative Collegiate Network's 2004 Polly Awards, the choice for biggest "campus outrage" is a tie between Sex Week at Yale (featuring a talk by porn star Devinn Lane) and a U.C.-Santa Barbara senior thesis paper on "Gay Men of Color in Porn."

The second place winner is the use of mandatory student fees at U.C.-Berkeley to oppose California's referendum on racial classification, which was defeated in October. Third place goes to a false report of "hate crimes" at Northwestern that resulted in criminal charges against the complainant. The chairman of Duke's philosophy department won fourth place by implying that conservatives are too stupid to work at elite universities, and people offended by a Catholic cardinal's condemnation of homosexuality at Georgetown's commencement won fifth.

There are some legitimate complaints here—especially about the campus campaign against Proposition 54, which seems like a worse offense than academic attention to dirty movies. But none of these incidents involved direct suppression of unpopular views, the most troubling aspect of leftish orthodoxy at colleges and universities. Either that's not happening anymore, or conservatives are getting more worked up about porn these days.

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  1. thoreau,

    I’m nearing completion of my PhD in biology at Washington University in St. Louis, and I haven’t felt actively persecuted for my (somewhat left-leaning) libertarian beliefs either. But, at least here and at other schools I’ve visited for a decent amount of time, there’s definitely a sense of exclusion for conservatives.
    I don’t think it’s anything intentional or malicious (and it certainly doesn’t justify any complaints about conservative persecution); I think it’s simply a result of the fact that at least 90% of the faculty and students in the department are liberal. There are left-leaning jokes told all the time, left-leaning newspaper clippings and cartoons on office and lab doors, and so on. I’ve yet to see an office decked out with comparable conservative stuff.
    I don’t think this is anything too horrible or something that needs to be changed. If I were a conservative I would just get tired of the 462nd consecutive day of Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld jokes in the lunchroom. But there are no conservatives in my lunchroom, and I’m happy to chip in with the jokes….

  2. well, of course sexuality isn’t an appropriate academic topic. it’s dirty and bad!

  3. Apparently it’s politically incorrect for students to talk about sex or write thesis papers on topics dealing with porn, and the Collegiate Network has annointed itself as the campus PC-police.

  4. What`s a left-leaning Libertarian? Is it simular to a good wine that turned to vinegar?

  5. The difference between a libertarian and a left-leaning libertarian is that between an Albanian pimp and Bill Gates.

  6. Either that’s not happening anymore, or conservatives are getting more worked up about porn these days.

    They are getting too many of their ideas from Joe Scarborough on MSNBC. These awards seem to follow the exact issues that heated up old Joe into one of his whiny rants about what other people are doing.

    Thoreau-
    Up the 101 from you at Cal Poly, I never detected much in the way a liberal bias. Clinton was the fodder of many jokes and rants by all and it seemed Paul Harvey filled the gaps when country western music wasn’t playing. Of course, in most university Ag departments, you are bound to find the majority of campus conservatives.

  7. As a Berkeley student, I had a letter in the Daily Cal about the ASUC.

    “To the Editor:

    By calling for the resignation of UC Regent Ward Connerly and a boycott of Coors for supporting a state ballot initiative it disagrees with, the ASUC has confirmed yet again that it is more interested in political posturing than in serving the student body (?ASUC Demands Connerly Resign, University Cede Control of Funds,? Oct. 24).

    If the ASUC really wants to be independent of the university, it should stop using mandatory student fees to sponsor its political propaganda.

  8. mipt,
    I understand completely,thanks for clearing that up.

  9. A negative attitude toward erotica and sexuality? It’s so nice to see college conservatives and academic feminists getting along!

  10. I don’t blame schools for shunning conservatives. Their relentless attacks on eduation funding and insistence on dumbass, anti-intellectual curriculum content make them, indeed, the enemy.

  11. Regarding the thesis, I guess someone finally got around to writing that paper that every male college student claimed he was doing research for when he was spotted walking out of the porn store with a pile of videos.

  12. Maybe this is just my NYU background talking, but I was actually surprised that even professional conservatives would pick something as frankly unremarkable as a semiotic analysis of porn as a number-one outrage. You’d think this was the first kid to ever write a paper deconstructing erotica.

  13. The whole student-fee issue would go away if colleges took a more free-market approach; abolish student fees and just let folks pay directly for whatever clubs they wish to join! When I was in college and grad school I couldn’t join any clubs because I was too busy working to pay my bills, and it irritated me that I had to shell out an extra few hundred bucks per semester to subsidize the extracurricular activities of the trust-fund kids.

  14. Of course, Jennifer, no one made you go to that school and shell out that money to begin with. Are there state mandated regulations or incentives to charge students fees for extracurriculars in which they’re not involved? If not, seems like it’s perfectly free-market to me!

  15. Fyodor,
    Every single state college charged fees, as did the more-expensive private colleges I looked into. If I didn;t pay a fee, I couldn’t go to college, which means many jobs would be closed to me. That’s not the free market–that’s extortion.

  16. fyodor: It sounds like the colleges are bundling services. Yes they are free to do so, and Jennifer is stuck with a crappy choice of either paying for what she doesn’t want or foregoing the benefits she would like.

    Why are the colleges bundling, then (effectively making themsleves more expensive and contradicting a mission to educate as many as possible)?

    My first guess is something to do with securing funding, either State or private. “We’ll give you a pile of cash for a new auditorium as long as there’s a student organization through which we can advance our agenda.”

    Second guess is compliance with state/State free-speech or equal-access regulations. “We don’t have a budget for left-handed lesbian midgets in wheelchairs, but we must provide them services. We can’t raise tuition without a big hubbub, so we’ll exact a user fee.”

  17. Mark Fox-
    What’s really annoying about what you call “bundling” is that, simultaneously, colleges are kvetching about how expensive they are. “Oh, dear, poor people are less and less likely to be able to afford to attend our fine school! The horror! Now cough up your $500 activity fee, which is counted separately from tuition and thus isn’t covered by scholarships or financial aid.”

  18. I’m nearing completing of my Ph.D in physics at UCSB, and I’ve never felt persecuted despite my libertarian beliefs. The only time I really feel scorned for my beliefs is actually when I run into the occasional “purity cop” on Hit & Run, since I’m a left-leaning libertarian (gasp!).

    Yes, academic liberals have done some pretty awful things. But for every case of abuse by academic liberals (e.g. using school funds for a campaign) there’s a case of a whiny conservative trying to claim “victim status” for his college years.

    My point is not to defend the liberal bias in academia. My point is that when somebody starts to whine about how oppressive it all is, that person is (usually) no better than the academic leftists who go around claiming victim status.

  19. The U.C.-Berkeley case seems a bit less clear than the Polly Awards indicate. This article, which the Polly Awards site references, seems to indicate that the administration did not support the funding decision by the students and is making up the money from other sources, but that the student fee board is claiming the right to spend the money as they wish.

    Student fee board expenditures are often likely to be contentious — no matter what student group or activity you fund, there’s bound to be someone who is offended to have their money spent on it.

  20. I couldn’t help but notice that both the Sex Week and the senior thesis blurbs completely neglected to discussd the content of the events/paper. The Collegate Network’s position seems to be that sexuality is never an appropriate topic for academic consideration. Dumbasses.

  21. The faked hate crime at Northwestern is not an isolated incident. San Francisco State University suffered a rash of faked and mistaken hate crimes resulting in student protests and a campus-wide consortium on race issues.

    Read here for more.

  22. Jennifer: My big beef is the students and lefties whining about tuition and demanding more funding (higher taxes) to make college cheaper, while private donors throw millions of dollars at benches with their names upon them and at new arenas for the sports which field decent teams. People willingly give tons to the alma mater, but little of that cash actually helps anyone learn.

  23. The grad school (private) I got my masters at did not charge any fees. The costs were probably included in tuition, but I got a waiver.

    My current school (public) charges tons of fees. I was offered a tuition and fee waiver to come here, so I thought it would cover my fees. But it only covers one fee, and not the student activities fees (like paying $80 a semester for a 40+ year old basketball arena.) Of course, getting my tuition waiver is a tough job here since I have to complain for a few months every semester before it is actually credited (I just got it today for this semester). Also, they sometimes neglect to pay me my monthly salary. I’ll know to avoid public universities from now on.

  24. Mark Fox,

    Thanks for the good answer, albeit based on guesses.

    I wonder if anyone has any hard facts on this?

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