Campus Free Speech

Conservatives Who Won't Read Fun Home Deserve Mockery. But Don't Be a Hypocrite.

Kerfuffle over Duke University summer reading list is a great test of one's commitment to free speech.

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Incoming freshman at Duke University who identify as social conservatives are refusing to read Fun Home—the summer reading assignment—because it violates their Christian beliefs. These students' exceedingly silly mini-protest should serve as a reminder that hysterical offendedness is not solely the domain of the far-left, and should be resisted by all supporters of an open intellectual environment on campuses.

Fun Home is a memoir written by Alison Bechdel; the Broadway version won a Tony Award earlier this year. Gay themes figure prominently in the story, which explores Bechdel's lesbian identity, as well as her father's closeted homosexuality.

For those reasons, some socially conservative members of the Class of 2019 have opted not to read the book, even though Duke selected it as the summer reading assignment.

According to The Duke Chronicle:

Several incoming freshmen decided not to read "Fun Home" because its sexual images and themes conflicted with their personal and religious beliefs. Freshman Brian Grasso posted in the Class of 2019 Facebook page July 26 that he would not read the book "because of the graphic visual depictions of sexuality," igniting conversation among students. The graphic novel, written by Alison Bechdel, chronicles her relationship with her father and her issues with sexual identity.

"I feel as if I would have to compromise my personal Christian moral beliefs to read it," Grasso wrote in the post. …

Grasso noted that he felt the book choice was insensitive to people with more conservative beliefs.

"Duke did not seem to have people like me in mind," he said. "It was like Duke didn't know we existed, which surprises me."

At least a few students share Grasso's view:

However, several freshmen agreed with Grasso that the novel's images conflicted with their beliefs. Freshman Bianca D'Souza said that while the novel discussed important topics, she did not find the sexual interactions appropriate and could not bring herself to view the images depicting nudity.

Freshman Jeffrey Wubbenhorst based his decision not to read the book on its graphic novel format.

"The nature of 'Fun Home' means that content that I might have consented to read in print now violates my conscience due to its pornographic nature," he wrote in an email.

Important disclaimer: Reading Fun Home isn't mandatory. Students aren't obligated to complete the summer reading assignment—at Duke or any other university. There's no penalty for refusing to do so. (Confession: I didn't read my college's assigned book, nor can I recall what it was.) A great many students, I presume, don't even know the reading assignment exists. Students who object to Fun Home aren't breaking any rules by refusing to read it. They have that right.

Even so, I question whether students whose first impulse is to shun a viewpoint with which they disagree are prepared for the intellectual challenges of attending college. Would they refuse to read Fun Home if it were assigned as mandatory reading in an introductory English or drama class? Will they avoid courses that might discuss gay themes, or criticize Christianity? If confronted with contrary opinions, will they refuse to engage them? Should a student enter college with the conviction that his ideas are not merely superior to all others but exempt from scrutiny?

Critics of Grasso—many of them left-leaning—let him have it on social media: a quick Twitter search produced several dozen iterations of the phrase get over it. And I agree with them wholeheartedly.

However, much of the outrage at Grasso seems stridently hypocritical. What if, instead of a summer reading list, students were given a summer viewing list? What if, instead of watching Fun Home, students were instructed to watch a film with a less overtly leftist political orientation? What if that the film was, say, American Sniper? What if a bunch of students refused to watch the film, citing religious objections? What if those students took their protest one step further—asserting that the university should have no relationship with the film whatsoever, and should not even provide a means of viewing it for students who actually wanted to do so? Would the same people currently unloading on Grasso be equally outraged at these hypothetical censorious students?

We already know the answer to that question.

There are forces on both the left and the right that would like to make college campuses less radically open to all kinds of discussion and expression. The conservative students' objections to Fun Home should remind us that avoiding offense and protecting feelings are unwise policies for university administrators to adopt, since they will quickly lead to prohibitions on a wide variety of things that absolutely belong on campus. But hyper-offended left-leaning students present an inarguably greater danger to free expression and academic freedom, given that these students have been much more successful at forcing schools to cater to their anxieties so far.

Bottom line: If you leap into outrage mode when students refuse to read Fun Home, but remain silent (or supportive!) when students try to prevent everybody from seeing American Sniper, you aren't actually defending intellectual freedom. You're just living in a partisan bubble.

NEXT: Can New York ban commercial toplessness in Times Square?

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  1. folks love their partisan bubbles

  2. Incoming freshman [sic] at Duke University who identify as social conservatives are refusing to read Fun Home ? the summer reading assignment ? because it violates their Christian beliefs. These students’ exceedingly silly mini-protest should serve as a reminder that hysterical offendedness is not solely the domain of the far-left[…]

    There’s a big difference between refusing to act, Robby, and prohibiting. You do understand the difference? The fact that college freshmen refuse to read a book is a manifestation of their freedom to choose which violates not anybody else’s rights. What the far-left does is prohibit an action, be it through threat of violence or through violence.

    1. You do understand the difference?

      No, he doesn’t. Some mongoloid beat Robby out of a grocery bagging job so reason rescued him from renting a rack in a group home with his SSI EBT.

      1. Robby has internalized the notion that disapproval of the ghey is badthink, but it’s hard to blame him. Political correctness was injection molded into his skull by the education, entertainment and news businesses from Sesame Street through whatever college he managed to survive. Some of the older folks at the mag ought to try to wise him up, if there are any such folks.

    2. The time to exercise their freedom was choosing to sign up for Bob Jones U. instead. Part of the process of going to school is being forced to read things. It’s like most of what goes on there.

      And I have not run across a single normal liberal person I’m acquainted with who is into prohibiting free speech on campus. They all bitch about it as much as you guys do.

      1. Re: Tony the Marxian,

        Part of the process of going to school is being forced to read things.

        I thought part of the process of going to school was to learn things, not to be forced to do anything. I guess I am not up to speed regarding the pedagogical methods of Marxian higher learning.

        And I have not run across a single normal liberal person I’m acquainted with who is into prohibiting free speech on campus.

        Isn’t the suggestion that the liberals who prohibit free speech on campus are abnormal a kind of micro-aggression from your part? Check your privilege.

        1. You start getting forced to read things in kindergarten. Did you not get that far?

          1. Re: Tony the Marxian,

            You start getting forced to read things in kindergarten

            And is college supposed to be like kindergarten?

            1. In that specific way, yes. Also lots of daytime sleeping.

          2. “You start getting forced to read things in kindergarten.”

            This is dumb and wrong. I was never forced to read anything ever and neither were you. Even as a child, you can choose not to do the assignments and fail, or miss the grade on that particular assignment.

            1. I had a daydream about a year ago thinking about putting my adult mind in my 8th or 9th grade body and at first how easy all the assignments would be. Then I realized it’s all a waste of time anyway and I’d probably just refuse to follow their rules and do their shitty homework. School is truly a giant waste of time past like 6th grade. Learn to read, to add and subtract, some basics about world history, show the kids a globe, gravity keeps us on the ground, boom, done.

        2. I thought part of the process of going to school was to learn things, not to be forced to do anything.

          Well, if you take a class with me, then you’re pretty much forced to read whatever I tell you to.

          The summer reading lists, on the other hand, are pretty much designed to enforce progressive group-think. They are usually assigned by the office of diversity or Student Housing or something like that. People should object to being made to read anything over the summer regardless of its content – unless it’s for a summer class.

        3. First off, the students are not being *forced* to read this particular book, second, if your beliefs are so fragile that reading anything that challenges or goes against them will somehow change those views against your will you should probably look into a monastery rather than a college.
          Reading a contrary opinion does not force you to adopt it.

  3. What if that the film was, say, American Sniper?

    So you’re saying they should be assigned to read Paddington Bear stories instead?

    1. (Because the idea of a talking bear is blasphemous.)

      1. I am interested in learning more about your religion, and would like to subscribe to any newsletters encyclicals you may publish.

  4. Fun Home is a memoir written by Alison Bechdel; the Broadway version won a Tony Award earlier this year. Gay themes figure prominently in the story, which explores Bechdel’s lesbian identity, as well as her father’s closeted homosexuality.

    Lovely.

    My reading list consists of: Marx And The Close of His System by Eugen von Bom-Bawerk; Principles of Logic George Hayward Joyce; Economic Controversies by Murray Rothbard (a collection of essays and a great read), among other great books about economics and philosophy.

    I couldn’t care less about a lesbian and her hangups. Really.

    1. I couldn’t care less about a lesbian and her hangups. Really.

      You must be some kind of Nazi monster!

    2. This is Duke, one of our finest private institutions of higher learning. Not some auto -upholstery school like the one you go to.

      1. some auto -upholstery school

        WOW. That’s…..really funny, and I’m picturing every episode of “American Hot Rod” EVAR.

      2. They’re all nothing but glorified auto upholstery schools now.

        1. The expensive ones don’t even teach seat covers.

    3. AND it’s in convenient “graphic novel” (i.e. long comic book) format. The best and brightest can’t be bothered with text, don’t you know.

    4. Good for you. That sounds like a much more edifying reading list. But you haven’t just enrolled in a University. You kind of have to get used to doing the assigned readings if you want to do that.

      1. Re: Zeb,

        That sounds like a much more edifying reading list.

        It is, albeit a bit heavy, I have to admit.

        But you haven’t just enrolled in a University.

        And when I did, I was not asked to read about a lesbian with daddy issues. You learn about more interesting and useful things when you enroll in the University to learn Engineering, like physics. And computers.

        You know, things that make you more productive.

        1. Am engineer…can confirm…What is a summer reading list?

    5. I couldn’t care less about a lesbian and her hangups. Really.

      Unacceptable. You must care, not only about the hangups of this specific lesbian, but all lesbians, homosexuals, minorities, and womyn everywhere, all the time. Mere tolerance or even acceptance is not longer good enough. You must care about the hangups of all the special victim snowflakes and arrange all facets of your life around them or be found guilty of crimethink, citizen!

      1. When you were admonished for shitting in the middle of the dining room table, did you consider that a form of oppression? It is neither difficult nor should it be controversial to treat other human beings with respect. The most basic manners takes care of it all, really.

        1. “It is neither difficult nor should it be controversial to treat other human beings with respect. ”

          So what if I don’t, jerkoff?

          Seriously though, you want the government to point a gun at me because I don’t care about your pet social issues, sorry, that makes you deranged.

          And who’s to say I can’t respect her while also simultaneously not giving a shit about her writing, ideas, thoughts, feelings, or hangups?

          What, you can’t do that?

        2. I respect them much more when I’m not forced to listen to their grievance mongering yammer every time they want to open their yaps.

  5. This seems like silly false equivalence to me.

    If all the Left was doing was refusing to *listen* to dissenting viewpoints, I wouldn’t have a problem with them. The problem arises from their repeated attempts, on campuses and elsewhere, to make the act of expressing a dissenting view something that can be officially punished.

    1. And their attempts to prevent other people from hearing out those dissenting views. It’s so ridiculously different. It’s like Robby wants to be the new Steve Chapman, except worse in every way.

    2. Correct!

  6. Wait, you’re saying a book by Alison Bechdel has gay themes? Who would have guessed it?

    And all these universities which try to “start conversations” by assigning socialist screeds and gender-bending memoirs – why can’t they “start conversations” by assigning *The Imitation of Christ* or *God and Man at Yale*?

    1. “Gosh, we’re not endorsing William Buckley’s views, we’re just saying they should stimulate discussion…”

  7. They need to force these students to bake homosexual wedding cakes.

    1. Mmmmmmmm…..gay cake.

      1. They all want (gay wedding) cake…

  8. Students aren’t obligated to complete the summer reading assignment?at Duke or any other university.

    Erm, at any other university? Strong statement there, bucko.

  9. I question whether students whose first impulse is to shun a viewpoint with which they disagree are prepared for the intellectual challenges of attending college.

    You would rather have them be made to read about a viewpoint they can’t even possibly come close to sharing, Robby?

    For instance, I am not a lesbian and my father is not a homosexual, be it closeted or otherwise. Why would I *care*? Why should I *care*? What makes you think I need to know about those things in order to achieve a level of intellectual prowess that I could not achieve by other means, like, for instance, through reading philosophy, ethics, history, the classics? Why does it have to be about lesbianism?

    1. DIVERSITY, MOTHERFUCKER! DO YOU SPEAK IT?!

      1. No. I think OM knows English and Spanish, but not teh gai. I don’t know about any other languages.

    2. Why should students read the classics? None of them are ancient mytho-historical hero-kings.

      1. Screw you, I’m trans-deity.

      2. Fiction is just, like, lies, man.

      3. I took a class that was nothing but Conrad. Now, every fall I get the urge to drop everything and sail to Indonesia.

    3. Then you probably shouldn’t go to Duke.

      1. Re: Zeb,

        I went somewhere else, and got an actual education.

    4. Wow, you really don’t understand this education thing. So much is being explained.

    5. On this particular book I mostly agree with you, however, being able to refuse to even read about anything you don’t share, relate to or care about is not a good foundation for education, what if a physics or computer science major has no interest in philosophy or ethics, can he justifiably refuse to read Locke or Plato or Descartes or Kant?
      The best way to learn is to have an open mind, not instinctively shun anything new or foreign.
      And reading or hearing a contrary view will not somehow force you to adopt that view.

  10. I didn’t read my college’s assigned book, nor can I recall what it was.

    *confused*

    Book, singular? Colleges think one book makes a reading list? Is that per summer, or per class for four years?

    Been ages since I was expelled for using the facilities to learn on my own without signing up for any classes. I don’t remember any assigned or suggested reading lists, but I sure would remember if it had been just one book.

    1. Yes, many colleges have a book that people are supposed to read over the summer so it can be discussed in groups at the beginning of the year.

  11. What Eddie and Dan Bongard and OM said.

    I mean, really. You don’t want to read this cause “relijuss bleefs!!!” Well, I’ll read fucking anything, cause I don’t see that as violating ANY of my Christian bleefs. But, YMMV, these kids’ apparently does, and…whatever.

    Trying to force a college to NOT SHOW SOMETHING so NO ONE can see it (through the college)? Yeah – that’s different. And what progtards are about all the time. “You CAN’T say that! You CAN’T write that! You can’t READ that!” As opposed to “I don’t WANT to read it, and I’m not, piss off, big nose.”

    Fuck all these people.

    1. As of 3 years ago, I was considering professorship as a legitimate career path (and I’m using the term legitimate loosely there). This kind of shit has completely turned me off.

      1. And these stories aren’t really even cherry-picking. You need to spend about 5 minutes on any college campus to see someone doing something nauseating and all of the students thinking it’s awesome.

        1. Yeah, when I went to school (WARNING: FULL “OLD-MAN-GET-OFF-MY-LAWN ENGAGE!) I was definitely challenged and read a lot of stuff that kind of covered most many angles of things (esp. history and religious studies).

          My son is a Junior this year – last of the three to go. It is unebelieveable how restricted it’s gotten, moreso out of class than in. Can’t say shit, can’t do shit – it’s like a monestary without the gay sex.

          Sad.

    2. You forgot “you can’t think that.”

  12. These students’ exceedingly silly mini-protest

    Signal received. That’s how it works, right?

    1. Fuckin’ Christfags.

  13. reminder that hysterical offendedness is not solely the domain of the far-left

    Let me guess though, NOW the University will have none of an offended sub group’s complaint?

    1. They believe solemnly in free speech.

      1. Pretty sure it’s now “speech-free” that they’re after.

        Well, except for Goodthink Speech, of course. THAT’S different.

        1. The irony being that 1984 is probably not taught on most college campuses because of its doubleplusungood political leanings.

  14. These kids are pretty stupid, regardless of what the soconitarians above might be arguing. Is it better than progressives trying to force people off campus? Sure, but it’s still petty and childish to refuse to engage with course material. This is especially ridiculous:

    “I feel as if I would have to compromise my personal Christian moral beliefs to read it,” Grasso wrote in the post. ?

    Grasso noted that he felt the book choice was insensitive to people with more conservative beliefs.

    “Duke did not seem to have people like me in mind,” he said. “It was like Duke didn’t know we existed, which surprises me.”

    It would conflict with your beliefs to read the book? Why? You could always do what adults do and read a book that might potentially conflict with your beliefs anyway and then consider what the author is saying and whether or not you accept their position. Or you could just say ‘this is insensitive to me’ and behave like a petulant child, I guess.

    1. Yeah, well you’re just a socon in hiding.

      /Bo, Hihn, Tony, PB, et. al.

    2. you’re a towel!!

      1. You’re the worst character ever.

        1. anyone wanna get high?

          1. I’ll bring my Okama Gamesphere.

      2. Almanian’s a frood who really knows where Irish’s towel is.

    3. Irish, do you even know how scary it is to look at comic book pictures of nude lesbians? Do you?!?

      1. Yeah, they totally blew this protest. By the end of class I would’ve had the Prof. on his knees begging to cover some other material.

        If there weren’t at least one meaningful discussion about the merit of tentacle porn I would’ve considered it a waste.

      2. But why should they have to? I mean, I love to look at nude lesbians (well some of them anyway). But how does making college students look at that have ANYTHING to do with a liberal arts education? I agree that higher education should get people to think, and in many ways, get people to question things. But that can be done without nudie books!

        1. I love to look at nude lesbians (well some of them anyway). But how does making college students look at that have ANYTHING to do with a liberal arts education?

          I’ve read Fun Home. It is not lesbian pornography. It’s a memoir which deals with the fact that she’s a lesbian. Moreover, a good portion is given over to her closeted gay father and his issues.

          It’s a memoir in graphic novel form and is not porn. Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer is more explicit than Fun Home and deals with more deviant sex and I think anyone who wouldn’t read that book if it were assigned in college is an idiot too. (Though Tropic of Cancer does have more literary merit than Fun Home so it’s not a perfect comparison).

          1. And CATCHER IN THE RYE is total shite with no redeeming qualities PLUS offensive to any red blooded white/English true American.

    4. Yes I agree it’s kind of dumb what they are doing as some sort of protest. On the other hand, the key difference is that they aren’t preventing other students from reading it. The SJW tu quoque argument Robby is going for is an invalid comparison. But I can see why he makes it, because he’s pretty much on the fence about the righteousness of “social justice” activism.

      1. No, he’s not ‘on the fence’. He’s pretty much snugly in the SJW corner–that’s why he’s always posting articles like this–he thinks his rationalizations justify the SJW horrors.

    5. I had a talk with a Mormon co-worker of mine while traveling to training last week. Very enlightening regarding porn and masturbation and sexuality. I think these folks think that if they read this, it will give them certain “urges” which will inspire them to touch themselves. And of course, if one touches their Satan Stick, or their Beelzebub Button they are going to hell.

      I don’t have much use for these folks personally. And if the reading is merely forcing them to confront their views on things like homosexuality then it is fair game. But I think this work was more than just that.

    6. Better to have said, “I’m taking on half a lifetime’s worth of non-dischargeable debt to be required to read a comic book about a whackassed dysfunctional family? Fuck that shit”

    7. Yeah, i think a bunch of people are sort of missing the point. Robby even explicitly makes the point that the lefties who complain about people like this have a lot of overlap with the people who want to censor all kinds of stuff on campus.

      The objections to the readings just seem absurd. What religion forbids reading books with gay themes or characters? Religion doesn’t have to make sense, so there is no reason that can’t be the case. But if your religion is that proscriptive of what you can read, liberal education is probably not for you and you should probably find a school that restricts its readings to the Bible.

      Or maybe they just like the whiny, special-snowflake treatment they see everyone else getting and want in on the action.

      1. The Bible has incestuous rape sex between a drunk man and his two daughters in which they are trying to get themselves pregnant. Get back to me when these Christians boycott the story of Lot.

        1. Get back to us when we start celebrating that act.

          1. Who said anything about celebrating? The assignment wasn’t “read it, love it, and make it the cornerstone of your moral being”, just to read it. I’m not dense; obviously the assignment was chosen by people who like and are supportive of the book’s themes (which, since I have not read it, I’ll just assume include, but are not limited to, arguing for greater societal acceptance of homosexuals), but there are lots of things in college I read and reached sharply different conclusions than those made by the person who assigned the reading.

            1. I wasn’t suggesting any reader must love what they’ve read. Irish tried the hackneyed, “Well, the Bible has THIS stuff in it, why don’t you complain about it??” argument about reading this book comic. The idea being that bad things should get complained about consistently.

              Of course, Christians aren’t celebrating the incestuous acts he mentions; they are, by far, seen by Christians as abhorrent behavior that should not be emulated, but viewed as sinful.

              The comic, on the other hand, IS being treated, at minimum, with a moral relevancy by others. It would seem there are plenty who do celebrate the story. And, I highly doubt Bechdel wrote what she did to say to the world, “Hey, look at me, I’m really an awful person”.

              This idea that, “well, if you don’t read Bechdel, you shouldn’t read the Bible in order to be consistent” is just plain dumb in this matter. Christians don’t typically read the story of Lot and think, “Hmm. Cool.”, nor does anyone typically urge them to see it as such.

              As for Bechdel, I care not one wit about her or what she wrote. It may be good reading, and it may not be. I’m not concerned about her life, or actions. Seeing that she’s engaged in identity politcs, I know she’s not my cup o’ tea, though.

              1. “I wasn’t suggesting any reader must love what they’ve read. Irish tried the hackneyed, “Well, the Bible has THIS stuff in it, why don’t you complain about it??” argument about reading this book comic. The idea being that bad things should get complained about consistently.

                Of course, Christians aren’t celebrating the incestuous acts he mentions; they are, by far, seen by Christians as abhorrent behavior that should not be emulated, but viewed as sinful.”

                LOL. How about when God tells the Hebrews to commit genocide? Or when God murders multiple cities worth of people because they’re inhospitable? Or when Lot offers to let the crowd rape his daughters if they’ll leave his guests alone?

                Lot is supposedly the ‘good guy’ and he behaves abhorrently. Whether modern Christians believe those activities should be emulated is irrelevant, since the Bible itself doesn’t seem to have a problem with it and it’s the word of God, after all.

                1. LOL. How about when God tells the Hebrews to commit genocide? Or when God murders multiple cities worth of people because they’re inhospitable? Or when Lot offers to let the crowd rape his daughters if they’ll leave his guests alone?

                  Commit genocide? You mean capital punishment? And I have no idea how you came up with being “inhospitable” as a reason for the destruction of S&G (I can only presume you’re referring to them). Of course, the whole “Lot’s offer” isn’t looked on as a good thing, Scripturally-speaking.

                  since the Bible itself doesn’t seem to have a problem with it

                  Yeah, I don’t know how you can arrive at that if you’ve read the Torah even a little.

                  1. Look out, he’s got his “problematic passages” list at the ready!

                    If you don’t engage in a Master’s course in biblical exegesis here in the comments section *right now*, in the original Aramaic, the rules of Internets say your arguments are invalid!

    8. I can’t see how refusing to waste your time reading a bad book is ever “stupid ” no matter what the reason for doing so. These kids are paying over 50k a year for an education and instead of being given meaningful reading assignments they are given trash like thiis.

      1. I find it interesting that people here are willing to dismiss the value of the work on the basis of the medium it was created in (a graphic novel), which has no relevance to the value of the ideas it contains, but strongly condemn those who object to participating in the reading of that same work, which has a strong moral aspect for those being asked to undertake that action.

        1. It seems to me that there is a lot of projection of the value systems of those present onto those who are making the protest. I don’t necessarily have a problem with that – I just wish the comments would be more up front about the crux of their objection: That they object to the use of religion as a primary source of moral reasoning, and that they believe it is incompatible with rationality.

    9. Re: Irish ESB,

      It would conflict with your beliefs to read the book? Why?

      Does it matter? The guy doesn’t want to read the book! The guy would rather read something else! His (or her) time in this world is SHORT!

      There IS such a thing called Opportunity Cost, Irish.

      1. Absolutely true, but I didn’t see anything about them protesting how much time it would take to read the book. Whether or not their objection is justified shouldn’t be judged by the ability to come up with any valid alternate reasoning for making the same choice.

    10. “It would conflict with your beliefs to read the book? Why?”

      Religious beliefs aside, since we all value personal autonomy here, isn’t the burden of coming up with a damn good explanation on the person who is trying to compel someone else to do something, not on the person who is being compelled?

      1. Religious beliefs aside, since we all value personal autonomy here, isn’t the burden of coming up with a damn good explanation on the person who is trying to compel someone else to do something, not on the person who is being compelled?

        You’re stretching “compelled” to the point of meaninglessness. In this case, there’s no compulsion at all, since the assignment was in no way actually required.

        Even if it was required, that’s a perfectly reasonable requirement the school can place on students, just like doing any other homework or taking a test. If they don’t like it, they can go to a different school where their worldview won’t be challenged.

        They can claim it’s against their religion until they’re blue in the face, but there’s no good reason the school should have to accommodate them, no more than it would if a student says it’s against his religion to ever be graded lower than an A and the school is violating his religious freedom if it fails him for not going to class.

        1. “You’re stretching “compelled” to the point of meaninglessness. In this case, there’s no compulsion at all, since the assignment was in no way actually required.”

          There are shades of meaning. Both compulsion and assignment can mean a duty or obligation. Close enough for my purposes, and the purposes of many of the commentariat who seem to agree that the students should’ve read it.

          “Even if it was required, that’s a perfectly reasonable requirement the school can place on students, just like doing any other homework or taking a test. ”

          Maybe it’s reasonable, maybe it’s not. That should be up to the student to be the judge since they are paying out the ass for it to hopefully make sense. But blindly doing it and trusting that the ones in charge know best is not exactly good preparation for the real world where a good boss treats you like a mentally functioning adult, not a child who can’t understand anything.

          1. Btw,

            “no more than it would if a student says it’s against his religion to ever be graded lower than an A and the school is violating his religious freedom if it fails him for not going to class.”

            I didn’t see anything in the article about the students being unwilling to accept any consequences.

            Although according to some of the posts below it sounds like this whole thing is overblown. So who knows.

        2. Every school I applies to demanded that I cut their check before they provided me with my summer reading list. Does that make a difference?

      2. Religious beliefs aside, since we all value personal autonomy here, isn’t the burden of coming up with a damn good explanation on the person who is trying to compel someone else to do something, not on the person who is being compelled?

        Hey now–that’s getting really close to actually understanding that whole evil soconny ‘liberty’ thing.

        We’re just here to screech our acceptance of the current SJW goodthink that Robby’s laid out for us–get with the program.

    11. It would conflict with your beliefs to read the book? Why? You could always do what adults do and read a book that might potentially conflict with your beliefs anyway and then consider what the author is saying and whether or not you accept their position.

      While I have no information other that what I got from the article, it would seem that the book is a graphic novel (ie, lots of pictures of stuff), and that it contains explicit sexual imagery. So they might not be objecting to the message so much as the porn. Or at least using the latter as an excuse to object to the former.

    12. But why should we care about their individual choices? Let people make their own choices and get over it. Even caring is just another step in the direction of the hysterical, censoring left.

    13. Or it could simply be that Grasso is attempting to act like the leftist chickenhearts requiring trigger warnings and such, and behaving like spoiled little children…you know, trying to make a point?

  15. While I am personally sick of Christians and their anti-porn and sexuality shit, this is a false equivalence. As others have pointed out, these folks are objecting to something that they felt they were being forced to read. After all, the freshmen didn’t know they summer reading was voluntary. The progs want to forcibly remove things from college altogether.

    And lets be honest here. Why does this shit even rise to the level of college suggested reading?5000 years of combined wisdom to draw from, and this is the best we can get??

    Don’t get me wrong. I love my porn. But that is not why people should go to college!

    1. I went to college for the real sex. Four years of sport fucking, as my old buddy used to refer to it. Who needed teh pr0n when I had two floors of nubile young women sleeping over me?

    2. People forced to read things… in school?

    3. “5000 years of combined wisdom to draw from, and this is the best we can get??”

      Exactly – like I said, assign *The Imitation of Christ* – that’s a classic! (and enjoy the freakout by the usual suspects).

      This Bechdel books sounds like the left-wing equivalent of assigning a book by Michelle Malkin or Bill O’Reilly.

      Furthermore, if the point is to assign something gay (and I’m guessing that *is* the point), then why not Oscar Wilde or Walt Whitman? But those guys are actually a pleasure to read, and we can’t have that.

      1. (To be fair, Malkin seems to do a good deal of research for her books)

      2. Furthermore, if the point is to assign something gay (and I’m guessing that *is* the point), then why not Oscar Wilde or Walt Whitman

        Sexist! Assign Sappho!

        1. Thy form is lovely and thine eyes are honeyed,
          O’er thy face the pale
          Clear light of love lies like a veil.
          Bidding thee rise,
          With outstretched hands,
          Before thee Aphrodite stands.
          Oh wait, I’m late for my Queer Theory seminar, catch you later.

          1. I’m guessing the title of that Sappho poem is *not* “A Love Song to Alison Bechdel”

      3. Absolutely. And it is a fucking comic book!!

  16. I’ll take a different tack: they assigned a graphic novel?

    1. Comix were absolutely forbidden to take seriously in my college and I went to goddamn art school!

  17. One of the main points of going to college is to cleanse yourself of stupid beliefs like your childhood religion. I suppose liberals should take that to heart too, under the generous assumption that conservatives have any decent ideas to offer.

    1. One of the main points of going to college is to cleanse yourself of stupid beliefs like your childhood religion. I suppose liberals should take that to heart too, under the generous assumption that conservatives have any decent ideas to offer.

      And they should take up the mantle of their new religion by join the Church of the Smug Progtard.

      1. No no. They should take up the religion of the State.

        “Government Master Rahl guide us. Government Master Rahl teach us. Government Master Rahl protect us. In your light we thrive. In your mercy we are sheltered. In your wisdom we are humbled. We live only to serve. Our lives are yours.”

        1. People generally develop their political beliefs in college not by indoctrination, but by interacting with peers and through reading, hopefully, a wide range of thinkers, and adopting their insights and rejecting what doesn’t make sense.

          People who complain about indoctrination in college are really complaining that students are being exposed to thoughts other than their preferred dogma.

          1. Re: Tony the Marxian,

            People generally develop their political beliefs in college not by indoctrination, but by interacting with peers and through reading, hopefully, a wide range of thinkers,

            You must be describing the image you have in your head of your ideal college. Because colleges in the U.S., the same as in Mexico, are very regimental when it comes to political ideas.

            People who complain about indoctrination in college are really complaining that students are being exposed to thoughts other than their preferred dogma.

            My main concern with college is not that students are being exposed to new ideas but that they’re being exposed to the really bad and old ideas. My economics teacher at the college I took my courses for my Master’s degree was a pro-government Keynesian. I was exposed to things I didn’t know before but that had to do with accounting and finance, not politics.

          2. Right. Amazingly, a lot of people make it through college without being indoctrinated. Probably filthy individualist who think for themselves.

            All I was pointing out is that you want people to drop their Judeo-Christian beliefs and replace it with faith in almighty government.

          3. A lot more people develop their political beliefs when they get their tax bill, buy a house and have children.

    2. stupid beliefs

      Preach, Tony! Preach!

    3. Tony stupid FTW….

    4. Re: Tony the Marxian,

      One of the main points of going to college is to cleanse yourself of stupid beliefs like your childhood religion

      Well, I hate to tell you but college didn’t help me cleanse my mind of my childhood socialism. It took me many years after college to see the light.

      Or what religion were you talking about?

      1. I think any decently educated person should not be religious, but even the socialist heathen sodomy institutions known as universities tend to treat people’s religious beliefs with fawning deference. Those in the technical arts are often allowed to skate through with nary a challenge to their infantile nonsense, presumably reading the basic classics only in their freshman English classes, which of course explains the prevalence of libertarians among engineers and computer geeks. And Ben Carson.

        1. I guess that explains the prevalence of socialist beliefs in unemployed Art History majors.

    5. One of the main points of going to college is to cleanse yourself of stupid beliefs

      He’s got a point — as a child, I thought the Left supported free speech. Four years of college cured me of that particular belief.

    6. Only Tony lacks the self-awareness to lecture people on how university should be in the most anti-intellectual way possible.

  18. For everyone complaining about the false equivalence: remember that trigger warnings are only supposed to be there so students can voluntarily, themselves, not read class materials. I’m sure none of you has ever taken issue with students who demand alternative assignments for themselves only, or who bow out of readings because they personally don’t want to do them.

    1. I can’t tell if this is parody or not.

      1. Nikki gets stupid over gay shit.

        1. I can’t even tell what’s gay about it.

          there was something about “YOU GUYS”, but i don’t know what that was supposed to mean either.

          I reserve my right not to care.

          Although! there was an interesting story about a girl in a studio-photography course i took, where someone asked the prof to do a slide show (*after class) of some of the ‘best’ contemporary photographers… and about half the class showed up (me included) and among the slides he showed were Robert Mapplethorpes “lillies”… and his self-portraits with Leather Mask & dildo up his ass.

          Girl said nothing, but called mommy that night, who called daddy, who called Chancellor, who called the professor, and had his 30-year-tenured ass fired. Then the student body protested and he was reinstated. YAY ACTIVISM!

  19. Just looked at some sample pages on Amazon.

    It’s a comic book! Or graphic novel.

    To introduce incoming college students to the Life of the Mind.

    To add insult to injury, there’s a scene where they discuss James Joyce’s Ulysses in college.

    It’s like Duke is mocking these kids – “even the characters in this comic book are getting more intellectual challenges than we’re giving you this summer!”

    1. I did the same thing. Is that what passes for literature at Duke? Or is this the best that Reason can do to complain about socons??? I am no socon, and I play second fiddle to no one in terms of my libertine streaks. But this is just plain stupid.

      I love death metal, but I don’t pretend that Amon Amarth should be taught in college musical theory courses instead of Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, etc. Same is true for this. I enjoy graphic novels, and I love porn. But that isn’t what college is supposed to be about!!

      1. “I enjoy graphic novels, and I love porn. But that isn’t what college is supposed to be about!!”

        Depends if you’re a humanities major of a STEM major, I guess.

        1. Not necessarily. In the American tradition of higher education, students are expected to have a certain amount of common intellectual experiences. Case in point, the very axis mundi of STEM, MIT, still requires all of its undergraduates to complete the “General Institute Requirements ” that include 8 semesters of classes in the humanities, arts, and social sciences (HASS). You also have to take gym.

          Now, one can debate the relative merits of the American system versus the European, for example, but I personally believe there is some value in graduating students with a common set of knowledge that includes the basics of the Western cultural tradition as well as the natural sciences.

          1. I made a bit of a joke about modern college life, and HM replies by a defense of the idea of a true liberal arts education.

            I think my joke and HM’s discussion can coexist on the same plane of existence, without either one falsifying the other.

  20. Since when did this become a “protest”? I read that a guy made a statement on fb about deciding to not read a comic book, ostensibly because he knew the basics of the story and didn’t like them. He was approached by someone about why he posted what he did; said that he wanted to let any others that might read the page to know there was at least one other person who had the same opinion about reading the material. Some agreed with him.

    But, somehow, this is a protest? Or, even a newsworthy story*?

    (* Yeah, I get that it’s a college newspaper. But, jeesh-shouldn’t you be getting ready to do actual* journalism?)

    (* Yeah, yeah, I know, I know)

    1. It seems like the Duke school paper decided to go trolling to purposely find people who “DIDNT” read the book, and then gin up their discovery of these people Not-Reading the very Gay-Friendly book as being a ‘collective protest’ rather than just a lot of people who probably didn’t give a shit…. and cite the few Jesus-beaters as the ‘spokespeople’ for this movement.

      See = the Anti-Gay pizza place, which never knew it was Anti-Gay until a ‘reporter’ went trolling to find people who *might* have religious objections to theoretically catering a gay wedding they’d never actually ever be asked to cater… etc.

      meaning, the ‘controversy’ here seems entirely invented whole-cloth by people looking for a story.

  21. They have “summer reading assignments”…

    …in College? At Duke?

    WTF.

    Summers were for drinking and jobs. I still read 3-4 books anyway. but fuck me if “college” made me do it.

    “summer reading lists” are some shit for freshman *highschoolers*. I mean, i dont even understand how that shit works in college. You take classes by semester. Who the hell are you reporting to the following fall to “prove” you read some stupid gay-friendly fiction?

    and what educational mandate does a university have to *force* kids to read some stupid gay-friendly fiction (as opposed some more-serious literary work that has “problematic” in every dimension…a la “Journey to the End of the Night”, or De Sade’s “Justine”?.. where there might be some arguable educational purpose.

    fuck that noise.

    1. To add to this =

      if you really have a ()!*@# problem with *any* thing a class ‘requires’ you to read…

      …then don’t fucking read it. You don’t need to be a member of some special protected class to justify your lack of interest in reading.

      If you’re already accepted at Duke, i don’t see the problem showing up and saying, “yeah, that book about the gay? I skipped it and read the entire bible end to end again. I can give you a lecture on it if you want?”

      1. “You don’t need to be a member of some special protected class to justify your lack of interest in reading.”

        This. I was trying to make this point above. In my world, if people want me to do something they have to give me a reason (as I do with them), and sometimes there are consequences to that. But it always works out because I end up with people who respect me who appreciate the fact that I respect them. Life is too short to be a doormat.

    2. I didn’t have a “summer reading assignment” at my schools.

      Of course, I was a coop, so I alternated between working a quarter/semester and going to school a quarter/semester (we switched from quarters to semesters midway through school) and while I was going working, I was taking night classes at the local community college to save money since taking core classes at the CC was cheaper than at the uni.

  22. “…intellectual challenges of attending college.”

    That was the best joke of all.

  23. They should object to it even being on the list. Having to be exposed to the existence of such garbage violates any sense of decency. Whoever put it on the list should be made to issue a public apology and thoroughly humiliated before losing their career. LIVE UP TO YOUR OWN STANDARDS, FASCISTS! STOP TRIGGERING AND MENTALLY RAPING OTHERS!

  24. Duke should assign Tamburini and Liberatore’s Ranxerox and watch every one of those little fuckers die.

  25. There was a series printed in 1952 called The Great Books of the Western World. Any book on that list would be a superior to a comic book on the various and sundry ways to misuse penises and vaginas. To push such a book on the Freshman class is to show that Duke is not really serious about critical thinking or any thinking at all.

  26. The conservatives don’t want to see something. The liberals don’t want anyone to see something.

  27. Really?This article? On a “Libertarian” site by a “Libertarian” author?!? Criticism for exercising a Constitutional right that doesn’t hurt anyone? And why the conflation of conservatives with religious believers? Isn’t this stereotypical? I get the point of the article, but these things kind of jumped out at me.

  28. Slow down. Isn’t this a manufactured story? It’s not like the freshman staged a protest. They just blew off the book until the newspaper started fishing for quotes.

  29. “Several incoming freshmen decided not to read “Fun Home” because its sexual images and themes conflicted with their personal and religious beliefs”

    No one is asking them in engage in any of the book’s sexual activity, just read about it, what exactly is the conflict?

  30. If your core views were not challenged, in fact if your core views didn’t change, your blissful blocking robbed you of knowledge that would have set you free.

    NYOD
    🙂

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