Untimely Observations

Three-Fifths of a Controversy

At Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia-- my undergraduate alma mater-- President James Wagner is in hot water... make that boiling hot lava. He has ignited a furor not likely to die down anytime soon. Faculty, students, and administrators are all screaming at him like...well, to put it frankly, like a bunch of bitches. And when faculty, student, and administrative bitches be trippin', presidential heads are liable soon to be rollin'.

"Oh dear!" you reply, voice resonant with grave concern. "What ever has the man done?? It must be something really beastly... after all, those employed and enrolled at prestigious American universities never lose their heads and throw a collective PC-hissy fit over something utterly stupid and of no real moment and ultimately insubstantial! The president's transgression must be egregious indeed!"

And oh, it is! Wagner's act is in fact so stunningly wicked that before I relate it, you may just want to ready your smelling salts, in case you pass out from the shock. Consider this your "trigger warning," if indeed you are the type of person who cares at all about such things as decency, goodness, justice, and decorum.

Are you ready? Are you sitting down? Is your rectum good and clenched? Have you got a stong father figure by your side whom you can hug and on whose broad, strong shoulders you can cry copious tears of dismay and trauma?

Okay... here's what he did.

This dastardly man... flagrantly used a historical metaphor in a newspaper column in order to make a rhetorical point!

"So what," you ask?

Well, you see, it may not LOOK like a big deal, but it IS. Yea, verily, indeed. After all, the piece in question, which Wagner penned for The Emory Wheel, made reference to the "three-fifths compromise" following the end of the Revolutionary War, in which those pushing for black slaves to count the same as whites for the purposes of constituional  representation, settled instead on letting each black vote count for 60 percent, or three-fifths, of the value of a white man's citizenship. Wagner cited this instance as a time when one political faction, believing strongly in the correctness of their cause, nevertheless made concessions for pragmatic purposes.

Here is a summary of the brouhaha, as reported by the Wheel, the student newspaper that once ran a few of my own strident post-adolescent editorials back in the day:


(Note the ample and pungently unfurling scent of relentless butthurt from the various student and faculty groups chiming in to condemn Wagner's oh-so-horrific words. Geez, what a campus of whiners!)

Yes, folks... that's what it takes to ignite a campus controversy these days. It's becoming easier and easier. To bring the militant multicultist mafia down on your head, you used to have to do something really provocative, like fly the "stars and bars" from your dorm room window, or refuse to spell "woman" with a "y," or smirk in the presence of an AIDS quilt.

Now all it takes for a university president-- a president, no less-- to be undone is for him to invoke an ostensibly infelicitous, even if accurate, metaphor relating to antebellum Negro slavery in the midst of an altogether rather bland newspaper column encouraging clashing departments of his college to unite despite their differences for the sake of a greater good.

The American academic gulag metastasizes into an ever-more absurdist caricature all the time. What will be the next overblown kerfuffle to roil the legions of left-liberal brainwashed goosestepping minions? Will the plague of political correctness finally run its terminal course and perish, even as it kills its by now thoroughly spent and useless hosts in the ivory towers it inhabits?