Friday, October 17, 2008

Back at you

I read a syndicated column in a local paper the other day by a man who was incensed that a liberal university (Brandeis I think) had punished a professor for speaking a forbidden word in class. It seems that the professor, with impeccable liberal credentials, happened to mention in class that in former years an illegal alien was referred to as a "wetback." Now, I knew this, being from New Mexico. Mexican nationals wanting to get into the U.S. would swim the Rio Grande and come out all wet. Hence "wetback," or simply "wet" as we knew them. We'd say, "My dad hired a wet to help him with his house."

So far so good. I don't use the term any more, except in discussions like this one, and I assume that the professor didn't either. Nonetheless, according to this column, the university landed on the professor like the angel of death and did everything but cut out his tongue. "How could such a thing happen at a liberal university?" the column asks.

What's that sound I hear? Can it be the delicate susseration of feathers as chickens come home to roost? If the question is, "Who created the PC monster in the first place?" we'd come back, oddly enough to institutions like, how about this, Brandeis University.

Barry Goldwater, that old conservative, said, "You can't legislate morality" and was soundly booed for that thought. Lucky for Bill Clinton we can't. How about this, from me: "You can't institutionalize manners." As soon as something escapes the public conscience and gets put down on paper it gets challenged, expanded, rigidified, and calcified. Thought goes out the window, to be replaced by passion. And, to steal from Eric Hoffer, "every passionate attitude is an escape from the self." (quote approximate)

Yeats: "The best lack all conviction; the worst are full of passionate intensity."

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