URLs du Jour - 2014-12-10

These posts don't often have a unifying theme. But (you may have noticed) it's been an apology-filled few days. So:

  • Iowahawk calls it the "latest dispatch from Planet College". As Robby Soave says:

    Smith College President Kathleen McCartney thought she was showing solidarity with students protesting racism and police brutality when she sent a campus-wide email with the subject line, "All Lives Matter." But the anti-racism slogan popular with students is actually the more selective "black lives matter."

    Prez McCartney apologized. Abjectly. Of course.

    At today's institutions of higher learning, you have to utter your stupid slogans using exactly the right words.

    (I thought there might also have been a perception that Prez McC was making a subtle point about abortion. But it seems that misconception was not seriously entertained: nobody thought she was implying that unborn babies' lives matter. At Smith? Be serious!)

  • University of Iowa President Sally Mason found herself apologizing as well. Was her apology even more craven than President McCartney's? It's a close call, I think.

    University of Iowa (UI) students, faculty, and administrators are speaking out in support of the censorship of a statue created and displayed on campus by visiting professor Serhat Tanyolacar that they say constitutes “hate speech.” Tanyolacar’s piece comprised a seven foot tall sculpture of a Ku Klux Klan member whose robes are crafted from newspaper articles about racial violence. Many members of the UI community, however, ignored the intended anti-racist message of the piece and instead demanded that the university take action against what they perceive as a racist display—and the university is complying.

    President Mason apologized, as did UI's Office of Strategic Communication (is there also an office of Tactical Communication?). As did the artist.

    To any mind not inclined to be offended, the "sculpture" was clearly intended to be anti-racist (albeit lamely). But, as at Smith, a lot of Hawkeyes decided to ignore intentions and get outraged instead. The Iowa City collective IQ dipped about 10 points, and gutless self-censorship won. Yay!

    Hopefully, Iowa's football team will show more spine next month against Tennessee in the Bowl Formerly Known As Gator.

  • Lena Dunham also apologized. (Although that apology is buried in, to quote Treacher, a mass of "self-pitying claptrap".)

    But anyway: when Lena wrote that passage in her recent book accusing a library-employed, Oberlin College Republican named "Barry" of raping her back in her college days, she didn't mean the actual library-employed, Oberlin College Republican named "Barry". That was—and I am not making this quote up—"an unfortunate and surreal coincidence."

    I must admit, I would have liked to see this played out in court, with Lena paying "Barry" a very large sum, enough to send his kids to … well, probably not Oberlin. But it appears he's gonna let her off the hook.

  • MIT Professor J. Gruber also got his apology out yesterday.

    He delivered a mea culpa of sorts in his opening remarks on Tuesday for what he called his "mean and insulting" comments, explaining some of his remarks while trying to take some of them back. After once saying a lack of transparency helped the law pass, Gruber said Tuesday he does not think it was passed in a "non-transparent fashion." He also expressed regret for what he called "glib, thoughtless and sometimes downright insulting comments." "I sincerely apologize for conjecturing with a tone of expertise and for doing so in such a disparaging fashion," Gruber said. "I knew better. I know better. I'm embarrassed and I'm sorry." He said he "behaved badly" but stressed that "my own inexcusable arrogance is not a flaw in the Affordable Care Act."

    Enough? But let me tell you what made me chuckle.

    One of my favorite old sitcoms was "WKRP in Cincinnati". It opened with a driver fiddling with his car radio, briefly hitting a news station:

    "And the senator, while insisting he was not intoxicated, could not explain his nudity."

    Compare with this Newsweek paragraph (quoted by Jennifer Rubin):

    Gruber could not fully explain his comments about subsidies through the federal exchange—comments that Democrats fear will become grounds for the Supreme Court to gut the law. But Gruber repeated Tuesday that he always assumed in all of his economic models that subsidies would be available for plans purchased through the federal exchange. He also offered one theory on why he might have made those comments.

    Or: "The professor, while insisting he was not intoxicated, could not explain…"