Waiting For The Cleansing Storm
I figure we’ve got about ten years left before somebody proposes a Constitutional amendment guaranteeing Americans the right to go through life without ever being offended. By anything. Or anyone. At any time. I don’t know which Congressnut will be the first to propose it, but it’ll likely be in response to a ground-up grass-roots organization of Ordinary People (read: college students) trying to Make the World a Better Place.
Listen: I might lose my electricity and Internet connection later, because we’re supposed to get walloped by a big winter storm here in
In case you haven’t heard, Petroski is the wannabe Onion writer who attends
Most people today would claim that rape is a terrible crime almost akin to murder but I strongly disagree. Far from a vile act, rape is a magical experience that benefits society as a whole. . . Take ugly women, for example. If it weren’t for rape, how would they ever know the joy of intercourse with a man who isn’t drunk? In a society as plastic-conscious as our own, are we really to believe that some man would ever sleep with a girl resembling a wildebeest if he didn’t have a few schnapps in him?Blah blah blah. Between the first sentence and the wildebeest/ schnapps clause there’s a couple of paragraphs* that fail as satire because Petroski doesn’t realize that to do effective satire you can’t simply repeat something you don’t believe; you have to take it to an absurd extreme. Maybe if he’d gone so far as to suggest that rape be made a graduation requirement: to qualify for a diploma all women must amass 120 credits, 25 hours of community service and one forcible rape. And every man is required to help at least three women meet this requirement in addition to spending 25 hours at a university-sponsored Rape-Prevention Prevention seminar. The school nurses can do DNA testing to ensure each student follows the rules, and then — oh, never mind.
Perhaps, if Petroski had been a completely different person who possesses actual talent, his hooray-for-rape piece would be hailed by future generations as the Swiftian Modest Proposal of the twenty-first century. Maybe. But even if he had, that wouldn’t make a damn bit of difference to the campus protestors who will one day cite Petroski’s article as an example of why we need that Constitutional amendment:
Student protesters said they found many articles and cartoons in The Recorder [the newspaper] offensive. Among demands were [editor] Rowan and Petroski's written apologies, the establishment of a student code of ethics that will update The Recorder's constitution, the refund of all women's student fees for the spring semester and mandatory participation in a rape prevention program for Rowan and Petroski.Notice that? All the women on campus, even the ones who never read the article, have been so victimized that the university owes them money. Now read the response of the administration:
CCSU President Jack Miller's statement took a moderate approach. "It goes without saying that John Petroski ... has the freedom of speech to offer his opinions … Miller promised that a group of students and faculty will examine the editorial process and make positive steps to educate students about the damage "such blatantly misogynistic and homophobic content causes." He added that hateful speech is not protected by the First Amendment and is not worthy of publication.Okay, so Petroski has the right to express his opinions though some opinions are just so bad that freedom of speech doesn’t apply. But Miller’s quote in this article, despite its frightening self-contradiction, sounds downright innocuous compared to what another paper quotes him as saying:
"Rape is a profound violation of body and spirit, and to make light of it, even in satire, is abhorrent," Miller said. "We need to be sure that students understand that such hateful speech is not protected and simply is not worthy, on any ground, of publication."Wow. That snark I made a few paragraphs ago about including rape in the graduation requirements is so hateful that it doesn’t even qualify as protected speech.
Remember the story of the boy who cried wolf? That doesn’t strictly apply here; the boy invented his wolf-story out of whole cloth. This is more like the story of some people who cry “giant man-eating poisonous snake!” at the sight of an earthworm dehydrating on the sidewalk after a summer rain. Yes, rape is a hideous crime. Even worse, there still exist in this country judges and politicians boneheaded enough to believe for real what Petroski tried to say satirically: she loved it, she asked for it dressing the way she did, why’s she getting so uptight when it’s just sex?
Dammit, people, save your protests for snakes like these, not worms like John Petroski. The guy has a tin ear for satire but he DOESN’T ACTUALLY CONDONE RAPE, and thus far there’s no reason to think he’s ever done it himself, either. So write an equally insulting editorial if you wish, and rejoice in the knowledge that Petroski’ll spend the rest of his college career having one hell of a time finding a date. But don’t think your offense is actually an injustice.
*I know, by the rules of blogging etiquette I really should’ve linked to the full text of Petroski’s article here. But the only places I can find it online are in men-are-scumbag-oppressor blogs to which I refuse on general principles to link. Instead, I’ll cut and paste the text of the editorial in the comment thread.
Labels: petroski rape satire