June 5, 2017

"Harvard Rescinds Acceptances for At Least Ten Students for Obscene Memes."

Harvard Crimson reports:
A handful of admitted students formed the messaging group—titled, at one point, “Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens”—on Facebook in late December, according to two incoming freshmen. In the group, students sent each other memes and other images mocking sexual assault, the Holocaust, and the deaths of children, according to screenshots of the chat obtained by The Crimson. Some of the messages joked that abusing children was sexually arousing, while others had punchlines directed at specific ethnic or racial groups. One called the hypothetical hanging of a Mexican child “piñata time.”...

Cassandra Luca ’21, who joined the first meme group but not the second... said the founders of the “dark” group chat... "were like, ‘Oh, you have to send a meme to the original group to prove that you could get into the new one’... This was a just-because-we-got-into-Harvard-doesn’t-mean-we-can’t-have-fun kind of thing... I don’t think the school should have gone in and rescinded some offers because it wasn’t Harvard-affiliated, it was people doing stupid stuff."...

[Jessica Zhang ’21, an incoming freshman who joined both chats, said] “I appreciate humor, but there are so many topics that just should not be joked about... I respect the decision of the admissions officers to rescind the offers because those actions really spoke about the students’ true characters.”...

92 comments:

AlbertAnonymous said...

They're better off somewhere else.

Brookzene said...

Character counts.

eric said...

Harvard should really up the suspensions. I mean, yeah, sure, do this stuff. But, why stop there? I'd recommend banning all Christians, Republicans and white males, too.

Oso Negro said...

Yes, it is better for Harvard to stick to students who only joke about or demonize the right groups.

Mike said...

Thank God there were no social media and email errata to sidetrack my college career.

rhhardin said...

They don't want males.

rhhardin said...

When were dead baby jokes? 60s?

rhhardin said...

Followed elephant jokes.

traditionalguy said...

I suppose this means Trump's kids can not be admitted to Harvard unless they have changed their names...I would suggest some Cherokee Indian names.

Richard said...

With the rescinding of acceptances for these students, there are now zero conservatives in the incoming freshman class. Just kidding. I am sure that these students were all good leftists who were showing their true nature because they thought that their comments were private.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

You should never post anything online that you wouldn't want to see printed on the front page of the NYT.

Also, I can't imagine a more humor free group than the people who manage admissions for Harvard. Except for maybe Yale's admission department.

Renee said...

I wouldn't call it 'private', it seemed more like professional network chat which seems oblivious to these students. "The chat grew out of a roughly 100-member messaging group that members of the Class of 2021 set up in early December to share memes about popular culture. Admitted students found and contacted each other using the official Harvard College Class of 2021 Facebook group." Yes, it wasn't on an official group, but all these members were formed through this group. The only things you needed to be to join was a class of 2021. There was no actual personal connection.

rhhardin said...

Wiki says dead baby jokes were early 60s and came from anxiety over abortion and contraception, which is certainly wrong.

The point of them was the structure and rhythm of a joke without a clever turn.

As people get older they get able to put in a clever turn and don't need them, but young males need them.

rhhardin said...

What's grey and comes in quarts.

Goldenpause said...

At least these "unaccepted" students will miss out on four years of PC indoctrination at Harvard -- they'll have to get it somewhere else. Has Harvard stumbled into making itself another example of the infamous "Streisand Effect?"

Bill Peschel said...

Richard writes "With the rescinding of acceptances for these students, there are now zero conservatives in the incoming freshman class. Just kidding."

Clicking on the link brought me to New York magazine which quoted the Crimson, and they overlaid Pepe the Frog over the Harvard logo. I don't think they were kidding.

Freeman Hunt said...

They had a chance to explain. I would assume that students who seemed to be truly apologetic and explained that they got carried away in trying to be funny and shocking might have been those pardoned. The university can make admissions judgments on the basis of character.

Owen said...

(1) The Establishment is not your friend. What did people think would happen if they went to an "official" Harvard website and started riffing?
(2) Online humor is a very fragile thing. Even with millions of emoticons desperately signaling your "real meaning," your big joke is going to fall very flat for at least one humorless PC Gestapo (but I repeat myself). And it will only take one to ruin your life.
(3) Live by email, die by email. Nothing you say will ever be forgotten. And, thanks in part to the new Fourth Circuit interpretation of intent, everything you ever said can and will be used against you in public life.

Welcome to the Hell you've helped to make.

LarsPorsena said...

Those kids can reverse Harvard's decision by filling a notebook with 'Black Lives Matter'.

J. Farmer said...

“I appreciate humor, but there are so many topics that just should not be joked about...

Apparently, Ms. Zhang believes she has been put in charge of deciding for the rest of us what should and should not be joked about.

Mary Beth said...

Does someone flip a coin to see if we're going with "comedy has lines" or with "comedy shouldn't have boundaries" each day?

robother said...

What's funnier than 10 rescinded Harvard acceptance letters?

exiledonmainstreet said...

rhhardin said...
When were dead baby jokes? 60s?"

They're still in vogue at Planned Parenthood clinics.

MadisonMan said...

These rescinded students might consider their lives over. I'd like to see a followup on them in 15-20 years to see how they progressed compared to what would have been their Harvard peers.

And it should be shouted from the rooftops: Admissions Officers are among the most humor-challenged (and self-important) people on Earth.

The Godfather said...

In my day, college students were just as juvenile, but we knew better than to do our juvenalia out in the open where the powers could see us.

MadisonMan said...

...and this does strike me as very thought-police-y. But as a private(ish) institution, I see little problem with it. I would caution any kind of State School from doing this though.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

When I saw "Cassandra Luca ’21" my first thought was that it was either a typo or Cassandra was 118 years old. Tempus fugits.

rehajm said...

The university can make admissions judgments on the basis of character.

Do you test boundaries? Ever questioned authority? Ever satirize political correctness? Have a proclivity for edgy humor? Not receptive to indoctrination? You're not Harvard material.

David said...

"They had a chance to explain. I would assume that students who seemed to be truly apologetic and explained that they got carried away in trying to be funny and shocking might have been those pardoned."

I would wait for more evidence before I reached that conclusion. I am not at all confident that a "carried away" response would save their admission. The admissions officers have their own jobs on the line. Leniency is punishable if directed at the wrong offenders.

I do wonder how hard they thought about this and particularly how high up it went in the chain of command. Certainly the lawyers got into the act.

Leslie Graves said...

I don't see that this is about the admissions office being humor-impaired. Someone who creates a meme or makes a comment about hanging a Mexican child is not actually trying to get anyone to laugh.

After all the work they do to vet incoming students, the admissions office must really be horrified and taken aback at the general stupidity, lack of prudence and overall bad judgment displayed by these formerly-admitted kids.

David said...

The students were unwise. They (and the others who are watching) have learned an important life lesson. That lesson is that transgressing the powerful is dangerous. Words alone can be highly transgressive. For certain kinds of transgressions there will be no pity.

The now rejected students are also going to have a lot of trouble getting into their other choices. The classes are full and the same political-social dynamics will apply.

rhhardin said...

Also you don't want women on the admissions committee.

Expat(ish) said...

it's wonderfully symmetrical that Harvard (of all places) may be the place where the anti-Facebook preference cascade starts....

-XC

David said...

It's Bill Maher and what's-her-name Redhead all over again. These were jokes. Tasteless crass possibly racist transgressive jokes. Probably not even funny jokes. Good comedy. Bad comedy. It's all the same if it presses the wrong buttons on the wrong people.

Kevin said...

I appreciate humor, but there are so many topics that just should not be joked about.

Wrong. Some jokes are just ill thought-out and badly written. We don't decide an entire class of jokes about, say, mothers, is off-limits because someone told an unfunny joke about a mother once.

Not funny means "Try better next time. Put some real thought into it." Not "no joke about Mexican babies can ever be funny, so do not ever try".

If we label some topics off limits to any joke at all, we can shut free expression down. Which is a feature, not a bug, to too many self-righteous people.

Owen said...

Comedy is a perishable commodity. You test it out with a very small and trusted circle. Email allows you to go big early, and suffer the lifelong consequences.

Maybe schools should work harder on this problem? Or maybe parents should help their kids understand the basics of social interaction?

Too much Helicopter Upbringing here?

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Kevin said...

These students should have created a joke site about Trump. The bar is very low as to what qualifies as funny about our President in the current media environment.

If they were unsure, the rules seem to be anything up to and including the words "Putin's cock holster" are fine.

I don't know what the worst joke Conan has told about Trump, but it wasn't enough to impeach his character and revoke his Harvard diploma.

tcrosse said...

My wife says that if God has a sense of humor, it's that of a 15-year-old boy.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

the admissions office must really be horrified and taken aback at the general stupidity, lack of prudence and overall bad judgment displayed by these formerly-admitted kids.

They're 18, maybe even 17. Of course they lack prudence and have bad judgment and act stupidly. The admissions office is horrified that the kids hadn't been properly indoctrinated. They don't know the proper targets of denigration.

Crazy Jane said...

They sound like arrogant, entitled jerks, but if being an arrogant, entitled jerk got you tossed out of Harvard, the school's enrollment would be much smaller.

The crimes here are INCORRECT THOUGHTS expressed by arrogant, entitled jerks, which inches toward being a free speech issue.

I don't find the college's action especially troubling, but I am wary these days of campus suppression of free speech. Too many people shouting, "You're not allowed to say that!" and not enough people saying in a normal tone, "I disagree with you, so why don't we talk about it a little more?"

Unknown said...

Schools have no business poking into student's lives. This goes for what kind of clubs the students join once in school--remember "students" can be any age. Looking at you Harvard. While public jokes by a VP at a major corporation could affect the reputation of that corp, a college is just a space to take classes. It is expected that college kids are asses.
On the other hand these kids are idiots to do this in a public space. However, I believe everyone is an idiot at one time or another or in some way, and we should cut people some slack.

David said...

"Someone who creates a meme or makes a comment about hanging a Mexican child is not actually trying to get anyone to laugh."

How do you know what they were trying to do? Do you think that Harvard actually admitted 10 people who want to see Mexican babies hang? Most likely they were trying to get people to laugh. Or impress others with how edgy and transgressive they are. If you want to say that this kind of humor disqualifies someone from being admitted to Harvard, have at it. But don't pretend to be a mind reader.

David said...

It's still ok to call someone a Motherfucker, right?

Rae said...

It's almost like they thought they had freedom of speech. Morons.

n.n said...

Pro-Choice/abortion (e.g. selective-child), Pro-Choice/dignity (i.e. [class] diversity), and Pro-Choice/equality (i.e. congruence or "=") teach the wrong lessons.

Char Char Binks said...

“I appreciate humor, but... "

Jessica Zhang, THAT is FUNNY!

HoodlumDoodlum said...

More speech! Or, no, wait, freedom of association. Dang; I was close.

The Godfather said...

This is at Harvard, which is seriously considering requiring students to take a loyalty oath that they support the University administration's position on race, sex/gender, and "socioeconomic" discrimination. THAT'S not a joke.

n.n said...

a loyalty oath that they support the University administration's position on race, sex/gender, and "socioeconomic" discrimination

So, it's a Church by any other name, complete with a faith, religious/moral philosophy, and traditions. I suppose acknowledging the logical implications of what they believe, say, and do would reduce the leverage they have exploited (with great profit) in competition with other Churches.

Renee said...

Harvard is a private school. So what if the student have to abide to the tenets of a philosophy? Freedom to associate or not associate.

Mac McConnell said...

Harvard is a private school, but a school that punishes speech should not get have tax exempt status.

Jay Elink said...

"And it should be shouted from the rooftops: Admissions Officers are among the most humor-challenged (and self-important) people on Earth."

*************

Placement Officers are another matter. One, who worked at Harvard years ago, told me he kept a recording of a toilet flushing in his desk drawer.

When a self-important Senior would come to his office and airily demand a job far beyond his experience ("I don't care where I work---as long as I get to make policy"), the PO would see him out the door, then open the desk drawer and play the tape.

Flush!

Jon said...

rhhardin 1136am: battleship paint

Left Bank of the Charles said...

The lesson here for Harvard admittees is to always put down the deposit at your safety school.

Renee said...

"The lesson here for Harvard admittees is to always put down the deposit at your safety school."

Well there's always community college or if you're rich enough to travel for a year.

Fernandinande said...

I'm offended by the egregious misuse of the word "meme".

Here are their dumb jokes.

R.J. Chatt said...

Like the saying goes, "Who's laughing now?" The winners of the Darwin award?

I don't blame Harvard one bit. They know from experience that some people are smart on paper but have poor characters and should never be in positions of power and authority. No point in giving them the advantage of a Harvard education.

The message is clear: It's not like Harvard doesn't have thousands of highly qualified applicants, and many wait listed applicants who aren't people of questionable character and judgement.

Martin said...

I agree with Harvard--obviously, these kids are not emotionally or intellectually ready for college, and by spreading it all over the Internet they proved are not as smart as they may have seemed from their records.

Who needs arrogant little pukes like this?

madAsHell said...

What's grey and comes in quarts.

An elephant?

Humperdink said...

"They're still in vogue at Planned Parenthood clinics."

How many dead baby hearts does to take to get a Lamborghini? (Joke overheard in the Planned Slaughterhood lunchroom)

Static Ping said...

Most 18-year-olds are not ready for Harvard and the ones that are I am generally suspicious. But, yeah, make examples of dumb kids doing dumb things who were going to Harvard to learn to be adults. The virtue signaling in glorious, you tough guys you!

Mark Caplan said...

Given how dumb you'd have to be these days to post messages on social media that would anger SJWs, these rejects must have been legacy and big donation admissions.

Bonkti said...

Black humor matters.

The Godfather said...

@Ferdinande: Thanks for posting the offensive material. I hope you have no plans to attend Harvard, because I think you just screwed the pooch on that.

Actually, all in all this stuff wasn't as bad as the uproar led me to expect. I would call it sophmoric, but I guess that Harvard's not going to let them skip a grade.

n.n. said: Harvard is "a Church by any other name". Yeah, but the hymns are pretty blah. "Fight Fiercely Harvard" is OK. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27PSHASlGUU

Virtually Unknown said...

Wiki says dead baby jokes were early 60s and came from anxiety over abortion and contraception, which is certainly wrong.

The point of them was the structure and rhythm of a joke without a clever turn.


It's always about them, isn't it? I remember the dead baby jokes and I never gave abortion a thought at the time. I think it is their guilty conscience that makes them think that way.

Now they would be about abortion.

"What's funnier than a truck load of dead babies?"

"Pulling them apart with forceps!"

Doesn't work does it? See, unloading them with pitchforks, the original punch line, was unexpected and seemed totally absurd. Hence the laugh, based in disgust and revulsion, of course, not abortion politics.

Virtually Unknown said...

I guess the Moby Grape jokes were about anxiety over the endangered status of whale species.

Birches said...

Thanks for the link Ferdinande. They were as dumb as I expected. Not hateful. Dumb.

Etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Etienne said...

Posting on social media is the 21st century equivalent of robbing trains in the 19th Century.

n.n said...

The Godfather:

Yet it still has a following and commands respect.

Seriously, I am analyzing the logical implications of these policies, to understand that their motive and effect is indistinguishable from a traditional "Church". They are an organized proponent and distributor of religious/moral (i.e. behavioral dictates) material.

Does it really matter if the philosopher is mortal or not?

Maybe it doesn't. A large number of people seem to regard "secular" as a magical incantation that is universally independent of any other consideration.

William said...

I read through the jokes. They were all funnier than Griffin's severed head bit....,.,I used to read the National Lampoon. As I remember, they used to go too far and then try to top it. The National Lampoon was an outgrowth of the Harvard Lampoon. It was easily the most influential magazine of my generation and very, very funny. I think all the writers would have been expelled if they tried to put forth such a magazine today.

Francisco D said...

When you are in or near the academic bubble world, drop everything sharp, particularly humor.

The leftist bubble will be protected at all costs.

On the bright side, these kids have learned an extremely important life lesson - never provoke the PC police. If I had told my professors (in 1980) that I supported Reagan, I would never have gotten together a dissertation committee, much less passed the dissertation. Things have only become worse in the past 35 years.

Virtually Unknown said...

Griffin's surprise at the reaction to the severed head was probably similar to the surprise Bill Ayers would have felt at the reaction to Obama's buddy's planned bombing of a dance of soldiers and their girlfriends, had he managed to succeed. But since he failed, he got a cushy job at University of Chicago and gave seminars with a future president of the United States. The best thing to happen to Griffen would have been had the images been somehow erased due to incompetence, the way Ayer's bomb plot failed.

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

It's reassuring to read through this thread and be reminded of what horrible taste so many right-wingers have. Harvard's reputation is built on a certain sense of character that we expect in our leaders, or anyone getting that high a quality of education. It has every right to defend that highly lucrative reputation, and only a commie would disagree.

They even had the character to offer the students a chance to defend their writings. It really doesn't get any fairer than that. They're challenging them to prove that they can live up to the high standards and reputation of the place they'd be forever associated with. Hard to think of a fairer response. Lesser universities would just shut them out (or retreat from confronting them) and leave it at that.

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

Harvard was begun by clergy. Defending/confronting the effects its student body have on its reputation is simply conveying fidelity to its brand.

Bob Loblaw said...

Apparently, Ms. Zhang believes she has been put in charge of deciding for the rest of us what should and should not be joked about.

She's probably a feminist, too, so... no jokes allowed.

Unknown said...

"Harvard provides a high quality of education". Objection, your honor. Assumes facts not in evidence. "Sustained. Please restate!"

"Harvard is a finishing school meant to connect you with people, not with teaching you how to actually do anything in life."

Much better.

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

"Harvard provides a high quality of education". Objection, your honor. Assumes facts not in evidence. "Sustained. Please restate!"

"Harvard is a finishing school meant to connect you with people, not with teaching you how to actually do anything in life."

Much better.


Unknown restated this for the benefit of himself and the other socially uneducables.

The people that connect there are talented and hence, like any network, its value rests on the value of the participants. Some were born into it. I'd bet quite a bit fewer of them will go anywhere based on that fact alone. High admissions standards are important, but not to people who lack standards entirely.

Virtually Unknown said...

It's a pretty funny "revolutionary" who toadies for the center of power, wealth, and privilege in the United States of America.

William said...

I myself have a gentle, whimsical sense of humor. I have used the space here to poke fun at women with mastectomies and children with birth defects, but I've never gone so far as to make fun of Mexicans. There's nothing funny about Mexicans. I did once say that Mexicans would be better off if they bought piñatas that looked like El Chappo rather than Donald Trump, but that wasn't a joke. I would never joke about Mexicans.

khesanh0802 said...

Given the current witch hunt on anything resembling sexual abuse at, or near, Harvard these posts amount to criminal stupidity by kids who should know better. Most of it is harmless and tasteless, but it evolved from some kind of Harvard sponsored chat room -so what did they expect to happen?. I have had an ongoing battle with the Dean of Harvard College about his very public decision to penalize members of " Final clubs" while he is extremely quiet and obscure about what steps are being taken to deal with the overwhelming "problem" of sexual assault in the Harvard owned and managed dorms and Houses. I get nothing but garbage responses. In this case, however, I feel the admissions committee was absolutely correct. Admission to Harvard - and I am sure most schools- is conditioned upon successfully completing your senior year, both academically and socially. These people demonstrated that Admissions had made a mistake in admitting them in the first place.

Jason said...

ARE YOU NOW OR HAVE YOU EVER BEEN A CONTRIBUTOR TO 4CHAN?

Jason said...

You can actually be an honest-to-God spokesperson for the Taliban, though, and still get into an Ivy League school. Like Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi from Yale University.

David said...

"It's not like Harvard doesn't have thousands of highly qualified applicants, and many wait listed applicants who aren't people of questionable character and judgement."

Balderdash. The definition of being age 17 or 18 is having questionable character and judgment. One of the challenges of education is to develop both more fully. With these 10 exemplars, Harvard declined to take up the challenge.

Mountain Maven said...

'Bout time.

Drago said...

TTR: " Harvard's reputation is built on a certain sense of character that we expect in our leaders, or anyone getting that high a quality of education. It has every right to defend that highly lucrative reputation, and only a commie would disagree."

Indeed.

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/foreigners/2012/05/harvard_and_the_chinese_communist_party_top_chinese_officials_are_studying_at_elite_u_s_universities_in_large_numbers_.html

cheddar said...

Would Christa McAauliffe jokes be OK?

Friedrich Engels' Barber said...

Harvard was premature in trying to change the last line of Fair Harvard:
"Till the stock of the Puritans die." - sounds like the Puritans are still well in control of the Yard.

The old joke is, you can always tell a Harvard man, but you can't tell him much. I guess now you can tell him even less. ("Man" and "him" standing in for all Harvard genders, in all their glory.)

M. Sean Fosmire said...

It happened last year, too. See http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2016/4/5/group-message-accepted-students/

My guess is that Harvard decided last year that they will be tougher "next year."

khesanh0802 said...

@FEB True, the people in charge at Harvard today are about as intolerant as the Puritan founders, but what they are intolerant about is a far cry from what the Founders were concerned with. Although I think the admissions committee was correct in this instance, this is the kind of "prank" that has always gone on at the school. Probably the larger problem is that many of those who use social media seem to have little judgement and no self-control. Perhaps Admissions' decision will have a salutary effect on the general stupidity exhibited on social media.

lgv said...

I get why they were kicked out. But, it is not much of a stretch to see the future. Make an FB post saying global warming is a hoax. Make an FB post against transgender bathrooms. These will eventually get you "unaccepted" to Harvard and other colleges. Someday there will be FB prep courses, like SAT prep courses. You will be trained on what and what not to post on social media. There will be canned PC posts in support of all the social justice causes.

JAORE said...

Thank God that my teen years were somewhere between the telegraph and today. Inappropriate jokes a plenty. The biggest risk was an "adult" would over hear us and report us to our mothers.

Like politicians (seemingly) unable to understand last years statements are still alive, kids don't seem to understand their on-line voices echo far and wide.