August 25, 2015

A Duke freshman refuses to read an Alison Bechdel's graphic novel "Fun Home" on the ground that to look at it is immoral.

A WaPo op-ed by Brian Grasso. The book, which "includes cartoon drawings of a woman masturbating and multiple women engaging in oral sex," was assigned to all freshmen. Grasso doesn't resist the requirement of reading material he disagrees with or reading about sex. Pictures are different, in his view.

He cites the words of Jesus: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” and “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away.”

Jesus seems (to me) to be disapproving of the feeling that results from looking at women (whom one frequently encounters in real life and not merely in pictures). I don't see that as saying don't look at pictures, just don't look at them with lust, and don't look at real, live women with lust. But: 1. You could decide that you need to avoid looking at certain things because you predict that they will inspire lust, and 2. Grasso is entitled to his own interpretation of the religion, including reading "looking at a woman lustfully" to mean looking at a drawing of a woman engaged in sex.

Grasso anticipates that some people will say that he doesn't have to go to Duke, and if he chooses to attend, he needs to do the assignments, and if he can't, he ought to go somewhere else. But he argues: 1. That graphic depictions of sex are rarely part of a class assignment and unlikely to be that important, and 2. People like him contribute to diversity.

There are over 1,000 comments. The first one I saw (the most recent) was:
You should be treated like any one who chooses not to complete an assignment, whether the reason is they were drunk, the dog ate the book, or you flushed it down the toilet.   Your religious self-righteous rambling is rather irrelevant. If you get a zero on this part of the class and can still go one, great. If not, then drop the class like all others.  What makes you and your beliefs any different than that of a person who thinks certain books are boring or too difficult or "not culturally compatible" with what they believe in?
IN THE COMMENTS: Meade said: "Everybody Draw Jesus Looking Lustfully At Cartoon Drawings Of Women Masturbating And Engaging In Oral Sex Day."

136 comments:

kcom said...

Was it assigned to all freshmen or all freshman in a certain class?

(AutoCorrect made or all into oral)

Pettifogger said...

1. I am unfamiliar with the book, but I'm skeptical of its educational value.

2. I would like to cut this guy some slack.

3. I have zero sympathies with Muslims who profess offense at Western literature or other aspects of Western culture.

4. I don't see a good way to reconcile item 3 with item 2.

So I think this guy has to be out of luck.

ndspinelli said...

Required reading for all Duke students should be, Until Proven Innocent, about the Duke Lacrosse scandal. The Duke administration and professors lost all credibility w/ that despicable case. I doubt any professor would want to discuss that book!

YoungHegelian said...

I await the verdict of the anti-religious when some male literature professor assigns his favorite piece of pornography to the class as an assigned reading (let's just start with "Tropic of Cancer", shall we?). When all the feminists students have apoplexy over it, well, if they don't like it, they just get flunked, just like when the dog ate their homework.

But, of course, we all know: when the secular left comes up with some moral dogma, it's based on REASON. When a believer does it, it's some "2000 year old superstition". Because, there's never, ever, any question on just what rational bases one builds one's morality on. And, purely secular notions of morality never, ever go horribly astray in practice (Cough, cough, Marxism).

darrenoia said...

Kids these days. In my day, you just didn't read the book. You didn't tell the professor or anybody else at school you weren't reading the book. Sit in class, take notes, regurgitate. That's what college is built on. Geez.

That said, I love the blindness of the (presumably left-wing) commentator you quote:

'What makes you and your beliefs any different than that of a person who thinks certain books are boring or too difficult or "not culturally compatible" with what they believe in?'

Erm, maybe an entire college culture that tells adults they need trigger warnings and safe zones?

Better yet, extrapolate it out beyond campus to the world at large. To the gay marriage crowd: "What makes you and your beliefs any different than that of a person who thinks women should be subjugated or any other belief repugnant to a cake maker who doesn't want to celebrate it? Accept the consequences of your beliefs and find another way to get what you want."

To the left-winger, the lit student should be out of luck, but the gay couple shouldn't be. Why? You can nuance it and slice it any way you want, but it boils down to content. Left wingers defend gays; they attack religious people. That's why.

Of course, if a gay person were offended by some piece of literature, you can bet that the same crowd would want it banned and the professor censured. Then again, you can also bet that conservatives would rise to the prof's defense.

Edward Bolger said...

Actually I thought his Op-Ed was well explained and made a lot of sense. One of my kids left college because he was tired of Profs throwing their agenda's out to the classes as being the only way you will pass the class. He ,now, happily has his own business and is comfortable.

Gahrie said...

If I ever become a college professor I'm going to demand that my students read the Gor books by John Norman and the Paladin books by John Ringo.

YoungHegelian said...

I was also unaware that Laslo teaches at Duke. Then again, maybe not. If it was him, there'd be an anal sex scene or two. Or three. Or four......

n.n said...

Awesome. The next reading assignment will be "Living in an "=" Society Under Selective Exclusion". Followed by "The Abortion Industry, Planned Parenthood, and the Sacrificial Rites of Pro-choice Cults". I wonder how many doctrinaires would refuse to read them on the grounds it offends their religious/moral sensibilities. Forward!

buwaya said...

Whats the point of another comment after a thousand ? Oh, wait.

chickelit said...


kcom said...

Was it assigned to all freshmen or all freshman in a certain class?

Let's hope it was just for one specific course. Making an entire incoming class read any book sounds immoral on principle and should be rejected.

MountainMan said...

So I see the average cost to attend Duke is almost $68K a year. And for that your first freshman reading assignment is this? I am glad my kids all finished college over 10 years ago. They attended the big state U, got a really good education, it cost only a fraction of this, and they still had a Western Civ curriculum, just like I did over 40 years ago.

Terry said...

"Your religious self-righteous rambling is rather irrelevant."
"Rather irrelevant" is modifying an absolute.

chickelit said...

Back in the day at good ol' UW Madison, I used to sign up for more one or two more courses than I needed. Being a chemistry major, I didn't have too many courses from agenda-driven SJW's but I remember dropping a couple. I was none the poorer for having done so. I am all for rating and ranking professors. Back in those days it was all word of mouth.

Gahrie said...

Making an entire incoming class read any book sounds immoral on principle and should be rejected.

It is pretty much the norm now. The required readings lists are usually full of Leftwing crap too.

chickelit said...

Terry said...

"Rather irrelevant" is modifying an absolute.

Don't go casting pearls of wisdom before SJW swine. :)

harrogate said...

He has got what, a week of college under his belt and he closes his "Op Ed" with this: "*That* is what college is really about."

Oh sage one, hold forth.

Bob Boyd said...

Somebody from Women's Studies should just give him a good tongue lashing and let it go at that.

Big Mike said...

"Graphic novel" is what we used to call a comic book. Duke used to be a respectable academic institution, but these days it assigns comic books as reading material.

Laslo Spatula said...

I will educate your college-aged women for much cheaper.


I am Laslo.

Meade said...

Everybody Draw Jesus Looking Lustfully At Cartoon Drawings Of Women Masturbating And Engaging In Oral Sex Day

sean said...

Well, my approach during my years in New Haven and Berkeley was much closer to darrenoia's than Edward Bolger's son: don't bother reading the book (unless you want to) or going to class; figure out the professor's moronic political beliefs, and regurgitate them on the exam. Then take your diploma(s) and get a real job.

Sometimes I think it must be frustrating to be a professor. You think you are shaping young minds, but they disdain you, manipulate you, and go on to lead lives you despise. Kind of pointless. Of course, it may be that my professors didn't care about my young mind and were primarily interested in young bodies and the physical enjoyment thereof. In which case, quite a few of them had their reward.

Laslo Spatula said...

""includes cartoon drawings of a woman masturbating and multiple women engaging in oral sex..."

Did it depict them as pretty. or was it non-fiction?


I am Laslo.

Unknown said...

Now imagine that the student were a Muslim.

...liberals would insist that the book is offensive.

Now imagine that the student were a woman...who had been assaulted by a...

David Begley said...

Graphic novel = comic book = academic joke.

Glad to see these are the type of classes the NCAA basketball champs take to remain eligible.

glenn said...

I'll bet this story gets more coverage from *BM that those disgusting Planned Parenthood videos. Any Takers?

*Big Media.


Not that other BM.

chickelit said...

Sometimes I think it must be frustrating to be a professor. You think you are shaping young minds, but they disdain you, manipulate you, and go on to lead lives you despise.

It's all because those SJW professors see their students' minds as little vessels to be filled and not as fires to be kindled.

There is right way and wrong way to teach controversial literature. I wrote about an extraordinary HS English teacher I had here.

buwaya said...

I am disappointed that clever teenage boys have been unable to turn this into a tidal wave of low humor. There seems to be a lack of creativity among the young these days.

Anonymous said...

Meade said, "Everybody Draw Jesus Looking Lustfully At Cartoon Drawings Of Women Masturbating And Engaging In Oral Sex Day."

Then all the violent Christians should hunt down the ones who did and cut off their heads. Isn't that the way to handle that sort of thing nowadays?

Watchful Hours said...

College sure has changed from my time (some decades ago). We had a mandatory course Freshman year, Philosophy and Religion, which as I recall didn't involve any books with pictures in them. Professors have clearly learned since then. Make it fun! Sex it up! Be edgy and cool!

Spinoza would advise: do not weep or be indignant. Understand. To understand is to be free.

buwaya said...

"He has got what, a week of college under his belt and he closes his "Op Ed" with this: "*That* is what college is really about."

Well, it seems that comic book is what Duke is about apparently.
He should maybe transfer to someplace cost-effective.
Cal Poly is excellent, just as a suggestion.

Jason said...

Why doesn't "reasonable accommodation" doctrine apply? I mean, if he wanted to keep halal or kosher because of religious customs most organizations wouldn't have a problem providing those kinds of meals. Providing an alternative reading assignment seems even easier and more reasonable than that, to the point of triviality.

Just what the hell book that features pictures of masturbating women could possibly be so central to understanding the canon of western art and literature that no broad-minded, educated individual with a firm grasp of the liberal arts and humanities could function without it?

buwaya said...

In my day they made us engineering nerds take a philosophy series, the worst of which was all about Sartre. That semester I learned to hate.

Paco Wové said...

He saw the crazy, and he raised the crazy.
Doubled-down on crazy, so to speak.

chuck said...

Reading a comic book? Really? Where is the education? I say make them do calculus.

Michael K said...

I remember at Dartmouth when a women's studies professor was showing these huge slides of labias and vaginas. Fortunately, the Dartmouth Review published a guide to the faculty, which allowed those who were not as into labia (sorry for the pun) as she was, to avoid her course.\

Of course the Dartmouth faculty tried to shut down the Dartmouth Review. That was 20 years ago when comic books were not yet required textbooks.

chickelit said...

buwaya said...

In my day they made us engineering nerds take a philosophy series, the worst of which was all about Sartre. That semester I learned to hate.

Genes, Genes make a machine.
To know, know makes it grow.
Sarte, Sarte let a fart
And blew the whole machine apart.

buwaya said...

Oh, to be 18 and immature again ! The fun to be had !
I can think of so many evil tricks to play here it could play out for a whole semester.
Youth is wasted on the young, never more so than today.

chickelit said...

Meade said: Everybody Draw Jesus Looking Lustfully At Cartoon Drawings Of Women Masturbating And Engaging In Oral Sex Day.

You first, Meade. And have Althouse publish it.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

My first lesson of freshmen year was how to get by without having read the required summer reading, which was Pudd'nhead Wilson by Mark Twain. It wasn't that I skipped reading it, although I did have plenty to do that summer - biking across Iowa, attending the Iowa State Fair, mowing and stacking hay. I just hadn't read the packet that carefully to see that there was such an assignment.

I think though, without having done the reading, that our Duke freshman has confused adultery and fornication. I suggest he go back to Bible study. Maybe pictures would help.

CWJ said...

Assigning comic books at an "elite" institution like Duke is nothing more than confirming the primary purpose of a Duke degree. Just like the "Ivy's," it's contacts and the chance of future influence first, and an actual functioning education far down the list. IOW, pay to play.

To repeat, comic books!

Chuck said...

It's an embarrassment for Duke. The fact that they assigned, to all freshmen, a lesbian comic book, will be shocking to the outside world.

It would be hard to imagine why anybody at Duke thought this would be a good idea. Except that the lesbian author is now being celebrated by all the people that Duke faculty pay attention to. She's got a Broadway play based on this comic book. She's been invited for the standard fawning interview with Terry Gross on the NPR program, Fresh Air. She's an artistic icon for the liberal salons of Manhattan, the Hamptons, and now... Durham.

It wasn't always this way. There was a time when places like Duke, Princeton, Harvard, Yale, and Michigan were founded as religious institutions as part and parcel of any academic mission. Now -- as this student points out -- anyone entering the academy knows that it is overwhelmingly liberal in all of its politics and culture.

Chuck said...

It's an embarrassment for Duke. The fact that they assigned, to all freshmen, a lesbian comic book, will be shocking to the outside world.

It would be hard to imagine why anybody at Duke thought this would be a good idea. Except that the lesbian author is now being celebrated by all the people that Duke faculty pay attention to. She's got a Broadway play based on this comic book. She's been invited for the standard fawning interview with Terry Gross on the NPR program, Fresh Air. She's an artistic icon for the liberal salons of Manhattan, the Hamptons, and now... Durham.

It wasn't always this way. There was a time when places like Duke, Princeton, Harvard, Yale, and Michigan were founded as religious institutions as part and parcel of any academic mission. Now -- as this student points out -- anyone entering the academy knows that it is overwhelmingly liberal in all of its politics and culture.

Anonymous said...

Someone should chop someone's heads off for blasphemy.

MayBee said...

Jason said...
Why doesn't "reasonable accommodation" doctrine apply? I mean, if he wanted to keep halal or kosher because of religious customs most organizations wouldn't have a problem providing those kinds of meals. Providing an alternative reading assignment seems even easier and more reasonable than that, to the point of triviality.

Just what the hell book that features pictures of masturbating women could possibly be so central to understanding the canon of western art and literature that no broad-minded, educated individual with a firm grasp of the liberal arts and humanities could function without it?


Perfect comment, Jason.

MayBee said...

So Abercrombie has to make accommodations to allow a woman they have not yet hired to wear a hijab in their clothing clothing and lifestyle store. But Duke gets to make Christians read a book about women masturbating.

This does not make a lot of sense to me.

Coupe said...
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chickelit said...

I must admit that I feel Schadenfreude watching these SJWs slowly wreck the Ivy brand. May they all wind up working for Titus and then getting laid off.

traditionalguy said...

The college only wants to inseminate the students minds to be willing to accept immorality as nothing much. Tolerate it succor.

I expect they also require experimentation with mind altering drugs. It's is all the same thing. It precisely aims at changing the rejection of immorality into an easy acceptance of the destructions that immorality marks men's souls with. Then we can all become equally damaged moral weaklings from Duke and do as we will.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Now that I've done some of the reading, which is to say I read the plot summary on Wikipedia and watched the highlights from the Broadway musical on YouTube, I will put to the Duke freshman the following quiz in lieu of his finishing the reading.

Which of the following would violate your understanding of Matthew 5:28-29 and whether you answer depends on whether you yourself are married:

1) Lusting after the main character Alison.
2) Lusting after Alison's mother.
3) Lusting after Alison's mother after Alison's father commits suicide by stepping in front of a truck.
4) Lusting after Alison's father.
5) Watching Megyn Kelly's show on Fox News, as I am doing now.
6) Looking at the various pictures in the Fun Home graphic novel without lust.

Bob Boyd said...

"Duke" is an awfully masculine name for a university these days. Conjures images of big fists and John Wayne.
If they were serious about women's rights they'd change the name to Duchess.

Joe said...

Stop federal subsidizing of higher education, let colleges compete on actually educating students and you'll see a massive drop of this kind of crap (administrations will also shrink dramatically in size.)

Given Duke's recent history of acting like jerks, perhaps alumni will stop donating.

Big Mike said...

In the comments upthread Meade writes: "Everybody Draw Jesus Looking Lustfully At Cartoon Drawings Of Women Masturbating And Engaging In Oral Sex Day."

On another post Althouse writes: "A hopeless, absurd need to rescue that baby wracks my soul."

Ah, have you guys thought about having your Madison tap water tested?

Terry said...

According to an opinion piece in my paper today:
"All educational institutions struggle with the tension between their obligation to confront society’s values and the forces that push them to conform with and reflect those values."
The author is "John M. Crisp, an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service, [who] teaches in the English Department at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi, Texas."

I look forward to educational institutions confronting society's values re: diversity, the environment, equality between the sexes, and especially the way society values higher education.

madAsHell said...

Looking at women with lust. Yeah...I'm guilty.

Oddly, I've been acquainted with a couple of women since I was 3 years old. We went through church Sunday school, elementary, junior high, high school, and college together. One was a cheerleader, and the other was drop-dead gorgeous.

I knew their parents, and their sisters, and their brothers. In my mind, they were taboo. They were too close.

Of course, their brothers might have influenced my thinking.

Coupe said...
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Coupe said...
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David said...

Once again our great universities are confronting the Big Issues of Vast Importance.

Dale said...

I want a class for the teacher and her supporters that required them to read and take a test on the neutrally discussed "Book of Rape" that favorably treats rape as a good thing, especially of lesbians. There will be no offense tolerated. In fact, failure to participate in class discussions and view rape sequences will qualify the teacher and her supporters as having failed the class, and all of the appropriate consequences of academic failure would accompany it.

Fuckers.

William said...

I guess it's possible that a graphic novel, i.e. comic book, can attain the status of high art, but shouldn't that be left for future generations to decide. There are other books that have passed the test of time, and, if these books are not assigned, they will never be read by these students. As a college student I would have taken a lively interest in a comic book that featured girls masturbating, but discussing it in a classroom setting would have taken all the fun out of it.......There are novels by Tolstoy that these kids are never going to read. They don't need a college instructor to find out the best comic books or rap songs. This is not wisdom that the academy can pass down because it is not wisdom that the academy can raise up.

The Godfather said...

I have been wracking my brain (yes, I use a very small wrack for this) trying to figure out what the academic purpose would be of assigning a pornographic comic book as required freshman reading. The book has apparently been successful and well-received at least in certain circles, but it doesn't appear to be one of those books that any educated person should be familiar with and understand, like Huckleberry Finn, or Look Homeward Angel (Duke is in NC after all), or The Fountainhead.

The ONLY reason that I can come up with is that this is an attempt to indoctrinate incoming students to accept, endorse, and embrace what traditionally was regarded as perversion. For many 18-year-olds the pornographic aspects of the book would be a feature not a bug, which may be why Duke selected it. Now I personlly don't consider lesbian or gay sex to be perverted per se (of course, just like heterosexual sex it can be perverted in practice), nor do I object to looking at pornography for academic purposes. But I do object to indoctrination that is as blatant and crude as what Duke seems to be doing here. In my day (i.e., the early '60's) we reacted negatively to academic attempts to manipulate us. If the current generation's reaction is similar, Duke's practices are likely to create a generation of homophobic puritans.

I think it's best to keep porn in the sleezy back streets where it can be enjoyed without academic credit or blame.

Diamondhead said...

You can decide you don't want to read a certain book in college, but you have to show your work. One set of calculations makes you courageous, a different set of calculations makes you an object of contempt.

Titus said...

I saw the musical, and I normally hate Broadway shit, but it was great.

The young girl sang her heart out when she saw the butch dyke.

tits.

ganderson said...

Bob Boyd said...

"Duke" is an awfully masculine name for a university these days.

I tell my high school charges to never go to a school named after a character on Gomer Pyle, USMC.

Rae said...

Good for him for following his convictions. If they don't make an accommodation for him, he should accept his failing grade with pride, and wait for a Muslim to take the course and see if they treat him the same.

exhelodrvr1 said...

I remember having "Classic Comics" versions of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and "Lorna Doone," but I don't remember this one.

John Vaci said...

Hmmm...a rather simple theological question that no one seems prepared to answer. The young pup is asking about eye gouging, appendage removal and lusting. I had thought that all this was covered in the 3rd grade teamster sex ed pogroms of the innocents. Well Brian, sorry your catechism failed you but here are the blindingly (no pun) simple facts:
1. You live in a fallen world full of sin
2. Christ died for everyone's sins, yours too! You are not guilty

Now Brian, there are two religions in the world (pardon the freshmen level work here):
1. Those who believe they can work their way into God's grace (clue: involves gouging and amputations), and;
2. Those who believe in Him and Christ's last words on the cross: "It is finished."

As long as were getting back to basics let's go with Hermeneutics 101: The three rules of bible interpretation are:
1. Context
2. Context
3. Context

If you apply all three of these rules you can boil down what Jesus is trying to scream out to you: "You can't do it on your own (work your way in) I've got this." Put another way, we are so corrupted that God Himself had to sacrifice His Son for us. Here's another, if ya think ya can do it by gouging and cutting, what did Christ die for? Jesus told a lawyer the same thing--"If you think you can keep the law without me...go ahead and try." He told another jackass to give away everything...

Do you see a pattern? If you think you are a god and you can save yourself go ahead and give it a shot...good luck!

OK you have company, 90% of the world picks religion #1. Survey after survey after survey:
1. Do you believe in God: YES!
2. Is there a heaven... and a hell YES YES!
3. Are you going to heaven: Oh YES!
4. Why? Well, ugh, on the overall scale of things I've been a good person. (No, you have not actually)

Christ will judge all the living and the dead and decide where they are going for eternity. When He asks me I'm going to say: "Because you died for my sins." Not some Billy Clinton bullshit about what is is.

Anonymous said...

I hire college graduates. If I get any applicants from Duke I will be sure to ask them about the lesbian comic books they read and if it opened their minds to a lifetime of reading lesbian comic books.

Coupe said...
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Freeman Hunt said...
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Michael K said...

" the lesbian author is now being celebrated by all the people that Duke faculty pay attention to."

"The Duke 88" all got prestigious faculty jobs. I would not send a kid there.

The Cracker Emcee said...

"Now imagine that the student were a Muslim.

...liberals would insist that the book is offensive.

Now imagine that the student were a woman...who had been assaulted by a..."

Just so. Whatever the merits of his position scholastics-wise, good for him for jamming it back at them. Christian indentity politics is going to provide many a mirthful moment.

Big Mike said...

I finally got around to looking up the book on Amazon (didn't buy it). It's got a hard cover, so I guess that makes it a higher class comic book. But from what I could see (all of the first two chapters and most of the third), it's still a comic book.

Bay Area Guy said...

Simple solution - if your kid can get into Duke, he surely can get into NC State.

Fight back against college Leftism with mockery and ridicule, I say.

Michael K said...

I suspect that electrical engineering majors are probably not expected to read a lesbian comic book before class starts.

It's just hilarious that some lesbian warrior (I assume) threatened me with "slut shaming" on Facebook today because I commented that, if she wanted to bar men from saying anything about abortion, it was OK with me as long as the fetuses aborted were female.

" Screenshotted and sent to 10 random women from your friends list plus your alma mater, Michael Kennedy. Enjoy the ramifications of your public assholishness." Please spread that far and wide, if you dare. Try to remember that 50% of aborted babies are male. The PP videos are turning the country and you are on the losing side. I am even pro-choice but selling baby body parts is criminal.

She is still going. Notice how ashamed of my opinion I am. She attacked me for saying that 50% of fetuses aborted were male so men should be allowed to opine !

Is there something on the X chromosome that weakens the mind ?

Barry Jacobs said...

The student has an easy and effective means of recourse: march down to the university EEOC officer and file a sexual harassment complaint. The material is explicitly sexual, all he need do is asset that it causes him discomfort in order to set the Orwellian wheels in motion. The professor will be lucky to escape with a job (and then only after mandatory sensitivity training).

Jim S. said...

One purpose of a liberal arts education, is to take you out of your comfort zone.

How well you respond, is a measure of your maturity.


Saying they were just trying to take students out of their comfort zones is a little misleading. If we instead say, "One purpose of a liberal arts education, is to compel you to violate your moral code," we would not be as accepting of it. In fact, it would give a very different flavor to the next sentence: "How well you respond [to someone trying to compel you to violate your moral code], is a measure of your maturity." That's true. You could stand firm or you could just give in and choose the easier path of violating your moral code. Which is more indicative of maturity?

chickelit said...

Michael K. quoted : Enjoy the ramifications of your public assholishness.

In a just world, the unnamed-she would enjoy the ramifications of her invaginated public opinions.

Anonymous said...

It says a lot about Duke as an institution of higher learning that it thinks graphic depictions of sex are somehow a mandatory part of that education (I mean really, sex is about as basic as it gets, even unschooled people are usually quite knowledgeable on this topic). There were courses on porn when I was in college, and while it was popular, it was always as an opt-in elective, never a required course.

I'd tend to side with the student on this one. Websites that deal with this kind of material come with a content warning and ask for consent to view the material. Somehow I doubt Duke advertises anywhere that attendance constitutes consent to view this sort of thing. And how does this work with students who aren't yet 18?

I'd also wonder if a Duke student who gets sexually assaulted there could conceivably sue the university and argue that it encourages a "rape culture" by mandating that everyone look at pornographic pictures.

Coupe said...
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Renee said...

If college students can protest/shut down speakers all the time....

Duke (considering the cost of the institution) has mandated reading for all freshman? So this isn't a professor at a academic level choosing this literature, it is at a department/administration level this is being chosen. It's a highly selective school, no need for basic 101/102 type courses for everyone. The whole course is a waste one's student debt....

Renee said...

Read in July 2007
just insert "Fun Home" in place of "House of Leaves" in Mickey's review:


This book looks at you with this smug fucking smile on it's face, daring you to say that you don't like it, knowing that masses of people are going to go along with it because they don't want to look stupid. That's what this is. It's the fucking Radiohead of books. Well, House of Leaves, I am not stupid and I'm calling your bullshit. Fuck you

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/10847577

Anonymous said...

"Somebody from Women's Studies should just give him a good tongue lashing and let it go at that."

Uh, people from Women's Studies don't tongue lash guys.

tim in vermont said...

My daughter as an 18 year old freshman oops, I mean "first year" enrolled in a class like this. She dropped it within the drop period without penalty and said perhaps she would take it as a junior or something.

But good on this kid for showing them that campus "diversity" is a sham and a scam. "What's the opposite of diversity? University." - Kate at SDA.

tim in vermont said...

Imagine the sturm und drang if freshman were required to read The Education of Little Tree, for example.

I think that some people confuse "education" with "indoctrination."

damikesc said...

So the guy should've said it was offensive and demanded the censorship instead of simply saying he disapproves morally? Got it. I didn't notice him saying that it should be banned and sensitivity training should be required...so Christians, we need to take that route. Best way to kill the idiotic university requirements like this is to show them for the farce they are.

The Ivies need to realize that people like me, when I was a state school about 20 years ago, knew that "elite" schools seldom had more difficult curricula (normally, it was the opposite) and were there SOLELY as a means of making connections. This shit makes it more obvious to people who have been out of college longer or never attended.

...mind you, if it were me, I'd have done the assignment and just laced into the terrible project. Royally pissed off a Women's Studies professor by stating that abortion is just de facto birth control and cited studies demonstrating the reasons for it and that anybody who disputes those studies is just unwilling to face reality.

Sure, she failed me...but the dean ended up siding with me and it became a "C". So go me. But I was willing to be an outcast --- you know, an ACTUAL one who didn't just go along with the popular zeitgeist.

One purpose of a liberal arts education, is to take you out of your comfort zone.

But it specifically DOESN'T do that.

I didn't have a single discussion of a single idea of a conservative that wasn't mocked. That bullshit might work on people who don't know better, but anybody who has been to college in the last quarter century will call bullshit on that.

Larry J said...

If a female student had complained that the book triggered anxiety based on bad memories, I doubt she would've been ridiculed. When a male student claims that the book violates his religious beliefs, he's told to shut up, eat the shit sandwich, or leave. It seems sensitivity and tolerance is not distributed very well.

Jane the Actuary said...

The comments there are uniformly awful. Sounds like, if Duke had decided that all students must view literal porn to be eligible to register for class, they'd be happy to go along with that, too (well, so long as it was a Christian complaining, anyway).

But what's not clear is this: it sounds as if he has opted out, and is just alerting the world to such. It does not seem as if Duke is penalizing him. Correct?

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

The lesson here is that a look at the "required reading list" should be included when shopping for a college or university. Caveat emptor.

tim in vermont said...

The whole point of liberalism is to take "those people" out of their comfort zone while being thoroughly ideologically cossetted themselves.

Same with the network news. Only and idiot would question the narrative!

Robert Cook said...

"If I ever become a college professor I'm going to demand that my students read the Gor books by John Norman and the Paladin books by John Ringo."

I'm not familiar with John Ringo or the Paladin books, but I did read the first four or five Gor books, back in the 70s/80s when they began as pastiches of Burroughs' John Carter of Mars books, and before the B&D elements came to the forefront. The problem with teaching them in college is less their B & D obsesssiveness and more that they are not literature. They are the literary equivalent of popcorn or jujubes.

You might, rather, teach a course on the works of the Marquis de Sade.

Robert Cook said...

Why would anyone want to go to college if they are unwilling to contend with ideas that are foreign to them, that they may disagree with or even find repugnant? One does not become a grown-up by running away from unfamiliar or displeasing ideas, but trying to learn more about them and come to understand them...even if this merely provides one with sufficient knowledge with which to argue more successfully against them. Disliking ideas one understands makes much more sense than disliking ideas simply because you've been told to dislike them...though that seems to be enough reason for most people, alas.

Nichevo said...

Why would anyone want to go to college

To learn how to make fragmentation bombs and the aircraft that drop them, of course. Why did you go to college?

Robert Cook said...

"Jesus seems (to me) to be disapproving of the feeling that results from looking at women (whom one frequently encounters in real life and not merely in pictures). I don't see that as saying don't look at pictures, just don't look at them with lust...."

The Second of the Ten Commandments:

"You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My Commandments."

This commandment is often rendered (or thought of) merely as, "Don't make idols," but that is a simplification of the above. The idea behind this proscription against making images of "anything that is in heaven...in the earrh...or...in the water" has to do with the understanding by whomever drafted this commandment that we become entranced by images, which offer only appearance divorced from meaning or context. Any images become idols to us, as we see them as reality, and not as mere representations or approximations of reality. We see this truism today: we are a profoundly unliterary country, and we are transfixed--hypnotized--by spectacle: pictures, videos, events staged for the camera, images of all kinds. Such entrancement is a key element of propaganda, and we are a society saturated with propaganda...yet we don't see it...it is like the oxygen in the air...we take it in as a natural and unnoticed part of our environment. We fail to see or understand reality because we believe the flickering colors of our image-world is reality, rather than a mirage.

Robert Cook said...

"To learn how to make fragmentation bombs and the aircraft that drop them, of course."

Stupid and sophomoric is no way to go through life, son.

"Why did you go to college?"

My parents expected me to and I didn't know what else to do.

Nichevo said...

And Cook,

120 Days of Sodom is trash. Dull and repetitive. The only appeal might be if you enjoy those activities, which the story did nothing to glamorize or make appealing. Much better exists on 4chan, I have no doubt. You just name de Sade because he's old and famous.

And there's tons of Bechdel comics, and dozens just like 'em, in the last twenty or thirty years of the comic sections of indie newspapers like the Village Voice or the New York Press. Trash. What they should be teaching is The Angriest Dog In The World strip. Or Drinky Crow. Lynda Robbins maybe.

Robert Cook said...

"Or Drinky Crow."

Many people--not I--would say MAAKIES is trash.

Nichevo said...

Stupid and sophomoric is no way to go through life, son.

Gnoce teipsum, kiddo.

Nichevo said...

Maakies, thank you.

Nichevo said...

Anyway what's your problem with aeronautical engineering? My eyesight precluding a career in fighter pilotry, I thought it best to help kill Russians any way I could.

The problem with you, Cook, is that like Althouse, you have no blood.

Michael said...

Robert Cook

If your pretty ideas were true then colleges would marinate students in conservative ideas. Instead you roll out the stupid and trite notion that college is meant to shake things up. Yawn.

Shake things up by turning away from comic books and require all freshMEN to read Dante's Inferno. Shake things up by making them read Gibbon.

You do not believe one single word of what you wrote, or you are trying to be ironic.

tim in vermont said...

The problem with teaching them in college is less their B & D obsesssiveness and more that they are not literature. They are the literary equivalent of popcorn or jujubes.


But we can teach comic books about lesbian sex and call them "novels" because we know our students don't have the attention span anymore to read an actual novel, even at Duke.

tim in vermont said...

You[Robert Cook] do not believe one single word of what you wrote, or you are trying to be ironic.

I am pretty sure he is that shallow and completely failing in critical introspection. Nobody could keep writing comment after comment demonstrating that fact the way he does if he wasn't authentically purblind.

Robert Cook said...

"If your pretty ideas were true then colleges would marinate students in conservative ideas. Instead you roll out the stupid and trite notion that college is meant to shake things up.'

No...I don't say college is "supposed" to shake things up. However, it is certainly possible that one might encounter ideas in college with which one is unfamiliar or which may be counter to one's own ideas of the world. In such cases, why cry about it? Be an adult and learn what one can about these unfamiliar ideas. One will come out of the experience with either a changed mind or not. But even if one's mind isn't changed, one at least will have a better understanding of the idea(s) to which one objects.

(Isn't that why in debate classes or organizations one should be prepared to debate the opposing argument, the one with which disagree...because it makes you better prepared to argue against it?)

Nichevo said...

Debate is more of a high school thing, Robert.

Robert Cook said...

"You do not believe one single word of what you wrote, or you are trying to be ironic."

I do believe what I wrote, and I am not being ironic.

Robert Cook said...

"But we can teach comic books about lesbian sex and call them "novels" because we know our students don't have the attention span anymore to read an actual novel, even at Duke."

I didn't argue whether FUN HOME should be taught in college. Although I am a fan of comics, and I have written and drawn a number of single page comics and a couple of multi-page comic stories, (though I read pretty much no comics presently), I tend to think college students should be reading works of prose. (If one is in a school that offers a program in "Graphic Novels" or "Graphic Storytelling" or whatever, then I would agree that reading the notable comics of the present and past as part of the coursework is reasonable.

Renee said...

You can get Dante's Inferno with pictures, if you like pictures!

http://www.worldofdante.org/gallery_botticelli.html

EMD said...

"Why would anyone want to go to college if they are unwilling to contend with ideas that are foreign to them, that they may disagree with or even find repugnant?"

Holy shit this is rich.

How about a #triggerwarning next time, Cook?

Matthew Sablan said...

"One purpose of a liberal arts education, is to take you out of your comfort zone."

-- That's what liberal political students and professors say to other liberal students and professors while trying to explain their constant bullying of non-liberal students and professors.

tim in vermont said...

How about a #triggerwarning next time, Cook?


Exactly, so we aren't eating corn flakes while reading it and can avoid the possibility of getting milk up our nose.

Matthew Sablan said...

Ways liberal arts students are taken out of their comfort zone: Setting up safe zones when conservatives come to speak, while also trying to shout them down.

#LeavingYourComfortZone

Peter said...

"It's an embarrassment for Duke. The fact that they assigned, to all freshmen, a lesbian comic book, will be shocking to the outside world."

It's not all that different from the book reviews one finds in The New York Times and other MSM newspapers, in that the books reviewed are mostly those with themes that are attractive in a PC way to SJW's, and the book reviewers approval seems to correlate well with the extent to which PC themes are aggressively pushed in the work.

In any case, the underlying theme is that disapproval of homosexuality, or of sexual permissiveness in general, is not acceptable; thus, even if the student were to cave and read/view the book, if his report on it expresses disapproval he's likely to get flunked.

And "ndspinelli" is quite right: the perfect assignment at Duke would indeed be "Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case" by Stuart Taylor and K. C. Johnson. Although it's an easy read, it shows how easy it is for those who consider themselves "clever and classless and free" to form a punitive mob.

Matthew Sablan said...

"We each shared our perspective, and walked away from the conversation with a deeper understanding and compassion for each other."

-- That's actually an interesting story, and I wish more people could be like the Buddhist and the Christian and have actual discussions with each other.

Renee said...

"-- That's actually an interesting story, and I wish more people could be like the Buddhist and the Christian and have actual discussions with each other."

No one in the comment section actually read the op-ed.... Just saying.... because progressives do not need to read differing viewpoints. What's the point, they know they're already right.

EMD said...

I would assume that Cook is not cool with the current campus climate of draconian speech suppression.

Rich Horton said...

"Everybody Draw Jesus Looking Lustfully At Cartoon Drawings Of Women Masturbating And Engaging In Oral Sex Day."

Wow I had no idea this kid shot and killed people for offending his sensibilities. Because you know writing an op-ed to the NYT and the shooting up of the Charlie Hebdo offices are totally equivalent.

Maybe this all could have been avoided if Duke had just provided the appropriate trigger warning.

Renee said...

In regards to the double standard... on trigger warnings.

Sexy nun costumes get a pass, but a Caitlyn Jenner costume is insensitive.

Joe Schmoe said...

But the Crusades!

Laura said...

The prevailing wisdom is that men are visually stimulated, and thus the assignment of a graphic novel would be sexist.

But knowledge of fisting is so essential to understanding the flow of money, power, and influence in the world.

That and the belief that no woman enjoyed an orgasm before the 1960s, except in rare occasions on the Isle of Lesbos and in Amazonian battle.

There never would be any collusion between universities and publishing companies, would there? Because profit is so dirty, so bourgeois, so corporate.

Oh, oh, oh yes, let's just make sure "endowments" keep those nice porn-related definitions!

pst314 said...

Counter-suggestion, to test the opinions of those who sneered at the student: Require every freshman to view cartoons of Obama copulating with a goat, Mohammad copulating with a pig, etc.

BrianE said...

A pornographic comic book passing for literature reveals volumes about American culture.

It's getting harder to object to the Muslim characterization of America as the great satan.

wildswan said...

Well, does that comic show those women asking permission at each and every stage for the various sex acts? If not, isn't it teaching students to violate Title X? I call on Duke to end this mind crime. I mean, what if some student copies what she saw? and invokes a Leopold-Loeb defence, i.e., I was taught this in a class. What if the student only thought she was a woman while carrying out the act but other times she was a football playing frat guy - like being a werewolf?

The times are ridiculous and comics are appropriate as literature for the Ivy League true believers. The good stuff is still online.

The question is whether someone is piling up student debt for the purchase of imitation s... while the real thing is still free and widely available.

Joe said...

I just came up with a solution to the rape crisis and to help Cook's ideal of shaking up students. Upon arrival at college, all students will be raped. Then tortured and beaten. All students should be forced to get drunk and high and have homosexual relations. After all, the purpose of college is apparently not to educate, but to shake someone up.

Freeman Hunt said...

Luckily, there was no problem with the assigned sitcom watching and videogame playing. Maybe next year's required assignments could include listening to current pop hits.

ken in tx said...

Duke still has a United Methodist seminary associated with it which sends out interns to preach in United Methodist churches throughout the Southeast. I know of some big-city United Methodist churches involved in so-called Reconciling Ministries, that might consider this comic book OK. However, the rural NC church I attend during the summer definitely would not. I wonder how far Duke University has to go before the Duke Seminary decides to change its name.

Freeman Hunt said...

All parents should keep a Colleges I Will Pay For list. College is so outrageously expensive now that their children will carefully attend to these lists.

Trendy comic books as assigned reading? Scratched off the list.

Save big because you might have to send the kids overseas.

Matthew Sablan said...

"All parents should keep a Colleges I Will Pay For list."

If I ever have kids, I'm totally doing this. I will allow my kid to submit a 3-5 essay on why a give university should be added to the list.

Matthew Sablan said...

"All parents should keep a Colleges I Will Pay For list."

If I ever have kids, I'm totally doing this. I will allow my kid to submit a 3-5 essay on why a give university should be added to the list.

Tari said...

We have a "colleges I will pay for" list - just delivered it to the 15 year old a few weeks ago, along with several big college guides. Duke is not on it - what a surprise. Some of the private schools are on there with an asterisk; it means "if you get the cost of this school down via scholarships, we'll pay the rest." We will also take additions to the list if doing so can be properly quantified ("I really like it", "my girlfriend's going there", or "it looks like a fun place" do not count).

Jim S. said...

In western society, we value (or did) an education that isn't dogmatic in morals (Religion, Philosophy, or Culture).

Really? Historically we've valued an education that doesn't condemn wanton violence? Hatred? Maybe the issue at hand is something you wouldn't place in a similar category, but why do you get to decide where other people place it?

Your Moral Code is worthless if it was imposed on you by others.

Who told you that? My moral code involving the wickedness of murder was imposed on me by my parents, as is the case for most people. Therefore, most people's moral code involving the wickedness of murder is worthless? Really?

Look, I agree that at some point you have to make such things your own to some extent. You have to reflect upon them and determine why you really believe them. But none of your conclusions follow from that. Duke's behavior doesn't become justified in light of that. Besides, how the heck do you know whether this student has already done precisely this, and made that aspect of his moral code his own? Who are you to tell him that he doesn't get to follow his moral code (at least the parts of it that Duke doesn't like) because Western education requires people to violate their moral beliefs? That's not education, sorry.

Those that develop their own Moral Code are called "educated."

Dude, get over yourself! Here, have some humble pie.

MadisonMan said...

My daughter as an 18 year old freshman oops, I mean "first year" enrolled in a class like this. She dropped it within the drop period without penalty and said perhaps she would take it as a junior or something.

Son was freshman at Big Midwest University last year, and didn't read the required book. But he is smart and could take a conversation about a book and steer it elsewhere so it *sounded* like he read it without really talking about the book at all.

All the Instructors really want is a discussion.

richard mcenroe said...

Meade's a bit late. Google "Jesus pjørn" (edited to keep you from getting spammed)

Kirk Parker said...

Bob,

Good point, except "Duchess" by being a female-gendered word still acknowledges The Patriarchy™.

How about "Dyke" instead?

hombre said...

"All the instructors really want is a discussion."

Oh, the instructors want more than that. They want a society in which pictures of women masturbating and eating each other are considered educational and "The Bell Curve" is banned.

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