Monday, November 02, 2015

November 2, 2015--Hallowgreen

The boys at the U.S. Department of Energy have been having some fun.

It's pretty grim business having responsibility for our nation's nuclear arsenal so who can blame them for fooling around come Halloween time.

On their official website last week, they posted ideas for what they considered some pretty hip costumes for (groan) Energy-ween.

While folks you know dressed up like pirates, zombies, and Donald TRUMP, DOE staff suggested going trick-or-treating as the Energy Vampire, who "drains the power of the unwary; a Particle Accelerator (all your nuclear-physics-minded friends will know about that); Ernest Moniz (the "classically coifed" Secretary of Energy, last seen negotiating the nuclear deal with Iran. To get his hair right they recommended buying a "Founding Father wig").

If you have even one friend who could recognize Moniz or Thomas Jefferson, consider yourself fortunate, though I worry that you might be leading a boring life.

I have a young friend who went to an early Halloween party as Annie Hall and was not entirely surprised that none of the partygoers knew who that was. As she explained with a sigh, "The party after all was in New Jersey."

Also, the Energy Department  pushed hard to get kids to dress up as Solar Panels. To make that seem cool, they suggested wearing sunglasses for "added sustainable swagger." But called for "resisting the urge to climb on rooftops." I assume their liability lawyers weighed in on that one.

This wouldn't have been more amusing, I assume, if they had called this Hallow-green?

Even less amusing was what was happening last week on campuses around the country--directives to students about how to dress up politically correctly.

This all came to the fore when James Ramsey, the president of the University of Louisville, was severely criticized for appearing in a Mariachi outfit. He's not Mexican American and so it was considered insensitive and even offensive to do something so stereotypical. By implication I suppose it would have been all right for him to do so if he was a Chicano.

Making it worse to the campus PC Police was the fact that he had his staff dress accordingly since Mariachi musicians typically perform in groups.

Check out the picture below and come to your own conclusion. He appears at the lower right.

According to an article in the New York Times, many colleges struggled with where to draw the line between costuming free speech and not wanting to upset anyone.

I, on the other hand, think one aspect of free speech is the freedom to offend. That may not always be pretty, but it is one of our cherished freedoms.

And I'm not even sure it is one essential aspect of a college education to "teach" sensitivity and tolerance. Shouldn't that be one of the hoped-for consequences of a good, well-rounded education rather than something built into the curriculum much less the extra curriculum?

People sensitive about their identity need to figure out how to struggle with and overcome that, not be overly protected from offense.

If someone wants to dress up like Pocahontas or Pancho Villa or Caitlyn Jenner should't they be allowed to make fools of themselves?

As my young "Annie Hall" friend also said when asked about personal happiness, "I don't want to be happy. I want to be uncomfortable." This suggested to me that a good education was not wasted on her.

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