Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

I Thought I Was Reading the Onion (Until I Realized it was the Washington Post)


Yesterday’s Post featured an amazing story about the laughably absurd extent of political correctness at one little corner of the University of Maryland.  The article begins:

“Mia Lazarus put her chips and juice down on the counter and prepared to pay. But in the midst of the lunchtime rush, the cashier’s eyes wandered to Lazarus’s T-shirt, which expressed a political message that proved to be overwhelming for the clerk.

“One glance at the words “Baltimore Zionist District” on Lazarus’s “I Stand for Israel” T-shirt, and the cashier at the Maryland Food Collective, a crunchy grocery and sandwich shop in the student union on the University of Maryland’s College Park campus, blurted: “Your shirt offends me. I won’t ring you up.” The cashier told Lazarus she could go to the back of the store to find another clerk.”

Yes, that’s right, if you wear a pro-Israel t-shirt, some radicals are just too upset to ring up your juice.  The story is strange enough, but it gets worse.  It turns out that even after the student complained, the collective was unwilling to mandate that it serve all customers until it was, ahem, “persuaded” by university officials: 

“Gretchen Metzelaars, director of Maryland’s student union, met with the collective “trying to help them come to the conclusion that they must abide by the university’s human rights code,” which prohibits discrimination based on age, sex, race and, yes, political beliefs.

Despite hours of conversation, “it became apparent that they were not coming to the right conclusion,” Metzelaars said. “So we delivered it to them.” This week, she told the collective that if it discriminates again, it will have 60 days to vacate the premises.

“They can’t see that this is discrimination,” she told me. “They’re more committed to their righteousness than they are to the rights of other people. The fact is, you have to serve everyone.”

In the grand scheme of the battle for free speech on campus, Maryland’s “No soup for you!” collective hardly represents a threat to the Republic.  It’s a silly story about silly people, but as my colleague David Hacker noted, our college campuses are often a “society of offense” where arguments and reason matter less than the feelings of the most delicately self-righteous members of the community.   


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