Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

Re: In Loco Parentis


A few quick thoughts in answer to Alston below: I meant the specific premises of liberalism and libertarianism as I defined them, and in application to student behavior, not in application to everything else in the world! Also, the reason drinking was more responsible years ago is that young people had better formation, lacking today. (Just compare how students dress today with years ago.) Separate dorms and restrictions on drinking will not immediately bring back polite behavior, but they could be a start toward the better formation that I think we need. Rules are better than suggestions in this regard, and really can help shape better thinking and acting in these areas. People do respond to reasonable rules and guidelines. (Sometimes even unreasonable ones–believe it or not, drinking did decline during Prohibition. But don’t worry, Alston, I’m not recommending a repeal of the 21st Amendment!)

Aristotle says that you can’t even discuss ethics with young people who have had little formation. You can’t begin from ground zero, but have to have a place to start. Allan Bloom wrote that in previous times, his job as an educator was to broaden students beyond their formation. Then after a time, he found that they had little formation to begin with. And it is always easy to say something won’t work, using present day circumstances for evidence. The point is to try to change things. I tend to reject slippery slope arguments because they would negate any rules anywhere. Also, as I said, drinking and sex are special areas of behavior.

And I can only repeat, that my ideas would not mean an alternative tyranny, because my rules would be based on clearly defined premises and would evince a better understanding of human nature. Naturally, there would still be misbehavior, but I think it could be minimized. Present loose behavior contributes to present day PC tyranny. Now we must suffer these lectures about how class and race figure into this Duke debacle. Masses of black people are ready to believe that if the boys get off, it’s because our society is unjust.

But I agree that we can agree to disagree.


Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review