Before the tryptophan in the turkey induces somnolence, give thanks for living in such an entertaining country. This year, for example, we learned that California’s Legislature includes 93 persons who seem never to have had sex. They enacted the “affirmative consent” law directing college administrators to tell students that sexual consent cannot be silence but must be “affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement” and “ongoing throughout a sexual activity.” Claremont McKenna College requires “all” — not “both,” which would discriminate against groups — participants in a sexual engagement to understand that withdrawal of consent can be any behavior conveying “that an individual is hesitant, confused, uncertain.”
A severely moral California high-school principal prohibited the football booster club from raising money by selling donated Chick-fil-A meals because this company opposed same-sex marriage. The school superintendent approved the ban because “we value inclusivity and diversity.” Up to a point. At a Washington State community college, invitations to a “happy hour” celebrating diversity and combating racism said white people were not invited.
At Broward College near Miami, a conservative who was asking students if they agreed that “big government sucks” was told by a campus security guard that she must take her question to the campus “free-speech area.” She got off lightly: The federal government has distributed to local police, including those of some colleges and school districts, more than 600 surplus MRAP (mine-resistant ambush-protected) armored vehicles designed for Iraq and Afghanistan.
The federal government, which has Tomahawk cruise missiles and Apache and Lakota helicopters, used the code name “Geronimo” in the attack that killed Osama bin Laden but objected to the name of the Washington Redskins. The Department of Homeland Security, unsleepingly vigilant, raided a Kansas City shop to stop sales of panties emblazoned with unauthorized Royals logos. A U.S. Forest Service article on safe marshmallow toasting did not neglect to nag us: It suggested fruit rather than chocolate in s’mores. The droll Orange County Register wondered, “Why not replace the marshmallow with a Brussels sprout?” The federal government’s food police began cracking down on schools’ fund-raising bake sales: Step away from those brownies and put your hands on a fruit cup.
Niagara County, N.Y., spent $700,000 of its Tobacco Master Settlement Money not on fighting smoking but on golf-course equipment. In Seattle, the Freedom Socialist party, which favors a $20-an-hour minimum wage, advertised a job opening for a Web developer to be paid $13 an hour.
Joe Biden was off by 160,839 when citing the number of people killed in the 2011 Joplin, Mo., tornado. He said 161,000. But the former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee expressed optimism about “the nation of Africa.” Barack Obama explained the Keystone XL pipeline: “It is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else. That doesn’t have an impact on U.S. gas prices.” Someone very patient should try to explain to him that prices of petroleum are set by a global market.
Hamlet: “Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in shape of a camel?”
Polonius: “By the mass, and ‘tis like a camel, indeed.”
Hamlet: “Methinks it is like a weasel.”
Polonius: “It is backed like a weasel.”
Hamlet: “Or like a whale?”
Polonius: “Very like a whale.”
Fortunately, Polonius was not among the Colorado Springs second-graders invited to use their imaginations in seeing shapes in clouds. Kody Smith said one looked like a gun. So, a behavior report was filed against the eight-year-old. A South Carolina high school student was arrested and suspended after having written a story about killing a dinosaur with a gun.
“The Great Immensity,” a climate-change musical financed by $700,000 from the National Science Foundation, quickly closed. Outgoing defense secretary Chuck Hagel, perhaps planning for wars with small carbon footprints, fretted that global warming “could threaten many of our training activities.” Alarmed by reports that global warming will cause a four-foot rise in sea levels, California governor Jerry Brown warned that “Los Angeles’ airport’s going to be underwater.” It is more than 120 feet above sea level. Because everything confirms the theory of impending catastrophic global warming, in 2005 Hurricane Katrina was called a harbinger of increasingly violent weather caused by . . . well, you know. Today, Louisianans are thankful that this was the ninth consecutive hurricane season without a major hurricane landfall.
— George Will is a Pulitzer Prize–winning syndicated columnist. © 2014 The Washington Post