Phi Beta Cons

Agree and Disagree on Penn

I can agree with David French that the student is certainly to blame for coming to a Halloween party in a suicide-bomber costume. But that does not exonerate Amy Gutmann. Civilization requires that people uphold the rules of civilization, especially people in authority. Contrary to the libertarian view, a good, free, ordered society does not simply proceed on its own. And I am shocked at conservatives and at FIRE for giving her a pass, and chalking up the costume to the ”freedom” they fear will somehow be curtailed if persons in authority are asked to stand for civil behavior, and likening the costume to other scary monstrous costumes associated with Halloween.

I admire much of what FIRE does but I think they are wrong with their libertarian absolutism and repudiation of all in loco parentis. As I’ve said before, I think colleges should exercise some degree of guidance and supervision and cultivation of students, and not pretend that they are fully mature adults, which they are so self-evidently not. There is simply no comparison between ordinary fantastical Halloween costumes and costumes depicting people who are actually  at war with us and with every humane value–who have murdered thousands, left thousands in grief, and have condemned thousands more to live in pain without arms, legs, or eyesight.
And part of the reason to condemn it is not necessarily to focus on the incident itself but to register some outrage so that it is less likely to happen again. Everyone starts to learn that there are boundaries, some boundaries, at least. And that is healthy for everyone all around.
“Truly sickening” were the words of Powerline at the photos, and that is the kind of gut revulsion that is the mark of civilization.


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