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March 04, 2005

Excuse me sir, is this the ladies room?

I'm still reeling from the current...insensitive climate at Harvard. At least they're trying to right the ship.

Ms. Pinkett Smith's stumble is a reminder of how hard it can be to be sensitive. Who at Harvard would have thought, until BGLTSA brought it to their attention, that bathrooms labeled "men" and "women" can create an atmosphere of hostility and fear for some people? The next speaker at the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Racial Relations may have a better chance of getting it right. On Tuesday, the BGLTSA issued a document saying that the foundation "will make a statement of apology about the incident." Acknowledging that the foundation "had not reviewed Pinkett Smith's speech in advance and was not responsible for her words," the BGLTSA said that the foundation "pledges to take responsibility to inform future speakers that they will be speaking to an audience diverse in race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, gender and class."

An 'atmosphere of fear and hostility' ~ who would have thought, indeed?

I've always liked to kid myself that my choices for institutions of higher learning would have been Rutgers or Juilliard, simply so I could turn Harvard down. But I didn't go, period. I haven't any of the sophmoric memories the Bingster has of his halcyon days at UVa. You know "Committee to Pave the Lawn", bake sales for steam pavers, stuff like that. (By God, he was light hearted when he was young.) Most times I'm cranky and defensive concerning my status sans goatskin. But every once in a while comes that great...shining...moment...where I'm tickled to


Now, put that toilet seat down and get out of my stall, you over educated fascist. You're crowdin' me.

Posted by tree hugging sister at March 4, 2005 03:05 PM


I grew up not far from Hahvahd. It is undoubtedly a good school, but it is not nearly as good as its own insanely hyped self-image. Nowhere could EVER be THAT good. And like many old northeastern institutions (the municipal government of New York City is one that immediately comes to mind in the same context), it's living off of the centuries' worth of accumulated prudent policies and goodwill that stand behind its name, while simultaneously squandering that legacy.

Posted by: Dave J at March 4, 2005 03:15 PM

Actually, the most successful fundraiser the Committee to Pave the Lawn had was our showing of The Man Called Flinstone.

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at March 4, 2005 03:18 PM

And we were raising money, as was clearly stated in both our littrachure and our application to the student council for funding (DENIED!), for a cement mixer, not a paver. We planned on paving the Lawn and then covering it with some lovely Astroturf.

We also planned to use the cement mixer to make Long Island Iced Tea in very very large batches, but the fascists in student government refused us our rights.

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at March 4, 2005 03:26 PM

"Who at Harvard would have thought, until BGLTSA brought it to their attention, that bathrooms labeled "men" and "women" can create an atmosphere of hostility and fear for some people?"

Feh. My alma mater (excuse me - matyr) had that discussion more than 20 years ago. Harvard (excuse me - Harvyrd) is way behind the curve.

Posted by: Ken Summers at March 4, 2005 09:27 PM

Sis, you really need to review your herstory.

Posted by: Ken Summers at March 4, 2005 09:28 PM

Sis, I’ve collected degrees at all three levels of university academic achievement, and in my pursuit I’ve found ignoramuses and geniuses at each level, and the same in those who remained outside the academy. I might look at a person without a degree a little harder when considering them for a job (in some it equates to lack of discipline), but I never dismiss someone for skipping the process (I’ve got lots of relatives who did). One of my favorite writers (H. Beam Piper) used to say that he’d educated himself without spending four years in the ridiculous confines of a raccoon skin coat (he would have attended U. in the 40s if he’d gone). If someone can turn out imaginative works that engage the scientific imagination of this Ph.D. (Phys. Chem., 1997) without a degree, the degree can’t be all that important, can it?

Back when I was a grad student, I thought I wanted to get a dual Ph.D. and teach in some small school. After two years in Russian Literature, I’d had enough with the empty posturing. Most people in the Academy can’t create to save their souls, so they spend entire careers tearing down works of genius according to someone else’s script. Screw ‘em. They say a liberal arts degree helps people develop writing and critical thinking skills. B.S. (Which coincidentally, is also a degree I hold). Many of the kids I taught freshman Chem. had those skills coming in to Uni., and those that didn’t, did not attain those skills in 4 years of taking the easiest and most convenient courses available. Those that did have the skills just jumped through the hoops and swallowed the crap necessary to get their paper and start a life. And the higher one goes, the more crap there is to take, believe me. There are a lot of people in my acquaintance who got Ph.D.s but were not as intelligent as some who dropped out with MSs because they couldn’t take the crap. (One reason academics are so leftist is that the Academy attracts petty tyrants.) Someone who creates and who can write as clearly and logically as you can has nothing to be defensive about in the company of the college-educated.

Posted by: John at March 4, 2005 10:49 PM

"Harvard (excuse me - Harvyrd)..."

That's Hahvahd to its denizens and Hahvid to us townies. No r's.

Posted by: Dave J at March 4, 2005 10:53 PM

John, that was as handsome and gentlemanly as anything I've ever read. (And it was about me!?) You are a treasure, sir and don't you ever doubt it.

As are you, my precious perversionist.

Dave just needs to come back to the Sunshine State and get away from fusty types ~ cause he's not. {8^P

The post itself was directed not at the enlightened fellows that color my world, but at the hallowed halls once so coveted. They remain unattained but increasingly unlamented because they've become a caricature. I will now carry my bloated ego off to bed and dream of a beautiful world filled with..well, you guys and your ilk. How lucky could one be?

Posted by: tree hugging sister at March 4, 2005 11:23 PM

Mr. Bingley, you misalign the construction industry. That's a concrete mixer. Cement goes into it, not out of it.

Construction workers of the world will forgive you, though. Not only were you trying to create jobs, you and your fellow students came up with another innovative use of that noble piece of equipment. It would make one heckuva giant martini!

Perhaps we could use the mixer to make to toast for Ms. Smith, who is clearly misaligned.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at March 5, 2005 12:37 AM

THS, I don't doubt I'll be in Florida again at some stage in my career--especially given that I'm not yet licensed to practice law anywhere else--but it won't be in the next couple of years and for God's sake it won't be in Tallahassee: as much I enjoyed the actual work, suicide would still be the preferable alternative to ever having to actually live there again.

Posted by: Dave J at March 5, 2005 02:28 PM

John, I perservered and got a Ph.D. ("piled higher and deeper"), but I also noticed that many bright people got tired of the B.S. and left the program with a master's. I honestly could not advise any of the undergraduates I teach now to attend graduate school in the humanities, unless they felt that they couldn't be happy doing anything else besides being a professor and were willing to risk all for that goal.

Posted by: NJ Sue at March 5, 2005 06:49 PM