When I read Omar Mahmood’s parody, Do The Left Thing, I was rolling on the floor. The kid is good. I mean, he has it. Oh sure, no doubt he was going to rile up all the folks who bleed with every papercut, but that’s the point of satire. Piss them off. Make them think. It’s a great change of pace from wallowing in feelings of misery.
That Mahmood was met with the whine of the tenderhearted, his satire created a hostile environment at his other paper, was par for the silliness course.
And until recently, he enjoyed writing for both of the campus’s newspapers: the institutional, liberal paper, The Michigan Daily, and the conservative alternative paper, The Michigan Review.
After penning a satirical op-ed for The Review that mocked political correctness and trigger warnings, The Daily ordered him to apologize to an anonymous staffer who was offended and felt “threatened” by him. He refused and was fired.
Frankly, those who fail to understand why the anonymous staffer felt threatened haven’t been paying attention. I completely understand, and fully support, the anon staffer. Mahmood’s satire forced the staffer to do something no young person should ever be required to do, ever be required to suffer: think. This is, after all, the age of feelings, and it is clearly sufficient that deeply held beliefs not be challenged, as it gives rise to mental damage that no one should ever have to endure.
But that the Daily, in the face of such offensive conduct, fired Mahmood for his lefty-ism in a cloud that will hover over it for a very long time. By the way, the Daily isn’t a person, and can’t speak or make a decision. The decision must have come from the Most Special Snowflake Editor, or the Board of Delicate Teacups, to fire Mahmood rather than smack the anon staffer for being a disgrace to a student newspaper.
Just so it’s clear, the Daily’s Editor in Chief is Peter Shahin. Someday, he may want to be taken seriously as a journalist, and his decision here will haunt him. It should. He might have more of a future in law school, as he has none in journalism.
But that his fellow Michigan students are too wobbly to handle satire should not have surprised Mahmood. He should have anticipated someone complaining, crying, that his parody cut them like the sharpest sheet of paper ever, and the lean-in group at the Daily would demand his sacrifice. Mahmood may have hoped for some press freedom, some intellectual and political breadth, but he’s in college. He had to know better.
What he might not have anticipated, however, is what happened next:
Last week, he became the victim of what The College Fix has described as a “hate crime.” The doorway of his apartment was vandalized in the middle of the night; the perpetrators pelted the door with eggs and scribbled notes like “shut the fuck up” and “everyone hates you you violent prick.” They left copies of the offending column and a print-out picture of Satan.
To add insult to injury, the foul-mouthed vandals were caught on video donning their hoods for the attack.
It turns out that four female students were so angered, so hurt, by Mahmood’s words that they felt compelled to act upon it, because writing “shut the fuck up” will overwhelm a person with guilt and regret.
One of the key components in the discussion of free speech and the expression of ideas is their words, their ideas; conduct is where the line is drawn. So these four crossed the line. Irony, sure. Hypocrisy, obviously. But feelings can be so very overwhelming, you know?
Let’s make clear that this is not a condemnation of Social Justice Warriors, but only four girls (yes, girls, not women, which reflects their immaturity) who failed to demonstrate minimal restraint. It doesn’t speak to their gender, as their decision can’t be imputed to all women. It doesn’t speak to their politics, as their decision can’t be imputed to all those who believe they adhere to progressive values. It speaks only to these four girls, who lack the intelligence and maturity to not cross the line.
But the inference that can be drawn from this conduct is that the “passions” are out of control, the widespread support for rank emotionalism and the elevation of feelings above all else, bolsters the unduly sensitive to feel a right to engage in harmful conduct against those whose ideas hurt their feelings.
The line between words and conduct is a critical one. I have no expectation that those who share these four girls’ beliefs will take a stance against what they did. They are team players, if nothing else, and will rationalize their vandalism with teary-eyed appeals to emotion. They were just so angry at the hate that they couldn’t control themselves. It’s not their fault. It’s never their fault.
But what can be expected is that the handful of grownups who mold the impressionable minds of these children make clear that they still cannot cross the line between ideas and conduct. No matter how badly words and thoughts hurt their very sensitive souls, they cannot go out in the middle of the night and burn crosses on the lawns of their hated enemies. Not even if they wrap themselves up in the rhetoric of social justice.
Will this happen? We shall see.
Sorry, no. I won’t rationalize their actions with “teary-eyed appeals to emotion”. It was a dumb thing to do. That’s what high school and college are for. To get the dumb things out of your system while your brain is still developing. At the end of the day, I don’t have much condemnation for basic, amateur vandalism. And no, before anyone brings it up, cross burning isn’t basic vandalism. It’s arson.
Reading comprehension 0/10. Try again.
Edit: Upon reconsideration, there is a subreddit with your name on it. You would do better there.
A very timely reminder that no view along the political spectrum has exclusive ownership of stupid.
Am I too old if I think college students are adults or really almost there? Their non-college peers are supposed to get a job, work every day and obey law. If they do not obey law, cops are called. Is there any reason why we expect less from college students then from same age non-students?
College is not there for you to get the dumb things out of your system. It is there to teach you whatever your chosen major is.
On what planet of Stupid is cross-burning “arson” ? If you burn MY cross, it’s arson, to be sure. But you can burn your own.
Now, some places have made burning your own cross a crime unto itself, and some such statutes have been struck down (Virginia v Black comes to mind). But that’s a separate issue from arson.
Perhaps his mind is too filled with the mental anguish of social injustice to realize that he’s dope?
What are you 12? College is for getting this stuff out of your system while your brain is still developing? I guess you still have a lot to work out then, because that’s one of the dumber things I’ve read about this.
“How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, That has such people in’t!”
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“They are team players, if nothing else, and will rationalize their vandalism with teary-eyed appeals to emotion.”
I hope you are wrong, but fear you are right. More to the point, the perpetrators probably believe this as well, and that’s part of what emboldened them.
The “we’re right, you’re wrong” justifies anything rationale has become the norm. Once reason is eliminated from the equation, there is nothing to stop self-serving irrationality from prevailing.
I think we should give these young ladies and the editors of the Daily Whatever their fair credit.
Had the DAR not protected their Southern members from ‘bad feelings’ of having a woman of color perform in their segregated hall in 1939, Marian Anderson would not have sung before 75,000 from the Lincoln Memorial. Had these young Social Warriors not attracted your interest, I — and maybe one or two others — wouldn’t have followed your link to Omar Mahood’s delightful piece. In a manner as trivial as their conduct, these ladies take their rightful place with the DAR of 1939 in spreading the message they intend to reject (again, trivially — this blog isn’t the NYT after all).
And I’m not sure any of this suggests that Mr. Shahin has the temperament or judgment to practice law. He might make a good prosecutor, though . . .
> this blog isn’t the NYT after all
Dang autocorrect! And here I thought I was frothing at the mouth in front of millions! Misled again. I’ll have to sue…
In any case, that’s a cool reminder that, though it may have not yet been named, the Streisand effect was alive and well long before the invention of the transistor, never mind the internet.
He’s new. He doesn’t know any better. Quality over quantity.
Um, I don’t know how you got here, but Prof. Glenn linked this site. It’s called an Instalanche. Aside from having to read drek like yours, I’ve enjoyed my visit.
I feel vindicated. By the way, my feelings are the raison d’être for this insightful comment.
It is not true that only dirty old men utter STFU! Girls gone wild do it too! (Double entendre?)
All the best.
Not touching this one. Nope.
From a recent comic on the subject of “saying lazy, stupid, insulting things” with a smirk to “dismiss any objectors as humorless and shrill”: “Ah yes, bigotry thinly veiled under a blanket of defensive irony. Truly we have reached the pinnacle of wit.” [http://www.robot-hugs.com/ironic/]
What is ironic is a “satiric” essay dismissing the existence or power of white supremacy that causes the mocking party to lose their job and become the target of potentially racist vandalism. It’s not funny, just ironic. What is funny is recognizing and prioritizing the sanctity of a door over the mental state of the original author’s coworker, but that’s not ironic at all.
Yes, it’s all about the sanctity of the door, though perhaps you overstated the co-worker’s infantile butthurt because of the trauma of parody.
You understood what he wrote? I had no clue what he was talking about.
The first paragraph was incomprehensible. The second, kinda, though I can’t be sure. Whatever. Usual silliness when passion exceeds grasp.
“What is funny is recognizing and prioritizing the sanctity of a door over the mental state of the original author’s coworker”
Right, because having the “sanctity” (secular, no doubt) of one’s mind challenged by a published essay is so much worse than having the entrance to one’s private abode defaced with intimidating statements.
And after all isn’t that what college is about? Protecting the “sanctity” of fragile minds from any sort of new or different ideas.
I think he was trying for satire. The problem we run into is you cannot realy satire crazy. Every time you think you have something so extremely outlandish, they raise the bar.
Mahmood’s column on “lefty-ism” is funny, but I can still see the left wing doing just that in a few years. The only way you can gain credit with them is to be a victim of something, no matter how ridiculous, so long as you can express sufficient anquish over it.
According to the Michigan Review, in an editorial titled “Doing the Right Thing?“, Mr. Mahmood “…was given an ultimatum to choose between writing for the Daily and writing for the Review. Due to Mahmood’s longtime connection with the Daily, he has chosen the former. We at the Review are saddened that he has had to face this unnecessary dilemma, fully respect his decision to no longer formally write for the Review, and fully support Mr. Mahmood and his satirical piece.”
[Ed. Note: Link added, because reasons.]
The editorial in the Review is pretty darned good too.
I’ve always admired Bill Buckley. He was quite a charming man. I can understand Mahmood’s choice, as the Daily is the legit paper, while the Review is the alt paper, but one loved him more.
While reading your link I clicked through to another Michigan Review piece about adding trigger warnings to math textbooks, because straight lines. Hilarious. I wonder if the author will have their door pelted with French curves.
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Yesterday an article satirizing Lena Dunham’s advice to those who won’t take rape allegations at face value (“You can help by saying I believe you.”) disappeared from breitbart.com. Penned in the first person by Mayella Ewell, it cast Atticus Finch as a thoroughly mean and sketchy character for having had the nerve to cross-examine the “victim.” I have to wonder whether it suffered the same fate as Omar Mahmood’s Do the Left Thing.
But for that extremely tenuous tie-in to Mahmood, this was so going to get trashed as seriously off-topic. However, it does give me an opportunity to note my very witty twit of yesterday:
Yes, I can be just as self-serving and shameless as the next guy.
Touché. However, that article was written eight days ago and was only pulled yesterday.
Donning their hoods? Hmm…what other hate group used to wear hoods before riding out to terrorize people who think differently? Wait I think I recall, it was a group that Sen Robert Byrd (D-WVa) recruited for and enthusiastically supported. Three letters, all the same…darn, perhaps someone can help me recall?
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