Keeping everybody on campus politically correct is not easy, but nobody tries harder than the president, the deans and maybe even the professors and teaching assistants at the University of Minnesota.
The university first kept everybody on campus straight about Halloween, reminding students “not to be jerks when they pick out their Halloween costumes.” Even ghosts and goblins have feelings, and it’s no doubt a good thing to remember that the graveyard ought to be a safe space, too. Depriving college students of their inherent right to be jerks, however, seems unkind and maybe just over the line.
Nevertheless, the university warned students (and staff) to avoid dressing in blackface. (No Al Jolsons wanted in Minneapolis, or St. Paul, either.) Here’s a Halloween rule the university might like to take back — no men costumed as women. Where was LGBT and Q when the snowflakes felt festive?
This week the university has been monitoring the Christmas season, or the holiday season as the righteous take care to call it. The list of the verboten is somewhat longer than the Halloween list. Christmas decorations should be kept neutral, with nothing suggesting “specific religious iconography.” This means nothing in red and green, the traditional colors of Christmas, or in blue and silver, which are new but are to be regarded as the colors of Hanukkah. Blue and silver are also the colors of the Dallas Cowboys, so residents of the nation’s capital, who are fans of the Washington Redskins, will have no trouble obeying that rule.
But verboten as well are nativity scenes, menorahs, angels, Santa Claus, silver bells and jingle bells, Christmas-tree lights, and even bows and bells if they’re used to wrap Christmas presents. Lumps of coal in the Christmas stockings of the naughty and those who neglected to be nice, are not on the official list, but no lumps of coal, just to be on the safe side. At this time of year a body can never be sure of who’s watching.
The religious content of some items is difficult to discern, and only gifts given unwrapped can demonstrate the pure intent of the giver.
If a student encounters an example of “religious iconography,” he is encouraged to reach out to the University’s Bias Incident Website, or contact the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, which we can be sure is fully staffed at all times to deal with the manifold sins of the season.
However, Karl Lorenz, director of diversity programs at the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, doesn’t want anyone to think the Gestapo has taken up residence at the university. “These bullet points are offered for consideration,” he tells Reason magazine. “They are not mandates.”
That’s a relief, because we prefer the sentiments of Tiny Tim in Charles Dickens’ “Christmas Carol,” the season’s literary evergreen that has so far survived the Grinch, Ebenezer Scrooge and the modern college campus: “God bless us, everyone.”
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