P.C. Exposed

Posted: Feb 21, 2004 12:00 AM

 It?s not a crime to be politically incorrect on campus these days. Oh, no. It?s worse than a crime.
At Syracuse University (my alma mater), a student was recently detained by campus security. He?d been sneaking around a residence hall with his face painted black.

 J?accuse! A dreaded blackface incident. In today?s politically correct campus environment, there?s no acceptable excuse for this behavior -- not even if the student is a theater major starring in an Al Jolson retrospective. And this student, a brother of Delta Tau Delta fraternity, realizes that.
So he told campus security that the blackface makeup was in no way racially motivated. No indeed. He told them he was merely on his way to burgle a house, and the blackface paint was camouflage.


 Imagine the culture this student has been raised in. He?d rather confess to an attempted felony than be caught wearing blackface. But still -- even though he admitted to an attempted crime -- that wasn?t good enough for the campus P.C. monitors.

 ?We are still looking at it, investigating it and working with other departments on campus,? said Marlene Hall, director of Public Safety for S.U. ?It could be burglary, it could be other things as well that we would be looking at.?

 That?s odd because, in addition to the student?s admission, there?s other evidence. Hall also noted than an anonymous tip had been called in earlier in the day, which confirmed a burglary was planned. And the residence the student said he planned to rob (a sorority house) was also vandalized.

 Of course, there?s a simple explanation for all this. It was a harmless prank.
According to Delta Tau Delta president Matt Sheaffer, the accused student was merely attempting to retrieve a composite from the sorority. The act ?was not ordered by the fraternity itself,? Sheaffer told the campus newspaper, ?and no burglary took place.? That?s certainly a relief.

 Sheaffer went on to tell The Daily Orange that he realized the blackface might be considered offensive. ?We apologize,? he said, ?we don?t consider that behavior or mindset to reflect on the fraternity.? Again -- look at what he?s apologizing for. Not the attempted crime -- even as a prank, breaking into a house should be a felony. No, he?s apologizing because the brother was caught with black makeup on, and some might be offended by that. Oh.

 Clearly, we?ve all learned a valuable lesson: When on campus, stay far away from those Wile E. Coyote Acme exploding cigars, because if there?s one thing we won?t permit, it?s blackface.

 For a glimpse of where our country is going with all this, we need only look across the pond. Political Correctness there is already enshrined in law.

Consider garage owner Alan Jeffery, a 52-year-old father of four in Plymouth, England. He?s been ordered to take down the posters of topless women that hang inside the bays of his shop.

The trouble started when Jeffery took on a trainee from nearby Plymouth College of Further Education. Before the 22-year-old could work on any Plymouths -- or other brands of car -- a bureaucrat from the education department checked the garage to make sure it was suitable. Because of the pictures, it wasn?t.

?Modern apprenticeship programs are funded by the taxpayers,? college Vice-principal Ian Clark wrote to Jeffrey, ?so there are guidelines about how these funds are used. We ask that no offensive material should be displayed in training areas.?


The trainee who would be, shall we say, exposed to these pictures doesn?t seem to mind. ?They are pretty normal for a garage,? Paul Wellington told the BBC. ?I don?t think they would corrupt me. That happened a long time ago.? And in any event, shouldn?t Wellington get to see all there is to see in a typical garage before he agrees to work there? Better to get used to the naked pictures now than after he?s hired on full time.

To his credit, the owner is fighting city hall. He?s posted a sign to warn visitors: ?These premises may contain images of partially-clothed young females. Do not enter if this fact may cause offense.? So maybe he?s all right -- at least as long as none of the pin-ups is covered in blackface.

Today?s college students are the leaders of tomorrow. Just look at what we?re teaching them, and allowing them to learn, both here and in England. It ought to frighten us that, eventually, they?ll be making the laws that govern us. But when they are, at least we?ll all be safe from blackface. Burglary? Well, that might still be OK. We?ll get back to you.