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When I’m in the company of a good trusted friend there are no jokes I can’t make, and I make them, but I have the good sense not to publish them because I don’t have the same trust and understanding from my small group of noble readers (though I’m sure you’re all wonderful people). I’m irreverent, but just because I make a horrible joke doesn’t mean horrible moral behaviour will ensue.  This trust is not extended towards students at Queens University.

Father Raymond J. de Souza writes in today’s National Post about the Queen’s band who, when they’re not performing at football games, sing from their own songbooks “a compilation so explicit, so depraved, so celebratory of promiscuous debauchery” that they were suspended for the rest of the semester. It was too lewd for the National Post. Thankfully, this blog has no such standard of decency.  Choice excerpts:

“The pamphlet contained phrases like ‘I will rape you with a lamp’…’Chew me, screw me, suck me, fuck me, yaaay Queen’s.'”

“Front page titles over the last three years have included ‘mouth raping your little sister since 1905.'”

No doubt performing lyrics that may as well have been written by the Marquis de Sade, while wearing your school’s uniform, was beyond stupid.  What did they expect? But does this mean the students involved are necessarily moral failures who will slip into a depraved abyss without the universities’ intervention? The university thinks so: in addition to their suspension, they are being sent to “human rights and equity training.”

Here’s where things go wrong in the article. De Souza makes a huge leap, putting the pitiful judgement exercised here on par with Yale’s alleged sexual-assault problem. Bad lyrics in bad taste, however bad, is fundamentally different than an act of sexual-assault. Equating them is dangerous. If there is a sexual-assault problem at Queens it must be immediately and thoroughly dealt with, but the article doesn’t say this is happening.  There’s only a tenuous connection: Yale has a rape culture on campus while Queens students are told not to sing about it for recreational amusement. Charges of rape are too important to be invoked without foundation.

What de Souza really condemns is the “hook-up” culture at Queens.  He cites the Yale report, which sounds more than a little totalitarian: “Because the social environment is so open, students seem unsure of how to develop meaningful relationships, set appropriate boundaries, determine their own social values or act in their own best interests, short and long-term” [emphasis mine].

Wow.  Claiming that Queen’s students (young adults, but adults nonetheless) are incapable of maintaining meaningful relationships or acting in their own self-interest is a serious charge that requires more evidence than de Souza offers, and it’s also none of his damn business.  Students are old enough to go into the army: they can manage their personal relationships and determine what’s in their own best interest without anybody’s approval. I’m inherently sceptical of the patronizing attitude that adults can’t live their own lives free of the “exquisitely progressive,” whether it’s an advisory committee or a celibate priest.  Most people don’t have it all figured out at 20 but they grow up OK.

It’s a little rich that de Souza denounces the sexual climate on campus while accompanying the article is a photo of literally six upside down cheerleaders, asses out, legs wrapped around the crotch of a male counterpart who smiles gleefully. It’s a shade away from acrobatic Roman-Greco coitus. Maybe the NP needs equity training too. Lurid. Eye-catching sure,  but I’m offended. Horribly offended.

Is common sense too much to ask in all of this? “University band: don’t sing about raping girls with lamps.”  Equity training, a vague and terrifying term, is just the universities’ empty recourse for publicly demonstrating accountability. Don’t worry donors, we’re on it.  Keep giving us money.  Equity studies doesn’t enhance students’ critical thinking ability the way, say, studying English, history, classics, law, or other extinct university subjects would. That students are busy adults with their own minds and things to do, including school work, doesn’t concern the University as much as reversing their tarnished image…of course, not remotely surprising.

But strangely, the article makes it seem like university students would otherwise be devoted prudes abstaining from all “debauchery” if only the university climate wasn’t so tantalizing. Revelation: students do drugs, drink, and have sex because…wait for it…they can. Many find debauchery more fun than work, and their schedule is permitting. I’ve even heard rumours of sex and drugs in high school. Maybe young students would take up sobriety if they could occupy themselves with a harmless diversion, say by playing with balls during recess. University students don’t have sex because they’re “bombarded by various campaigns for sexual health,” a bombardment which de Souza calls “not the noblest vision of the human prospect.”  Maybe it doesn’t promote true love, but it might spare them from STDs.

If only administrator’s were as concerned with education as they are imposing morals on their adult patrons.  This isn’t grade school!  This doesn’t excuse the band from singing blatantly offensive lyrics while representing the school. Suspensions are in order for the band, but equity training is repulsive.  Maybe students would learn good judgement as a by-product of good education, and exercise reticence instead of singing about raping the mouth of somebody’s sister. It shouldn’t be much to ask.

At least not in public.