Puppy therapy. My law school has puppy therapy. Let me slow it down for you. Puppy. Therapy. Let that sink in.
A professional legal educational institution is spending money to bring in puppies for grown adults — future litigators, future trial lawyers, people who are someday going to try rape and murder cases — so they can rub Fido and Spike’s furry little tummies and giggle while they piddle on the rug.
Just to be clear, the puppies are the ones who are piddling on the rug.
Where do these ideas even come from? It’s hard to say, since to interpret the prattling double-talk of college administrators is to dive into a configuration of disjointed jargon, PR buzzwords, and plain old-fashioned idiocy that would befuddle even the finest obfuscators the academic world has on offer. If I’m looking up Orwell’s Principles of Newspeak just to try and get a grip on what So-and-So University’s HR department is spouting on about, then there’s trouble.
Take, for instance, Elizabeth Carlin Metz’s defense of a decision by Knox College to pull a play “about a Chinese sex worker who seeks to do ‘good deeds,’” because it’s supposed to be … I don’t know, racist, sexist, orientalist? Whatever the hell the latest rationale for colleges’ soft-bellied superation of artistic freedom is this week.
I’m sure the play wasn’t exactly “Boule de Suif,” but when I hear about some doltish functionary censoring a staged performance about a virtuous harlot-with-a-heart-of-gold, I turn indignant and immediately have two thoughts. First, by what right does Metz suppress Knox students’ tale of licentious life lessons imparted by an Eastern practitioner of the world’s oldest profession? And more importantly, can someone please send me a copy of the script with an accompanying set of illustrations? For educational purposes, of course. The fille de joie narrative is an area of academic interest for me.
Metz goes on to continually light the fires of her intellect, a flame which ignites the fuses of epiphanous smart-bombs that blow brilliance-shrapnel all over the minefield of education.
“I believe that academia needs continually to be vigilant about the shifting nuances in addressing sensitive texts,” she says. “I think we must put them in our syllabi and on our stages so that we can interrogate our assumptions … We need to acknowledge privilege in all sectors and the inherent bias that ensues. And we all need to listen.”
What is she really saying here?
Ensuing bias, huh? Sectors, even? Metz the malapropism machine is like a duller version of Yogi Berra, which is, really … it’s really saying something. Three tiers of idiocy! In hockey, that’s called a “hat trick.” In academia, they’ve taken to calling such triplicated moronic displays as “tenure-track positions.”
My daughter, bless her heart, spends our morning taxi run to her middle-school narrating to me blow-by-blow recaps of some YouTube star’s blow-by-blow recaps of a video game that is itself a blow-by-blow recap of World War II. But being thoughtless and derivative is okay for kids. And I’m not so worried anyway, because kiddo is never going to be in HR — we told her she can either go to engineering school or live in a sack. I showed her the sack. I keep the sack with me and wave it in front of her when she gets B’s. The sack and I are one. I think she believes me.
But in Metz’s case, it’s not child-like ignorance, but administrative double-speak. Frankly, I know of a schizophrenic hobo who can communicate more coherently than Metz here.
I don’t go to the theatre too much anymore — all that time I spent in singlehood standing in line at TKTS now goes to morning-time waffle-making for the kids, and the money goes to … well, I’m not sure where it goes, but it goes. But if someone were to ask me “hey, what kind of play do you want to go see?,” I’d probably answer “anything about Chinese sex workers.” (Don’t ask.)
Either that or a musical drama called Rock ‘n’ Roll McDonalds about the schizophrenic hobo Wesley Willis, who wrote songs about trans-fat filled junk food and who tagged the end of every song with a corporate catchphrase:
Spider-Man messed with my girlfriend
Spider-Man wrapped his arms around her with my bedroom door closed
Suddenly, I opened the bedroom door on Spider-Man’s sneaky ass
I caught him kissing my girlfriend and beat him to a pulp with a rubber hose
Napa, it’s the parts store
And you know what? Silly as it may sound, I would rather have Wesley Willis teaching my kids than Elizabeth Metz. Willis was a newspaper-blanket-on-a-grate, profanity-spewing, clinically-diagnosed, I-see-a-giraffe-wearing-a-pith-helmet-and-waving-pom-poms-while-singing-Neil-Diamond’s-Sweet-Caroline schizophrenic whose greatest treasures were most likely voucher coupons for double cheeseburgers and the half-broken Casio keyboard from K-mart he used to write his crazy-pants tunes.
Whatever the man’s faults, Wesley’s lyrics have a picturesque clarity to them; a clarity which can even be instructive in directing Metz away from her clumsy mangling of the English language. Some examples:
My demon racks me with profanity
My demon tells me lies and says I’m a jerk, a bum and an asshole
My demon keeps me from joy bus riding by torturing me
Kinko’s, it’s the copy center
Willis wrote several other, let’s say, unconventional songs. But they’re all clearly written. Crystal clear. Sometimes too clear. I can promise you that in listening to “I’m Sorry That I Got Fat,” you won’t be confused about the song’s message. Just so with “Cut the Mullet,” “Retard Bus,” “Shoot Me with a Gun, and “They Threw Me Out of Church.” Listen to any one of those songs and, like them or not, you know what they’re about.
There are few things as frustrating as people who can’t shoot straight. But what compounds this aggravating indirection is the sublayer of dreck that directly contradicts what college administrators say. This voluntary prevarication is one exercised by Metz, but certainly not by Willis.
There’s a benefit to clear language — it lets you know exactly where you stand when you’re facing down both friends and foes. There’s an honorable frankness that allows the terms of combat to be simply understood by everyone involved.
And you know what? Even a crazy homeless guy could tell you that.