THE HIVE MIND

I come across like someone who is very harsh on students but more often than not I just feel bad for them when they're at their worst. Most of what they are at 18-21 reflects their upbringing, and I'm not eager to punish them for the fact that they grew up in Pigsknuckle, Tennessee or were raised by people whose parenting skills were limited to showering them with money and looking the other way. I mean, given that they were raised on Glenn Beck, drive a car that costs twice my annual salary, and have never met a black person who wasn't serving them food or holding a rake, the only surprise is that they're not more screwed up than they already are. The existential dilemma of teaching becomes clear when you try telling some lackadaisical fratboy "You need to try harder" when it's clear that he already has everything and very clearly doesn't need to try in order to maintain it. But I digress.

The point is that I understand that the decision-making skills of undergrads are subpar. That is not an excuse; they are old enough to accept consequences. I simply mean that it does not shock me when students – especially groups of them – make idiotic decisions. It is what they do. I expect it. This is what I tell myself. But every so often I reel from shock despite how well I prepare myself for their ignorance.

University of California-San Diego is the latest school to have what amounts to an annual tradition in American academia: the comically racist frat party. This year's UCSD "Compton Cookout" is just the latest version of the fraternity slave auctions, the blackface and gold teeth Halloween costumes, and the fried chicken-and-watermelon email "jokes" that we've come to know and love. The invitation to this year's event promises attendees "dat purple drank" – which is what the coloreds drink! ha ha! – and helpfully offers the following tips:

For girls: For those of you who are unfamiliar with ghetto chicks-Ghetto chicks usually have gold teeth, start fights and drama, and wear cheap clothes – they consider Baby Phat to be high class and expensive couture. They also have short, nappy hair, and usually wear cheap weave, usually in bad colors, such as purple or bright red.

They look and act similar to Shenaynay, and speak very loudly, while rolling their neck, and waving their finger in your face. Ghetto chicks have a very limited vocabulary, and attempt to make up for it, by forming new words, such as "constipulated", or simply cursing persistently, or using other types of vulgarities, and making noises, such as "hmmg!", or smacking their lips, and making other angry noises, grunts, and faces.

The objective is for all you lovely ladies to look, act, and essentially take on these "respectable" qualities throughout the day.

Hilarity ensues.

Here's what baffles me about these incidents. I know these kids are mostly the ignorant progeny of ignorant adults, but fraternities are large. The planning of this party had to involve dozens and dozens of people (within and outside of the frat in question). There wasn't one person with enough brainpower to think, "Hmm, this doesn't seem like a good idea"? Not one? I understand groupthink, peer pressure, and conformity. Honestly I do. Cognitive biases interest me. But you would imagine that if for no reason other than self-preservation – "Gee, I don't want to get in trouble for this" – one out of every hundred would be smart enough to do something. Even my jaded, blackened heart has a hard time believing that they are unanimously that dumb.

Overall today's undergrads are probably less racist than past generations so we can't make a good-ol'-days argument here. But the sheer stupidity of the racism that remains more than compensates for whatever improvements we've made as a society. It's sad enough that this happens, and sadder yet that these people are too dumb to express their racism at a level higher than "Haw haw! Them negroes sure do talk real funny and drink lotsa Kool Aid!" If the sentiments they express aren't enough to convince us of their dull minds, they ensure that we get the message with their chosen manner of delivery. I mean, if you're going to be completely offensive you could at least do humanity the favor of attempting to be clever. Then again, if these people were mentally capable of clever they'd wouldn't be doing this in the first place.

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82 Responses to “THE HIVE MIND”

  1. John Says:

    Addendum: Their names should be aired for all to see. Such unashamed racism should be stamped out, not coddled and protected under the guise of mere ignorance.

  2. ts46064 Says:

    "RosaLux and ts46064, I don't think you go far enough in your criticism of JM. His post isn't simply abhorrent, repulsive and evidence of his affinity for Ayn Rand, it's a clear demonstration that he's a worse version of Hitler. It also wouldn't suprise me to learn of his membership in the Aryan Nation or his authorship of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Holy frickin' Christ, people, the guy makes some comments you disagree with, and the baseless attacks on his character let loose."

    Ok, lets get one thing straight. My comment was a joke and isnt a personal attack. At no time did I say JM adheres to any randian bullshit nor did i accuse him of racism I simply said that that kind of stance seems alot like randism bullshit.

    I made the joke because his point that "They're people from the lower classes (or as stated in the invite, the "ghetto"), it doesn't matter what color they are, many of them are not going to be very smart," is absolute bullshit. Generalizing an individuals or groups intelligence because of who you saw on the subway and because of their socio-economic position is absurd.

    I stand by what I said because JM's point was begging for ridicule.

  3. Brandon Says:

    Well, I think you are completely mischaracterizing the quote of his that you selectively cut and pasted from a much larger paragraph. He was responding to a specific argument that the "ghetto" stereotypes these idiots at USCD were mocking have no basis in reality. As I understand it, he was saying that there IS some basis to common cultural stereotypes we have of rednecks, poor inner city residents, etc. Considering that many cultural representatives of those groups often perpetuate those same stereotypes, I'd hardly say that that's controversial. And admitting that fact in no way is the same as saying either that EVERY member of said group fits that stereotype, OR that it is okay to mock people of said group. How many times I have I heard stories from friends about going to Wal Mart and being surrounded by rednecks who yell at their kids and use poor grammar. This usually doesn't raise too many objections in polite society, nor should it, because I think we've all had similar experiences. But if you're going to adopt that position, at least be consistent in your outrage. Heck, the very second sentence of this post takes a jab at people from rural Tennessee, who are obviously all racists whose only experience with blacks is having them serve their food. I don't have much of a problem with that reference, and having grown up in a small town I recognize some truth to that stereotype, but it seems inconsistent to get all upset over JM's fairly uncontroversial observation while ignoring other observations based on stereotypes.

  4. ts46064 Says:

    Copying and pasting is not that same as taking something out of context.

    One of his points in the paragraph was that these "fictitous" women exist, they are from lower classes and many are not smart.

    Ok, I'm ridiculing the pure bullshit that is that vague generalization of lower class inner city people.

    I missed this in my last response but excellent usage of Godwin's law.

  5. Aaron Schroeder Says:

    Hate to show up late to a party (er…) but there's a lot of talk here about how the frat boys should be punished–whether it should be public or private, merciful or 'haunt them for the rest of their lives.' Let's just be clear: they didn't do anything illegal. And they don't appear to have done anything that violates USCD's Student Code of Conduct, either. So, it's not clear to me why anyone feels that their names should be made public in some official way, since its not clear that they've behaved in any way that requires official retribution.

    Sure, no one disagrees that racism is racism, no matter how small, but for all of the liberal advocacy I'm reading in these responses, no one has said anything approaching the argument that one would expect from a true liberal: "In America, free speech guarantees the right of racists to be racists, as much as it guarantees the right of the 'tolerant of all cultures, great and inferior' types to hold those attitudes." After all, even if what they said is wrong–even if they wanted to peaceably assemble to say it–I don't think we should be so quick to call for the public lynching of people who behaved as they are constitutionally protected to behave. It's akin to having reporters try to unearth the names of members of Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous–because goddammit, only pieces of shit use drugs and 'we' oughta know who they hell they are; maybe the shame will shove them back on the wagon.

    So, complain about racism as we might, the response I'd advocate is something closer to Ed's head-shaking empathy for the pathetic nature of the plight of the frat boy. It's a response in keeping with what we'd take to be the import of free speech, it casts aspersion on just the sort of racist attitudes we despise, and it saves us hours and hours of time worrying about a problem that won't even begin to be solved by (A) the sort of solutions suggested here or (B) the establishment of a "Gin and Tacos Comments Section Chapter" of the " League of Bellyachers United For Justice" that a few here are clamoring for.

  6. Susan of Texas Says:

    Calling someone an asshole is lynching?

    I value free speech very much. That's why I feel free to call these guys assholes. Don't you care about my free speech to call people assholes?

    You seem to forget that they did not commit this act anonymously. They put it up on Facebook. If their names are public it is from their own acts. That simple fact makes any subsequent exposure irrelevent.

  7. Ed Says:

    I don't even know where to begin.

    I'll limit my contribution at this stage to pointing out that "freedom of speech" means the freedom to say or do what one pleases, NOT the freedom from consequences thereof. If your exercise of that right gets you suspended from school or causes everyone to think you are a racist asshole, those are the breaks.

    I have a right to say "Dick Cheney flew American Flight 11 into WTC 1!" but it is going to result in A) me getting fired if I say it in class, as I surrender some of my freedoms in exchange for a job and B) you will all think I am an idiot.

    Consequences are beyond the purview of 1st Amendment rights. And I sincerely doubt that these kids will learn anything if they're sheltered from the consequences of their actions.

  8. Darkmoth Says:

    I'd just like to make a (probably obvious) point about the 'White Trash" versus "Ghetto Trash" double standard. If a group of wealthy black frat kids (e.g. Morehouse Alpha Phi Alpha) were to throw a "Ghetto Trash" party (sadly not unlikely) it would be a perfect example of sneering classism. It would not, however, be racism, and it would probably not inspire much outrage.

    By the same token, a mostly-white fraternity mocking "White Trash", while insensitive boorish and elitist, isn't racist, and doesn't evoke the same reactions. That's just normal.

    It's mocking *another* race, in addition to the classism, that makes this such an awkward situation. if the aforementioned black Morehouse frat had a party where they put on "poor white people" makeup and dressed like Hee-Haw, THAT would probably garner negative attention.

    I don't think the classic "double-standard" rebut applies here.

  9. Desargues Says:

    Is it racist? Is it classist?

    Can't it be both? I can't see how mocking black women's "short, nappy hair" is really not racist. I bet they don;t know many black people either. I don't think "dat purple drank" means what they think it means.

    And the charge of a limited vocabulary is especially rich. I have had some of these asswipes as students in my courses, and their linguistic skills are barely within Neanderthal range. This is particularly inexcusable if you're a white, middle class kid in America. Everyone else has some justifiable defense for their incomplete success in life, but a white middle class white college dude has no fucking excuse whatsoever. Lex talionis, about which a commenter complained above, would require organizing a counter-party — "Come dressed as your favorite dumb jocko parent!" The thought of mocking privileged white Americans who couldn't do better than raising a stupid dipshit fratboy moves me to mirth.

    In any event, I'm not especially worried about the present. More and more women and ethnic minorities are making it to college, to the detriment of white guys. Thirty years down the road, Latinas will be yelling at white men to mow their lawns, hijos de puta, and nobody will bat an eye. The population of fratboy assholes will slowly shrink to endangered level status; and fraternities will be looked upon as quaint zoos for bizarre species — the anomalous institutions they were in the first place. No other civilized country in the West has them.

  10. beau Says:

    Liz, MarilynJean, Ed, Darkmoth – bravo.

    Everyone else here is just furiously scribbling in the margins. Except Zeb, who appears to be almost wholly delusional, and JM, who appears to be almost wholly a douchebag.

    And (way, way back) Rosa – I was just trying to be funny too. No offense taken.

  11. Sator Arepo Says:

    Hegemony is, pretty much, a one-way street.

    Darkmoth: "It's mocking *another* race, in addition to the classism, that makes this such an awkward situation. "

    No, it's not just that it's "another".

    Students dressing up as "billionaires" to protest the economic policies of the Republicans during election season–or, fuck it, even at a party–isn't "classism" in the same way that children of privilege's dressing up as poor people is demeaning. Likewise, the notion that it's the appropriation (through misguided caricature) of "other races" that is offensively racist ignores the fundamental relationship between the power-holding, self-proclaimed dominant culture/race/economic group (not necessarily the majority, in the latter case) and everyone "other".

    Desagues said: "The thought of mocking privileged white Americans who couldn't do better than raising a stupid dipshit fratboy moves me to mirth."

    Precisely. "Ha ha, you have all the money and power!" is not insulting. It is, in fact, to laugh. "Ha ha, you're marginalized!" (whether it's in regard to race, class, religion, or whatever) incites anger, and for good reason.

    And I'm with Ed. "Free speech" is not the same as "consequence-free speech".

    Also, it's that the fraternity system is often a shortcut/fast-track to future business leaders and the like. So fuck a "boys will be boys" consequence-free approach to dealing with this shit.

  12. Zeb Says:

    "Except Zeb, who appears to be almost wholly delusional,"

    It's delusional these days to think there's a more appropriate way of handling this situation than dragging these idiots through the mud? How definitions of delusion have loosened…

    I read their full Facebook thing and I will admit that it's worse than I remembered (I first read it late last night, before joining the discussion). They should be strongly reprimanded, as others have suggested, but I'm still adamantly against dragging their names through the mud in public for all to see…for now. If they don't respond appropriately to their mistakes, then there's a case for it, but I still think that my suggestion above that attempts to educate them be made before this drastic step is taken. We're dealing with people's reputations here, which could be permanently tarnished. It sounds like some people here are just very bitter at fratboys–and don't get me wrong, many of them are complete dumbasses–but they're still human being and, given what they did, deserve a shot at redemption.

    Anyhow, I've enjoyed the discussion with everyone, and I think it very rewarding. I'm a new reader here, and I'd like to say that you have a great blog, Ed.

  13. daphne Says:

    I read sophomoric, asinine comments from these people and others with the same mindset on almost every ostensibly adult blog I visit. they make me feel even older than I am and a little pathetic for joining their midst.

  14. CP Says:

    Americans have the right not to be offended, dammit! Offensive people should be punished!

    Most of you have stooped down to the level of the UCSD frat boys without even realizing it. If they are racist for making fun of ghetto people, then you are all guilty of being racist for hating frat boys. It may sound ludicrous, but it's the same logic you used to accuse them. All of your "psychological" ideas make me wonder if you're all racist for assuming they were talking about blacks because they used the word ghetto. They did not bring up race once. Maybe you're all subconsciously racist. Or maybe you were itching to hate on people from a wealthier background because of jealousy. I wonder if there was a black kid in the fraternity because I know black frat boys who have participated in such events. Maybe a bunch of white boys thought it was okay because one black boy did. It's also possible some people were against the party, but not enough to stop it.
    Anyway, it really is the same as a white trash party. Why are frat boys white and ghetto people black? Stereotyping to prove your point? Kudos! The problem is America's history. A Jew party would be fine here, but not in Germany. Nobody would dare say St. Patrick's Day gives the Irish a bad name. But God forbid there ever be a Native American holiday during which everyone drinks until they vomit.
    Are the frat boys insensitive? Yes. The point is, as you all have shown, everyone has something against someone. It does not matter who you make fun of when it comes to morals. Your morals have failed when you make fun of entire groups. There isn't a list of who is allowed to make fun of who. You can either believe in stereotyping or be against it. If you think it should be selective, you're wrong.
    Ed, the party was a bad joke. However, it was still a joke. I know you've offended many people with your jokes and have probably said "it's just a joke" to defend your insensitivity. I doubt you cared what they thought…neither do the frat boys.
    I apologize for the terrible delivery of my thoughts. I know you people are smart. I'm under the impression most of you are smarter than me. However, I believe most of the comments were emotional rather than rational. Just because the frat boys were irrational doesn't mean you have to be.

    PS- I doubt the frat boys wanted to offend the entire nation. They probably thought it would be a funny joke among peers. To my knowledge, frats don't think about national outrage when party planning.

  15. Laval_Mosley Says:

    so pumped about the goblin kike mixer!

    just kidding, this stuff is straight reprehensible

  16. Desargues Says:

    Shorter CP:
    The Germans who hate Nazis for hatin' on the Jews are really just like the Nazis.

  17. CP Says:

    I'm saying stereotyping = stereotyping. Not stereotyping = committing genocide.

  18. CP Says:

    I should have said that judging a political party guilty of genocide and stereotyping people because of their social class are quite different.

  19. CP Says:

    I do believe neo-Nazis are entitled to their opinions no matter how misguided they may be. I also believe they have the right to offend anyone they so choose. If they do so much as deny someone service because of prejudice, they should be punished.

    Anyway, I'll limit myself to 1 reply when anyone addresses me.

  20. Cartmanne Says:

    See that little Jersey girl in the see-through top
    With the peddle pushers sucking on a soda pop
    Well I bet she's still a virgin but it's only twenty-five 'til nine
    You can see a million of 'em on heartattack and vine

    Boney's high on china white, Shorty found a punk
    Don't you know there ain't no devil, there's just God when he's drunk
    Well this stuff will probably kill you, let's do another line
    What you say you meet me down on heartattack and vine

  21. Cartmanne Says:

    That was Tom Waites by the way. His submit too early.

    Honestly, there are a lot of people here wasting their time thinking about a bunch of knuckleheads, many of whom will be ashamed of themselves in a few years for participating in this.

    College students and especially those in the greek system have been majoring in stupid stunts forever. While I find this stunt inexcusable and offensive, I am hardly surprised that yet another fraternity has had a "pimps and hos" party. Rush and Glenn have done an exemplary job of using coarse humor to deflect offensive views and lowered the bar for what is really necessary to pull a stunt nowadays. I would just move on knowing that these guys will eventually figure out why they shouldn't have ghetto parties or just remain clueless and lesser people the rest of their lives.

  22. Aaron Schroeder Says:

    Susan,

    You're wanting their names publicized not so you can call them assholes, but so that you can relish the general scorn and long-lasting suffering that such publication will heap upon them. In other words: sure, the frat boys behaved shamefully, and shameful behavior demands a worthy punishment. But should the behavior of one fraternity command the attention of anyone outside of the community damaged by its behavior–let alone the attention of an entire nation? It might be fair to say that "Racism hurts everyone," but so does drug abuse, speeding, theft, and just about every other crime out there. We don't make a point of pillorying in the national media every single criminal–who, arguably, have committed worse offenses in that they actually broke the law. And on top of that, it just doesn't seem very healthy for " national public humiliation" to be the order of the day for whatever unsavoriness is serving as our repulsion du jour.

  23. Liz Says:

    CP, you must be new here.

    http://www.ginandtacos.com/category/ed-vs-logical-fallacies/

  24. beau Says:

    Zeb – I was refering to the 'how far we've come' theme of your posts. We haven't come that far. Not in the US, and not here in Australia. Institutionalized and socially accepted racism are rife, while "reverse racism" is held up as a serious issue the public should be worried about. The European political landscape is infested with anti-immigration white power parties. Since others have raised the specre of Nazism, I would add that Hitler didn't invent racism, he just tapped into the background, ambient racism that he found lying around the place.

    The other problem I see with your (and other) posts is how concerned we are with the consequences for these Future Leaders. Individually, I say fuck them. Fuck them right in the ear. This is about what we (or Californians, or Americans) deem acceptable AS A SOCIETY. We all keep discussing this as though each of the rich/white/suburban kids is a special little individual, while the people they are demeaning is an amorphous blob of humanity. Part of the problem, methinks…

  25. Aslan Maskhadov Says:

    Let's track the history of this so-called stifling "political correctness."

    Few hundred years back to about the 1960s- White folks could say pretty much anything they wanted about any group without fear of reprisal.

    1960s-1990 or so- Idea that maybe it isn't such a great idea to insult people based on race begins to grow.

    1990-present- White folks start bitching to the high heavens about how terrible it is they can't openly say or do racist things.

  26. CP Says:

    Liz, I am not sure what you are getting at.
    I want people to realize that their comments are grossly out of scope. One frat (I know there are others, but not many) does something extremely offensive and people use that as ammunition against all frat boys, upper-middle class children, and upper-middle class parents. Not only that, but people have also assumed that "privileged" children live perfect lives and have no excuses.
    Quite frankly, many of the comments were worse than the frat boys invitation. "Ghetto chicks" is a specific group with the qualities mentioned. They never said every "chick" in Compton is ghetto. They never even said many ghetto chicks reside in Compton. In your defense, none of you are stupid enough to throw such a party on a college campus in the name of a national fraternity. You're not worse than them, but you're undoubtedly as judgmental. Why are they ignorant and all of you are enlightened? You're all speaking ignorantly. Whether you are ignorant or are not, I don't know. But quit acting like it.
    Hating white people for hating you will only fuel their hatred. In other words, white people will hate you for hating them. Sound racist? It is. It's not a goddamn race war. Condemn the racists, not their race. Condemning the race is out of scope. Hopefully you get the point.
    Ed is right that Freedom of Speech has consequences. It would be prudent for both the school and national fraternity to punish the kids in some way. In my opinion, community service in Compton would suffice.

  27. Susan of Texas Says:

    Aaron,, it would be ever so nice if you would actually address the facts. They already exposed themselves. That is a fact. Whether or not someone else decides to spread their names further is utterly outside my control. If they do it, I don't care, because the men already told the world who they are. If they don't do I don't care, becasue the men already told the world who they are.

    If someone doesn't like the rest of the world pointing and laughing or pointing and mocking or pointing and condemning, maybe they shouldn't post racist messages on Facebook, huh?

  28. Prudence Says:

    I get a warm fuzzy feeling thinking about all the jobs and opportunities these racist wankers have lost out on by "expressing themselves".

    There are many things that are annoying about England, but one of my favourite moments ever was when the anti-fascists (who are kind of vicious) confronted the BNP (UK's white power party) leader, Nick Griffin, outside of the House of Commons and chased him (and his "security") to his car. He was caught on camera sprinting away, terrified by a bunch of grumpy, dread-locked, patchouli'd hippies.

  29. Brian Dodge Says:

    "one out of every hundred would be smart enough to do something. Even my jaded, blackened heart has a hard time believing that they are unanimously that dumb."
    I suspect that some smarter frat members found they had other plans for the weekend, avoiding participating in an ugly mockery while avoiding pissig off the racist rednecks they have to live with in the frat.

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