Skool Daze

It’s okay mom, we’re just doing our homework.
A long time ago in a land far far away, I went to school. We learned the three R’s, readin’-‘ritin’ & ‘ritmatic, and got our first real introduction to the arts. Back then education had one purpose, clearly defined, and that was to make American children the best in the world. That meant providing them with a well rounded education and access to the best of everything when it came to higher learning. Enrico Fermi’s work on the atomic bomb didn’t happen in some secret underground lab, it happened at the University of Illinois (Chicago). NASA’a work on rocket engines? Mostly done in colleges. Modern art, experimental music and so on all came from students pushing the envelopes.

Somehow, somewhere, along life’s dusty old road those goals got set aside for less lofty pursuits. Scores were no longer kept at games. Grades were secondary to feelings. Science had to allow for beliefs. At the turn of the 20th century astrology was either dead or relegated to a parlor game. If someone asked what your sign was they were likely to get “Tavern” as an answer. By 1970 all newspapers were printing horoscopes to keep their readers.

In the early 1900’s science was lauded for beginning to understand the history of our planet. It was understood by the people at large that not every answer would be right but the pursuit if those answers would provide an eventual truth. By 1980 demands were being made, and met, to teach hunches as fact. To dilute legitimate theories by misrepresenting what the word theory means. This has allowed many Louisiana schools to get away with teaching evolution and creationism side by side, with the former being presented as though it was written by idiots.

“Don’t cry Cletus, you ain’t no monkey’s cousin.”

Here’s what a theory is, just in case anyone asks.

Someone has an idea about something. This is called a hunch. He or she then looks to see if there are known facts to support this hunch. If not, it is discarded. If so, the facts are assembled into a single document and presented as an hypothesis. This hypothesis is then rigorously tested by interested parties all over the world. If it is proven wrong the greater pool of knowledge still benefited from the elimination of one possibility so that researchers and scientists are now allowed to pursue others. But, if all the known facts line up to support the hypothesis it becomes a theory.

Once something makes it to the level of theory then the real work begins to see if it can be proven to be a fact. Evolution still has a few gaps but is the only theory which explains the changes science, and you if you think about it, see in animals and plants over time. It is why Charles Darwin, a devout Christian, was forced to pen On the Origin of the Species. He believed that God wanted man to pursue truth even if that truth collided with his beliefs.

Things have changed.

While there are still havens of knowledge to be found, there are also places wherein the bar is set a little lower. Where students may not have to try as hard to get by. Michigan State University offers an undergraduate course in how to use cardboard boxes to package things. I am guessing this is due to the fact that so many, otherwise smart people, are being baffled by boxes. The University of Connecticut offers a degree in puppetry. Outside of Sesame Street and Mummenschanz, is there really a career there? Do you, as a parent, gleefully write checks for four years for this?

Now Harvard University, home of 7 United States Presidents (including our current one), inspired by the book 50 Shades of Grey, has joined the trend. While not a curricula yet, they have opened the door to the Munch Club. A safe haven for fans of Bondage, Domination, Sadism and Masochism.

Harvard University, home to the best and the brightest, now has an official club for the kinkiest.

Harvard College Munch for the BDSM set will be approved as a student organization on Friday, the Crimson reported.

The expected go-ahead by the Committee on Student Life will entitle Munch to meet for lunch or dinner on campus, promote gatherings on school grounds and apply for grants from the school’s Drug and Alcohol Peer Advisors organization, the paper said.

Once an informal gathering for like-minded individuals to discuss their proclivities in the bedroom without fear of being judged, Munch now has “institutional support” to provide reassurance for its members, its anonymous founder “Michael” said in the story.

One member told the Observer that she had been hit with a riding crop, a belt and canes in a private Munch get-together. “Floggers are my favorite,” she said.

There is historical precedent. The Iowa State University student government funded a bondage club in 2003, calling it a triumph for diversity, one publication reported.

Now S&M clubs are increasingly popular at elite institutions as “50 Shades Of Grey” climbed the bestseller list, the Observer said. Columbia, Tufts, MIT and Yale have them, though the story did not say whether they were officially recognized. Assault cases from within some groups have sprung up as well, the paper said.

But one Munch member told the Crimson that the club could provide a haven for those who engage in BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism) after they have been scarred by sexual abuse or other trauma.

Harvard spokesperson Jeff Neal told The Huffington Post that the college does not endorse the views or activities of any independent student organization.

Up until the 90’s school clubs had to have something to do with the school or, its basic function, education. Sure the definition got stretched. Model railroad clubs might seem frivolous until you saw that they taught skills ranging from true scale modeling (which requires more math than you might think) to perspective and proportions. The Key Club or others like it? Speaking, leadership, grammar and civility. I could go on but you get the idea.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no curmudgeon. I think courses should be taught on every subject listed above, it is how knowledge grows.

But ….

Look, if you and your playful companion want to indulge in a little spanky spanky, then – BY GOD – have at it. But don’t tout it as a form of therapy since none of you are licensed therapists. And don’t pretend that the school needs this or that you need the school. Neither is true. All you’ve done is con the school into paying the rent for a modern day Lonely Hearts Club.

Which, if I think about it some more, at least proves that you were paying attention in Rhetoric class.

Venus in Furs (1995) 70 min. 35mm b&w from Moskito Film on Vimeo.

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