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This Week in the CMC Sandbox

April 21, 2009

by Patrick Atwater
This Week in the CMC Sandbox

Claremont McKenna is widely lauded as a hotbed for political discourse, and this week was no different.  The running feud between two dominant groups– the self identified “Left Hand of the Jungle Gym” and the right-leaning “Equipment Free Independents”– hit a fever pitch. It all started when the Lefties decided to talk to the teachers about the changing relationship between the two groups. Andy Flu, speaking for the Lefties, had this to say: “When I became Head Lefty, I thought we needed a more open discussion about cooties and playground life with the Indies.   This job is harder than people think.  Sure we might not have accomplished all of our goals, but … - but I think we’re cool.  That’s what matters, right?” Chucky Jo was in no mood for pussyfooting, and quickly riled up his fellow “Indies,” starting a chant of “Facts! Facts! We’ve got lots of random Facts!” in response.

An Indie, who commented only on repeated assurances of anonymity, lamented the strident turn in discourse: “I don’t get why he has to be so angry all the time.  We’re all just kids looking to enjoy a little recess, and I don’t know if the Lefties are going to let me on their jungle gym anymore.”  (Note this farce was in no way supposed to be a commentary of the writing ability of the parties involved.  I’m confident all of them can write at above a second grade level.)

Seriously though, sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction.  How else do you explain articles like this?  Remember when you were five or so and the coolest thing would be to try on your parents’ clothes and play grown up?  For some reason these people want to relive that.  They bitch and moan about this or that journalistic rule, who deleted what comment when, and have the audacity to call it political discourse.  It’s immature and childlike.

What really pisses me off, though, is this implicit assumption that when these clowns talk about political discourse on campus that they are the political discourse on campus– elevated and made official by their institutions. They wrap themselves in the garb of mature journalism, when what they’re really doing is far from it:

“My piece calls not only for increased dialogue but also for civility. Commenting on and responding to Johnson's arguments is fine; I encourage that. But let's try not to use this comment section to bash him as a person and student. That's not the type of dialogue in which the Port Side seeks to engage conservatives.” – Michelle Kahn

With all due respect, you simply don’t get it, Michelle.  You proved that when you when you ignored your own suggestions for discourse and   wrote this.  No one cares about how you and Andrew work together.  You’re supposed to act professionally.  The standard is presupposed, but you’re not exactly up to it if in the same breath you’re making snarky comments about Charles and the editorial process at the CI.  This incessant bickering about trivial bullshit is the problem, and by wading into the mud yourself, you just heighten it.

I think an anonymous commentator, closet conservative, puts this point most succinctly:

“i don't care what's factually correct or not-- all the bickering caused by that fu**ing blog and its author(s) make cmc a worse place”

A little “improper” or “immature,” I suppose, but man does this guy hit the nail on the head. I know you’re not supposed to say I told you so, but this all goes back to my earlier point: Charles may exemplify what is wrong with campus discourse – the existence of this pack of little boys (and girls) who incessantly cry wolf, but there are necessarily two sides to this petty debate.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t discuss politics to win hearts and minds.  I’m not running a perpetual one man political campaign.  I’m not so arrogant as to think that my political views are some objective right that need– nay, must– be expounded.  Rather I talk politics because I find that discussing my and others’ views adds depth and understanding to my own.

Bringing the point back to the CI and the Portside: I’m no psychologist, but maybe what they really need to heal their pointless and insignificant feud is to stop writing, and start hugging.  You’ve have to learn to crawl before you can learn to walk.

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