I have been experiencing cognitive dissonance of late. I keep reading about how universities are providing ‘safe spaces’ for their students. If I understand correctly, these sensitive students are retreating from the very diversity they expect the rest of us to tolerate.
Do administrators honestly believe they serve these student’s interests? Will coddling them prepare them for the real world?
I once dropped my ice cream cone and therefore wanted to break windows and burn cars. But since I was only two, Molotov cocktails were beyond my capabilities and I could only find satisfaction by throwing a cookie at our cat.
The latest manifestation of this ‘safe space’ proliferation is ‘trigger warnings’, which are being issued in university literature classes (at Cambridge, no less) because the subject matter of some Shakespeare plays may contain “potentially distressing topics”.
I get it. After all, even the bard’s name creates a violent image. Can you imagine going to a play these days by someone named Bill Beheader?
If Shakespeare is too raw, God forbid these students ever open a newspaper. Better they hide out and listen to the soothing tones of the latest hip-hop stars.
New editions of Shakespeare’s plays are coming out where even the tragedies will only have happy endings. You know, like life itself.
Richard III would be reworked to tell the story of a young King trying to operate an Ebay auction. “My kingdom for a horse!”
Henry V could be turned into a musical that would leave them humming with a reprise of the old Herman’s Hermits hit, “Henry the Fifth I am, I am”. “Second verse, same as the first!”
The Merchant of Venice will easily be turned into a tract about the successful imposition of a $15 per hour minimum wage.
A Midsummer’s Night Dream would remain as a fanciful comedy of errors featuring numerous fanciful characters debating which gender restroom they should use. Although much of the rich humor of the original involves gender confusion, if audience members are confused about their own gender, some of the play’s wit may wither. No worries, they can always trot out Bottom.
Othello might be recast in the image of Black Lives Matter where the good news is Desdemona is killed not because of Othello’s jealousy (so unevolved), but due to the violence in her words. Othello acts in self-defense.
Romeo and Juliet wants to be about a young vegan girl in love with the heir to the owner of Bologna’s largest sausage factory. They run off together to farm quinoa.
Hamlet is an activist in the antifa vein. His hatred of his uncle (read Uncle Sam) would finally make sense. Enough with the indecision, already. He and Ophelia would escape to their utopia (a safe space) in a hot air balloon. “To be violent, or not to be violent… What kind of question is that?”
King Lear is an aging king with three beautiful and devoted daughters. He divides his kingdom equally among the three of them and they all live happily ever after. What fool needs conflict?
Taming of the Shrew would become a lesson in toxic masculinity. Duh! Of course, Petruchio would decide he is really a woman and all would be well. The dynamics of their relationship would be the same, but all would be well.
Julius Ceasar would be much better if it were about a chef at one of those Italian food trucks. “One slice of pizza? Eat two, Brutus!”
MacBeth could easily become a favorite. Lady MacBeth would now be the president of Planned Parenthood ranting on about how one can have infinite choices with nary a consequence. “Out damned spot!”
Shakespeare in Love… What? He didn’t write it? But I thought for certain…
Does anyone think these would be improvements on the originals? Must classic literature conform to the fickle fashions of callow youth?
After all, we are told diversity and tolerance is the goal. However, diversity, by its nature is accompanied by friction as differences are amicably resolved and the heft of ideas is reckoned.
It appears these young scholars cannot tolerate the slightest challenge to the truth they espouse. Whither diversity? With truth, what need they fear? Truth abolishes fear.
What ever happened to the ‘truth will set you free’? Truth casts an unquenchable light. Can it even be seen from within a safe space?