November 01, 2004

College Op-Eds Redux Some time

College Op-Eds Redux

Some time ago, dear reader, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” discussed the ridiculousness known as the college student op-ed. Anyone who has perused a given campus’ student newspaper knows that it is ridden with feculent, blustery “essays” penned by moronic 19-year-olds who are under the delusion that they have important insight into, say, international relations.

Naturally, these op-eds are ineluctably atrocious—the kind of writing you wouldn’t put underneath your parakeet.

We, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” inexplicably gave more thought to the subject of college op-eds, and decided that we had more to say about them. As this is a free country (the ACLU has yet to scare us into believing that this isn’t true), we figured we would use today’s post to excoriate a particular brand of collegiate op-ed.

Before we discuss this topic, however, we had to mention yet another irritating feature of many a college-student op-ed: We refer, of course, recourse to Webster’s Dictionary as a means to solve a problem.

Nothing quite says “I’m an inept ignoramus” quite like genuflecting to the authority of Webster’s Dictionary. And yet this does not stop the intrepidly moronic college op-eder. As a result, students opining on the horrors of state-sponsored terrorism offer their readers the Webster’s definition of “terrorism.”

Normally, the op-eder in question does this with a snooty air of authority, as if quoting a source that is one step up from the Encyclopedia Brittanica were somehow deeply serious. This, after all, is the dictionary that offers such mindless translations as “Premeditation: an act or instance of premeditating.” Gee, that ought to suffice.

But let us return to the real focus of today’s excoriation: The “I’m in the Middle” column.

What, you may be asking yourself, is the “I’m in the Middle” column? Well, dear reader, we’re glad you asked. Simply put, the “I’m in the Middle” column is an all-too-common subspecies of the collegiate op-ed, according to which the writer identifies two sides of an argument, and then triumphantly places himself in the middle, thereby dubiously casting both sides as extremist. By this means, the op-eder in question can falsely trumpet himself as a beacon of reason—the only man who (at the ripe old age of 20) can see how foolish it is to have an opinion on an issue.

Let us offer you an example of such a column. Take the instance of composing an ill-considered “essay” on terrorism. The “I’m in the Middle” columnist notes that there are those who support terrorism, and those who oppose it.

But here, the chuckleheaded op-eder offers his own opinion: Both sides are wrong; it is bad to support terrorism, but condemning terrorism can stifle free speech, blah, blah, blah.

Thus, avers the swashbuckling columnist, I neither support terrorism, nor am opposed to it. Only ideological stooges take sides on such important matters. But not me. I’m right in the middle. And I’m a jackass.

As far as we can tell, there are collegiate op-eders who base their entire pseudo-journalistic career on this kind of moronic reasoning. It’s their one irritable mental gestation that resembles an argument—and it’s not even original.

We, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” suppose some support the murder of progenitors of the “I’m in the Middle” column. And there are those who think that such a position is ghastly.

We, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” don’t want to put ourselves in either camp: As far as we’re concerned, it’s foolish to kill such noxious op-eders, but equally foolish not to.

Posted at November 1, 2004 12:01 AM | TrackBack