And The Great Stupid Rolls On…[Corrected!]

…and, astoundingly, is getting even more stupid.

Take this story, for example.

The boulder above weighs about 70 tons.  Over 10,000 years ago, pre-Cambrian bedrock drift from Canada left it on what would become the campus of the Uiversity of Wisconsin in Madison,  or so it says on the boulder’s plaque. The rock was extracted from  the side of a hill in 1925, when Calvin Coolidge was President, and my father was five-years old, and placed in its current spot.

It was dubbed “Chamberlin Rock” after Thomas Chrowder Chamberlin, a 19th century glaciologist and University of Wisconsin president, given its  plaque memorializing him and placed at the university’s Washburn Observatory.

Suddenly, after 95 years,  the rock has become racist, and black students are demanding that it be removed. You see, long ago, the term “niggerhead” was commonly used to describe large dark rocks. (This is the second Ethics Alarms post about a rock called “niggerhead.” That one is also stupid, but not anywhere this stupid.)

“You clearly see what the rock was called and you can’t deny the history. Additionally you can’t deny the way it makes some people feel,” Black Student Union president Nalah McWhorter told Madison.com. “If you’re not going to move the things that are disrespectful to us because other students love it, put something up that us Black and brown students can celebrate.”

Wait, are white students really “celebrating ” a rock? What’s up with that?

This appears to be the week for stories that I object to having to explain what’s unethical about them. This tale is one res ipsa loquitur after another, isn’t it? Let’s see;

  • It’s a 70 ton rock, and the students want it removed because it is “disrespectful.”
  • Almost a hundred years ago, the rock was called a word now regarded as offensive.
  • Someone had to do more digging to come up with a reason to be offended by the rock than workers did to obtain it.

Ann Althouse apparently feels that she has to explain to her readers why this is stupid, so if you’re puzzled, by all means read her post.

I just have a few questions:

  • Isn’t it also obvious that this is, like so many of the demands during the George Floyd Freakout, just a contrived power play, as in “Watch this! We’ll make Whitey move a 70 ton rock just because we ordered them to do it!”
  • Why isn’t McWhorter embarrassed to be quoted as saying that how “some people” feel requires extravagant measures to relieve their upset, regardless of justification? You know, I’m really sensitive about being bald. Having bald eagles at the Washington Zoo make me feel unsafe. I feel like Disney’s “Fantasia,” released in 1940, now denigrates me because it includes “Night on Bald Mountain.” I demand that CBS cancel “The Bold and the Beautiful” because it sounds too much like “The Bald and the Beautiful,” which would cruelly set up the dichotomy between beautiful and bald.
  • Why can’t University officials end the “controversy” by saying, “No, children, we are not going to move a 70 ton rock because you have made the calculated decision that it hurts your boo-boo. You’re here to grow up: start doing it.”?
  • If society won’t  reject demands this stupid,  why would any demand seem unreasonable?

31 thoughts on “And The Great Stupid Rolls On…[Corrected!]

  1. University of Wisconsin, Madison (Go Badgers!!)

    Lo-n-behold (and much to OB’s delight…) <i<America's Dairyland is, yet again, actively seeking out big, steaming piles of $#!t into which to leap, face first, and from altitude.

    • I’m beginning to think most societies have a fairly large suicidal component that are always at the ready to begin destroying the society from within. It seems to be some sort of natural, organic phenomenon. Maybe even social organisms need to be constantly attacked to remain healthy. Or they need to die because nothing can last forever. It’s a mystery, but this virulent tendency is definitely waxing these days and on the ascendant. Still alarming, though. Why is it present in such large quantities in an otherwise down to earth place like Wesconsin? Maybe it’s in healthy social organisms where these cancers flourish best?

      • “Why is it present in such large quantities in an otherwise down to earth place like Wesconsin?”

        You might be onto to something there, OB, with the presence, or lack thereof, of your truly factoring in.

        No sooner do we leave town for beautiful Iron County in mid/late June, than some POS criminal miscreant, career FELON gets arrested for felony extortion.

        Our idiot mayor demands that his preliminary hearing get fast-tracked so that time-tested idea of Restorative Justice be more quickly invoked. Then terminally imbecilic Lefties besiege downtown Madison, burning and looting, and tearing down statues of a white abolitionist (Colonel Christian Heg, who died fighting the Confederacy) and the symbol of a strong feminist suffragette (Lady Forward).

        We leave on August 22nd and now this???

        Level-headed, reality-based attempt to redress racial grievance with a nod toward ending systemic RAYcism, or coddled snowFLAKE manufactured offense on freakin’ steroids?

        Sigh; what to believe…..

        • So obviously, Madison has a crazy street person problem. The guys should take a bus to New York City where they’d be put up in an upper west side hotel and doubtless given room service.

          Extortion is a great word for what’s going on.

          The boom box and the baseball bat are a particularly good look, I must say.

  2. What are the odds that Professor Chamberlin at one time or another in his professional capacity used the term “niggerhead”? Given that it is almost a certainty, Chamberlin Hall at UW Madison also will have to be moved. Yes, it’s bigger than a rock and more difficult to move, but the trauma that will be caused once that connection is made cannot be denied and must be dealt with.

  3. Isn’t it also obvious that this is, like so many of the demands during the George Floyd Freakout, just a contrived power play, as in “Watch this! We’ll make Whitey move a 70 ton rock just because we ordered them to do it!”

    It’s a quest for dominance, as it “Now YOU dance to OUR tune, white boy!”

    Why isn’t McWhorter embarrassed to be quoted as saying that how “some people” feel requires extravagant measures to relieve their upset, regardless of justification? You know, I’m really sensitive about being bald. Having bald eagles at the Washington Zoo make me feel unsafe. I feel like Disney’s “Fantasia,” released in 1940, now denigrates me because it includes “Night on Bald Mountain.” I demand that CBS cancel “The Bold and the Beautiful” because it sounds too much like “The Bald and the Beautiful,” which would cruelly set up the dichotomy between beautiful and bald.

    Because she’s feeling her power, and knows by saying the magic words she can get what she wants.

    Why can’t University officials end the “controversy” by saying, “No, children, we are not going to move a 70 ton rock because you have made the calculated decision that it hurts your boo-boo. You’re here to grow up: start doing it.”?

    Because they’re afraid if they do so they will face a riot, with everything that comes with it. They’re basically being held at gunpoint by scary black men and shrieking feminists.

    If society won’t reject demands this stupid, why would any demand seem unreasonable?

    No demand seems unreasonable now, see the post on DCFACES a few back .

  4. Jack wrote:
    Suddenly, after 95 years, the rock has become racist, and black students are demanding that it be removed. You see, long ago, the term “niggerhead” was commonly used to describe large dark rocks. (This is the second Ethics Alarms post about a rock called “niggerhead.” That one is also stupid, but not anywhere this stupid.)

    Okay, call me crazy or blind, but the picture you have posted of this rock depicts a large, light gray boulder. Assuming the gamma and brightness of that image aren’t absurd, my monitor isn’t set to glow brightly enough to be seen from space, and you haven’t substituted another boulder picture for the actual rock under discussion, there is no way that the pictured stone can be accurately described as “dark.”

    Logically, I must therefore infer that anyone describing it as a “niggerhead” did so wrongly, unless a rock must only be “large” to be accurately included in the term. Also logically, the roots of the offensive nickname appear to require the rock to be “dark,” at minimum, in order for it to be accurately applied. This rock manifestly is not “dark” by any objective standard.

    So not only is the demand for its removal absurd generally, their rationale for taking offense would seem to be only that someone called it, inappropriately because of the foregoing discussion, “niggerhead.” Extending that reasoning, every person ever having used the word “nigger” or its derivatives inappropriately for their intended use has tainted the object of their epithet as well as themselves.

    Truly, this is Salem 2020. I don’t like it here.

    • The article also gets the weight of the rock wrong. A “sixty to seventy” ton rock isn’t going anywhere (think Washington Monument).

      Looking closer at the photo, that is a 6 to 7 ton rock (roughly a ton per cubic yard).

  5. IT DOES NOT EVEN SAY THE OFFENSIVE WORD ON THE PLAQUE!

    IT DOES NOT EVEN SAY THE OFFENSIVE WORD ON THE PLAQUE!

    THEY ARE NOT EVEN OFFENDED BY AN OFFENSIVE WORD IMMORTALIZED ON THE ROCK.

    THEY ARE OFFENDED THAT AN OFFENSIVE TERM WAS USED TO DESCRIBE SUCH A ROCK (NOT EVEN THIS ROCK IN PARTICULAR) A CENTURY AGO.

    THEY ARE ARGUING THAT PEOPLE USING RACIST LANGUAGE A CENTURY AGO REQUIRES REMOVING A 70 TON ROCK TODAY.

    WHEN THE PLAQUE ON THE ROCK DOES NOT EVEN HAVE THAT RACIST, RACIST WORD.

    • Well, obviously, ALL such rocks must be removed from the United States immediately. The fact that Donald Trump has been president for over 3 years and hasn’t done it is further proof of his racism and the systemic racism of the United States.

  6. Oh, we’re cancelling nature now, because humans invoked nature during their racism? That opens up a can of worms.

    Now we have to destroy all the watermelons, because they were used in racist stereotypes. No, I don’t know why humans thought that the act of eating a watermelon was somehow worthy of mockery, but humans will turn any behavior into a symbol to set themselves apart from those they look down on, even if they engage in the same behavior themselves (but ironically, of course).

    We also have to hunt to extinction all raccoons, crows, and non-human primates, because they were used as racial slurs. Actually, we might as well wipe out all humans of European descent while we’re at it, so people aren’t traumatized by the sight of a person of pallor. To cap it off, we need to destroy all art, literature, information, technology, and infrastructure created by Europeans and their descendants, because it’s a part of the legacy of slavery and racism.

    That should be sufficient to undo the damage that humanity’s nose racism has done.

    • Ooh! OOH! Thanks EC (XF?) – I gotta start using that acronym, “POP,” for “Person(s) Of Pallor.” Must get busy and ACTIVE right now: MUST get that scene edited from “Godfather Part 2,” where the band starts playing the tune, “POP Goes the Weasel.” Don’t ANYONE dare say that word used to refer to Italians, that sounds like “POP.” (I’m making an offer no one can refuse…)

  7. “If you’re not going to move the things that are disrespectful to us because other students love it, put something up that us Black and brown students can celebrate.”

    The second part sounds reasonable. Unfortunately the former negates any reasonableness of the latter.

    Wait, are white students really “celebrating ” a rock? What’s up with that?

    Back in 60’s/70’s UConn had a beloved rock that students would paint. In the 90’s, UConn built a parking garage and removed the rock. People protested. It was covered with a foot of paint when it was taken down!

    UConn, of course, lost the rock, and people slowly forgot (unless your parents were alumni, like mine).

    In 2009, the incoming president of the university heard rumors of this rock, and had his staff track it down. They found it! It was dumped behind a warehouse decades prior. It was power washed and remounted, ironically, next to the parking garage. It has slowly been covered in paint with weekly repaintings under the cover of dark ever since.

    I image it will say “Black Lives Matter” for a very long time now (because what white frat group would dare paint over that?

    • Re: the previous post, Northwestern has one big painted rock for the seniors and lots of little rocks for everyone else (students are always doing something creative at Northwestern). I haven’t been on campus in quite some time but I’m sure they all say very interesting things right now.

  8. Those Wisconsin students are just the JV, rehearsing for their big day at Varsity try-outs, when they can try to prove that they can move that tall, obelisk-shaped rock in Washington D.C.

    Probably for longer than my lifetime, rumors have circulated that that rock (some would say it’s “too white”) is meant to symbolize a hooded Klansman watching over the city.

  9. Comrades, the time has come to abolish the Brazil nut. You see, this seemingly harmless and nutritious edible seed was formerly commonly called a “nigger toe.” Continued harvesting, transport, sale, and consumption of the Brazil nut thus quietly perpetuates the system of white supremacy. Indeed, I have it on good authority that Republicans regularly eat Brazil nuts washed down with a glass of whole milk, a racist dog-whistle in which the ritual impurities resulting from devouring Black bodies are cleansed by a flood of whiteness.

    • “Harmless”? Step barefooted on an errant one on Christmas morning and tell me that! I’ll take a good pecan or almond, or even a walnut, over that uncrackable vegetable caltrop.

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