I've Had Enough

by Andrew Haringer | 5/21/01 5:00am

In the wake of "The Zetemouth" and Psi Upsilon incidents, just about everyone under the sun has felt compelled to put in their two cents about the whole mess, and most of the results say little about the actual issue, and much about the individuals themselves. After reading tirade after tirade, I've resisted the urge to write in and respond. However, there is one breed of editorial so obnoxious, so offensive, so embarrassing that I've had just about enough. I'm referring to the type of pretentious, self important writing exemplified in Michael Weiss' ill-conceived rant "Stereotyping."

Mr. Weiss' April 23 article, "Finis. Exeunt," was a standout in the recent chain of pompous, loftily worded editorials so absurdly funny it's hard to believe they're for real. It held its own against the comic gems of his chief competitor Alfred Valrie Jr., whose April 24 "The Articles of Abolishment" and the May 8 "A Tale of Two Dartmouths" are masterpieces of the genre. Weiss' May 16 letter "Stereotyping" continues the trend of smug sermonizing, as God's gift to letters generously showers us with his wisdom. After reading one of Mr. Weiss' articles, one learns two very important, universal lessons: The author has a thesaurus, and the author thinks he's very witty.

Please don't misunderstand me; I'm not against intellectualism by any means. One of my chief gripes about our great school is the prevailing trend of playing down one's intellectual pursuits. I'm all for taking advantage of the great educational opportunities at our disposal here, and I certainly think a large vocabulary is admirable. However, there's a difference between using one's knowledge and vocabulary to make an intelligent point, and taking up space in The Dartmouth to further one's pipe dream of being America's foremost humorist.

When Mr. Weiss stops chortling and patting himself on the back long enough to actually make his point, one realizes that he doesn't really have anything meaningful to say. His arguments are so fallacious as to be laughable. Apparently, fraternity members are "fair game" for mockery and stereotypes because they choose to join fraternities "under the aegis of Mom and Dad's trust funds." I'm afraid I fail to see the logic, or truth, here. I pay fraternity dues with my own money, as do many others, and even if I didn't, how does that even enter into the issue? Yes, I choose to belong to a fraternity, but that hardly legitimizes or rationalizes any stereotypes, simply because being in a fraternity says very little about someone, especially at a school where such a large portion of the population is Greek. If it's okay to stereotype such a large and incredibly diverse group as ONE HALF of Dartmouth's upperclassmen, then by that token it must be okay to stereotype women, who constitute one half of the world's population.

The bizarre arguments continue in "Stereotyping." First of all, I want to thank Mr. Weiss for enlightening me to the existence of two vastly different types of discrimination. For those of you still living in B.W. time (Before Weiss), let me fill you in: Weiss teaches us that making blanket statements about people in fraternities (now here comes the important part) is no big deal, compared to discrimination in the real world. You see, one is allowed to stereotype fraternities because people are only active in them for four years (are you still with me?), whereas one's sex and race are decided for life. I guess this means it's okay to make fun of the elderly as well, since being old only takes up the latter portion of one's life. You see, the only type of person who allows such an inconsequential matter as the "fraternal lifestyle and its demise" to dominate his thoughts is a "sniveling, whiny, earnest undergraduate." Like Mr. Weiss, for example. By his argument, such petty college problems as "The Zetemouth" are somehow removed from normal life, and one would have to conclude that the brouhaha surrounding the affair, and perpetuated by the likes of Mr. Weiss, is overkill.

It comes down to this: Michael Weiss has a huge chip on his shoulder against the Greek system, and it's clouding any judgment he might have. I don't know the reason behind his grudge, but if his insufferable writings are any indication of his personality, I'm guessing he alienates people pretty quickly. If he actually took the time to examine the makeup of many of the fraternities on campus, he might realize that it is his simplistic view of fraternities as WASP havens, and not the fraternities themselves, that is an outdated concept.

That Mr. Weiss' opinions are poorly supported is the least of his offenses. Any valid opinion he might have is undermined by his self indulgence and inflated ego. When all is said and done, Mr. Weiss doesn't really care much about "such weighty global troubles as racism, bigotry and sexism." He's more interested in fueling his delusions of grandeur and smug sense of superiority over a sizeable portion of his peers. If you have a problem with what I have said, Mr. Weiss, please feel free to contact me via email. But please, for the love of all things holy, don't subject us to another one of your editorials; I think we've all heard enough.