At least 10 students lost their chance to attend Harvard College after posting “obscene memes” to a private Facebook chat, the main Harvard student newspaper reported.
The memes included jokes about pedophilia, child abuse, sexual assault, and the Holocaust. One message referred to a Mexican youth being hanged as “piñata time”.
The memes were shared as part of a private Facebook chat where admitted students in the class of 2021 shared edgy jokes as part of a “just-because-we-got-into-Harvard-doesn’t-mean-we-can’t-have-fun kind of thing”, an admitted student told the Harvard Crimson.To which the university replied: "Only fun that passes our strict definition, chums!"
The paper quoted a number of students from the incoming class, who had a range of responses, including two who said it was the right approach to withdraw the offers.
“I do not know how those offensive images could be defended,” one student said.I despair. Once, you'd have gone to Harvard to discover exactly how you could defend it, and - more importantly - why you should defend it...
At least two Harvard professors, however, questioned the decision to withdraw the offers. Alan Dershowitz, an emeritus professor at Harvard Law School, told the Guardian that losing admission to Harvard was a “draconian punishment” for “very bad taste jokes that students were sending to each other”.
“It sounds like Harvard is intruding too deeply into the private lives of students,” said Dershowitz, who has represented a series of high-profile clients, including OJ Simpson. “It may affect them for life,” Dershowitz said.
Harvey C Mansfield, one of Harvard’s most outspoken conservative professors and the author of a book called Manliness, also told the Guardian he questioned the decision.
“The bounds of what is offensive have been extended and distorted, and I no longer trust the bent judgment of politically correct enforcers.”Who does? Well, quite a lot of future students, I suspect. It seems we are sleepwalking into a future that even Orwell would have regarded as too far-fetched...