Students are supposed to read books, not burn them

November 18, 2010

If you thought it was only uneducated Muslims in dusty towns ‘over there’ who burnt things that upset them, think again.

In 2006, The Dartmouth, the student newspaper of Dartmouth College, a liberal arts college in New Hampshire, published a cartoon showing Nietzsche conversing with a male student. The student was with a very drunk girl after a night of boozing and schmoozing and was wondering whether or not he should have sex with her. ‘Will to power’, Nietzsche tells him. The cartoonist said it was intended as a pisstake of Nietzsche, and more broadly of his rehabilitation in liberal academic circles, but some Dartmouth students saw things differently – in their eyes the cartoon was effectively okaying date rape. So they did what any well-educated, privileged students at a liberal arts college would do – gathered outside the offices of The Dartmouth and publicly burned copies of the offending newspaper. Like fascists...