UMass Cancels the Semesters of 3 Freshmen Girls for Taking Off Their Masks. Off Campus. On a Weekend.

I suppose after 15 or so months of Covid-fearing and hope-shaming and rules-policing, I should know better than to address anything even tangentially related to the topic. So much as suggest that perhaps some of the guidelines are not backed up by the data, that a particular rule seems sort of arbitrary, the punishments might be a wee bit arbitrary, or point out the times they've possibly been enforced inconsistently, and somebody, somewhere is going to call you a mass murderer. Even with some places opening up completely with little to no negative effects, there are people who truly believe that questioning authority on anything Covid related is a form of genocide. Who think for violators, no punishment is too draconian. 

So like anyone who's seen what happens when you offer an opinion that perhaps, possibly, maybe, someone in charge has gone a bit to far with the rules enforcement, the smart move would be to just go along when someone gets unfairly screwed by the authorities. Fall somewhere in between "That sucks, but whatareyagonnado?" and "Serves them right for trying to kill their grandmas." But obviously I've learned nothing. Cover me, I'm going in:

CBS Boston -  Andover parents Kristin and Scott are speaking out on behalf of their daughter. She along with two of her friends are freshmen at UMass Amherst. A picture posted on social media of the three friends not wearing masks outside was handed over to the university and that has landed them in serious trouble.

“There was a photo sent to the administration of these girls outside off campus on a Saturday. This is why they lost a whole semester of their schooling,” Kristin said. ...

Students on campus say the rules have been tight this year but for good reason. “Maybe a little harsh but like I understand it because you’re not supposed to be doing that,” one student told WBZ Friday night.

“The town of Amherst made it really clear they don’t want any big parties,” another student said.

What also infuriates the parents of the suspended students was video of the UMass Amherst Hockey Team celebrating their national championship on campus. Some students, including some of the players, could be seen not wearing masks. ...

They were not allowed to take their finals, so parents say their kids’ semester was a total loss, both financially and academically.

“That negates this whole semester $16,000 of money and they have to reapply for next semester. But they missed housing registration,” Scott said.

Where do we even begin unpacking this? I suppose we could start with the fact that doctors, epidemiologists and even the CDC itself has determined that the virus is practically impossible to contract outdoors, unless you're in tight quarters with someone for a prolonged period of time. That's not me passing myself off as an expert. I'm a writer and barely even that. That's just me repeating what the smart people in the room have been telling us. So in almost all circumstances, the outdoor mask thing is just theater.

But put that aside. Where I want to begin is with these other students getting quoted here. What the actual fuck has happened to college kids in this country? At that age, aren't you pretty much biologically compelled to stand up to The Man? Aren't you inclined by nature to take the side of the freshman who's been done dirty by the administration? If not for your sense of moral outrage at the injustice, then how about just to increase your chances to get laid? I mean, is that the thing now? College guys aspiring to be good rules followers to the point they stand up for the school's right to punish coeds? It just goes against millions of years of human evolution. No one's going to get a girl to bed with, "What do you say we leave this party and go back to my dorm? I need to lecture you about your violation of the university's ban on Gummies on campus." 

And that goes quintuple for whoever sent the school the photo these girls posted. I thought college kids worshipped at the altar of the 1960s. That spirit of campus demonstrations and Sit Ins to protest war and injustice. But now they get to be heroes by narcing on each other. 

The good part of this is that, if nothing else, these young women are getting the thing they went to UMass for: An education. Not academic, necessarily. But an abject lesson in the state of the real world. One that they won't soon forget. 

They've learned that reason is dead. That people in positions of power didn't get there just so that they could apply common sense solutions to minor rules infractions, act rationally or learn to compromise. They get there so they can exercise power. They learned that everyone is out to get everyone else. And they learned that if they want fair treatment, they'd better win the NCAA hockey championship. I just doubt any of that is worth the $16,000 their parents are out. 

I'll end it with this. A quote from Aldous Huxley's "Crome Yellow." It's truer today than when he wrote it, exactly 100 years ago:

“The surest way to work up a crusade in favor of some good cause is to promise people they will have a chance of maltreating someone. To be able to destroy with good conscience, to be able to behave badly and call your bad behavior 'righteous indignation' — this is the height of psychological luxury, the most delicious of moral treats.”