Anyone who has read C. S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength might recognize the striking similarity between a climactic moment for the protagonist, Mark Studdock, and the recent experience of Ryan Rotela at Florida Atlantic University.
What’s most disturbing is the context of the exercise, and its supposed justification, both in Lewis’s novel and in the instructor’s guide as described in the linked article. The effort to lead people to desecrate symbols of “first things” is dehumanizing in the extreme.
Neither Lewis’s fictional account nor the actual incident at Florida Atlantic University are unrelated to broader cultural shifts. If this nation’s cultural shift, in which FAU can occur, is anything like the one Mark Studdock confronted, we have some sickening days ahead.
Many people seem to have a weird sense of “American exceptionalism” that prevents them from accepting the fact that it could happen here. Maybe I’m too much of a pessimist, but based on the current cultural course, I don’t see how it won’t.
While Mr. Rotela was initially threatened with disciplinary action by the university, it appears they have realized their subsequent losses would be more than they could afford, and they are now working with him to fulfill the course requirements in a workable way.