Thursday, March 15, 2012

When Fancy U. blinds us כשהאוניברסיטה הטובה מסנוורת

The other night I attended a Hebrew production of Mother of Him [האמא שלו] by Evan Placey, a play about the mother of a young man (Jewish - yes, it’s relevant) who’s been accused of rape, and what she’s experiencing during his house arrest leading up to his trial.

In the opening scene, we learn that the press has managed to talk to everyone who’s ever met the accused, and the latest interview was with a teacher at his school, where, when he was in ninth grade, “his mother bought him porn.” What actually happened is that he was caught viewing subscriber porn and was on the verge of getting suspended from school, when his mom rescued him by coming forward with her credit card statement proving that it was actually she who had purchased the porn, not her son. Saved by the mom. She explains: “If he’d been suspended, it would’ve been on his record, and it would’ve killed his chances of getting into a good college.”

The rest of the play aside, which was excellent, this scene says it all for me: North American Jewish parents so paralyzed by the chances of their kids not getting into The College of Their Choice that they cover for them to the point of eclipsing all reasonable (and moral) behavior. What message does going to such lengths send the kids? It’s a short distance from “Anything’s excusable when the stakes are college” to “Anything’s excusable.” Whether or not viewing porn led to committing rape, what happened to “You broke the rules; you pay the price”?

When will Jewish parents unclench their white-knuckled fists, stop hovering over their application-happy offspring, and accept that public institutions of higher learning are acceptable post-secondary holding tanks for their snowflakes? That the sky doesn’t fall if you graduate from State U.? Oh. And spending some time with our kids apart from handing them the latest digital gadgets wouldn’t hurt either.


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