The Cult of Niceness

More than twenty-five years ago, in The Closing of the American Mind, Allan Bloom pointed out that college students in the United States had become very “nice.” Students in general did not want to offend anyone and there was a constant concern to protect one another’s feelings. Bloom meant this as a half-hearted, even backhanded compliment at the time. It shouldn’t be seen as any kind of complement any longer. In fact, niceness has become the enemy of excellence in our universities, and its pervasive role is setting up our young people and our society for failure and an especially venal form of soft despotism.

“Niceness” is a rather shallow set of habits and attitudes more concerned with comfort than engagement, ease than excellence, contentment than striving to do one’s best. It was and is the perfect complement to our contemporary liberal insistence on “tolerance” as the chief virtue. Tolerance, after all, means simply allowing others to do and/or say what we may not like. When one takes things like religious faith and doctrine seriously, toleration can lead to spirited debate and vigorous pursuit of the truth, to everyone’s betterment. We accept that others may hold views we believe are wrong, even dangerous, because the only way to truly change hearts and minds is through civil discourse and example.

Unfortunately, when truth comes to be seen as subjective, toleration becomes the chief virtue, and it comes to mean simply ignoring one’s fellows, in essence not caring what others do. If you leave me alone to do what I want, I’ll leave you alone to do what you want—whatever it is, because truth and virtue don’t really matter, and probably don’t exist in any event. All we have are our own preferences, so that our chief duty is to ignore one another’s actions. The result is a culture in which religious faith is viewed in the same manner as any other “hobby,” whether it is stamp collecting or group sex. In the same way, “niceness,” as opposed to the discipline of civility, can mean simply not caring whether anyone is right or wrong, reasonable, unreasonable, or simply lazy, so long as no one bothers to challenge anyone else.

That we have long since reached the point where niceness is a barrier to the pursuit of excellence was reinforced, for me, by a small item in a journal for college teachers. It seems a Canadian college professor got himself in hot water for failing to be nice. Attending a journalist’s lecture to students, this professor was frustrated at one student who said young people don’t vote because they don’t understand the political system, finding it too complicated. The professor interjected “Read a book, for God’s sake.”

Outrage ensued.

Actually, at the time, applause ensued. But once the common-sense quality of the remark had time to wear off, the niceness police sat up and took notice. Class discussions and student newspaper commentators condemned the professor for “heckling” a concerned student who, apparently, had a right to be praised for being brave and inspiring because she chose to use her own ignorance as an excuse for political apathy.

The professor (a male who “heckled” a female student, so, yes, the gender police also got involved) apologized for his remark. Interviewed by a Canadian national magazine, he sought to salvage some dignity from the situation along with his job by apologizing for his transgression against niceness while reiterating the importance of reading. Bravery, indeed.

One might, and many would, argue that this little drama turned out as it should—with the duty to be civil being upheld along with the value of knowledge. But this is not at all the outcome of such situations on campus. Rather, quite inconsequential violations of reasonable codes of civility (“wait your turn” and, of course “be polite”) become the focus of a great, even nationwide expression of concern, and even outrage. Meanwhile, the most the “offender” can manage is a small, abstract bow toward knowledge as a good, after making the mandatory apology. And we should not fool ourselves into thinking that niceness will reinforce, comply with, or even respect civility; it trumps it. Thus, if someone is giving the “wrong” talk at a university—if it is considered “not nice”—the niceness police will feel free to shout it down. Thus, New York City’s chief of police was literally heckled off the stage at Brown University when, at an invited event, he attempted to defend a policy (“stop and frisk”) the audience found too mean.

The upshot is that, even or perhaps especially at universities, the right to not have one’s own beliefs, character, or even work ethic questioned trumps the pursuit of knowledge. Professors can say “knowledge is good,” but can’t point out that any particular student might need to work a bit harder to secure that knowledge and the skills needed to put it to good use. And anyone who actually questions broadly held beliefs about important topics, especially those related to race, sex, and sexual orientation, will find themselves branded as racist, sexist, and homophobic—that is, not nice, hence banished from the group to whom niceness, or even civility, is owed. The result, of course, is increasingly lazy and ignorant students (and professors). The result also is students, and graduates, who increasingly are immune to any call to excellence and virtue, more likely to take umbrage than to increase their efforts if called on to do better.

It should be obvious that the results for those students and graduates will not be good out in the “real world” of employment, of bosses and deadlines. Of course, the results also are an increasingly unquestioned adherence to dominant, leftwing views regarding race, sex, sexual orientation, and various public policies aimed at expanding the social welfare state. The result is bad for public policy, and also bad for the young people who will find themselves challenged outside the bubble of academic “niceness,” who will not find themselves “affirmed” by people who aren’t paid to do so, and who, therefore, will be disappointed for most of their lives. These are the lessons most parents learned long ago regarding the need to avoid spoiling their children. Sadly, we all, increasingly, are spoiled by a cultural sensibility that values emotional comfort more highly than reality can support. And a nation of spoiled children cannot be free. They will demand comfort from the state, not only in material but also in emotional terms, sacrificing the freedom to challenge and excel to the “freedom” from being challenged.

Editor’s note: This column first appeared November 25, 2013 in Imaginative Conservative and is reprinted with permission.

Bruce Frohnen


Bruce Frohnen is Professor of Law at the Ohio Northern University College of Law. He is also a senior fellow at the Russell Kirk Center and author of many books including The New Communitarians and the Crisis of Modern Liberalism, and the editor of Rethinking Rights (with Ken Grasso), and The American Republic: Primary Source. His most recent book (with the late George Carey) is Constitutional Morality and the Rise of Quasi-Law (Harvard, 2016).

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  • AcceptingReality

    Great article on a subject that needs discussion and a discussion that needs exposure. The “nice” phenomenon has infected all areas of society. I teach painting at a community art center. The mere suggestion that principles apply to the art of painting is met with resistance. Further the suggestion that getting better at painting requires a consistent, persistent effort at principled practice is anathema to many….The phenomenon rears it’s head in Catholic parishes, too. The suggestion that there are rubrics to the Mass that should be followed can be met with a shunning. As can any suggestion that Orthodoxy is a worthwhile pursuit. That’s why there is so little preaching on the main moral issues of the day. It’s more important to be nice. The message that we need to be warm, welcoming and open to diversity is more common.

    • Katherine

      If no principles apply in painting, then what is the point of taking a painting class?

  • Steven Jonathan

    Wonderful article Dr. Frohnen! Yes, whether it is group sex or stamp collecting- as long as you have good intentions.

    We abandoned the “democracy of the dead” for the monarchy of self, and that has dissolved into the “dictatorship of relativism” where pathological considerations greedily consume both reason and character- We are breeding monsters whose role model is the mirror gazing Narcissus.

  • Bob

    I often think that the discussions between Christ and the Pharisees must have been fairly spirited and lively. In John 6 when Christ discusses the Eucharist and the requirement for eternal life is to truly eat His flesh and drink His blood, He acknowledges their whispered disbelief with a strong, and not so polite “Why are you mumbling amongst yourselves?” One has to believe what is not in scripture and that the events that led up to Jesus clearing the Temple of money changers must have been some fairly strong and stern finger waggling from the Son of Man. He also told us “if you are lukewarm about Me, I will vomit you out!” I believe Christ sometimes applied His love and truth squarely between the eyes.

    • Stephen J.

      Yes, but Christ had the advantage of always knowing when His wrath was necessary and always knowing His own heart’s motives were pure. I would be more willing to dispense with “niceness” if I trusted that my own motives had more to do with speaking the truth and less to do with indulging my pride, anger, and desire to be right.
      (Of course, my clinging *to* niceness also has as much to do with my fear of rejection and failure as it does with compassion for others, so I’m screwed either way. But that’s my problem. 🙂 )

      • Bob

        As I get older, I don’t think I care anymore! If someone misrepresents, wobbles, or waters down the true teaching of the Church for the sake of being polite and accepted in a group of non Catholics, I’m as blunt as a brick in my correction!

        • Stephen J.

          God’s blessing on you for your courage, then, and I can’t say I don’t envy it.

          • Bob

            Must admit, I do make people nervous at liberal cocktail parties. Maybe I need to temper my conversations and defense of the faith with a little more “softness”………..nah……..!

  • poetcomic1

    My experience is that sociopaths can fake ‘niceness’ with ease but not kindness.

  • Vinnie

    “It should be obvious that the results for those students and graduates will not be good out in the “real world” of employment, of bosses and deadlines.” If that’s so, it won’t be for long because the “real world” and bosses will be those former students.

  • John O’Neill

    A recent letter to the editor in the local newspaper carried a letter from an outraged feminist who was deeply offended because a news story stated that a “an elderly man and his sister were killed in the recent Mid West toronado”. The feminist raged that it was an insult to refer to a woman as a man’s sister as if she did not have an identity outside of being a sister to an elderly man. How can someone be nice to such a cement head? Florence King a well known misanthrope once called our society the “kingdom of nice” and stated that her standard retort to someone usually a sales clerk or bank clerk who wished her to have a nice day was, ” thanks but I have other plans.”

    • slainte

      How does a reasonably prudent person distinguish between (i) a woman and a feminist, and (ii) a man and a misogynist?
      Is every woman who acquires an advanced degree and enters into a profession (medicine, law, etc.) a feminist?

      • Ann

        No, we are not.

        • slainte

          I do not view myself as a feminist and I don’t think the majority of women view themselves as such…but on occasion from reviewing some of the comments posted in this forum, I wonder whether some view most women as feminists, in particular, if they are in the professions.

          • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

            I do not understand or like feminists, but that is probably because I am a raving masculinist, and I am never nice.

            • slainte

              I try to be nice, but not hypocritical. There is a legitimate distinction rooted in truth.

      • Adam__Baum

        A feminist considers the intrinsic differences between men and women to be arbitrary constructs, and when those differences produce different results (i.e., the overwhelming male domination of fields like mathematics and physics) that they don’t like, they attribute those differences to elaborate institutional disadvantage and conspiracies in need of (state) remediation. They regard male characteristics (aggression, physicality) as defects. It generally doesn’tn bother them in the least that these differences also mean males are disproportionately represented in things like autism and hemophilia.

        I was always fascinated how feminists held the cognitively dissonant positions that any MOS in the milItary should be open to females; especially the glamour jobs such as fighter pilot, but never compulsory registration with selective service.

        A misogynist regards women as an object to be manipulated for his pleasure or convenience. Many misogynists are the products of fatherlessness, who confuse ferocity and domination for masculinity.
        Of course, properly understood, feminism is institutional misandrogeny, and unlike misogyny, it is actively taught and promoted, and not only socially acceptable, but required in some circles.

        • slainte

          “….A feminist considers the intrinsic differences between men and women to be arbitrary constructs…”
          What are the intrinsic differences?

          • me

            Biological differences for starters?

            • slainte

              To the extent biological differences (ie., lack of physical strength) impedes one’s ability to adequately perform a job that reasonably requires that level of physicality, I agree.

              • Adam__Baum

                It’s way beyond (the physical manifestations of) biology.

                Before I was married, I travelled in loose confederations of other single males. Our principal activities involved cars, alcohol and sports and travelling to see cars or sports or to consume alcohol.

                We routinely initiated social interaction with telephone calls that began with such endearing phrases as “yo, sh**head, get off your *ss, I got a couple sixes and Penn State is on at one.”

                We never went shopping, or to the bathroom together. We didn’t talk about our “feelings”, unless the feeling was anger, in which case the appropriate empathy was to get a sufficient quantity of alcohol and “kill it”.

                We didn’t hug or kiss and our partings weren’t long weepy things. The typical sendoff was “smell you later”, or Later, dude.

                We buy, we don’t shop. Our underwear is utilitarian only., unless you are “metrosexual”.

                There is no “Victor’s Secret.”. We like driving fast, hitting hard, kicking butt and keeping score. We compete on everything.

                Women say “you don’t understand” and we say “no, we don’t care”, even if it’s under our breath.

                We’re just different. If you’ve made it through law school and practiced for a few years, I’m guessing you are at least 30 and I shouldn’t need to explain this.

                • grzybowskib

                  About Victor’s Secret: Why the heck would you name a clothing store ‘Victoria’s Secret’ when their merchandise leaves nothing to the imagination?! One of the great mysteries of life….

                  • Adam__Baum

                    Moreover, men regard those elaborate and expensive “garments” the way seven old boys regard the beautiful wrapping you put on the Christmas present.

                • Bob

                  And We never, never once asked one of our bros if our arses look big in our new jeans…..

                  Men see a mountain, and climb it.

                  Women see a mountain, and discuss their feelings about whether it”s a good idea to climb that mountain.

                  Men and women are equal, but different. Viva la difference!

                  Pretty good list, A-bomb. I might hang it in my man cave next to my autographed Michael Jordan poster.

                  • slainte

                    You said “….And We never, never once asked one of our bros if our arses look big in our new jeans…..”
                    I never asked my brother that question either. :>)

                • Bob

                  ….and as Catholic men, we honor, pray for intercession to, and look to as the model of femininity our Blessed Mother, Mary. We exhibit great wonder and awe at the incredible toughness and bravery of a teenage Jewish girl that said yes to God and bore our Savior for the salvation of all. Anyone bad mouth her……they run the risk of five knuckles to the jaw.

                  • slainte

                    I try in every way that I can to emulate Our Blessed Mother in my personal and professional life, and I respect you very much for doing so as well.
                    Your devotion is apparent in your defense of the faith and active evangelization of others whom you have engaged in this forum.

                    • Objectivetruth

                      Thanks, Slainte, you too! I actually wrote down one of your postings once, finding it very profound: “Pastoral considerations must be ordered by Catholic Dogma lest Love and Mercy be interpreted as license to do what one wants, rather than what one ought.”

                      Have a great Thanksgiving!

                    • slainte

                      Thank you. I hope your day was enjoyable as well.

                • slainte

                  I have practiced for many years primarily with male colleagues and male clients in corporate settings. While I have heard colleagues (and once a judge) say “I will have my girl take care of this or that”, I have not encountered the sort of subtle innuendos which negatively attribute feminism in its most militant adverse sense to a woman whose primary complaint is a writer’s failure to recognize and identify another woman by her proper name.

                  At the end of the day, the matter appears to be sloppy journalism.

                  But why characterize an unkown person as….” from an outraged feminist’…..and….”the feminist raged”.
                  Perhaps when Mr. O’Neill provides links to the article and the comment to the editor, we may be able to discern more.
                  Happy Thanksgiving.

                  • Adam__Baum

                    Because the unknown person complained in a manner consistent with a certain mindset.

                    • slainte

                      If you have not read the article or the letter to the editor, you have no legitimate basis to draw any conclusion about the manner in which the unknown person complained, or whether it is consisten with a “certain mindset”…whatever that means.
                      I am still searching for the article and letter to the editor in order to better understand Mr. O’Neill’s opinion. If you find either or both first, please post a link or the article and letter. Thx.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      I guess you want or need curb service. Now why couldn’t you find this again?

                      File under “feminist who needs a life”


                    • slainte

                      Link to primary article…

                      “A raging feminist” wrote the following comment? Really? I beg to differ.

                      “,,,,As a native of Central Illinois I am grateful for the coverage of the recent devastating tornadoes and for the challenging work of the journalists.

                      However, although it may have been unintentional on their part, I found the wording from AP writers Don Babwin and David Mercer to be sexist as they reported the deaths of “an elderly man and his sister.” By describing this woman as “his sister,” her value and identity is linked only as she relates to the man in the story, her brother. I would have found more appropriate a statement such as “A man and a woman who were siblings were killed….”

                      Yes, many of you think I’m nit-picking, but to some of us these nuances matter.

                      Carol Wenger
                      New Holland

                      Read more:

                    • Adam__Baum

                      What other mental defect would you propose compelled her to take the time to make such a trivial matter an issue worth the time it took to pen that objection? She uses the the same logic that made “Miss and Mrs.” to be demeaning terms. We have all heard the argument that language is a tool of the oppressive patrimony.

                      As an aside, I’d like to congratulate those early complaintants, men are now free to not use those salutations, and some have used that freedom to invent salutations. “B*tches (z) and Hos” come to mind as I hear them incorporated into what passes for music these days.

                    • slainte

                      I already had links to both articles and was completing a post directly to Mr. O’Neill which I disposed of to respond to you. Thank you though for responding by providing the link; I am appreciative. I have spent way too much time in the kitchen today and cleaning up thereafter; just very tired.
                      Back on topic, the woman who wrote the letter to the editor is micro- focused to an inane degree…but she is not raging, hostile, or attempting to emasculate anyone. Nor is she abusive or malevolent. Surely you see the distinction?
                      Women need men to be strong and to assume headship of the family even when the state seeks to supercede that role. Please don’t allow anger at the state’s wrongful incursions into the family and its emasculation of men to flow over into a resentment and projected anger directed at women; we are being played too. Men are most awesome when they are kind, patient, compassionate, and loving just as Christ is.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      And I was messin’ with ya’…you seem to be one of the few posters who can take it as well as you give it.

                      Now on to the woman who wrote that letter. I agree, she is “micro-focused”. Micro-, or hyperfocus is invariably the product of obsession, but this is something more-it’s a contrived slight that exists only in her mind, so again I ask, what defect causes this, if it’s not the feminist mindset?

                      As for your last paragraph, I generally concur, with two qualifications. Could you imagine the average woman’s reaction if it were authored by a man telling women what men need from women? This is not meant to be a criticism, but think about it.

                      Secondly, being a man today is walking a tightrope. Be too strong and you risk being thought of as being insensitive, atavistic or that now somewhat disused charge, a “chauvinist”. Lack in sufficient strength, assertiveness and vigor and you are perceived as milquetoast.

                    • slainte

                      You wrote..”what defect causes this, if it’s not the feminist mindset?”
                      I do not know the woman, her background, her religion or lack thereof, or anything else that would inform me about her character, or how she formulates and draws conclusions. I will take her at her word…she is a nitpicker who demands nuanced journalism and is unhappy with the Associated Press’ failure to identify each victim by his/her proper name. Her suggestion that this lapse constitutes a form of sexism is, in my opinion, unfounded.

                      You also wrote, “….Could you imagine the average woman’s reaction if it were authored by a man telling women what men need from women?….
                      You have missed your calling Adam_Baum…..Please consider “He’s Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys by Greg Behrendt”. Mr. Behrendt was on Oprah countless times answering the questions of perplexed women of all ages who have no clue how the male mind works.
                      Perhaps this is an untapped opportunity and source of potential revenue for you? If you disappear from the comboxes for a few weeks to help out women everywhere by penning a new tome, we will understand….. : )
                      I know that society harrangues men and deceives women-pitting each against the other. Catholicism provides the counter cultural answer commanding us to love each other. Misogyny and secular radical Feminism are an insult to Our Lord and an abrogation of the commandment to love God our neighbor as ourself.

          • Adam__Baum

            You’re kidding, right?

            • slainte

              Nope, I appreciate when terms are defined.
              I especially would like the term “Feminism” to be comprehensibly defined. I tend to view it as belonging to the world of Betty Friedan and Bella Abzug…both of whom have divided instead of uniting people of good will.

              • Adam__Baum

                Anytime I hear men referred to as “boys” or there’s some denigration because beer is preferred to Merlot, or snickering about “testosterone”, or a gym that has a “ladies only” room

                (try having anything men’s only) or some professional association that has various programs or articles in it’s journal that asserts that women are an oppressed minority, I know I’m being exposed to the radioactive rage of feminism.

                It is routinely spilled by women who don’t consider themselves feminists, because it’s pervaded the general culture.

                • slainte

                  I am reacting to what I perceive (maybe wrongly) as denigration by Catholic men by suggesting that women in general are feminists (raging and otherwise). I respect many of these same men who appear to be very devoted to Our Lord and the faith in general.
                  I honestly never thought much about about feminism as I attributed it to something from the 1960s that died out with Gloria Steinem and her trek through the Playboy Club in full kitten outfit.
                  I did not realize it caused so much pain and angst to so many men. Any spirit that has the power to emasculate is not good. It causes what God meant to be complementary to be enimical. Not sure how I can help to change it. I am open to suggestions.

                  • Adam__Baum

                    Not denigration, but identification.

                    One other attribute of feminism: use of contraceptives (said to be used by overwhelming majority of Catholic Women).

                    Now I’m fully aware that the male is often a full partner in this, and am not excusing them.

                    I think you are looking for the seething rage that was prominent in the 1960’s. It’s largely gone now in popular culture, except for self-parodies like Sandra Fluke.but not because it was vanquished. It diffused. It still flourishes in the academy,

                    Men see the feminist legacy every day at work. I should tell you about the bona fide mental case (unprovoked outbursts, left medication on desk in view) who made my life a living hell for three months-she filed a nine page handwritten series of lies-but the apparatus was obliged to pursue the claims. It was well-known from various behaviors, outbursts, etc that she was a “troubled employee”. There was, and could be no discipline for this calumny, there’s never a dismissal of the charges, just “no evidence supporting them was found”.

                    It did however, keep a couple attorneys and those despicable HR types busy, justifying their existence as gushing leaks in the payroll.

                    In any other type of charge, I would receive in-house counsel, but for sexual harassment-you get your own attorney.

              • Objectivetruth

                Or Susan B. Anthony.

        • Art Deco

          I was always fascinated how feminists held the cognitively dissonant
          positions that any MOS in the milItary should be open to females;
          especially the glamour jobs such as fighter pilot, but never compulsory
          registration with selective service.

          Helen Smith offered a synopsis of what is conventionally termed feminism a while back: the habit of assessing matters carrying with you the assumption that women have options, and men have obligations.

        • slainte

          Secular militant feminism and misogyny have as their collective end the promotion of division between men and women and the destruction of the family through abortion and contraceptive advocacy. They are two sides of the same coin; both undermine the mutual love and respect of woman and man for the other. Both are rooted in hate and division.

          That said, justice demands that each person be permitted to make a living to sustain one’s self and children; most particularly, in the event of an unexpected illness, death, or loss of a spouse.

          If a woman is fully capable of performing a position, and meets educational and work related criteria for that position, there is no reason why she should not be permitted to compete on an even playing field. Note that I am not advocating for special concessions made in her favor which are not equally granted to all candidates.

          I do not consider the aforementioned scenario to be “feminism”, do you?

          You wrote, “….I was always fascinated how feminists held the cognitively dissonant positions that any MOS in the milItary should be open to females; especially the glamour jobs such as fighter pilot, but never compulsory registration with selective service….”
          Women have served in the military as nurses on the battlefield in several wars. (Recall Marie Curie in WW I). My understanding is that military leadership is the most vocal opponent of women in combat because of its potential to distract a male combatant’s focus for a myriad of reasons. Notwithstanding, as women are now being permitted to engage in combat, it is only a matter of time before they too will be conscripted. It is a mistake…combat is not consistent with a woman’s nature.

          • Adam__Baum

            “It is a mistake…combat is not consistent with a woman’s nature.”

            Combat isn’t consistent with anybody’s nature, but it isn’t going away, but I agree that men have a comparative advantage.

            If there’s an unauthorized entry at night, my job is kill or be killed, that simple.

    • Stephen J.

      While I can’t see it as something that merits being “deeply” offended, purely for argument’s sake I’ll ask: Why *not* object to the idea that the stylistic formulation sent to print was “an elderly man and his sister” and not “an elderly woman and her brother”? Purely logically, either seems perfectly factual; what determines who is mentioned first and who second as an adjunct?
      And it is worth remembering that the majority of such outbursts are typically “last-straw” sorts of things. One individual example is nothing objectionable; a consistent and decades-long pattern of almost always being referenced in a secondary and less important role may be something worth getting angry about.

      • msmischief

        Because it is uncharitable. One locution will be used, and neither one makes the second mentioned person an adjunct unless you chose to interpret it that way. Putting the best interpretation on people’s words is a duty.

        And a duty which one really should attend to before criticizing people’s language as uncharitably phrased.

      • John200

        OK. Make yourself angry. You should know better, but if you don’t, then I guess you don’t.

        Too bad.

    • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

      It is not gentlemanly to make reference to a woman’s advancing age. Thus, the journalist was being kind by referring first to her elderly brother, and then to her. And the feminist was being not nice, as usual.

      • me

        When I read “an elderly man and his sister” I understand the man is older than the sister – and the standard is to always begin with the older. Now, if it were written “an old lady and her brother”, then the woman had to be older than the man. That’s how I understand things.

        • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

          You are far too rational for the twenty-first century. God bless you.

        • Adam__Baum

          Yeah there is. Same line of thinking that gave us “Ms.” and “herstory”.

      • slainte

        “….And the feminist was being not nice, as usual….”

        Without reading the artice and the comment to the editor, how can you draw empirical conclusions about (i) this woman’s alleged status as a feminist, (ii) that she is consistently not nice, and (iii) what constitutes her usual practices?
        She may be all the things you attribute to her, but there is just not enough primary source material for you to make this claim.

        • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

          I was simply reacting to Mr. O’Neill’s account if the event, in which he used the term “feminist.” Perhaps the woman self-identified as a feminist. I really don’t think I want to bother looking for the article or seeking to interview the parties involved. It isn’t very important. However, having survived ten years of graduate school, in daily contact with women who described themselves as feminists, I will stick with my “not nice, as usual” phrase.

    • slainte

      Mr. O’Neill, can you provide a link to the article and letter to the editior you reference in your comment. Thanks.

      • John O’Neill

        • Adam__Baum

          John, we might be neighbors of a sort.

          • John O’Neill

            Yes, I live in Amish country in Lancaster county; last week a terrible event occurred here when someone shot an Amish horse who was pulling a buggy through Ronks; the family did not know what happened until they got home and found the horse bleeding, by the time the Vet got there the horse was dead. What kind of human trash would kill a horse for kicks?

            • Adam__Baum

              I am west of you, know Ronks well, home of the Red Caboose Motel, an occasional place to staycation.

              As bad as that senseless slaughter is, you know that family relied on that animal for transportation and farmpower so it it adds an aggravating element there.

        • slainte

          I read the letters to the editor for today’s date and am unable to locate the piece you reference. Was it posted on another date?

          • John O’Neill

            I believe it was in sunday November 24th’s editorial page in the Lancaster Intelligencer; sorry I was not more specific.

    • fredx2

      I remember when the “Have a nice day” silliness started in the 1970’s. Formerly, bank clerks and grocery cashiers simply said “Thankyou”. When the “Have a nice day” thing started, people were a bit taken aback, because here was this stranger, in effect, giving them orders. It was ever so slightly rude, and presumptuous, and simple minded. But, that is was the 70’s.

      • margaret Allain

        It’s along the same lines as the ludicrous comment when you have purchased soothing and say ‘Thank you’, and the assistant says ‘Not a problem’!

        • kentgeordie

          Even worse: No worries.

        • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

          Yes, I have a problem with the remark myself.

  • grzybowskib

    Thank you for articulating something that’s been on my mind for awhile. This past weekend, I went to Mass with my sister, and she (the relativist in the family) told me about one of the most amazing homilies she ever heard, where the priest told the congregation that Jesus loves everyone, no matter what they do or what they believe. And I got sucked into the cult of niceness at that moment because I didn’t want to get into a heated argument in church a few minutes before Mass began. So shame on me!

  • kentgeordie

    Read RH Benson’s Lord of the World for a devastating illustration of where the cult of ‘humanitarianism’ leads us. Love of neighbour without love of God is in the long run fatal.

  • cestusdei

    I don’t see much niceness coming from the Left.

    • Adam__Baum

      Nor will you. Their “niceness” has all the sincerity of pugilists shaking hands before the bell rings.

  • hombre111

    Well, nobody has to accuse Crisis of being nice. Which is nice. :>)

    • Bob

      FINALLY something I agree with you on, hombre111!

      Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Watosh

    Which reminds me, on being told for the umpteenth time to “Have a nice day,” I feel like responding, “Must I?”

    • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

      When people tell me to have a nice day, I usually respond: “Too late for that…”

  • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

    Every time I feel depressed at being an American university professor, I imagine myself teaching in Canada, and that cheers me right up.

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  • thebigdog

    But it’s so much easier to be nice than good.

  • Oh, no, it’s not niceness at all, but passive-aggressiveness!

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  • pescher

    Much of the adverse respnse to this event is the result of misunderstanding language. What the prof. (ojectively) said was that the student should read a book re. the political system which would ‘uncomplicate’ it and she could then participate in it. What the student (subectively) heard was the tone of frustration in the expression “for God’s sake!”.The subsequent commentaries only compounded the lack of undestanding and nothing resulted. The enforcers of politically correctism fortunately missed an opportunity to demand that the prof. attend sensitivity training (or even be dismissed) for using the word “God” at a secular college and I’m grateful for that.