Cultural Imperialist

"Scathing Spats on Shallow Subjects"

 

Thu May 25

 

2017

 
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(Dis)honorary Degree

So you grew up and became a successful person, maybe an actor, or an entrepreneur. You've made your mark on society. Then one day you get a letter or a phone call. It's from the college you never went to, and they want to give you an honorary degree. What's your response?

If you're a morally upright person, you should reject that degree like the useless, degrading, and insulting piece of fakery it is. It is educational fraud at its most blatant and most despicable.

Millions of people wasted their lives and a ton of dough thinking college was going to be, for them, the next stage of their personal evolution, the stepladder to success.

In reality, for most of us, college was more of a sucking vortex of money and time devoted to pursuing academic trophies that would have no bearing on our careers or requisite salaries. Yes, America, college is a waste of your time, and you only have to point to the thousands of successful businessmen and women, inventors, and even scientists who never went to or finished college to know that the only thing required to enjoy a piece of the pie is determination, luck, and money.

Those same self-made winners often reap collegiate rewards after they have proven themselves to be bigger than the academic institutions; avoiding the classrooms that shape the rest of us into the drones we become does not impede these people of industry. They receive honorary degrees, professorships and distinguished research fellowships despite not putting in their dues at the temple of the Alma-mighty Mater.

Hey, why study hard and cram those credits into as few semesters as possible, all for a degree that you'll probably never use, when you can get qualified for free? Mike Tyson did it, receiving an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters. And all without beating up a single woman. And Robert Mugabe, genocidal African dictator, holds several international educational titles and degrees, none relating to the fields he's specialized in over the last twenty years (ethnic cleansing, kleptocracy management, and beekeeping). Hell, Long Island University awarded one to Kermit the Frog. Let's allow that to sink in. A sock puppet has higher academic credentials than I do.

Honorary degrees bestowed represent the hypocrisy of the elite, the application of a subjective and utterly relative standard in a bankrupt educational system. It is the reverse affirmative action of qualifications, giving to those who have already made it, elevating those who are already taller than everyone else. To paraphrase Colbert, it's like receiving a credit card without having applied for it.

Honorary degrees are the winking chuckles of academic institutions, the index finger to the nose, a gesture of contempt parlayed on all who muddied the halls of education with federal loan money they still struggle to pay off, or Mommy and Daddy's twenty-year savings. When institutional heads award such flattery upon their célèbre darlings who made some impact without their hallowed help,
it is the subtle but unmistakable acknowledgment that college, whatever its perceived import, is not in reality necessary.

On a positive note, this in turn makes a lie of any claims of unequal educational opportunities as the cause of social inequalities and a general lowered expectation for the so-called victims of such educational malnourishment. But while the lie of higher education should be exposed to ridicule if not destruction, to do so by accepting a degree you have not earned is in fact the bigger lie.

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