Offensive ideas turn some against Intellectual Standard


Brenda Miller, Staff Writer

I consider Illinois Wesleyan University to be a campus harboring advanced independent thought.  As such, I also consider most people on campus to be intellectuals, and I am always excited to learn about new ideas from people well-versed in areas foreign to me.  The idea of a student-published interdisciplinary academic journal caught my attention.

Reading the first edition of The Intellectual Standard, it didn’t take long for my opinion to change.  After only the second paragraph of the introduction, the publication left a bad taste in my mouth, especially in light of the fact that my tuition money is helping to fund something like the Standard.

Editor-in-Chief Jaret Kanarek calls himself an intellectual and then condemns others who consider themselves intellectuals, failing to explain his reasoning.  This alone is arrogant, discourages those who disagree with him from writing and defies what it means to be an intellectual.

The claim made against modern intellectuals is explained using environmentalists as an example.  Apparently, environmentalists believe human life is “no more valuable than a slug or the dirt it crawls in.”

This may be an intentional exaggeration, but its premises are false.  Being an environmentalist does not preclude valuing human life, and I personally know no environmentalist who would ever consider saving a slug over a person.

Still displeased from the introduction, I went on to the first full article, and the taste only got worse.

The claim that gender-neutral terms are an insufficient substitute for the word ‘man’ because they are too vague is itself contradictory.  The word “man” can be used, among other definitions, to denote a male human being, a nondescript person or the human race as a whole. It’s just as vague as any gender neutral term, according to how Kanarek wants to define “man.”

I was especially bothered by the proposal to eliminate the word “woman.”  This idea is absurd and may even be offensive.  Since the term ‘man’ is so ambiguous, eliminating ‘woman’ essentially eliminates feminine identity, and, linguistically, it makes no sense since there are numerous occasions where gender distinction is needed.

The article consistently makes terrible errors in syntax, grammar, and logic and fails to use any kind of appealing prose.

Ironically, Jake Bates’ article “Introduction to ‘Faulty Phrases’” condemned this very practice.  Perhaps Kanarek should heed Bates’ warning more carefully, and not misuse language to “convolute already mangled ideas.”

After taking some time to cool down from the first two sections, I read the rest of the articles.  It’s a shame the beginning was so appalling since the rest was decent, even if I didn’t agree with all of them.  I found most of them to be quite interesting, and Nick Nichols’ discussion of “The Learning Process” particularly appealed.

Perhaps I’m a tad harsh in my critique, but seeing as I was insulted within the first eight pages on at least three levels—that is, as an intellectual, an environmentalist and a woman—I can’t give this one a pass.

Ordinarily, this would only irritate me, but the fact that student funding foots The Intellectual Standard’s bill is what really angers me.  I would have little problem with the journal if it consisted of articles like the later ones, but if the editor-in-chief is going to condescend his audience so wrongly while he himself makes major mistakes, then I can’t support the school funding this outlet.

Call me critical, call me a fool, but if this is the new standard of what it means to be an intellectual, then I in no way want to be one.