‘[T]he victim said [former Cardinal Theodore] McCarrick allegedly pulled him aside and told him, “Your dad wants you to come with me and have a talk. You’re being mischievous at home and not attending church. We need to go outside and have a conversation,” according to the complaint. The victim told investigators McCarrick told the victim to take down his pants and then held and “kissed” his genitalia, “saying prayers to make me feel holy,” according to the complaint. After telling him to pull up his pants, McCarrick allegedly told the boy to say certain prayers “so God can redeem you of your sins.”‘

Defrocked and living in St Louis, McCarrick now faces a criminal charge.

Fond memories of the man here.

‘And I have chosen YOU, Mr Thompson, to preach this evangel.’

White evangelicals represent by far the most vaccine-resistant group in the nation; they constitute America’s current greatest health crisis.

At 412 Murrieta, an evangelical church in Riverside County, southeast of Los Angeles, Pastor Tim Thompson has frequently preached against the vaccines and brought in guest speakers who do the same.

“This is not a vaccination…it’s unclean,” he said during a spring sermon, making a reference to biblical principles of purity and health.

No one knows how to solve this, and meanwhile the evangelicals are taking us all down with them.

UD proposes the following. Summon Pastor Tim to a spectacularly appointed boardroom in midtown Manhattan, where Richard Dawkins (atheist vaccination rate: 90% – highest in the country), following Ned Beatty in this famous scene, will convince Tim that he, Dawkins, is in fact God, and has chosen Tim Thompson from among all men to preach the gospel of uncleanliness. If this works, Dawkins can move on to all the other anti-vax pastors.

UD saunters through a recent polemic about the hijab and burqa, commenting along the way.

Problems start in the headline.

Rather than asking whether Islam is liberal enough to belong in Europe, the more relevant question today appears to be whether Europe is liberal enough to accept Muslim women.

Given many restrictions on various forms of veiling in countries all over the world, including the middle east, this is certainly not the more relevant question. With these historical trends, the more relevant question is whether countries that mandate veiling are liberal enough to stop doing this.

The hijab is more than a religious symbol to those who wear it. Muslim women cover their hair out of tradition, to maintain a connection to their cultural heritage, or for reasons of modesty. Several young European women I spoke to explained that they wear the hijab despite protests from their immigrant families, who do not want them to face undue scrutiny or discrimination at work.

This is the vague, anodyne stuff one always gets from champions of covering up. Just saying it’s a religious symbol is empty: Tell me what it symbolizes religiously, because not all forms of behavior that call themselves religious get an automatic pass.

Out of tradition? Meaning? Veiling is tribal, and very limitedly tribal. Do all of the women who veil come from a tribe that veils? And is a liberal culture compelled to tolerate all tribal behavior? Again, precision, please.

Reasons of modesty must be discussed alongside religion, no? And tribe? I mean, can we put all of this together to make a salient point? It would be something like: These women perceive themselves to derive from particular tribes. (Which tribes?) These tribes feature a form of Islam which the women believe mandates that women must hide themselves from men. You note that their families often protest their behavior. Could this be because, alongside its negative social and economic consequences, it lacks any legitimate Islamic grounding? This, in other words, might be a good point in the essay to cite any Koranic verse mandating veiling.

The rampant European misperception of the hijab as a symbol of a supposedly misogynistic Islamic culture…

Funny thing about that rampancy. Wonder where it comes from. Wonder why vast swathes of the world perceive… well, all religions as misogynistic, but Islam as king of the misogynists… wonder where that comes from.

I’m afraid, in other words, that you’re not going to be able to dance your way to your conclusions through a series of false or undercooked generalizations.

At no point in her essay does the writer attempt to understand rampant legislation, votes, referendums, against veiling – in countries all over the world. She does the pointless dance most defenders of burqas and hijabs do: Countries all over the world are Islamophobic, and hijab/burqa wearers are their victims. Here’s some advice: Get off the dance floor and do the hard honest work of figuring out why you’re losing this fight. Don’t be like Donald Trump, who loses a fight and stands there wailing like a fool. Accept your losses and analyze them.

‘Relatives of nine victims killed in the shooting say in their lawsuit that Remington should have never sold such a dangerous weapon to the public and allege it targeted younger, at-risk males in marketing and product placement in violent video games…

… Joshua Koskoff, an attorney for the families, said the [33 million dollar] settlements were offered by two of Remington’s insurers.

“Ironshore and James River … deserve credit for now realizing that promoting the use of AR-15s as weapons of war to civilians is indefensible. Insuring this kind of conduct is an unprofitable and untenable business model,” Koskoff said in a statement.

The years pass, but the Sandy Hook massacre always – to quote from a Philip Larkin poem

Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.

At least it destroyed one of the most disgusting gun manufacturers; at least insurers will take a second look at gun manufacturers.

“Talk dirty to me, Donald…

… You’ve called McConnell a dumb son of a bitch… You’ve called almost everyone who matters a jerk a fool an idiot an imbecile a cretin…

When do I get mine? I wait and I wait and time passes and then today!

Today Nancy Pelosi called me a moron.

That was supposed to be you! I was supposed to suffer abuse at your hands and grovel for more. Instead, Pelosi takes the words out of your mouth!

Don’t let the Dems win. TALK DIRTY TO ME.”

Absolutely chilling advance word has begun emerging …

… that at least one, and as many as three, Republican congresspeople plan to immolate themselves inside the Capitol as an act of protest against (in words that some are attributing to them) “Anthony Fauci’s slaughter of millions of innocent people, and Nancy Pelosi’s terror attack on this sacred building.”

Inspired by this iconic Buddhist monk, Rep. Jim Jordan and Sen. Rand Paul (these are apparently the most likely names) will set themselves aflame in the center of the Senate, in an effort, also, to distract attention from the ongoing testimony of policemen present at the January 6 insurrection.

Louie Gohmert, rumored to be a third self-immolater, has, according to some sources, said that he “no longer wants to live in a world in which Jake Ellzey beats Susan Wright.”

Obviously, if this rumored event actually happens, it will be an unprecedented trauma for the country, the ultimate twisted act of fidelity to Donald Trump. Whatever your politics, you’ve got to hope that their families and colleagues are able to dissuade these men from this grotesque act.

‘A self-styled intelligence analyst who bought Prada and Louis Vuitton items with the Vatican money that she was supposed to send to rebels holding a Catholic nun hostage.’

Ah, fuggedaboutit. Let’s follow another story.

UD recommends they hire Alan Dershowitz to defend them. He specializes in cruelty to women cases.

Renowned for his successful defense of a career genital mutilator in Michigan, Dershowitz should have no trouble successfully defending an Israeli burial society that barred a family from their father’s/husband’s funeral because some of the people who wanted to bury him were women.

Talia, Omer, and Stav’s father passed away four months ago. When they arrived at the cemetery to say their final goodbyes to their father, they were barred from participating equally in the funeral. The local hevra kadisha – burial society – wouldn’t let the family eulogize their father. When a representative of the hevra kadisha tore their brother’s shirt as a sign of mourning, the daughters were told to do it later, at home. And when it came time for the funeral procession, Talia, Omer,  Stav, and their mother were warned to remain behind and not follow their father’s body to the graveside. They ignored the warning and were met with yelling: “Women move aside!”, “Don’t mix women and men!”, and “Women shouldn’t be here!”

The sisters felt that their chance to say goodbye to their father was ruined. They turned to us, and last week we filed a lawsuit against the town in which the funeral was held demanding 268,496 NIS (approx. $76,000) in damages for preventing Talia, Omer, Stav, and their mother from participating in their father’s funeral. 

... It is illegal to force gender segregation or exclude women from … funeral procession[s] … [B]urial societies must not impose segregation unless the family requests it.

The mysterious death of a University of Virginia professor…

… in a steep, dangerous part of Shenandoah National Park, suggests a few possible scenarios. UD will list them, starting with the most likely. Keep in mind that Julia Devlin’s car was found along Skyline Drive, wrecked.

1.) This is a suicide, the endpoint of a psychotic break.

Distraught, she drove erratically into the park, crashed, exited the car, and began walking erratically. She looked for a steep cliff from which she could hurl herself.

2.) Drink and/or drugs were involved. Disoriented, she entered the park, crashed her car, and stumbled about until her fatal fall.

3.) Foul play seems unlikely. A terrible fight with a lover? They drive into the park, screaming at one another. In a rage, she wrecks the car, which enrages her lover, who chases her as she runs into the park, and pushes her down a cliff.


Mr UD offered something more straightforward: She drove into the park intending nothing more than a scenic drive. When she wrecked her car, she suffered, let’s say, a concussion, which disoriented her. She stumbled into danger.

UD adds yet another scenario, highly unlikely. She hit a bear. A now-angry bear. Terrified, she attempted to flee, but the bear pursued her, and she fell trying to get away from it.

Which one is Woody Allen?

The proposed Israeli government plan to break the state’s monopoly on kosher [food] certification will not only harm religious standards but also lead to an increase in sexual immorality, Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef declared last week.

Private certifiers of kashrut, Yosef claimed, could use female inspectors, leading to “licentiousness and a lack of modesty,” according to the ultra-Orthodox Hebrew-language website Kikar Hashabbat.


[Jorgen Lovberg’s] first produced work, brought to the stage when he was sixty-one, was Those Who Squirm, which drew mixed notices from the critics, although the frankness of the subject matter (cheese fondling) caused conservative audiences to blush.

Steven Weinberg: 1933-2021

“Years ago I wrote a book about cosmology, and near the end I tried to summarize the view of the expanding universe and the laws of nature. And I made the remark – I guess I was foolish enough to make the remark – that the more the universe seems comprehensible the more it seems pointless. And that remark has been quoted more than anything else I’ve ever said. It’s even in Bartlett’s Quotations. I think it’s been the truth in the past that it was widely hoped that by studying nature we will find the sign of a grand plan, in which human beings play a particularly distinguished starring role. And that has not happened. I think that more and more the picture of nature, the outside world, has been one of an impersonal world governed by mathematical laws that are not particularly concerned with human beings, in which human beings appear as a chance phenomenon, not the goal toward which the universe is directed…

I believe that what we have found so far, an impersonal universe in which it is not particularly directed toward human beings, is what we are going to continue to find. And that when we find the ultimate laws of nature they will have a chilling, cold impersonal quality about them…

Science cannot give us what religion gives those who believe in it. Science can’t give us the consolation of knowing that when we die we are going to continue in some sense to exist. It leaves us with a much bleaker view of our own future…

I think in many respects religion is a dream – a beautiful dream often. Often a nightmare. But it’s a dream from which I think it’s about time we awoke…”

“I’m tired of defending my right to wear a headscarf.”

Too tired even to say why you wear it, what it means, if it’s religious, why lots of people in secular countries have difficulty with it in certain settings… This writer is just too tired to do anything but lament her victimization by fools and bigots.

“It’s just a piece of cloth,” she writes, as if this vacuous statement settles the case. Clearly, for her and for others, it is far, far more than this. Look at the non-negotiable energy she brings to a mere bit of cloth. But she will not tell us what this enormous thing that the piece of cloth means is. If she would tell us, we could begin to talk.

It is part of who we are, the meaning it holds is for us. It is not intended as a symbol, protest, political expression or as a challenge to anyone else.

So it symbolizes for you nothing. Really? It is not a form of expression. Really? If the meaning it holds is for you, and if that meaning is non-problematic, why don’t you tell us what the meaning is? Obviously, a lot of secular people, citing your religion, take it to mean that God is displeased by women who do not hide themselves from men. Women, be modest! It is a modesty mandate, no? If that is not its meaning for you, you should let us know. Because everything we have come to understand about Muslim women covering themselves comes down to it being a response to a religious commandment to hide yourself from the sight of men. It says I am a chaste, modest woman. It is purity garb.

This submission to a religious mandate that reduces your visibility in the world of women and men speaks volumes to many secular women and men; it says that women are lesser beings, hopelessly seductive beings, defined by their seductive physicality that leads men astray. Your hijab says that we must put the welfare and freedom of men before that of women; for we can imagine a fairer, more logical, more egalitarian religion which mandates, let’s say, blinders for men lest they be led astray by their lusts, for after all they are their lusts. But you represent a less egalitarian religion, which says women bear responsibility for the reaction of men to them, and must be the ones who swathe themselves to remove their powers of seduction.

So take up every point in the above; if it is grossly mistaken, say so, and correct it.


Secular states often prefer, in the public and work setting, religious neutrality.

So what is neutrality? There is no objective answer because even deciding on what constitutes neutrality is by definition a non-neutral act.

No, religious neutrality is exactly what it says it is — Non-expressiveness in regard to any religion. No overt religious markers. There’s nothing relative here; it’s quite absolute. Unlike religious states, secular states are neutral in regard to religion, which means that all religious citizens of secular states may be subject to the same constraint on the wearing of religious clothing, jewelry, what have you. Of course in fact in most secular states, in most settings, no constraints on the wearing of religious items exists at all; but increasingly some of these places have been introducing some constraints.

We can certainly talk about why burqa bans and hijab restrictions are beginning to appear, but only if we can stipulate that the reasons involve something more complex than Islamophobia. I think that the burqa bans are pretty straightforward: There are obvious security issues; the entire shielding of the face and mouth constitutes a refusal to enter into the civic realm as an open, free, and equal individual; in educational settings, the burqa seriously impedes learning; to put a six year old child in a burqa is to impose radical invisibility and constraint on someone without any agency in the matter, etc. In the case of the hijab, it seems clear that its values of female fear of the male, or at least insistence on accommodating male lust and subsequent shrinking from full and equal physical presence in the world offends significant enough numbers of modern secular men and women that some real and negative consequences may ensue for commercial settings. Offended people may take their patronage elsewhere.

Let us by all means discuss whether these are contemptible responses to the primary Islamic meaning of the hijab, unworthy of the sort of judgment the EU court just handed down. One could argue that one ought not be upset at one’s six year old daughter seeing another six year old girl entirely covered in cloth; or one could argue that one is free to be upset, but not free to refuse to enter a store/restaurant where that little girl is playing behind the counter. You are living in a free country where people may freely express their belief about modesty and six year old girls; your task as a citizen of such a country is to tolerate this parental behavior.

But of course people are going to do what they want. Secular people might well – legitimately – care deeply about the formation of their female children into free and equal citizens of secular republics; they might legitimately regard visible female unfreedom as threatening to that formation. One might indeed begin to see a sort of boycott of spaces where the sight of unfree children and women is routine – a situation that the EU court is clearly responding to in its judgment.

It is not Islam, and it is not religion generally, to which these people are responding so negatively, I would argue. It is simply the sight of significantly unfree and unequal women and children that offends.

“While people with liberal values are highly tolerant of Muslims, such values are not predictive of support for the headscarf.” [Marc] Helbling hypothesizes this is because “people with liberal values are tolerant of immigrants in general but feel torn when it comes to religious practices that are perceived by some people as reflecting illiberal values.”

Again – by all means insist that hijabs are empowering and we seculars are getting it wrong, wrong, wrong. But realize that in making this claim you have a very high mountain to climb.

UD’s old blogpal…

Professor Mondo, updates her on the latest whack from Washington State, involving that school’s clever transition from football coach – and person who makes Rand Paul look sane – Mike Leach, to asshole anti-vaxer football coach Nick Rolovich. University Diaries has followed this miserable school through the long years of its tragic decline due to tertiary syphilis or whatever it is that makes one WSU president after another into a trembling terrified cringer before its sports program (currently well over a hundred million in debt). The deal WSU struck with Rolovich goes like this: You give me three million dollars a year and I give your kids the Delta Variant.

You could probably go right down the list and track it in terms of gun ownership.

Wyoming, always in a tight race with Alaska, is winner and still champeen.

See? UD‘s Maryland is absolutely pathetic on gun ownership, as are virtually all the other low-suicide states. It’s a comfort to realize that all we have to do to compete with the top of the list is buy a shitload more guns.

As the NRA’s famous line has it: Guns don’t kill people. People with guns kill themselves.

More beautiful than before.
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Dr. Bernard Carroll, known as the "conscience of psychiatry," contributed to various blogs, including Margaret Soltan's University Diaries, for which he sometimes wrote limericks under the name Adam.
New York Times

George Washington University English professor Margaret Soltan writes a blog called University Diaries, in which she decries the Twilight Zone-ish state our holy land’s institutes of higher ed find themselves in these days.
The Electron Pencil

It’s [UD's] intellectual honesty that makes her blog required reading.
Professor Mondo

There's always something delightful and thought intriguing to be found at Margaret Soltan's no-holds-barred, firebrand tinged blog about university life.

You can get your RDA of academic liars, cheats, and greedy frauds at University Diaries. All disciplines, plus athletics.
truffula, commenting at Historiann

Margaret Soltan at University Diaries blogs superbly and tirelessly about [university sports] corruption.

University Diaries. Hosted by Margaret Soltan, professor of English at George Washington University. Boy is she pissed — mostly about athletics and funding, the usual scandals — but also about distance learning and diploma mills. She likes poems too. And she sings.
Dissent: The Blog

[UD belittles] Mrs. Palin's degree in communications from the University of Idaho...
The Wall Street Journal

Professor Margaret Soltan, blogging at University Diaries... provide[s] an important voice that challenges the status quo.
Lee Skallerup Bessette, Inside Higher Education

[University Diaries offers] the kind of attention to detail in the use of language that makes reading worthwhile.
Sean Dorrance Kelly, Harvard University

Margaret Soltan's ire is a national treasure.
Roland Greene, Stanford University

The irrepressibly to-the-point Margaret Soltan...
Carlat Psychiatry Blog

Margaret Soltan, whose blog lords it over the rest of ours like a benevolent tyrant...
Perplexed with Narrow Passages

Margaret Soltan is no fan of college sports and her diatribes on the subject can be condescending and annoying. But she makes a good point here...
Outside the Beltway

From Margaret Soltan's excellent coverage of the Bernard Madoff scandal comes this tip...
Money Law

University Diaries offers a long-running, focused, and extremely effective critique of the university as we know it.
Anthony Grafton, American Historical Association

The inimitable Margaret Soltan is, as usual, worth reading. ...
Medical Humanities Blog

I awake this morning to find that the excellent Margaret Soltan has linked here and thereby singlehandedly given [this blog] its heaviest traffic...
Ducks and Drakes

As Margaret Soltan, one of the best academic bloggers, points out, pressure is mounting ...
The Bitch Girls

Many of us bloggers worry that we don’t post enough to keep people’s interest: Margaret Soltan posts every day, and I more or less thought she was the gold standard.
Tenured Radical

University Diaries by Margaret Soltan is one of the best windows onto US university life that I know.
Mary Beard, A Don's Life

[University Diaries offers] a broad sense of what's going on in education today, framed by a passionate and knowledgeable reporter.
More magazine, Canada

If deity were an elected office, I would quit my job to get her on the ballot.
Notes of a Neophyte