It has been said that the students and faculty of Harvard University are America’s “best and brightest.” This month they prove this axiom to be mythological as they once again launch their annual “incest-fest” party where residents of the famed Kirkland House spend the day trying to have sex with as many house members as they can. Winners get a hearty handshake of acknowledgement and perhaps some STDS for their “success.”
Harvard’s denizens inventively call this debauched exercise the “incest-fest” because it is held in the Kirkland House among its residents. You see, the residents are living in the same house, so they are like a family. So, if they start having sex with each other it’s like “incest.” Hilarious, no?
This “event” has been going on for some time, of course, and Harvard authorities never say word one about it. Like most university faculties, Harvard long ago decided to let the inmates run the asylum (literally in this case) and have given up even a pretext of attempting to impose order and standards on their campuses.
But one student isn’t so taken by all that wonderful “self expression” going on at Kirkland House.
Samantha Berstler published a letter to Harvard in the school’s newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, saying that incest isn’t “funny,” it is a crime of sexual abuse, usually of children.
Berstler reminds Harvard’s student body that incest is not often “between two consensual adults” but usually the result of exploitation and rape. “Generally a father is exploiting a daughter or an older sibling is exploiting a younger sibling,” she wrote.
Even if we bracket issues of age, supposedly “egalitarian” or “happy incest families” cannot exist: the power differential between father and daughter or older sibling and younger sibling is so huge that it necessarily precludes the possibility of consent. The sexy siblings on TV and the image of the oppressed pedophile are lies that distract from a silent epidemic raging throughout the world.
“I am writing this because incest is notoriously invisible and leaves its victims burdened with shame and humiliation for the rest of their lives,” Berstler reminds her fellows.
“The name ‘IncestFest’ is not sexy or cute or clever. It’s dangerous,” she scolds.
Berstler wraps up her sensible letter saying, “The denizens of Kirkland House are quirky, intelligent, and sensitive. We can do better than this.”
But can they? It seems like “doing better” is not something anyone pays much mind to in our fetid system of “higher education” these days. As right as she is, I fear Berstler is indulging a forlorn hope here.