Report + Support, a Cambridge University website, invited students to anonymously “denounce” academics for “racism, discrimination and micro-aggressions”. These micro-aggressions, says Charles Moore in The Daily Telegraph, could include “raising eyebrows when a black member of staff or student is speaking”, “referring to a woman as a ‘girl’” and even giving “backhanded compliments”.
It was something straight out of Xi Jinping’s China: no surprise, given that the university’s vice-chancellor, Stephen Toope, has made multiple speeches praising the country. The anonymous submission process – the web equivalent “of sticking pins in the effigy of someone you hate” – trashed “that basic principle of justice: the presumption of innocence”. It was also racist: by defining racism as “a strictly white phenomenon”, it denies forms of hate such as anti-Semitism or black-on-black racism.
The site was taken down on Monday, then republished on Thursday minus the micro-aggression list and the option to report complaints anonymously. Toope has described the original version as a “mis-step” and says he wants to “bolster the university’s reputation for enquiry and vigorous debate”. Nevertheless, “a revolt is brewing”. Last year hundreds of Cambridge academics defeated a university motion demanding “respect” for all views. One tells the Telegraph’s Camilla Turner that until university higher-ups recognise that reasonable and lawful views can always be subjectively viewed as causing harm, “these sorts of crises will continue to occur”.
A Picasso? I’d rather buy a boyband outfit
Pop culture artefacts are the new classic paintings, says Priya Elan in The Guardian. It’s all thanks to “a generation of monied millennials”, who are driving up auction prices for celebrity paraphernalia. Last month Janet Jackson flogged her belongings in a three-day Beverly Hills auction. Kim Kardashian was in the audience and picked up one of the singer’s stage outfits for $25,000.
But that’s nothing compared to the big hitters. The dress Marilyn Monroe wore to sing Happy Birthday to JFK sold for $4.8m. Kurt Cobain’s moss-green cardigan went for $334,000 and the acoustic guitar he played during Nirvana’s Unplugged performance made $6m. When the Korean boy band BTS auctioned off their costumes, the estimated price was $40,000, but the final bid was $162,500. It’s no surprise, says auctioneer Darren Julien, who specialises in celebrity sales. “It’s cooler to hang John Lennon’s guitar on my wall than a Monet or Picasso.”