Answers to Questions Nobody Is Asking

Daily Best of the Web   —   Posted on December 9, 2013

The following is an excerpt from’s “Best of the Web” written by the editor, James Taranto.

Let’s Give the Headline Writer a Big Hand 
“Stolen Prosthetic Arm Discovered in a Second Hand Shop in Bournemouth”–headline, Bournemouth (England) Daily Echo, Dec. 6

Hey, Kids! What Time Is It? 
“It’s Too Late to Spend $4 Million on Super Bowl Ad Time”–headline,, Dec. 6

Answers to Questions Nobody Is Asking 
“What I’ve Seen in Chattanooga, and What It Means for Albany”–headline, Albany (N.Y.), Business Review, Dec. 6

Great Moments in Higher Education 
“Reports of bias incidents at Vassar College that involved hateful messages left on students’ doors were actually elaborate hoaxes–and the perpetrator is none other than the student member of the Bias Incident Response Team,” the Daily Caller reports:

This fall semester at the liberal arts college in New York saw a curiously high number of bias incident reports. On Nov. 14, the college sent a mass email to students advising them that Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) had received at least six reports in the last few months of hateful and insensitive messages being scrawled and spray painted on student residences. Messages included “Avoid Being Bitches,” “[F-word] [N-Word],” and most prominently, “Hey Tranny. Know Your Place.”

“This is unacceptable and members of our community should be able to learn and work in environments that are free of hurtful expressions and behaviors,” wrote Edward Pittman, BIRT coordinator and dean of the College for Campus Life and Diversity, in an email to students.

Five days later, Catharine Hill, Vassar’s president, sent a follow-up email: “It is our unfortunate duty to report that two Vassar students have admitted responsibility for creating a number of recent bias and hate-speech messages in public spaces on campus,” she wrote. “They also falsely reported these as anonymous messages. Sadly, our community has been deeply hurt by these actions.”

Hill added that, in the Caller’s words, “the two students had admitted responsibility and withdrawn from the college voluntarily.” She didn’t identify the culprits, but the Caller turned up evidence that one of them was a student member of BIRT.

Assuming the Caller is right, it seems to us Hill missed an opportunity to accentuate the positive. It appears Vassar has succeeded in integrating the function of responding to “bias incidents” with that of perpetrating them. In the bloated world of American higher-education administration, it isn’t often you find that kind of efficiency.

For more “Best of the Web” click here and look for the “Best of the Web Today” link in the middle column below “Today’s Columnists.”