over the top
By Diogenes ( articles ) | Apr 13, 2008
Some mischievous right-wing prankster, with the evident intention of exposing Catholic academics to ridicule, presumably colluded with the editors of the Washington Post in publishing an op-ed titled "Freedom and Faith on Campus" -- an essay that purports to be the work of a Catholic college president. Yet the text is over-saturated with cliché, malapropism, and clumsy posturing to the point that the attempted parody all but undoes itself.
Look, one or two lexical blunders might be expected in a screed of this kind, yet our putative president manages in the course of a dozen paragraphs to misuse the words doctrinaire, seminal, normative, banal, and leverage -- while writing in defense of higher education, no less. And check out the metaphors doing battle with each other in the sentence following:
Civilization itself is beset by profoundly consequential choices among radical forms of religious and political beliefs, creating deep chasms within the global community and threatening long-term war and violence that undermine the peace essential for true human dignity.
Stripped of modifiers, the bare prose yields this: choices attack civilization, thus creating chasms (deep valleys) and intimidating something with the prospect of wars that remove the earth out from under peace.
Doubtless the folks at the Washington Post enjoyed this spoof of academic vacuity as much as its author. But to run the lampoon on the eve of the Pope's pastoral visit is, methinks, in the worst possible taste.
And think of the poor president's feelings!
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