Thursday, January 15, 2015

UVA President Teresa Sullivan: the Captain Queeg of higher education, still looking for those missing strawberries

UVA’s President Sullivan reminds me of Captain Queeg from “The Caine Mutiny.” She's obviously not insane like Captain Queeg -- her irrational behavior is motivated by fealty to political correctness run amok and kowtowing to gender zealots.

There is no reliable evidence for the supposed gang rape at a UVA fraternity as reported by Rolling Stone  – none whatsoever – and the school’s president Teresa A. Sullivan knows that. Yet Sullivan plowed ahead with a ban on fraternity activities while an investigation into fraternities, prompted by the crime that never happened, continued. And now the fraternities are being punished as a direct result of the same imaginary crime. See here.

Sullivan is the Captain Queeg of academia.

In “The Caine Mutiny,” the Caine was a battle-scarred minesweeper in World War II. Its captain was Lt. Commander Philip Francis Queeg, played by Humphrey Bogart, a strict disciplinarian with a nervous habit of clicking a pair of steel ball bearings in his hand.

One day, the Caine receives a gift of a gallon of frozen strawberries, which the Caine's officers share for dessert at dinner that night. A few hours later -- at one o’clock in the morning -- the captain calls an emergency meeting of all the officers because he's looking for an explanation about why there are no leftover strawberries from dinner. He claims that a quart went missing. He orders the officers to launch an investigation in the middle of the night.

The captain’s overreaction shocks the ship’s officers, but they proceed to investigate, to no avail. The next morning, Captain Queeg tells the officers that he’s got the whole missing strawberries incident figured out: with no evidence beyond his wild surmise, he announces: “Someone made a duplicate key to the icebox.” He’s even figured out how to nab the culprit: “I've got a simple plan. We tag every key on board with the owner's name. Then we strip all hands to make sure we have all the keys. Then we test each key on the icebox padlock.”

Before the captain’s insane plan can be implemented, one of the officers confides in the other officers that he knows what happened to the strawberries – he saw the “mess boys” eat them -- and that he told Captain Queeg, but Queeg ordered him to keep his mouth shut or he’d be punished.

Those who've seen the movie know the rest: the ship's second in command eventually relieves Queeg of his duties due to his mental instability.

And there is mental instability of a different kind at UVA with its overreaction to a rape that never occurred.

Tell me, President Sullivan: did you ever find those missing strawberries?