DID you know that 2015 was the International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies?
The United Nations, which decides these things, thought that 2015 was an appropriate time to recognise Thomas Edison's world-changing invention, 135 years after his light bulb was patented. Sadly, the UN's celebration never caught on." It may have been the least popular international year concept since 2008 (the International Year of the Potato) and 1985 (the International Year of the United Nations).
Instead, 2015 was dominated by micro-aggressions, safe spaces, trigger warnings, privilege checks and other concerns of the global university student community. It was, to borrow a phrase from internet genius David Burge, the International Year of Screaming Campus Garbage Babies.
"Something strange is happening at America's colleges and universities," The Atlantic reported in September. "A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offence."
This movement is not confined to the US. In Australia, too, garbage babies are screaming about the tiniest perceived injustices. Worse still, people actually listen to them. Last year, for example, Sydney University cancelled a Mexican-themed staff Christmas party following a complaint from Eden Caceda, an office-bearer with the university's Autonomous Collective Against Racism.
"My family has a poncho and it is really important to us," Eden said, "and these people are treating it like a costume."
The fact that it actually is a costume evidently never occurred to the university's timid staff, who subsequently suffered through a dreary party that had no theme at all.
Eden's success, repeated at universities around the world, emboldened whiners to take even further steps throughout 2015 towards their colourless, uniform nirvana.
They don't like costumes. They don't like diversity. They don't like speakers with whom they disagree, as retired British military officer Colonel Richard Kemp discovered when he visited Sydney University this year, only to be shouted down by pro-Palestinian academics and students. They don't even like applause, according to this message from Oxford University's Women's Campaign during a British student conference in March:
"Please can we ask people to stop clapping but do feminist jazz hands? It's triggering some peoples' anxiety. Thank you!"
Jazz hands, Oxford Dictionaries explains, are a
"gesture originating in musical theatre, in which the hands are waved rapidly to and fro with the palms facing forward and the fingers splayed".
Just the thing to calm delicate student sensibilities, and also a good way to alert observers they're in the company of idiots. US writer Christine Rousselle responded:
"As a woman, feminist, and someone who has struggled mightily with anxiety, I think the feminist jazz hands request is more troubling than anything else."
There was more costume trouble at Harvard University in October.
"Halloween costumes have the power to celebrate and amuse, but they also have the power to harm and marginalise," activists warned as they launched a campaign addressing "issues of cultural stereotypes and sexual expression".
If you think this all seems too politically-correct, please don't say so, because that's a crime as well.
"The phrase politically correct is now a microaggression, according to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee." US writer Peter Hasson reported. "The uni also claims the word 'lame' is a microaggression that somehow both ridicules and ignores the lives of amputees
Nobody cared about amputees back when jazz hands were advocated. It's difficult to wave your fingers when you don't have any, you digit-privileged non-inclusive hater bastards.
A rational reaction to tertiary-level excess sensitivity would be to declare 2016 the International Year of Laughing at Students and Calling Them Names, but the UN has let us down again. It's already announced that 2016 will be the International Year of Pulses, celebrating legumes. Next year will "raise awareness about the protein power and health benefits of dried beans and peas".
A round of jazz hands, please, for all involved.