When I read about the carnal and scatological monkeyshines at American universities, I wonder where the American professoriate gets the nerve to call what they impart “higher education.”

What it is, of course, is lower education, and a prime example of such comes from Randolph College, a private liberal-arts school in Lynchburg, Virginia.  The school’s website modestly allows that “a Randolph education is the best investment you could possibly make,” a chance to “explore, more mentoring relationships . . . deeper personal enrichment, and a lot more.”

Perhaps mentoring and personal enrichment were what one of the eggheads teaching in the American Culture Program had in mind when he took his young scholars on a trip to the Chicken Ranch Brothel in Pahrump, Nevada.  While there, the budding wizards had the once in a lifetime opportunity to interrogate the employees.  One of them, the Associated Press breezily reported, is “Alicia,” who “wore a black-and-white gingham nighty and a tattoo on her left breast that read ‘Famous.’”

“Do you consider yourself a feminist?” they wondered.  “Is there a certain look most men prefer?”  And “why aren’t there brothels with male prostitutes?”  Do “you still give a military discount?”  Why, yes, one of the scarlet ladies answered, we do.

So Randolph’s fledglings found the proverbial prostitute with a heart of gold, a patriot right down to her implants, and the trip may explain why the school’s website opens with the words “World Wise.”  They apparently flapped off the Chicken Ranch with a new appreciation for what it means to provide carnal services in a capitalist society.  (Maybe the business majors will visit next.)  The enlightened doctor of philosophy who led this academic flight drew upon the deep traditions of Western civilization when he explained the purpose of the trip: The students “don’t just study America,” he declared.  “They live it.”

“Distinctive,” as the website says, is one word for this kind of “education.”  Demented is another.

At about the same, Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, was barely outdone by Randolph.  No one had ever heard of one Herb Weaver until EMU hosted an art show featuring his excretory obsessions.  Mr. Weaver, it seems, is exercised about the Bush administration and the war in Iraq.  So he memorialized his artistic and pacifist rage in a ceramic urinal containing the heads of President Bush, Secretary of State Rice, and Vice President Cheney.  Called Royal Flush, this answer to Michelangelo and Bernini was emblazoned with the immortal words “Pissin’ for Peace.”  EMU’s president apologized.

Compared with the misdeeds of the so-called Catholic universities that subsidize clubs for buggers and productions of The Vagina Monologues, the lesbian fulminations of a misanthropic feminist kook, or the notorious hoax abortion art at Yale University, these are mild transgressions of good taste and genuine education.  Yet however mild they seem, they are part and parcel of what travels under the name of “higher education.”

Is it time for serious Christian parents to avoid the modern “liberal arts” college altogether, given this sad state of affairs?  Unfortunately, far too many parents cannot answer that question, because they do not understand the purpose of education.  They do not care that most colleges are now obscenely expensive vocational-tech centers for “careers” in business, law, medicine, or “computer science” that do nothing to finish molding the conscience of a student.  In short, for all the moonshine we hear about “truth,” most colleges and universities not only fail to impart truth but proffer a pack of lies disguised beneath a polished veneer of “academic freedom,” “open debate” and “critical thinking.”

What kind of “critical thinking” one does in a whorehouse, while gazing at a chamber pot, or when listening to a harangue about the nether regions of a woman’s anatomy, we are never told and could never divine.  But one thing is obvious to anyone with “critical thinking” skills.  The two things you won’t discern while pondering these hateful, depraved esoterica are beauty and truth.