Most of us recognize that cries for “tolerance” have become the left’s weapon of choice in its erosion of those few civilized norms that remain in American life. The image the left likes to conjure up is that of an ignorant band of rednecks sadistically persecuting homosexuals or other minorities, when the truth is that most ordinary Americans would be satisfied simply to go through life without having condoms thrown at them or their children.

such an atmosphere, the only absolute truth becomes tolerance itself. Exasperated, a few friends of mine, curious to test the umbrella of tolerance, formed an organization last year called Students at Harvard Erotically Engaged with Pets (SHEEP). Its “coming out” letter to the Harvard Crimson, later reprinted in First Things and the Rothbard-Rockwell Report, decried the discrimination and opprobrium to which practitioners of bestiality have historically been subjected “because we refuse to form relationships according to socially constructed categories such as ‘species.'”

The problem, of course, is that these movements are impossible to parody, for no sooner have you come up with a clever satire than the lefties have begun to advocate seriously the very idea you proposed in jest. As Murray Rothbard observed, we employ reductio ad absurdum with such people at our peril, since they tend to be all too willing to embrace the absurdum.

No, a student group advocating bestiality has not been formed (yet), but it can scarcely be far away. The New York Post and the Washington Times, which tend to have a keen eye for these things, quickly latched on a few months ago to a breaking story at my place of graduate study, Columbia University—the formation of a student organization called Conversio Virium (CV), a group devoted to the discussion of bondage, domination, and sadomasochism.

Now even without this development, Columbia University, with no right-wing student newspaper, no sympathetic professors, and with a guide to New York listing no fewer than 16 homosexual or AIDS-related groups but not a single church, already ranks among the most inhospitable environments for a normal person. But this episode added a whole new dimension to an already less-than-ideal situation.

Mercifully, a coalition of campus religious organizations recently succeeded in repealing the group’s recognized status by a vote of 18-15, but at the Pyrrhic price of recognizing this group of misfits as worthy of any discussion at all. Not surprisingly, respectable campus opinion was unanimous in condemning the group’s expulsion as the worst human rights violation since the turning away of HIV-positive immigrants, and pledged to appeal the decision. One CV member vowed to remain on a liquid-only diet until the organization has received a formal apology from its persecutors and been fully reinstated.

Several days later. Modern Times, Columbia’s “progressive newspaper,” published a front-page story condemning the head of the religious coalition for displaying “genuine hatred and intolerance” for those who do not subscribe to her “strict moral code.” Even worse, of course, was the “not-so-thinly-veiled homophobia” that permeated the expulsion effort. For its part, the Columbia Daily Spectator detected the mailed fist of fascism behind the vote to expel, a gesture which in its view “violated the rights of every student at Columbia.” Can’t give up that fundamental right to engage in acts of torture on someone else’s property.

“There is, indeed, a higher law than the Earl Hall constitution,” the Spectator solemnly intoned, referring to the document that allows for such expulsions. The meaning here is unclear, but it’s a good bet that the reference is not to the natural law, the old-fashioned view that a qualitative difference exists between man and beast, and thus between the actions appropriate to each. When Fallen Man is made the measure of all things, as the left would have it, strange and horrific consequences inevitably follow. “What a contemptible thing is man,” wrote Seneca, “if he fails to rise above the human condition!”