I had the pleasure of conversing with my stepson, Sasha, for a few hours yesterday. He's a pensive, philosophically minded young man who speaks his mind on social issues with unapologetic fairness (which may sound like a contradiction in terms, but stand by). It is his view (and mine) that social and professional intercourse in America in our times has been sadly corrupted by an invasive spirit of political correctness, in school, in politics, in social interaction, in gender dynamics, in racial discourse, such that one must stay between the proper lines or risk instant and harsh censure. This leads to a reductionism across the board such that thoughtful discussion is rendered feeble, confined as it is to certain predetermined boundaries and positions. Sasha described English teachers who impose feminist ideology, history professors who timidly teach Readers' Digest versions of complex historical periods and conflicts, social interactions that have been crippled by a sort of universal fear of stepping over the line, or of not knowing securely where exactly the line is. I would not want to be a young person having to operate in this atmosphere, and neither does Sasha especially. He has a mind that is ready to test boundaries, to openly interrogate issues and attitudes, but of course he also wants to succeed academically and socially. To insist that literature and history conform to the brittle paranoia of present-day standards and sensibilities is the very best way to learn nothing about literature and history. And yet if you want to get those grades and move up the ladder, academically, professionally, socially, you'd better tow the line.