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Pure Enough for Berkeley?

September 17, 2010

In our latest issue, writer Brendan Buhler takes a sidelong look at what might be called Berkeley’s own brand of puritanism, a kind of “moral snobbishness” in which everything from the car you drive (you drive?!?) to the coffee you drink is taken as a sign of your morality (or lack thereof).

At Berkeley, you can hold your protest on the Mario Savio Steps, provided you follow the University guidelines for on-campus activism and make a reservation through the Office of Student Life.

That may seem like missing the point of protest, but not really, not in Berkeley, where revolution has been institutionalized. You can see this all over the Bay Area these days as people worry not about disruptions to the status quo but about insufficient paradigm-changing ideological purity. It’s in the politics, it’s in the culture, it’s even in the food. At every turn, you risk falling into error and imperfection.

Read the rest in “Wanna Make an Issue of it?” in the Fall 2010 edition of California.

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