Public Displays of Disaffection

In these beautiful spring evenings Hubei University campus is alive, indeed, writhing with couples enjoying mutual affection.  In some of the (never very) secluded areas innocent pedestrians have to step carefully as they would to avoid squashing earthworms after a saturating spring shower.

There is considerable public discussion on the impropriety of such “public displays of affection”.  Enough so that the student radio station invited me for an interview on the “problem”, and what might be done about it.  Perhaps it was a bit of a set-up.  I suppose the Dean of Students’ views on the subject might not be as liberal as mine.  Maybe I was being used as a Trojan horse (no pun intended.)

I assume that the hormonal status of Chinese students is no different from that of American students.  So far as I know, that assumption is untested in the strict physiological sense.  After all, every systematic biologist knows that there are scads of human proteins whose isoform distributions correlate closely with ethicity.  Could the same be true for various peptide hormones?  You never can tell what one amino acid replacement might do for your Qi. Certainly a plausible hypothesis, at least as worthy of funding as some “Golden Fleece” grants have been.  Maybe the authorities could be swayed by a “disease model” of excessive, exhibitionistic libido:  “But, sir, I carry the ‘eel’ mutation. I need condolence, not cajolement?”

In the interview, I didn’t dwell long on the nouns in the topic-title, but on that adjective “public”.  Privacy in this socialist country is a scarce commodity, reserved to cats of whatever color who are good at catching mice.  Imagine:  four to eight students living in a gender-segregated dorm room; no off-campus apartments; no automobiles; a strict eleven-thirty campus curfew.  I suspect a poll of those exercising affectionate behavior in public would show that most would really prefer to carry out the exercise in private.  Also a worthy hypothesis for social scientists, presumably as yet under-researched.

Of course, what I would really like to see in China are a few public displays of disaffection.  My erstwhile condemnations of sound-byte political analyses notwithstanding, how glorious would the sight of a bumper-sticker be, with some pithy dart, well aimed at any of the abundant targets.  Affluence has brought a plethora of big, black Buicks to the streets, with expansive bumper real-estate.  I wouldn’t even curse at one coming at me, wrong way, down the bicycle lane, if only there were a juicy message plastered on it.

Alone the didactic potential for all those English-curious students seems worth public subsidy.  Bumper stickers are even denser than Haiku. An adequate exegesis of “F THE PRESIDENT” could become a class-filling lecture unto itself.

That’s an interview on student radio I really look forward to.  But, alas, no invitaion yet.

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