Craziness spreads to Dartmouth with a “prostitute pumpkin”

Reader Thomas called my attention to a post by student Joseph Asch at Dartblog, the daily blog at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Note that Dartmouth is a very good school, considered one of the “Ivy League” institutions. Sadly, the virus of Pervasive Offense has spread to that school.

This is apparently the winner of a biology laboratory pumpkin-presentation contest for Halloween (the Bosco lab, by the way, works on fruit flies, and “MSB” is “molecular and systems biology”):

Look at that pumpkin closely. Can you see The Big Sin that was committed? Well, it looks like it has a woman’s hair, and because it was designed, like all Halloween pumpkins, to hold a light and glow in the dark, it was called “Lady of the night.” (The theme for the contest was “pumpkin of the night.”)

Yep, you got it, for “Lady of the night” is also a term for a prostitute. And so feathers got ruffled, and the Bosco Lab, via its head, had to apologize:

How much crazier can you get? The name wasn’t even intended to convey the notion of a prostitute, but some people snowflakes decided that the pumpkin above “disrespects women and glamorizes prostitution.” Are they kidding?

Apparently not.  The pumpkin is not offensive, was not designed to upset people, and only by stretching the meaning of the name can you even see any connection with prostitution. Moreover, putting what looks like Spanish Moss on a pumpkin to mimic a woman’s hairdo is not disrespectful to women. And truly, that’s an ugly face, so how on Earth could it glamorize prostitution?

Were I Bosco, I would have just said “stuff it” to those who asked for an apology. Those who were offended were clearly looking for any excuse to be offended. And it bothers me to see a fellow fly biologist cave in this way to Regressives. I’m surprised Bosco wasn’t forced to sit in the hall outside his lab wearing a conical paper hat and wearing a sign around his neck saying, “I carved a misogynistic pumpkin”.



  1. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted November 9, 2017 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Prior to being a synonym for prostitute “lady of the night” was a word for the moon. It’s also a tropical shrub. Put a bit of the shrub on the pumpkin’s ear. Paint a moon on the pumpkin’s face and put on some pre-Renaissance head-gear and problem solved!!!!

    (Caxton in 1480 in The Court of Sapience using the phrase as MOON:
    Fare well saturne, Ioue, mars & Phebus briȝt..
    Fare well thou shynyng lady of the nyght.

    The earliest known record of the ‘prostitute’ meaning is found in William Hicks’ Wits Academy, 1677:
    Come you Ladies of the Night That in silent sports delight.)

    • Brian salkas
      Posted November 9, 2017 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      STOP JUSTIFYING SEXISM WITH YOUR FACTS AND LOGIC!!!!! Can’t you just fall in line and be offended like the rest of us?/s

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted November 9, 2017 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

      Moon? You know what ‘mooning’ is? Have you ever been mooned by a pumpkin?

      You are just making the offence worse.

      I’m offended anyway.

      … perpetually offended

      • JonLynnHarvey
        Posted November 9, 2017 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

        Not yet, but there’s always a first time.

  2. DrBrydon
    Posted November 9, 2017 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    I was guessing the sin would be being disrespectful of “sex workers.” How on earth can that be said to glamorize prostitution? I guess they won’t be showing Pretty Woman on movie night.

    • Posted November 9, 2017 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      Also, what’s wrong with presenting sex work in a positive light, i.e., “glamorizing” it? I’m sure there are many sex workers who enjoy it. Of course, there are also sex slave, who do not engage in sex work voluntarily. That is abominable, but it doesn’t follow that all prostitution should be uniformly denounced. It’s like denouncing all tailors because some companies use child labor to make clothing.

      If I were a sex worker I’d take offense at the attitude of those demanding the apology, i.e., that prostitution is bad, mmkay?

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted November 9, 2017 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

        My thoughts exactly. What’s wrong with glamorising prostitution?

        [not being entirely satirical]

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted November 10, 2017 at 10:56 am | Permalink

        Prostitution is legal in NZ (since 2003). This does not glamorize it, it makes it safer for sex workers. It is much harder to exploit or take advantage of sex workers. There is a prostitutes collective too, which works similarly to a union, and can work openly to help and support sex workers.

        • Posted November 10, 2017 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

          That´s the best option.

    • Posted November 9, 2017 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

      It’s not the sex squash workers themselves that offend me, it’s the pimpkins that live off their earnings.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted November 9, 2017 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

        Nicely done. This would have been an enjoyable formal response to the outrage.

      • Diane G.
        Posted November 9, 2017 at 8:15 pm | Permalink


  3. Jenny Hoffman
    Posted November 9, 2017 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Perhaps one of the problems with the little sensitives is that everyone gives in. Why, WHY would the college apologize? What is the offense?
    Prostitute, prostitute, prostitute – there you little twips! Do any of you know any prostitutes? I have known many and none of them would have been offended by a pumpkin!Or the term Lady of the Night! aarrrggghhhh!

    • Jenny Hoffman
      Posted November 9, 2017 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      Oh, and I’m a Social Worker, not a John or Johnette . . .

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted November 9, 2017 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

        Had to go and ruin the cool, transgressive image you’d just created for yourself, dincha? 🙂

        • Jenny Hoffman
          Posted November 9, 2017 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

          I bow . . .

      • bundorgarden
        Posted November 9, 2017 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

        Oh thank goodness for that!

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted November 9, 2017 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      Random thought – if Harvey Weinstein had had the good sense to patronise prostitutes instead, he would have saved himself a lot of money and a hell of a lot of aggro…


      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted November 9, 2017 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

        ….or if he had patronized pumpkins.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted November 9, 2017 at 5:41 pm | Permalink


  4. Posted November 9, 2017 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    “Were I Bosco, I would have just said “stuff it” to those who asked for an apology. ”

    Clearly, he is not J. Coyne.

    I don’t know what would have I done, but would certainly not apologize.
    Shame on him for bowing down to these stupid snowflakes.

    • Harrison
      Posted November 9, 2017 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

      What you have to keep in mind is that many here have been exposed to the crybullies for long enough that they know how to deal with them.

      But the crybully strategy is predicated upon most people, especially liberal college students and faculty, having a desire to avoid and defuse confrontation. They don’t realize their sincere apology will have the opposite effect until it’s too late. They’re not used to dealing with people who use offense as bait for their kafkatraps.

    • Posted November 10, 2017 at 7:02 am | Permalink

      I would have issued an apology, but i would word it differently.

      “We note with regret, that you have linked our harmless fun pumpkin with prostitution and we are deeply sorry that, because you regard prostitution as something shameful to be hidden away, you have become offended on behalf of prostitutes, none of whom, you believe, would want to be glamourised.”

  5. Jeff Rankin
    Posted November 9, 2017 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Never, ever, apologize to these people for this type of pretend transgression.

    And yet it always happens.

    • sensorrhea
      Posted November 9, 2017 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      It’s part of the ritual cleansing.

  6. Posted November 9, 2017 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Well, I can’t imagine the carvers didn’t intend a double entendre, but even so, why should a reference to prostitutes be offensive?

  7. Jeff Rankin
    Posted November 9, 2017 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    This is just another game. I don’t think anyone’s actually offended here. This is simply about power. And the ability to gain power over a person or group by claiming that they’re guilty of something. The reaction of honest, but naive, people will likely be something like:

    “Oh crap, this made some people feel bad. Of course, we’ll apologize.”

    Guilt admitted. Now, from the perspective of the – sigh – “victims”, the really good part happens. The transgressor has admitted guilt and apologized:

    “So, what do we get? We need something more than an apology. How about, for example, more ‘diversity’?”

    Amazingly, this stuff seems to work.

  8. Posted November 9, 2017 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    I agree ridiculous. Halloween is supposed to be “naughty” so what is the harm? Besides, prostitution is a respectable profession in some societies, and a necessary evil in others. NB, observations, not my affirmations. Lighten up Dartmouth,

  9. Posted November 9, 2017 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    So, the offended, who are not the “ladies of the night”, prefer illegal prostitution? The “glamour” reference seems to suggest that they would like to make all prostitution illegal, which is worse (much worse) for the women who decide to be sex workers. It´s a fact: not all prostitutes are slaves, and they are disrespected as women and individuals, not helped as humans, when forced to go to the necessarily unsafe underground.
    Calling prostitute a prostitute is not disrespectful, calling women prostitutes because of being women is another thing, an idiotic, disgusting, misogynistic thing.

  10. Diana MacPherson
    Posted November 9, 2017 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Wow, you really have to look hard to be offended by a pumpkin’s hairdo. Besides, how is that even a woman’s hairdo? I think they should have said the people who were offended were transphobes in assigning a gender to the pumpkin as “lady of the night” doesn’t have to be female.

    Touché mofos!

    • Desnes Diev
      Posted November 9, 2017 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps a female vampire could think of herself as a “lady of the night” and be offended by the pumpkin. But you don’t see them often in real life (true vampires not pumkins).

    • Jeff Rankin
      Posted November 9, 2017 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      That’s what they should’ve done. No claim of oppression is too absurd. In fact, the more absurd, the more marginal, the more effective it can be.

  11. Ken Kukec
    Posted November 9, 2017 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    A meretricious contention, if ever a one there was. Anyway, a friend tells me the proper terminology is “lady of the evening.”

    • Veroxitatis
      Posted November 9, 2017 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      “One of my sisters was a lady of the night,
      But then one day she saw the light
      And now she don’t do the things she used to do no more.”.
      David Allan Coe – If that ain’t Country I’ll kiss your Ass.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted November 9, 2017 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

        When DAC was down here playin’ clubs in my neck of the woods, we had to be real careful never to tell him he sounds like Jimmy Buffett. 🙂

    • Craw
      Posted November 9, 2017 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      Rarely does one get a chance to use the word so literally. There’s a verb too: to meretricate.

  12. Bob Murray
    Posted November 9, 2017 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    To combat this nonsense, I propose the banning from sale of all fainting couches and also the addition of Smelling Salts to a list of dangerous drugs. I would advise the complainers to combine sex and travel!

  13. Yoly
    Posted November 9, 2017 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Very interesting, great post

  14. Mark R.
    Posted November 9, 2017 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    I have reminisces of the 1991 flick A Night on Earth where an Italian taxi cab driver confesses to his passenger (a priest) that he couldn’t stop screwing pumpkins. It was a hilarious, highly descriptive confession. IIRC, the confession caused the priest to die of a heart attack.

    College students probably couldn’t handle a movie like that today- raping pumpkins and all. The outrage!

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted November 9, 2017 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      A groovy film. You forgot to mention Lola…

      • BJ
        Posted November 9, 2017 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

        That was hilarious.

        Seems to me Benigni’s character suffers from toxic masculinity. He objectified those pumpkins and forced himself on them.

        I love the way he described the sheep, as if he was talking about the most elegant woman he had ever seen.

        I will definitely try to find a copy of this film.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted November 9, 2017 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

          Tom Waits soundtrack too.

          You can rent a stream of it for $3.99 on Amazon – the .com version of the site only, I think, or there’s a bad, free version on YT if you’re multi-lingual!

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted November 9, 2017 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

      Never been tempted to do a pumpkin myself. Though I’ve seen a coupla squashes that didn’t look half bad.

  15. Craw
    Posted November 9, 2017 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Objecting to prostitution represents a rejection of the choices some women freely make. When these snowflakes say “glamorizing prostitution is bad” they are are micro-agressing against prostitutes. Especially against men who are prostitutes, since they imply only women can be such.

  16. Liz
    Posted November 9, 2017 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Lol after reading the emphasis on “glamorize” and then looking at the pumpkin closely. Prostitution isn’t necessarily a bad thing for women or men. It could be healthy like getting massages or sort of healing like in the movie The Sessions. Sex surrogates and prostitutes are different but there are some overlaps. I’m not sure I really know why prostitution is illegal in so many countries. Sex isn’t special or sinful but maybe that has something to do with it.

  17. Posted November 9, 2017 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    My guess is that they wrote the apology with a subtle touch of satire, thinking: let’s just throw these cliches back at those ignoramuses….sort of like writing something in the style of Judith Butler. But if they were really repenting, then they are just as stupid as their critics.

  18. Craw
    Posted November 9, 2017 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Why such disrespect for pumpkin fetishists? Haters.

  19. Kevin
    Posted November 9, 2017 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    ‘Lady of the night’ is a form of (ironic in that it implies that the woman is not in fact a ‘lady’?) euphemism used to avoid being too graphic or vulgar or to give offence. Paradoxically, it is the euphemism itself here that is taken as offensive.

    Furthermore ‘Lady of the Night’ is punning on “Pumpkin of the Night”.
    Had the artwork looked like a male it could have been ‘Gentleman of the Night’ or ‘Man of the Night’: what scandal!

    The pumkpin is smiling and looks happy. Could it be called “Gay Pumpkin” or is that a touchy reference.

    I would say offence taken but non given.

    • Kevin
      Posted November 9, 2017 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      Lady Of The Night – Poem by William Lindenmuth

      sweet moonbeams touched her brow,
      stars twinkling in her eyes,
      the night brings peace to her as
      she stares at an open sky,
      a gentle breeze blows through her hair
      the music of the night plays its
      midnight melody,
      the earth is taking its nap, shadows cast,
      they caress the ground beneath them,
      pinponts of light in a starfilled sky,
      a calmness and peace fills the evening air
      with morning just
      a sunrise away,
      she slowly closes her eyes to enter her dream world
      prepared to meet the awakening
      to a brand new day

      • Kevin
        Posted November 9, 2017 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

        urbandictionary definition:

        Lady of the night – A girl with a lot of tattoos, piercings, and some sort of obsession with Budweiser. Not the datable type. Will freak out, and become a raging bitch upon being asked to be a girlfriend. Mornings are not a good time to see these types, they often resemble a zombie with make up smeared all over there face and chipped nail polish littering your bed. Hair is usually frayed at the ends and breath usually filled with vomit from the night before. Remember, never date.

  20. Ken Kukec
    Posted November 9, 2017 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Here’s an idea: the Bosco kids should rename their jack-o’-latern (jane-o’-latern?) “Roxanne.” That oughta set the snowflakes’ heads ta spinnin’.

  21. Posted November 9, 2017 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    I looked closely at the people in the photo, they look like they are rabid women haters… the pumpkin did not.
    The pumpkin in fact should issue an apology for denigrating vegetables, cross species appropriation with the lowly homo sapiens,
    evil has a right to be heard so take your apology and shove it.

  22. Posted November 9, 2017 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    It looks like a Trumpkin to me.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted November 9, 2017 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      Colour – check.

      Skin thickness – check.

      Hair – check.

      IQ – [this post terminated before it goes too far…]


  23. Hemidactylus
    Posted November 9, 2017 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    I am struggling to find offense in the pumpkin with the bromeliad doo. Can’t see it. I have thick skin.

    I am reminded of a South Park episode where they water down a Christmas play to the point of nothingness so as not to cause offense to anyone. But given South Park elementary would be a public school there could be potential for Establishment clause violation which should offend secularists with standing to bring a lawsuit.

    So the moral…offensive stuff is fine unless government does religion.

  24. Ken Kukec
    Posted November 9, 2017 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Off topic, but if anyone needs a hit of pharmaceutical-grade schadenfreude, Roy Moore — God’s own prototype for the perfect far-right judge — has been accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl.

    Whoa if true!

    • Posted November 9, 2017 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      Well, since he’s been accused he must be guilty.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted November 9, 2017 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, you’re right; he was probably too busy humping his two-and-a-half ton granite Decalogue, and doin’ damnation on the gheys, to find time to molest minors.

        • Veroxitatis
          Posted November 9, 2017 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

          You left out the horse. Got to have a starring role somewhere.

  25. Kevin
    Posted November 9, 2017 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    I am concerned that there has been some confusion here between ‘Gourd’ and ‘Goul’, both of which are abroad in this period of the year.

    A gourd lacks a populated brain cavity and is disembodied in the strict meaning of the word. Its capacity to take either offence by name calling or to respond is therefore limited.

    An offended goul, on the other hand, is an intransigent beast, lacking in humour, and tending towards complete implacability. Lacks subtlety in interpretation.

  26. BJ
    Posted November 9, 2017 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    I’m disgusted with the willingness to apologize. It’s impossible for me to be surprised anymore by offense-taking like this, but people must learnt to stop giving these professional outrage merchants the power and humiliating submission they seek from everyone around them.

    • Posted November 9, 2017 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      It’s like we’re entering a new Victorian era. Another form of prudery of appropriate speech and behavior is spreading rapidly. Maybe this is the backlash to the disappearance of so many social constraints and limitations. A vacuum of power has emerged and some people know how to use it.

      • BJ
        Posted November 9, 2017 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

        The thing is, it’s the same people who say they want to tear down norms and the status quo who also want to impose as many restrictions on people’s language, thoughts, and behavior as possible.

        • Posted November 9, 2017 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

          Yes, because it has become so easy to rise above other people, because moral rules of conduct can be very easily set up. In the past, it was only reserved for a few to dictate to people what they had to do; pastors or clergymen could do so, but only on certain occasions, on Sunday in preaching during the service.
          Today, anyone from Monday to Sunday can make all the rules online and reprimand them if they did not behave properly.

  27. Posted November 9, 2017 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Oh my goodness, they apologize for a pumpkin ??? I just remember two book titles “Mad in America” and “Crazy like us” – but I did not know that it has become so bad already

  28. Curt Nelson
    Posted November 9, 2017 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    There ought to be a good way to refuse to play this game (not apologize) that doesn’t lead to a ridiculous escalation. It’s easy to say they shouldn’t have apologized, but how should they have responded?

    A non apology that makes the point that the accusations are silly may inevitably inflame the “offended.” Maybe no response is best.

    • Posted November 10, 2017 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      The null response (i.e., not doing anything at first) might be the way to go.

  29. alexandra Moffat
    Posted November 9, 2017 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    The death of humor? In Matt Taibbi’s latest he bemoans , among many other things, the lack of humor in today’s scene. PC excesses do damn humor, wit, to coventry, damn it all. Some very funny things make fun of somebody….

  30. Curt Nelson
    Posted November 9, 2017 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    In these situations a tiny number of people are offended and everyone else is not, but the micr-minority calls the shots and everyone capitulates. Why?

    Our president doesn’t apologize for his felony level statements (neither did the GWB admin.) and gets away with it.

    Apologizing for nothing should maybe be stopped.

  31. jhs
    Posted November 9, 2017 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    “Stuff it” is too polite. With as little accent as possible, I’d respond, “F*** off.” (I understand this is a family friendly blog.) Or “I am so offended that you are offended,” as the offended person is using his/her small mind to measure my brilliant design.

    Well, an apology might have less serious consequences. Peace.

  32. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted November 9, 2017 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    I’m offended.

    Everybody had better apologise to me.


    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted November 9, 2017 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

      No I don’t have to specify exactly what I’m offended about. Are you trying to oppress me by making me compound the offence by repeating it? That is a typical fascist abusive behaviour. You need to apologise right now for your phobic behaviour.


  33. Steve
    Posted November 9, 2017 at 6:58 pm | Permalink


  34. eric
    Posted November 9, 2017 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    …only by stretching the meaning of the name can you even see any connection with prostitution.

    Don’t the complainers understand that this is nothing but a play on words? “Pumpkin of the night” theme + lady = lady of the night.

    These sorts of folks would probably complain about a sailboat named “Son of a Beach.”

  35. dvandivere
    Posted November 10, 2017 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    I find it very suspicious that neither this post nor the blog post it links shows any evidence whatsoever of any backlash at all. Both show only the original announcement and the apology letter.

    • Posted November 10, 2017 at 8:37 am | Permalink

      Why would an apology have been written if there was no demand for one?

  36. Posted November 10, 2017 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    All these cases of “Offense” taken by so many on the ridiculous edge of the Left seem to me simply to be Rorschach Tests…they’re revealing the ugliness of their own minds, not recognizing it in others.

  37. Posted November 10, 2017 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Belle de Jour glamourised prostitution… not this pumpkin,!

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