Home/Rod Dreher/Hell House For the Politically Correct

Hell House For the Politically Correct

You’ve heard of the ‘Hell House’ experience, this theatrical undertaking some Evangelical churches do around Halloween? The idea is to mimic the Halloween ‘haunted house’ carnival experience, with a Christian spin. Hell Houses are an immersive experience designed to expose those who go through it to the horrors of various sins, with the goal of scaring them straight — that is, frightening them into behaving in a morally correct way.

Well, there is apparently a PC version of Hell House, called the Tunnel of Oppression. It’s been around since 1993. According to a website for UNC-Chapel Hill’s 2011 Tunnel of Oppression, here’s what it’s about:

The Tunnel of Oppression is a tour that will engage students in an immersive experience of scenes where participants will experience first hand different forms of oppression through interactive acting, viewing monologues, and multimedia. Participants directly experience the following scenes of oppression: ability, class, body image, immigration, homophobia, genocide, religious oppression, relationship violence, and race.  All of the scenes have been written with the Chapel Hill students in mind.  Some scenes are direct monologues from student experiences on campus, others deal with local hot topics, including a local immigration issue that has been a major story in the news and the student newspaper.  At the completion of the Tunnel experience participants will go through an active 30 minute processing session  where they will discuss the experience and learn how they can “rethink their role” in creating positive social change.

Ah. So students will have counselors on hand to present the p.c. gospel to them at the end of the tunnel, and lead them towards conversion. Fun! It turns out that my alma mater, LSU, is opening the Tunnel of Oppression on campus this week. Check it out:

The Department of Residential Life is hosting the Tunnel of Oppression at Kirby Smith Hall on Tuesday, February 7, 2012, from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. All students, faculty and staff are invited and encouraged to attend this exciting and provocative social awareness/social justice event!

…The Department of Residential Life believes that this program will be exceptional experience for the LSU community. The Tunnel is meant to be impactful and our hope that is that will initiate an ongoing campus wide discussion on oppression and social justice issues.

Well, if there’s one thing Your Working Boy endorses, it’s impactfulness, though my guess is that the campus-wide discussion on topics confined to the concerns of the cultural left  oppression and social justice issues will only take place among those who already agree with the point of view the TOO will express. Nevertheless, this PC Hell House bears a visit. If there was ever an opportunity for campus satirists, it’s this one. I am only sad that my pal John Zmirak is no longer on campus to serve as an unofficial Tunnel Of Oppression docent.

The LSU sponsors report that at other campuses, the TOO “has been found by students as a valuable format on educating the campus population on oppression and issues of social justice.” Really? How do they know that? One thing I’ve never quite gotten about the Hell House thing: does anyone who is not already converted, or highly sympathetic to the message, actually go to these things? Is the person most need of conversion (from the point of view of the program sponsors) — the irreligious immoralist in the case of Hell Houses, and heteroculturalist insensitivos in the case of the TOO — really likely to submit to the ministrations of the Righteous, except in a mocking, ironic way?

UPDATE:  Thank you, reader MEH, for the link to the South Park clip tracking the boys’ visit to the Museum of Tolerance. Perfect. This is slightly NSFW, by the way:

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

leave a comment

Latest Articles