It’s all too, too shaming.

When I was 16 years old, I stole my first kiss — in public. I was walking home from Star­bucks with this girl I knew from school. We were talking about some­thing incon­se­quential. I liked her. And I knew from her obsessive texting habits that she liked me. So, as we were passing that Methodist church whose belfry plays Christmas carols year-round, I went for it. Easy as that.

It was the next few kisses that were hard. They all occurred some­where semi-public: on a park bench, behind the auto-repair store, down in the woods near my house. At every sub­se­quent meeting, we exchanged fewer words before getting down to business. Each kiss was more pas­sionate than the last, and more distant. The anonymity allowed by these vacant public spaces hid any sign of affection from our parents, family, and friends.

Our actions played out on a moral heath. And when it all ended, we went off sep­a­rately and did it again with someone else.

I’ve often found myself or one of my friends caught in a similar cycle — make out in the car; don’t forget the breath mints — and every time we talk about how our actions were right or wrong for our par­ticular sit­u­a­tions. We solve our problems in-house, like the mob killing Luca Brasi or Amazon picking a new head­quarters.

And that’s how it usually goes at Hillsdale. Love and shame bind us together. We’re a tight crew.

Except this past week. After a year of #metoo, outrage culture has finally made its way to the con­ser­v­ative Harvard — albeit in eunuch form. And it reveals just how much like everyone else we are: Reg­u­lating norms of social conduct isn’t an inter­per­sonal matter. It’s an oppor­tunity to jump on a soapbox and tell our less-urbane boot-cut jean-wearing peers to get a room.

It’s not just last week’s Col­legian article. I mean, golly goose. We have an Instagram account devoted to mocking the awkward romantics in Saga and the student union. We boast a news­paper read­ership eager to gobble up run-off from Barstool Hillsdale’s post mocking kissy weirdos. Even Weird Catholic Twitter — the internet’s ten­tacular arm of traddery tied up with angst — cares about us again, set off by the rantings of @tradqueen.         

Now I know this outrage stuff happens at other schools too. But they’re, like, obsessed with MAGA hats and that gun-toting blonde girl. Boring.

Here, we have a ten­dency to obsess over honor. Tour guides brag about how stu­dents can leave their laptops out in the library. Men usually hold doors for women. Pro­fessors and stu­dents greet each other on campus. These are pre­cious customs, not often found at other schools.

It’s under­standable that to many, certain public dis­plays of affection seem to threaten our honor culture. After all, H.L. Mencken was right about us; we don’t like levity. That’s fine. Many of us come from a stiff Mid­western stock, beholden to a sex-fearing, sex-obsessed envi­ronment. It’s easier to work within that way of life than to grow out of it. Accepting wide­spread PDA — in any form — could rad­i­cally alter our campus char­acter. For the sake of Hillsdale’s integrity, we should stamp it out. Cruelly.

So bring on the social media. Print more Col­legian pieces. Set up a student round­tables to discuss the many and varied posi­tions on the matter ab urbio ad nauseum. While we’re con­flating taste with morality, we might as well go whole hog and write up man­i­festos on the specifics of what is and what is not right and just in public.  

But I’ll hang back. For my own part, I’m lucky to have a brother and close friends who help me out when I’ve made mis­takes. Every time I’ve mis­treated a woman, whether in word or deed, they’ve made me feel ashamed of my actions and told me to do better.

It’s encour­aging. I’ve always wanted to be a good person — a saint, god­dammit — and it’s much easier with friends willing to offer deeply per­sonal cor­rec­tions.

For that, I’ll always be grateful.

Nic Rowan is a senior studying history.