So I saw this story float by. A young social media user claiming that there was no such place as Ancient Rome. Nope. The whole thing was a giant conspiracy of Spanish Inquisitors. What? Welcome to 21st Century scholarship. In the end, she's merely an intellectual underling parroting the level of scholarship that has come to dominate academia in our generation.
For instance, while scholars who are sympathetic to any attempt to tarnish Christianity gave kudos where they could, many still thought that Candida Moss's assertion that there was no real Roman persecution of Christians in ancient Rome was stretching things a bit. Her claim is that, save for about twelve years of very limited persecution, the whole story of martyrs to Rome was lies and propaganda. A twist on Holocaust denial aimed at the Christian Faith. FWIW, critics say she relies on a torture of the historical record that makes Jack Chick's appraisal of Dungeons and Dragons seem spot on.
Yet these are hardly new. My whole life I've seen tabloid scholars chasing after this or that headline under the calling that one must publish or perish. The best way to do this is to insist you've made some bold discovery that nobody has ever thought of before - whether it is true or not. Never mind the biases and agendas that can be behind such dribble. In the age of the Internet, however, something like Ms. Moss's book, or even this misguided child in the above story, can suddenly become prophets of revealed truth - because of course they are. Remember, what passes for scholarship, research and even science can at times have less objectivity than a poetry reading in Greenwich Village.
Nonetheless, we laugh at such things at our own peril. After all, the young girl in the story is simply a misfired bullet of stupid that went off a little too early. If she backed up and said there was no Ancient Roman persecution of Christianity, she could be on her way to awards and honors and doctoral degrees in any one of a thousand of our fine institutions of higher learning today.
And tomorrow the next generation will begin to catch up with her. After all, if I went back twenty years and told you people today could risk official retaliation for claiming that there is such a thing as boys and girls, you'd likely have laughed me out of the room. So much for laughter.