By any standards, it was a tweet with a few too many errors. By the standards of a multi-million dollar education centre devoted to western civilisation and which partners with universities to fund its own degrees, it was probably better off deleted.
On Thursday, Australia’s Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation stunned its followers on Twitter by introducing them to the little-known Shakespeare play “Macbath”.
In an error-riddled, and now-deleted tweet, the centre devoted to the Western canon misspelled “tragedies” and “Macbeth” itself, and referred to the infamous “Scottish Play” as a “book”. “Instalment” was also written using the US spelling of the word: “installment”.
“We’re excited to present the fifth installment [sic] of our Great Books of the Western Canon Video Series,” it said. “In this most recent video of the series, the discussion focuses on Shakespeare’s Macbath [sic], one of Shakespeare’s great tradegies [sic].”
Western civilisation aint what it used to be: pic.twitter.com/JDPep9yoOH— Paul Syvret (@PSyvret) July 1, 2020
The Ramsay Centre is a philanthropic body set up to “to advance education by promoting studies and discussion associated with the establishment and development of western civilisation”.
Currently, it funds degrees in Western civilisation at both the University of Queensland and University of Wollongong, and has signed an agreement with the Australian Catholic University.
At the University of Wollongong, less than 40 students are studying the Bachelor of Arts in Western Civilisation, 30 of whom have been given a $30,000 scholarship from the Ramsay Centre.
The centre has given the university $50m to fund the course itself.
Its degrees were criticised by academics from the University of Sydney for teaching content already taught in existing arts and humanities degrees, but with “the institutionalisation of ideas…that strengthen racism and European supremacism intellectually and politically” and “the superiority of a monoculture”.
On Twitter, users poked fun at the unfortunate irony of a centre for Western civilisation misspelling “Macbeth”.
In a famous scene, Lady Macbath attempts to cleanse her conscience with a long soak pic.twitter.com/OQZ5E5mOJz— John Attridge (@John_Attridge) July 1, 2020
Don't they know that it is terribly bad luck to call it "Macbath"? For safety, it should be referred to as "The Scottish Plug" https://t.co/h7rVErBsgb— Angus M-a-c-i-n-n-i-s (@AequoEtBono) July 1, 2020
The official Ramsay Centre account soon apologised and thanked people for pointing out the errors. It blamed “autocorrect” for the error.
“The joys of smartphones, auto correct, and working from home,” it said. “Rest assured, tweets are not great books. If only Shakespeare was here with a twitter account”.
The account then deleted and reposted the original tweet. However, the second attempt still spelt “Macbeth” as “Macbath”.
The Ramsay Centre just deleted their tweet and reposted a "corrected" version. Which they've now also deleted. pic.twitter.com/fuXhJ7sFJ6— Margaret Morgan ✒📚 🎬 (@Monocotyledon) July 2, 2020
All three tweets were then deleted.
As former BuzzFeed News and ABC journalist Cameron Wilson pointed out, “autocorrect absolutely doesn’t put typos into words”.
Autocorrect even idiot-proofs Macbath pic.twitter.com/Fn6GDVo1UF— Máiréad Ó Conchobhair (@mardi_oh) July 2, 2020
“Is this an error I see before me?” https://t.co/CN5sQXktq0— Máiréad Ó Conchobhair (@mardi_oh) July 2, 2020
No spoilers but Lady Macbath might be able to get the damned spot out. https://t.co/8juLoJ4k2G— Libby Turner (@libbyturns) July 2, 2020
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, students at the University of Wollongong’s Ramsay Centre course are told in week two to “discuss the controversy surrounding their own course, and debate whether it is appropriate to study Western civilisation at all”.
Director of the program, Prof Daniel Hutto said the course would teach students critical learning through the Socratic method.
“You wind up in a puzzle,” he told the Herald in March. “You learn that you didn’t know as much about the topic as you thought you did in the beginning.”