Thursday, November 12, 2015

Episode IV: A New Hope

In case you haven't noticed, there is an effort to snuff out thoughts and expressions that might offend or anger one person somewhere in the world.  The Anti-Personal Freedom crowd is finding its greatest allies on college campuses--which once heralded themselves as the bastions of expression and thought and debate over important issues.

Once upon a time, you could have a discussion in a classroom setting where someone could attempt to rationalize the Confederacy's decision to leave the Union and to fight the Civil War.  Now such discussion would be a microaggression that could "trigger" a person of color to have "negative feelings" about themselves.  Better to just teach that Ante-Bellum Southerners were evil, racist people who needed to be defeated by slightly less evil and racist people.

One former UW-Oshkosh instructor that I know nearly lost his job after posing the question in a communications course that asked students to consider if stereotypical characters continue to exist in popular culture and the media because they still contain some element of truth about the people portrayed (otherwise the viewer would be left to wonder "Why would they do or say that?").  After a spirited and thought-provoking discussion, one student went to administration to say that he or she was "offended" by the tone of the class--and the instructor faced disciplinary action for his "insensitive course content".

In just the past few days, the student protesters on the University of Missouri campus have used intimidation tactics on student journalists to keep them from covering rallies and discussions on public property saying it violates their "safe space".  And when you consider that these are the people colleges are unleashing on the workforce and the Government--it would appear that we are in for some dark days ahead.

But now it appears there could be some hope on the horizon.  The Atlantic Magazine--which will never be confused for Fox News Channel--is asking what effect this "intellectual coddling" and efforts to "protect" students from offense will have on society long-term.  Two articles in back to back months warn of the growing danger of state-sponsored denial of free speech and free thought.  And then this week, similar sentiments from sportswriter Jason Whitlock both in print and on Colin Cowherd's talk radio show on Fox Sports Radio.

It remains to be seen if the concerns raised by those on the left will be heeded--or if the authors of the Atlantic articles will be denigrated as "writing from White Privilege" and Jason Whitlock will be branded an "Uncle Tom" who "sold out to corporate interests".  I guess they can just join the rest of us at the "bigots" table for Thanksgiving.

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