This article originally appeared in the 8.20.15 issue of Metroland
like all of a sudden free speech is under serious attack.
Two epic Atlantic
articles lay it out.
In “The Coddling Of
The American Mind” writers Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt dissect and
analyze the growing movement on college campus to restrict speech that might
make someone uncomfortable.
variant on political correctness seems to be originating not from pointy-headed
academics (who spurred the first political correctness scare in the 1990’s) but
from the students themselves.
buzzwords of the day are microaggressions
in which seemingly innocuous statements become vehicles of offensiveness, and trigger alerts,
in which teachers are often
required to issue warnings when the content of a class might possibly cause someone a
PTSD-like recurrence of a past trauma.
Many colleges have speech codes in which microaggressions are punishable
offenses, like asking an Asian student where he or she was born (which apparently
carries the implication that the student isn’t a “real American”) or carrying
around a book about the Ku Klux Klan (and extremely anti-Klan) that features a
picture of a Klan rally on its cover.
The cover is a microaggression because it might make black kids
Trigger warnings could
include allowing law students to skip the parts of a criminal law class that
deal with rape, or to skip over the suicide-y stuff in “Romeo and Juliet.”
piece “That’s Not
Funny”, Caitlin Flanagan explores the recent trend of stand-up comics avoiding
college gigs because the students have created such a repressive atmosphere
that most stand-up fodder is unwelcome.
Prominent comics like Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld have recently talked
about this, and the article explores how comics at all levels of the fame
spectrum have had to sanitize their routines in order to score the lucrative
but increasingly undesirable college gigs.
Edgy humor is not allowed.
How did we get here?
Lukianoff and Haidt try to connect the dots
from helicopter parents and the incredibly protective nature of today’s kids’
There are no more “free
range” kids, there is a massive and growing phobia about bullying (and an
increasing sphere of what “bullying” consists of), and kids are led to believe that
life is something that avoids disappointment, defeat, hurt, insult, fear, or
You know, the shit of everyday life
that we all deal with.
And once they get to college, the
cash-strapped institutions (which is most of them) will do anything
to keep the little bastards (and their tuitions) happily
So the retards are running
Can I even say that?
I got a
taste of this “catering to the inmates” deal a few years ago when I was
teaching at a local institution of higher education.
I gave a hard test, designed that way, designed
so that some students wouldn’t finish it.
A couple of weenie students complained to the Dean that my test “wasn’t
fair” because they couldn’t finish it.
Never mind that all the students took the same goddamn test
of telling the little creeps to bite it, I got the shaft.
I’ll bet almost every college professor you
know can tell you something similar.
along comes an article in The New Yorker
from Kalefa Sanneh, “The Hell You Say.”
Sanneh, rather incredibly, talks about free speech being a relative
thing, using European law as an example.
He trots out a couple of crappy lesser-light books about how "liberals" are ruining free speech and argues how the books' logic are wrong.
He compares “speech nuts” to “gun nuts.”
And then he fawningly describes a couple of
academics who agree with him.
a disgraceful bunch of writing from somebody who should know better.
The best place to look for a retort is at the
website of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, thefire.org,
which lays out 10 points on which Sanneh is either factually of logically
It’s pretty devastating, and it’s
suggest you take the time to look at these articles.
Right under our nose, a world is being
created that I don’t think we want to live in, like Brave New World without the
And let’s not let the right wing
claim to be on the right side of this, because it would be the one issue they’re
absolutely correct about.
liberals who are destroying free speech, its kids.
But at this point, the liberals are letting
them get away with it.
Paul C. Rapp was
recently described in a local newspaper as a “lawyer, musician, and lifeguard”,
and that’s about right.