Diversity v. Freedom

The March 2014 Forum study did not attempt to examine whether the political views of faculty members affect the content of their courses. [Oh really? Haven’t we all seen a number of secretly recorded anti-conservative rants in college classrooms in the past few years?] Consider this Dr. Knight:

December 2015: Members of the Yale University community responded with a mix of embarrassment, sadness and literal disbelief to a viral video showing students there freely signing a petition that calls for the repeal of the 1st Amendment??!! “It numbs the mind that dozens of Yale students could sign a petition to revoke the First Amendment,” freshman Grant Richardson wrote FoxNews.com in an email. “Besides the fact that the 1st Amendment lists the most fundamentally important rights we hold as Americans, it is rather embarrassing to think Yalies could not see the irony that they were petitioning away – their right to petition.”

[If asked to list the five rights guaranteed in the 1st Amendment, I would wager that nine out of ten Yalies would not be aware of the right to petition.]

Richardson, responding to a video by filmmaker and satirist Ami Horowitz that first aired on FoxNews.com, said he hopes the actions of those shown in the video don’t reflect on him or many other students. “It is mortifying to think that family, friends and future employers could equate such behaviors to Yale, and by extension, to me,” he said. “I can only hope that my fellow students were answering in jest.”

A member of the Yale Law School faculty also responded to the video, and wasn’t happy with what he saw. “It’s a sad commentary on the present state of public opinion,” said Professor Bruce Ackerman. “This is a moment at which fundamental principles are under assault from both the left and the right.” [First, doing away with protections against a tyrannical government is definitely not a right-wing effort and this isn’t just any public – these are, allegedly, our “best and brightest.” This is not a sad commentary on the state of public opinion, it is sad commentary on the state of America’s education system but, thanks for another fine example of deconstructing.]

But Ackerman said he also felt the 1st Amendment debate wasn’t as important as more pressing issues. “It does not remotely pose the same danger as the support of all Republican candidates, with the exception of Rand Paul, for President Obama’s unilateral war against ISIS in plain violation of the Constitution,” Ackerman said. [Here is a classic example of another favorite liberal ploy – when you can’t win the argument, change the subject.]

Horowitz concludes: “This is exactly part of the problem. Why would Yale students, or university students anywhere in this country, feel a fidelity to our fundamental beliefs, when their professors try to shoehorn in their own personal anti-American sentiment at every opportunity?” [This is prima facie evidence of the effect liberal professors have on supposedly bright students!]

Yale University’s spokesman had a very different reaction to the video, essentially saying he did not believe the accuracy of what he saw. “There are a number of heavily edited prank videos like this one circulating lately in which someone surreptitiously records people while pretending to support a position that they actually oppose, and trying to get the individuals they speak with to agree with them,” Tom Conroy wrote in an email. “I have to acknowledge that I don’t take them seriously as an accurate representation of what every person interviewed or shown in the videos believes.”

[This time the tactic it is that old liberal standby; “If you don’t like the message, kill the messenger and write your own fictional message.” This time it is the fiction that having “someone surreptitiously record people while pretending to support a position that they actually oppose, and trying to get the individuals they speak with to agree with them” is somehow not revealing the persons’ true beliefs.]

“In the video, in which he is shown clearly explaining to several Yale students that the petition calls for repeal of the 1st Amendment, Horowitz said he was able to quickly collect nearly 60 signatures in less than an hour. Among those who signed were students who appeared to enthusiastically support the abolition of their 1st Amendment rights. “I think it’s really awesome that you’re out here,” one man says in the video.

Horowitz said he shot the video at Yale in an effort to gauge the true level of anti-free speech sentiment on college campuses. Yale is among a number of schools around the country where students or faculty members have lobbied for “safe spaces” where ideas, statements and persons deemed disagreeable or offensive aren’t welcome and where the same student-faculty cabals have caused invitations to conservative speakers to be revoked.

Likewise, Harvard University administrators are crimson-faced [pun intended] over a misguided effort to get students ready for the holidays by handing out pointers to help them debate tuition-paying grownups who don’t know a micro-aggression from mistletoe.

 The nation’s most elite and venerable school’s Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and the Freshman Dean’s Office printed up and handed out laminated placemats described as “[guides] for holiday discussions on race and justice with loved ones.” The table-setting talking points are designed to help SAT-crushing Ivy Leaguers put [ignorant] pesky parents, aunts and uncles in their place on such subjects as race, diversity and even the Syrian refugee crisis. “Racial justice involves welcoming Syrian refugees.” it states.

 “Why are black students complaining? Shouldn’t they be happy to be in college?” reads one question anticipated on the “Holiday Placemat for Social Justice.” The proper response, according to the Cambridge brain trust, is to respond by saying, “When I hear students expressing their experiences on campus I don’t hear complaining.” In the center of the placemats, which are in school dining halls, are “tips for talking to families,” with helpful recommendations such as “Listen mindfully,” and “Breathe.”

 Thankfully, not all Harvard men and women are happy with the placemat programming, with some even insisting to The Harvard Crimson that they can think for themselves. Two deans apologized and Harvard’s College Republicans chapter responded with a placemat of its own, lampooning the one put out by the school. One student told the school newspaper the publication of the placemats is “beyond inappropriate and arrogant,” criticizing their one-sided presentation of “highly debatable subjects.”

 But another, a freshman resident dean, said the placemats give first-year students strategies for discussing thorny issues with the family. This is a way to say, ‘You’ve been exposed to a lot of different ideas, and particularly in this moment when there’s a lot of discussion about various topics, you’re going to go home and you may or may not be able to speak the same language. It’s not that you have to believe in what’s on the placemat, but it gives you some tools to be able to have productive conversations.” She said the Freshman Dean’s Office opted not to email the placemats directly to students, instead leaving them in dining halls as “passive programming.” [isn’t that just another deconstructed term for thought-control through propaganda? Josef Goebbels would be proud.]

 After the placemat became online fodder for national derision, the dean of student life and the dean of freshmen, apologized for the placemats. “We write to acknowledge that the placemat distributed in some of your dining halls this week failed to account for the many viewpoints that exist on our campus on some of the most complex issues we confront as a community and society today,” they said in a letter to students. “Our goal was to provide a framework for you to engage in conversations with peers and family members as you return home for the winter break, however, it was not effectively presented and it ultimately caused confusion in our community.”

 [Indoctridemia in full bloom that reveals the total lack of diverse viewpoints that exists among faculty and staff at the nations’ “premier” university. With all of the progressive/liberal talk about the value of diversity at the nation’s universities, the only thing that is not diverse on campus is a diversity of thought. No hypocrisy there.]

 In 2014: “They got most of their SAT questions right, but students at Harvard blew this lay-up posed by the college blog Campus Reform: Who is the bigger threat to world peace, ISIS or the U.S.? The Islamic State is a splinter group of Al Qaeda that has occupied a large swath of Syria and the northern region of Iraq and has tried to establish a caliphate [by beheading people or burning them alive in cages] and rule all Muslims under Sharia Law.” Various students at the hallowed Ivy League school said they believe that America, not the Muslim fanatics who behead innocent people, is the biggest threat to world peace. The students were interviewed on the quad by Campus Reform.

“As a Western civilization, we’re to blame for a lot of the problems that we’re facing now,” one student said during an interview. “I don’t think anyone would argue that we didn’t create the problem of ISIS, ourselves.” Most of the other students interviewed shared the same sentiment — that ISIS would not exist had it not been for the past actions of the U.S. “American imperialism and our protection of oil interests in the Middle East are destabilizing the region and allowing groups like ISIS to gain power,” said another student [apparently unaware that ISIS became a world threat in 2014 under that careless liberal icon, Barack Obama].

Caleb Bonham, editor of Campus Reform, conducted the interviews and said that the students’ response is nothing new. “This video demonstrates the absurdity behind the ‘bash America’ fad,” Bonham told FoxNews.com. “Unfortunately, too many students think it is intellectual to try and piece together a reason why America is a greater threat than this terrorist organization trying to establish a caliphate through public executions, bombings and beheadings.”

However, there is no need for despair Dr. Knight. A chapel sermon on love left a student at Oklahoma Wesleyan University (OKWU), feeling “offended” and “victimized.” But instead of capitulating to the offended young scholar at the evangelical Christian university of the Wesleyan Church, OKWU President Dr. Everett Piper pushed back with a blistering rebuke of what he called “self-absorbed and narcissistic” students in a blog post on the university’s website.

 “This is not a day care. This is a university,” he wrote in a blog that has since gone viral. Back home in Tennessee, we call that a “Come to Jesus” moment. “Our culture has actually taught our kids to be this self-absorbed and narcissistic,” he wrote. “Any time their feelings are hurt, they are victims! Anyone who dares challenge them and, thus, makes them ‘feel bad’ about themselves, is a ‘hater,’ a ‘bigot,’ an ‘oppressor,’ and a ‘victimizer.’”

 It’s refreshing to see a grown man with advanced degrees willing to stand up to a generation of perpetually-offended nincompoops and bullies. Dr. Piper’s brilliant take on the current state of affairs on college campuses came about after a student complained about a chapel sermon on 1 Corinthians 13 – the Bible’s love chapter.

 The student felt offended because the “homily on love made him feel bad for not showing love,” he explained. “In his mind, the speaker was wrong for making him, and his peers, feel uncomfortable.” Dr. Piper offered some wise advice for the young man.

 “If you want the chaplain to tell you you’re a victim rather than tell you that you need virtue, this may not be the university you’re looking for,” he wrote. “If you want to complain about a sermon that makes you feel less than loving for not showing love, this might be the wrong place.”

 For too long – decades, in fact – we’ve watched academically-castrated university presidents capitulate to the outrageous demands of students. But finally – there’s a Christian university willing to stand up and say, “Enough!” “The bottom line is that at the end of the day I would argue that college is not about safe spaces or being a safe place,” Dr. Piper said. “OWU is not a safe place [with respect to the discourse of ideas].”

 He said the nation’s universities “should be ashamed for educating a culture of ‘selfish individuals.’ The university needs to recognize that our obligation is to challenge bad thinking and bad ideas and not coddle individuals in their self-absorption and narcissism. The modern-day collegian is a fragile snowflake – who needs psychological help for such atrocities as reading the works of a white author or attending Taco Night at the campus dining hall.

 A recent Pew Research poll revealed that 40 percent of millennials support a crackdown on offensive speech. Dr. Piper warned that could set the stage for a problem that transcends college campuses. “Do we want ideological fascism or do we want intellectual freedom and academic freedom,” he asked. “Because really what we have right now is an argument for ideological fascism. You must submit. You must agree. You must be one of us. And if you don’t, we will silence you. We will crush you.”

 [The nation needs more academic leaders like Dr. Piper – a grownup willing to say what needs to be said to coddled collegians.] Where do you think they heard this claptrap at Yale and Harvard? In the classrooms, in the dining halls, in the dorms – everywhere!

 Listen to liberal [though registered Republican] former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in an address at Harvard University in mid-2014:

 “Think about the irony: In the 1950s, the right wing was attempting to repress left wing ideas [keep in mind that those “left-wing ideas” was communism]. Today, on many college campuses, it is liberals trying to repress conservative ideas [law and order, free markets, national borders, etc.] even as conservative faculty members are at risk of becoming an endangered species. And that is probably nowhere more true than it is here in the Ivy League.

 In the 2012 presidential race, according to Federal Election Commission data, 96% of all campaign contributions from Ivy League faculty and employees went to Barack Obama. Ninety-six percent! There was more disagreement among the old Soviet politburo than there is among Ivy League donors. And that statistic should give us some pause.

 [Mr. Bloomberg says this] as someone who endorsed President Obama for reelection. Let me tell you something – neither party has a monopoly of truth or God on its side. When 96% of Ivy League donors prefer one candidate to another, you really have to wonder whether students are being exposed to the diversity of views that a great university should offer. Diversity of gender, ethnicity, and orientation is important, but a university cannot be great if its faculty is politically homogenous.”

 “But, the reality is much worse. Not only are the faculties officially stacked with progressive/liberal automatons – thus denying students access to the world of competing ideas and critical thought – the culture they have created on campus is actually designed to punish – yes, punish – any exercise of free speech that some unfortunate student, or heretical faculty member, may attempt that does not conform with the progressive/liberal orthodoxy. Consider:

 “A. Barton Hinkle is senior editorial writer and a columnist at the Richmond Times-Dispatch wrote about Yik Yak, a social-media site popular on many college campuses that allows people to post, anonymously, the sort of idiotic and insulting nonsense we’ve all come to expect in such anonymous forums. Yik Yak is therefore controversial, and some schools have tried to ban it. In urging her own school to do so, a Louisiana State University student contended that “free speech is constitutionally protected. Hate speech is not.” But that’s a false dichotomy. Hate speech is, in fact, constitutionally protected speech. Controversial speech is the very reason freedom of speech was included in the 1st Amendment for Constitutional protection.

 Also, recently, the student government at The George Washington University approved a measure requiring student leaders to attend LGBT sensitivity training regarding, inter alia, “using proper gender pronouns.” A conservative student group, the Young America’s Foundation chapter at GW, declined to go along. YAF treats everyone with respect, said representative Amanda Robbins, and doesn’t need to be lectured on how to do so.

You can imagine how well that went over. The campus LGBT group, called Allied in Pride, responded that YAF’s “refusal to use preferred gender pronouns should be considered an act of violence.” (Just more idiotic and insulting nonsense). The comment calls to mind the Social Justice Kittens calendar, which features adorable kittens saying things such as “this conversation doesn’t make me feel safe” and “you are jeopardizing my well-being with your violent refusal to agree.”

 Episodes such as these – along with the increasing demand for “trigger warnings,” the campaigns to stamp out “micro-aggressions,” and so forth – neatly illustrate the snake-swallowing-its-own-tail nature of political correctness, whose adherents’ calls for diversityactually produce demands for conformity, while its insistence on inclusivity requires it to exclude those who, say, swell with pride at the sight of Old Glory.

 

Its efforts to make the classroom a “safe space” have made classes unsafe for those whose views deviate from the campus norm. It deploys macro-aggression – coercion and compulsion – to punish such non-aggressive acts as the peaceful withholding of consent. The campaign against hate speech – or merely offensive speech, or just any speech the listener disagrees with – rests on a couple of different rationales.

The first is that hateful speech can lead to hateful acts: Racial epithets might lead to lynching, for example. But there is no real empirical evidence to support that claim. Indeed, on today’s campus, any violence is more likely to be directed at the offending speaker, rather than at his intended target. [e.g., when an anti-abortion protester showed up at the University of Oregon, he didn’t change any minds, but students did snatch his poster and tear it up. “This is not part of your First Amendment right,” they said.]

The second reason for protecting students from thoughts and ideas they find upsetting is to spare their tender feelings. But this effort is self-defeating. Even if it were possible to measure emotional pain, and to decide at what point such pain should (pardon the term) trigger the censor’s veto, it is not possible to protect everyone’s feelings the way we can protect everyone’s rights.

A regime that protects everyone’s free-speech rights can allow both the gay-rights advocate and the Christian fundamentalist to speak her mind. But a regime concerned with protecting people’s feelings inevitably will hurt either the fundamentalist’s feelings [by allowing only the gay-rights advocate to speak] or the advocate’s feelings [by allowing only the fundamentalist to speak]. Unless, of course, it hurts both of their feelings by letting neither of them speak.

No matter what, though, it allows the censors to dismiss some people’s claims for consideration as less worthy. (But isn’t that exactly what the campus censors want?) What’s more, any regime that “privileges” feelings over rights inevitably will ignore the very real emotional pain experienced by another important group: those who cherish individual liberty and abhor censorship of any kind. There are still a few of them left – even on the modern American campus.

A majority of colleges have rules in place severely restricting free speech on campus, according to a recent report, notwithstanding the concept of academic freedom that is the cornerstone of the academy and was established to promote, encourage, and protect freedom of speech, not to suppress it. The 2014 report by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) found 59 % of higher education institutions have policies that the group believes infringe on First Amendment rights.

The report reviewed policies regarding speech in student codes of conduct at 427 colleges and universities around the country. In addition to the 59% identified as restricting free speech, FIRE issued a “yellow light” rating to another 35.6% of schools because they have “policies that overregulate speech on campus.” But FIRE pointed out the situation is actually a substantial improvement from six years ago, when the organization saidthree-fourths of colleges were violating constitutional free speech rights. Next time: Free speech v. freedom of speech.

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