A semester’s worth of readings, from John Stuart Mill to selected Facebook posts, as well as speakers representing a multitude of perspectives, and serious and civil class discussion. My students came to see that free speech protects everyone, especially the oppressed, and includes those who share their leftist views.
So it was with all this in mind that I went into a faculty meeting to present the free-expression “pledge” with the idea that we would have a productive discussion. Then reality hit.
As I stepped up to the lectern in one of the college’s elegant Federal-style halls, students marched into the room, bearing a letter naming me an “Enemy of the People.”
In the spirit of liberal openness, I read their letter aloud. This is what it said: “‘Free Speech,’ as a term, has been co-opted by right-wing and liberal parties as a discursive cover for racism, xenophobia, sexism, anti-semitism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and classism.” The letter reserved special scorn for liberalism: “Liberal ideology asserts that morality is logical — that dehumanizing ideas can be fixed with logic and therefore need to be debated.” But, it added, “dehumanization cannot be discussed away.”
Steven B. Gerrard
September 9, 2019
The Rise of the Comfort College: At American universities, personal grievances are what everyone’s talking about.
[Via email from Chet.
There is more good stuff in the opinion piece. I especially “liked” (emphasis added):
In response, students sent a letter to the trustees declaring that “We hold the truth of discursive and institutional violence to be self-evident.”
Self-evident. Refusing to consider evidence goes against the tenor of all three previous colleges. (Even the Christian college studied arguments for the existence of God.) We might at first dismiss this as (literal) sophomoric bravado. However, in a meeting for faculty of color called by the dean of the faculty, one professor asked for evidence of “violent practices.” Another professor responded that “to ask for evidence of violent practices is itself a violent practice.”
This reminds me of something Ann Landers once said. These people must be confronted. They are crazy. Allowing this to stand is to invite the destruction of rational thought and civilization.—Joe]