Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Going back to our Puritan roots

Public shaming, censorship and book burning... at left-lib universities. Do read the whole thing, especially before you decide where to send your children for post-secondary "education."

In being inculcated into the speech-code ethos, American students are increasingly having their thoughts controlled rather than their minds expanded. Far from being laboratories of learning, many campuses have become laboratories for new forms of censorship and conformism. Governing everything from political hotheadedness to sexist speech (one American university outlawed any speech which judged someone on the basis of their sex alone, until FIRE pointed out that this meant the university was effectively banning men’s and women’s toilets), colleges now communicate to students the message that they are not entering an institution of open-mindedness and free, sometimes robust debate, but rather one made up of fragile individuals who must be addressed in a polite, PC manner at all times.

Lukianoff tells me about one of the more extreme examples of the speech-code ethos, ‘probably the best and most nightmarish example of what we call “thought reform”’. The University of Delaware had a mandatory programme for all 7,000 of its students who lived in dorms, which it actually explicitly referred to as a ‘treatment’. The students were expected to attend floor meetings so that they could be told what was acceptable speech on campus and what was not, where the idea, says Lukianoff, ‘was effectively to cure them of any obvious racist, sexist or homophobic beliefs’.

I always like to put the Buddhist argument for freedom of speech’, says Lukianoff. ‘Buddhists believe life is pain and they have a point. You do someone a tremendous disservice if you teach them that pain in life is a distortion of life. Because as soon as you start seeing hurtful things as being aberrations rather than part of normal human existence, then you start to see robust debate and disagreement as a distortion of the human experience rather than a part of the human experience. When you have students graduating from college believing that it is really, really bad if they have their feelings hurt, you are crippling them, you are preventing them from being able to deal with everyday life and debate.’

h/t  Deborah Gyapong

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