Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Campus oppression

Alexandra Zimmern lets us all know how universities today are restricting free speech on draconian levels, and it's not just dangerous for Israel, but for other people too:
The infamous Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns and “apartheid week” displays on college campuses are not the only threat to Jewish students. A much greater threat looms: the inability for students to publicly defend their beliefs. While universities claim to be havens of open debate and intellectual curiosity, they are in reality black holes of political correctness. On campus, only certain ideas are worthy of consideration and Zionism is definitely not one of them. This culture doesn’t just threaten members of the Jewish community, who are terrified to challenge those who accuse Israel of the most heinous crimes. Rather, it threatens all of us who value free speech and its ability to encourage criticism, debate, and original thought on college campuses.

While speech codes are thought to be a thing of the 90s, the truth is that college students today are facing the most serious threats to their civil liberties. From “trigger warnings” to “free speech zones,” universities are slowly training students to become hypersensitive and incapable of deviating from ideologies that are in vogue.

But unlike the 90s, universities are now controlling speech in a much more insidious manner. Speech codes today manifest in vague and poorly written policies that try to protect students against harassment, sexual assault, and bullying. Seemingly, these policies serve the best interest of students who face these issues on campus. But practically, they give university administrators the power to punish students for harmless speech protected by the First Amendment, while ignoring due process for the accused.

It is shocking how many universities have such policies. Lehigh University, for example, defines harassment as “…unwelcome statements, jokes, gestures, pictures, touching, or other conducts that offend, demean, harass, or intimidate.” I suppose they weren’t planning to invite Sarah Silverman (or any other decent comedian) anytime soon. Georgetown University’s Code of Student Conduct includes punishable measures against incivility defined as behavior that “disrespects another individual.” Since when is being disrespectful a crime? In Minnesota, St. Olaf College has a policy that disallows “creating or posting material that is offensive” on a campus computer. In other words, no emailing political memes, cartoons, or opinion articles…all of which could potentially offend someone.

Therein lies the real danger. How can we punish students or professors for saying something that might be understood as disrespectful? And should universities have the authority to decide what does and does not fall under these definitions on a case-by-case basis? For many students, the positions that conservatives take on social issues are offensive: anti-gay marriage, anti-abortion, etc. But that shouldn’t mean that these positions are illegitimate and that those who hold these opinions should be discriminated against. These policies, though, allow for exactly that.
Exactly. And the only time anti-gay marriage stances are considered appropriate are when Muslims object to it. It's extremely disturbing how university staffs are basically teaching their students to be thin-skinned towards anything they disagree with. How can anybody at a college be a true success if they have low self-esteem? Most bewildering is how people with no ownership or property certificate to a college campus can make such a fuss about people they don't agree with giving lectures there, or why they'd even want to attend. Staying at home would be a much better way to go, yet these leftists waste all their time yelling at people they despise, acting vulgar and hardly presenting somebody you'd want to hang around with.

I think one of the challenges now is to get universities to stop teaching their students to be thin-skinned and start acting with self-confidence. Better still, they could teach them to be apolitical and not act like politics are something they must adhere to no matter what.

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