Guy W. Farmer: Political correctness shouldn’t Trump free speech
Not long ago I wrote a column about how Politically Correct Police are stifling free speech on college campuses around the country. Since then, the situation has deteriorated even further as radical student and faculty organizations attempt to silence those who disagree with them.
The latest example of this disturbing trend occurred at prestigious Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., after someone wrote “Trump 2016” in chalk on the side of a campus building. Emotionally fragile students and professors immediately classified the pro-Trump message as a hurtful “micro-aggression” that made them uncomfortable. “You’re not listening,” they shouted during a protest outside the administration building. “Come speak to us; we are in pain.”
Emory administrators caved in quickly by establishing “safe zones” on campus and offering to provide “emergency counseling” for those who were suffering from exposure to unpleasant thoughts and ideas. Of course this kind of academic nonsense directly contradicts one of the main purposes of a university education — to expose students to a wide range of social and political speech and thought. After all, the First Amendment protects all speech, no matter how obnoxious as long as people don’t go around shouting “Fire!” in crowded theaters.
I’m no fan of Donald Trump, but he has the same free speech guarantee the rest of us enjoy. And every time someone tries to censor him or his more fervent followers, his poll numbers go up. He thrives on controversy and those who attempt to muzzle him are playing his weird political game. So when privileged students and professors at an elite university try to silence The Donald, his supporters love him even more.
The Emory College Council and Student Government Association pledged “to stand in solidarity with those who feel threatened by this incident” and administrators vowed to subject the rogue Trump fan to a “conduct violation process.” That probably means spending six months at the Lani Guinier (remember her?) Reeducation Camp. Oh, please!
Emory isn’t alone in sending PC Police into dorm rooms in order to avoid offending anyone. At exclusive Bowdoin College in Maine, the school created “safe spaces” for students who were “hurt” by witnessing a tequila party at which a couple of kids donned Mexican sombreros. The Bowdoin Student Government issued a “statement of solidarity” vowing to “stand by all students who were affected and/or injured by the tequila party.” I wonder whether their solidarity extended to those suffering from hangovers. I don’t suppose any Hispanic students were drinking tequila or wearing sombreros. Perish the thought!
The girls who organized the tequila party were kicked out of their dorm room and sentenced to hard labor (dishwashing) at the Lani Guinier Reeducation Camp. Just kidding.
Meanwhile, out here on the Left Coast, “Who’s Teaching Us? (WTU),” a small group of sensitive and easily offended Stanford students, has called for boycotts of Wells Fargo and the classification of “micro-aggressions” as hate speech in a clumsy effort to promote faculty diversity. WTU is boycotting Wells Fargo because the bank allegedly “discriminates against black and brown neighborhoods” and says high-level faculty positions should be filled by “non-male people of color.” Does that mean I can’t teach at Stanford? Boo hoo.
A rival, and much more conservative, student group made fun of the WTU demands. “If my next professor isn’t an omnisexual, transracial black aboriginal polyurethane person of no color, I’ll make my own demands list,” wrote a literate conservative student. And that’s how we arrive at a point of reductio ad absurdum in the politically correct world of American higher education. How sad!
Guy W. Farmer, who graduated from the University of Washington Journalism School in Seattle many years ago, supports free speech on college campuses.