90 Miles From Tyranny : The Coddling of the American Mind

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Coddling of the American Mind

"Sticks and Stones may break my bones, by words are micro-aggressions and trigger warnings that should limit your free speech" - anonymous liberal leftist

Something strange is happening at America’s colleges and universities. A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense. Last December, Jeannie Suk wrote in an online article for The New Yorker about law students asking her fellow professors at Harvard not to teach rape law—or, in one case, even use the word violate (as in “that violates the law”) lest it cause students distress. In February, Laura Kipnis, a professor at Northwestern University, wrote an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education describing a new campus politics of sexual paranoia—and was then subjected to a long investigation after students who were offended by the article and by a tweet she’d sent filed Title IX complaints against her. In June, a professor protecting himself with a pseudonym wrote an essay for Vox describing how gingerly he now has to teach. “I’m a Liberal Professor, and My Liberal Students Terrify Me,” the headline said. A number of popular comedians, including Chris Rock, have stopped performing on college campuses (see Caitlin Flanagan’s article in this month’s issue). Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Maher have publicly condemned the oversensitivity of college students, saying too many of them can’t take a joke.

Two terms have risen quickly from obscurity into common campus parlance. Microaggressions are small actions or word choices that seem on their face to have no malicious intent but that are thought of as a kind of violence nonetheless. For example, by some campus guidelines, it is a microaggression to ask an Asian American or Latino American “Where were you born?,” because this implies that he or she is not a real American. Trigger warnings are alerts that professors are expected to issue if something in a course might cause a...
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1 comment:

  1. From a section of my article "Progressive Prudes" (http://www.sol1776.blogspot.com/p/not-so-free-love-progressive-prudes.html). Colleges right now are not paragons of puritanism (though the progressives are trying to change that with "Affirmative Consent" laws) but these students show that a larger War Against Happiness is proceeding well for the collectivists.

    Collectivism by its very nature -- even voluntary collectivism such as a teamwork -- is less personal and in many cases, even impersonal. The bond between members of a community or team can be strong under the right conditions -- and is not necessarily evil --, but solidarity can never be strong as love. Collectivists, in their quest for total solidarity, attempt to raise a nation, race or proletariat to the status of a family, but even the most hardcore communist realizes that dedication to the group is secondary when the stronger feelings of close friendship and love are present.

    "There will be no loyalty, except loyalty towards the Party. There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother. There will be no laughter, except the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy. There will be no art, no literature, no science. When we are omnipotent there will be no need of science. There will be no distinction between beauty and ugliness. There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever."

    -- Passage from Nineteen Eighty Four

    Solidarity is easy to achieve when the group is under real or perceived attack, but these moments of hate and anger are fleeting, as we are inevitably more concerned about those closest to us than the greater good. To maintain that dedication, it is important to maintain feelings of fear, envy and hatred. To do that, it is necessary to deprive the masses of emotional closeness.

    Love and happiness are suppressed by creating an emotional gulf between individuals, and hate is maintained by deindividualization of all members of a (real or perceived) enemy group. Emotional separation is difficult to accomplish between adults under normal conditions, but in a sufficiently strong conflict, or under threat of an easily abusable law, one has to fear accusations of "sleeping with the enemy" or arrest under false charges. Deindividualization reduces people to the lowest common denominator (guilt by association), and makes it easy to hate and keep hating.

    Masses who are lonely, afraid, envious and spiteful will instinctively seek comfort in the weak thrill of stomping a boot onto another person's face.

    In this case, there is little requirement for intervention from the college staff. The masses of college students, perpetually angry and fearful as they were taught to be, enforce the "General Will" (mob mentality) entirely themselves.

    Tyranny of the majority. Collectivism at its purest. Unless the trance is broken, America will be a land of perpetual hate and anger, with the "General Will" enforced through a combination of mob violence and the machinery of the state.