Tuesday, November 10, 2015

University of Missouri and Yale Show What Mob Rule Looks Like in Higher Education

America’s universities are supposed to be places where students can get an education. The vast majority of students want that. Some, however, do not. They want a “safe space” where their strange ideas about society can be aired without criticism, and where they can unilaterally punish other students for failing to toe the mass line. These student activists want blood.

At Yale University, last week, a number of members of the Black Student Alliance physically surrounded an administrator and berated him for standing up for free speech and are now demanding his resignation. Caught on camera, one can easily see how dangerous the situation was.

In another example, the president of the University of Missouri, Tim Wolfe, has resigned. His resignation comes after more than 30 members of the football team threatened not to play unless he was forced out. Their claim was that, in unspecified ways, Wolfe failed to eradicate “structural racism” on campus.

These situations have much in common, and the story is becoming a familiar one.

First, both situations involve student activists disrupting education, allegedly on behalf of education. At Yale, the activists claimed that allowing free discourse and debate and challenging their assumptions threatened the “safe space” they thought Yale was.

At Mizzou, activists claimed that failing to deal with “structural racism” was harming their education. Both groups of students listed not specific harms, but rather vague interests in feeling good at their university.

Second, both situations involve administrators being asked to clamp down on the free expression of other students. At Yale, students were upset that Yale administrators were not clamping down on Halloween costumes. At Mizzou, students wanted more unspecified action against...
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  1. What we are seeing in college is what many self-described democrats really mean when they say such sugary terms as "democracy," "the will of the people," and "the consensus."

    Most supporters of democracy believe that majority rule equals freedom. Majority rule can, when unrestrained, be more oppressive than autocracy (dictatorship). This is because group psychology comes into play.

    Groupthink arises from a desire for group cohesiveness, which itself can arise from a need to present a united front against a real or perceived enemy. When a group is faced with sufficient urgency, objective thinking becomes secondary to cohesiveness. This can romanticized as "thinking bigger than one's self," or more practically, can be motivated by a need for security (strength in numbers).

    Conformity can also be coerced by the threat of being expelled or worse, punished by the group itself (often violently). This tends to be the case when a group is motivated by demagoguery, leaders who play on emotion, especially negative emotion. By maximizing emotion, objectivity can be completely suppressed, and with it, reason.

    Government becomes the mob and the mob becomes the government.

    The founders wrote the Bill Of Rights to grant protection to the minority vote. However, the constitution is becoming less popular by day, as demogogues encourage emotionalism over reason.

  2. When there was an illegal alien hunger strike protest at UCLA, the College Republicans fired up a tasty bar-b-que down wind from the protest tents. Didn't take long to break the strike after that.