Saturday, November 14, 2015

Trigger Warnings, Safe Spaces, Microaggressions and other Stupidities.

Mizzou, Yale and the culture of entitlement in colleges - "Too many students are wasting their educational years going to college -- and earning degrees in self-indulgence. The academic institutionalization of entitlement is lobotomizing America's kids. If I had been a black college student at the University of Missouri last week, I hope I would have had the courage and conscience to support their effort to end the school's vestigial racism. In some twisted "Twilight Zone" anomaly, on this campus, the South won the Civil War. It's impossible to read the students' heartfelt reports of discrimination and not share their anger and pain. I also hope I would have resisted student demands to institutionalize their intolerance by censuring speech, muscling journalists, demanding confessions of "white privilege," and requiring "safe spaces" fenced by race...

As ridiculous as it sounds, the expression of legitimate grievances at Mizzou has devolved into ultimatums that we protect college students from life's real brutalities -- sombrero-themed trick-or-treating, other offensive Halloween costumes, and politically indecorous language. At least at Yale University, freedom of expression has been preserved: It's in a bottle of formaldehyde in the Department of Outdated Privilege. Sticks and stones may break your bones, but Yale will not allow mean words to hurt. Don't be too quick to judge Yale protesters (Opinion) An early-childhood education researcher at Yale was concerned that her helicopter-parenting university was "afraid that college students are unable to decide how to dress themselves on Halloween." I doubt this is how Yale produced five presidents. Erika Christakis wrote an email to students recommending radical advancement: Lighten up, academe, and trust students to pick out their get-ups. Christakis suggested that Halloween costumes should be allowed to scare people and, in ghastly moments, even offend them. She wrote, "Free speech and the ability to tolerate offense are the hallmarks of a free and open society."

Crazy talk, a student responded. "It is not about creating an intellectual space! It is not! Do you understand that? It's about creating a home here!" An intellectual debate? In academia? Get over it! So much for preparing our kids for thoughtful, independent lives by exposing them to the world and its challenges. In academia, we no longer put steel to stone to hone edges. We sharpen the next generation on mashed potatoes...

On campuses, speakers who don't echo what students revere have suddenly found themselves nixed from college forums. Even Condi Rice, the first female African-American secretary of state, and first female National Security Advisor to a U.S. president, was not tolerated by advocates of tolerance at Rutgers. That university pledges to "challenge and support our students to think critically ... and make informed choices" -- unless informed thoughts make waves. Where did today's under- and upper-classmen, sorry, under- and upper-class-people, get the idea they are entitled to rich, full lives in "safe spaces," where their success and superiority is unthreatened? From yesterday's college students, their indulgent parents. Boomers built this soft culture of entitlement, where great things are expected, but few have to be earned. Today's students are the sons and daughters of parents who refused to face the consequences of their irresponsible social choices and poor economic decisions. A $20 trillion debt? That's not a problem: It was the solution America preferred over paying its bills and working to renew its economy. Now, we are all entitled to "safe economic spaces" where no one should be denied a $15 minimum wage, our neighbors must pay for our health care, and our retirements are magically guaranteed."

The Atlantic: "The focus belongs on the flawed ideas that they’ve absorbed...  how so many cognitively privileged, ordinarily kind, seemingly well-intentioned young people could lash out with such flagrant intolerance. 

What happens at Yale does not stay there. With world-altering research to support, graduates who assume positions of extraordinary power, and a $24.9 billion endowment to marshal for better or worse, Yale administrators face huge opportunity costs as they parcel out their days. Many hours must be spent looking after undergraduates, who experience problems as serious as clinical depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, and sexual assault. Administrators also help others, who struggle with financial stress or being the first in their families to attend college. It is therefore remarkable that no fewer than 13 administrators took scarce time to compose, circulate, and co-sign a letter advising adult students on how to dress for Halloween, a cause that misguided campus activists mistake for a social-justice priority. 

“Parents who wonder why college tuition is so high and why it increases so much each year may be less than pleased to learn that their sons and daughters will have an opportunity to interact with more administrators and staffers—but not more professors,” Benjamin Ginsberg observed in Washington Monthly back in 2011. “For many of these career managers, promoting teaching and research is less important than expanding their own administrative domains.” All over America, dispensing Halloween costume advice is now an annual ritual performed by college administrators...

Christakis believes that he has an obligation to listen to the views of the students, to reflect upon them, and to either respond that he is persuaded or to articulate why he has a different view. Put another way, he believes that one respects students by engaging them in earnest dialogue. But many of the students believe that his responsibility is to hear their demands for an apology and to issue it. They see anything short of a confession of wrongdoing as unacceptable. In their view, one respects students by validating their subjective feelings. Notice that the student position allows no room for civil disagreement. Given this set of assumptions, perhaps it is no surprise that the students behave like bullies even as they see themselves as victims. This is most vividly illustrated in a video clip that begins with one student saying, “Walk away, he doesn’t deserve to be listened to.”"

...In “The Coddling of the American Mind,” Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt argued that too many college students engage in “catastrophizing,” which is to say, turning common events into nightmarish trials or claiming that easily bearable events are too awful to bear. After citing examples, they concluded, “smart people do, in fact, overreact to innocuous speech, make mountains out of molehills, and seek punishment for anyone whose words make anyone else feel uncomfortable.” What Yale students did next vividly illustrates that phenomenon. According to The Washington Post, “several students in Silliman said they cannot bear to live in the college anymore.” These are young people who live in safe, heated buildings with two Steinway grand pianos, an indoor basketball court, a courtyard with hammocks and picnic tables, a computer lab, a dance studio, a gym, a movie theater, a film-editing lab, billiard tables, an art gallery, and four music practice rooms. But they can’t bear this setting that millions of people would risk their lives to inhabit because one woman wrote an email that hurt their feelings?"

Can We Take A Joke? Standup Comedy vs. Political Correctness - Hit & Run : ""If you think you have the right not to be offended," says comedian Jim Norton, "either change the parameters of what offends you or realize you're wrong. Those are your two choices." Can We Take a Joke?, a new documentary about standup comedy and the policing of speech, debuts on Friday, November 13 at DOC NYC, one of the country's biggest film festivals.  ...the film features Penn Jillette, Adam Carolla, Lisa Lampanelli, Gilbert Gottfried, and others discussing how political correctness and other forms of repression—including corporate pressure to not offend—are undermining the free-wheeling, ribald, and uncensored world of standup comedy.

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