We are truly entering uncharted waters. Hysteria, paranoia, and divisiveness are threatening to take over dialogue in western culture, and the United States in particular. Every different generation is contributing fuel to this fire, from the baby boomers to my own, the millennials. From the assault on free speech on college campuses, to the pathetic circus now known as national politics: there is blood in the waters of our society, and I fear the worst.
I consider myself an observer. I am 25, I am gainfully employed, but I feel much removed from college politics that I left only four years ago. I don’t feel as though I have a horse in the race. I find it hard to categorize my political views, but I suppose I’m closest to a moderate democrat. I believe in the right to own firearms, I think gays should marry, I think Bill Clinton was decent president and I voted for Obama, twice, but I also think the government is too big. I guess I fall somewhat on the left, or so I used to think.
As a “political scientist” (if there really is such a thing), I grew up in academic circles where I studied political philosophies from all over the world. Needless to say, I have a predisposition to believe that the values espoused by the US Constitution were truly revolutionary and superior in that they had never before existed in that form in any other course of human political development.
Yet never before, in my admittedly brief time on this planet as a human being, has the simple principle of free speech and expression been under such a heavy assault. As a moderate liberal, I am surprised and saddened to say that it is coming from my own end of the political spectrum. I never thought this would be the case.
This attack on free speech has evolved from the movement for “political correctness,” a wolf in sheep’s clothing. There simply is no denying it anymore. It is said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. There has never been a better example of this in the western culture.
Where did it go wrong? It started with the renewed efforts in the last 10–20 years to address various areas of inequality in the US, namely racism and sexism — areas of inequality, mind you, that are very real and do need to be addressed. However, the far left has taken to sanitizing language as its go-to weapon in this fight. This is truly Orwellian in nature. The far-left progressives, college students among them, want to control how people choose to express themselves and what they can say if it has some perceived contradiction with their views.
Take the Yale Halloween controversy for example. A faculty member was pressured to resign by the student body for not condemning an “offensive” costume and instead saying that people should be allowed to wear what they want on Halloween.
Or look the protests at Missouri State last year. There was a student journalist that was trying to document the protestors when he was confronted by a professor from the journalism department. She tried to stop him from getting near the protesters, who were on public space, who needed a “safe space.” She went so far as to push him and call for “muscle” to have him removed. She has since been charged with misdemeanor assault and fired from the university.
A simple youtube search will show numerous videos of students protesting, often violently, non-liberal or conservative speakers visiting their various campuses. Some of them are truly terrifying to watch, as students yell and scream, and block entrances to auditoriums.
In 2013, a year after I had left Skidmore, students there stormed a faculty meeting to protest the scheduling of Cynthia Carroll as commencement speaker that year. Cynthia’s only crime? Being a woman in charge of a large mining corporation with an allegedly bad environmental track-record. God forbid students hear a speech from someone who does not represent them.
To the liberals who participate in this type of behavior: you are embracing censorship and pushing it as an acceptable tactic. You are welcoming the shouting-down of other opinions. You do it under the guise of protecting peoples’ feelings. When, in human history, have people attempted censorship under that justification? Never.
I cannot help but think of 1984, and how this reminds me of the alteration of language in the pursuit of thought policing. That is the bottom of the slide, and the regressive-left is eagerly climbing the ladder to get to the top. All in the name of social justice, which you cannot possibly be against!