Traditionally, academic disciplines conveyed a body of knowledge to students: chemistry, biology, history, literature, foreign languages, philosophy, economics and so on.
And what colleges and universities then did was teach critical thinking and the application of that knowledge taught in those traditional disciplines.
About 25 years ago, American higher education was swept up in the identity studies fad. A great many colleges and universities created courses, departments, degree programs, and related administrative posts in Women’s Studies, African-American Studies, Latina/o Studies, Queer Studies, and others.
Few college officials could resist the loud demands for that expansion even though it diverted funds from serious academic uses. Giving in demonstrated their fealty to a host of “progressive” notions about social injustice and oppression, while saying “no” would badly tarnish a college leader’s liberal halo. A Hobson’s Choice.
Giving in to that has led to this:
And now there is a new fad rampaging across the college landscape—sustainability. For the last ten years, this mania has been gathering momentum because, like identity studies, sustainability pushes the hot buttons for leftist academics: environmentalism, anti-capitalism, salvation through liberal activism, and the chance to hector all those wrong-thinking people. It’s almost irresistible.
The problem, however, is that sustainability isn’t an academic discipline, ” it’s an “ideology that unites environmental activism, anti-capitalism, and a progressive vision of social justice.” Like a religion (hence the reference to fundamentalism), sustainability never questions its tenets. It posits them and even has “pledges” for students and school officials to adhere to. And the courses that go into the sustainability curriculum are far more like preaching than teaching.” Or so a study from the National Association of Scholars claims.
And yes, the study refers to “sustainability” as a sort of fundamentalism.
What other sorts of courses do students take in the sustainability curriculum? It’s a hodge-podge, including “trash studies,” “environmental poetry,” and my favorite, ”Small Spaces Studio” where students learn how best to live in mini-spaces. Frequently, courses link some “identity” belief with sustainability, such as that “patriarchy” is the enemy of sustainable life and therefore must be ended.
Most often, however, courses involve the supposedly unquestionable science of global warming and impending catastrophe. There are plenty of serious questions for academic study here. Wood and Peterson write:
“Is the climate really changing? In the direction of global warming? Because of human activity? And if the answers to these questions are ‘yes’ are the interventions proposed by sustainability advocates plausible responses? These are key questions, but the sustainability movement does not welcome them.”
The sustainability movement isn’t interested in the kind of analysis that scholars bring to controversies. It wants zealots, such as the “eco-reps” now employed on many campuses to push the agenda. Recycling, for instance, is always advanced as an imperative for saving the planet. There are trade-off questions about recycling that have caused many people to conclude that its costs often exceed its benefits, but students are not encouraged to think about them.
Sustainotopians (as the authors call them) don’t want doubts about their creed seeping in. As the report documents, when students dare to question the beliefs that undergird sustainability, they’re often treated in an uncivil, unscholarly fashion. That’s what happens when true believers take charge of education; a “you’re with us or you’re against us” mindset shoves aside reflective inquiry and discussion.
It’s bad enough that there are openly doctrinaire sustainability courses, but at least students can avoid them. Frequently, however, sustainability precepts are smuggled into other courses, where, Wood and Peterson write, “the unsuspecting student meets it not as a tenet to be discussed, but as a baseline assumption on which all subsequent scholarship and dialogue rests.”
George Will took notice of this study as well.
The word “fundamentalism” is appropriate, for five reasons:
Like many religions’ premises, the sustainability movement’s premises are more assumed than demonstrated. Second, weighing the costs of obedience to sustainability’s commandments is considered unworthy. Third, the sustainability crusade supplies acolytes with a worldview that infuses their lives with purpose and meaning. Fourth, the sustainability movement uses apocalyptic rhetoric to express its eschatology. Fifth, the church of sustainability seeks converts, encourages conformity to orthodoxy and regards rival interpretations of reality as heretical impediments to salvation.
As Will points out, this is simply political correctness repackaged.
He goes on:
They see [sustainability] as indisputable because it is undisputed; it is obvious, elementary, even banal. Actually, however, the term “sustainable” postulates fragility and scarcity that entail government planners and rationers to fend off planetary calamity while administering equity. The unvarying progressive agenda is for government to supplant markets in allocating wealth and opportunity. “Sustainability” swaddles this agenda in “science,” as progressives understand it — “settled” findings that would be grim if they did not mandate progressivism.
And progressivism mandates authoritarianism. It always has and it always will. The point is to make it as palatable as possible until it can be established. One way to do that is through indoctrination. Sustainability is nothing more than that if you consider how it approaches the subject in a strictly unacademic way. No one is taught to think for themselves or actually weigh “evidence” – the demand is they believe what they’re fed and act on it.
The very definition of propaganda. And indoctrination.
However, not all is lost. Will says there is a silver lining to this cloud:
There is a social benefit from the sustainability mania: the further marginalization of academia. It prevents colleges and universities from trading on what they are rapidly forfeiting, their reputations for seriousness.
I quit considering them to be serious quite some time ago. What I am enjoying is the entertainment value as they increasingly are hoist on the petard of their own making concerning identity studies and now sustainability. Both seem to be synonyms for abject stupidity masquerading as academic pursuits. At some point, the whole house of cards has to come down – especially when consumers realize that they’re being robbed by colleges and universities who are supposed to be teaching real academics instead of this repackaged political correct ideology.
I don’t know about you but I’ve been fascinated by the UVA/Rolling Stone “rape” debacle. And while it is clear that Rolling Stone, in general, and the author of the RS article, Sabrina Rubin Erdely specifically, broke every journalistic rule out there, there’s a deeper story here (I’ll get to RS and Erdely later).
It’s about why the story even had a chance of being published. It’s about the combination of “narrative journalism” and an ideological agenda. It was about one supporting the other without any real evidence that what had been claimed (a gang rape by fraternity members) was true or had even happened.
The story was out there before Erdely had ever inquired about it. And you have to understand that that story had largely been accepted as “the truth” by people who wanted to believe it to be so. These weren’t just students and a couple of teachers, by the way. These were very well connected people who knew exactly where to go to push their agenda. Here’s that backstory:
As the Rolling Stone article fell apart, Catherine Lhamon’s involvement has gone virtually unmentioned. But a deeper look reveals her ties to Emily Renda, a University of Virginia employee and activist who put Erdely in touch with Jackie, the student whose claim that she was brutally gang-raped by seven members of a fraternity on Sept. 28, 2012, served as the linchpin for the 9,000-word Rolling Stone article.
President Obama nominated Lhamon to become the Education Department’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in July 2013. The Senate approved her unanimously the following month.
She has served as the Education Department’s designee to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault which Obama created on Jan. 22, 2014. Renda served on the same task force.
Besides that link, both spoke at a February 2014 University of Virginia event entitled “Sexual Misconduct Among College Students.”
Lhamon has been invited to the White House nearly 60 times, according to visitor’s logs. Renda has been invited six times. Both were invited to the same White House meeting on three occasions. One, held on Feb. 21, 2014, was conducted by Lynn Rosenthal, then the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women. Twenty-one people, mostly activists, were invited to that meeting. Lhamon and Renda were invited to two other larger gatherings — one on April 29 and the other on Sept. 19.
It is unclear if both attended the three meetings. Renda did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
Renda and Lhamon also testified at a June 26, 2014, Senate hearing on campus sexual assault. It was at that hearing that Renda cited Jackie’s story that she was brutally gang-raped by five fraternity members — a statement that was inconsistent with Jackie’s claim to Erdely that she was raped by seven men. According to the Columbia report, Renda first told Erdely about Jackie’s allegation on July 8, nearly two weeks after her Senate testimony.
During her testimony, Lhamon claimed that “The best available research suggests that 20% of college women, and roughly 6% of college men, are victims of attempted or completed sexual assault.” That “one-in-five” claim about the prevalence of sexual assault on campus has been heavily disputed.
So when Erdely showed up wanting to do the rape story, she had Renda to encourage her to do this one, because both had the same agenda:
The reporter used Jackie’s story about a gang-rape to introduce readers to what she asserted was a systemic failure on the part of universities, police, and society to prevent and investigate sexual assault.
Rape culture. Rape crisis. How else does one advance such a story except finding the perfect “rape” to feature all of those things? Bingo. The prefect story. And who was more than willing to offer it? Renda.
Now some may ask, “why do you contend that advancing such a narrative was Erdely’s motive?” For one thing, she’d done it before on another “rape” story – this one in the military (another institution that is “misogynist”). And it followed a very similar pattern. The case involved a female Navy Petty Officer who claimed to have been sexually assaulted. Leon Wolf, doing some great research, finds that Erdley did for that case exactly what she did for the UVA case – and so did the Rolling Stone editors:
The point of this story is this: the evidence is clear all over the face of this story that Erdely – as enabled by her editors at Rolling Stone – has a serial habit of reporting rapes without conducting any more fact checking than she did of the UVA story. It is facially obvious that she did not talk to the accused rapist because there wasn’t one. There is no evidence that she talked with anyone who was present at any of the bars where Ms. Blumer drank on the night before her DUI to attempt to verify even her story about meeting the three guys. And, again: the sources who spoke to RedState were clear that Ms. Erdely made no effort to contact any member of the Naval command who was involved with the investigation to get their side of the story with respect to what manner of investigation was conducted into Ms. Blumer’s allegations or what that investigation revealed.
After an exhaustive investigation that spanned a year and a half (which Erdely and Rolling Stone ignored and/or did no research into whatsoever), no one was able to produce any evidence that a sexual assault had occurred, physical or otherwise. The alleged victim herself had no recollection of it happening, did not report it to the police who arrested her, and had a ready motive for latching on to the narrative, which is that it would have stopped or possibly prevented punishment at the hands of her military superiors and possibly prevented her from permanently losing the top secret clearance necessary to keep her job.
This was an important story for the “rape culture” agenda. It was to be the cherry on the top of the narrative that says, “college men are misogynists and serial abusers who need to be punished for their actions”. That’s why the fictitious “20%” number was invented. That’s why the DoE’s civil rights division is involved. As noted, this story shows the connection all the way to the top and the narrative that was being pushed. Erdley and Rolling Stone were heaven sent to these people and they used her just as she used them. The result was shoddy journalism of the worst stripe that apparently is standard operating procedure for Rolling Stone (I have another example of precisely the same problem with another author that I highlighted February of 2011.)
Of course, as we’ve seen, the narrative, as presented by Erdley, failed spectacularly. It not only couldn’t withstand even the slightest scrutiny, it had holes in it wide enough to drive a tank through. Yet, that was precisely the narrative that had survived up until that time. Why hadn’t the school investigated it more thoroughly before accepting the story?
In December, as Erdely’s article began to collapse, Julia Horowitz, a student journalist at UVA, tried to explain why the campus newspaper had been caught flat-footed by the falsity of Jackie’s tale. She conceded that “factual inconsistencies” and “discrepancies” might exist in Erdely’s tale, but, she cautioned, “To let fact checking define the narrative would be a huge mistake.” Horowitz, exponent of this horrifying view of journalism, went on to become editor-in-chief of UVA’s student newspaper. Much of the media has been quick to pillory Rolling Stone, but Horowitz’s fear of allowing facts to overwhelm the narrative would be at home in vast swaths of our media — and government and higher education, too.
Facts shouldn’t define the narrative – got that? Now you understand why an administration, a magazine reporter and editors and a student “journalist” would let a tale like the UVA rape story exist and flourish – it fit the narrative like a glove if you didn’t look to closely. And no one did – including Rolling Stone.
As to the reputations ruined and lives tarnished by all of this? Well, that’s just collateral damage in a world where the narrative is much more important that the individual. It serves the “greater good”, you see.
This is actually quite amusing to me because it is the left getting caught up in a trap of their own making. Via Powerline we learn of Laura Kipnes, a Northwestern University feminist film professor (no, really, that’s what she is) who penned a piece entitled “Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academe” for the Chronical of Higher Education in which she had the temerity to say:
If this is feminism, it’s feminism hijacked by melodrama . . .
But what do we expect will become of students, successfully cocooned from uncomfortable feelings, once they leave the sanctuary of academe for the boorish badlands of real life? What becomes of students so committed to their own vulnerability, conditioned to imagine they have no agency, and protected from unequal power arrangements in romantic life? I can’t help asking, because there’s a distressing little fact about the discomfort of vulnerability, which is that it’s pretty much a daily experience in the world, and every sentient being has to learn how to somehow negotiate the consequences and fallout, or go through life flummoxed at every turn. . .
The question, then, is what kind of education prepares people to deal with the inevitably messy gray areas of life? Personally I’d start by promoting a less vulnerable sense of self than the one our new campus codes are peddling. Maybe I see it this way because I wasn’t educated to think that holders of institutional power were quite so fearsome, nor did the institutions themselves seem so mighty. Of course, they didn’t aspire to reach quite as deeply into our lives back then. What no one’s much saying about the efflorescence of these new policies is the degree to which they expand the power of the institutions themselves. . .
The feminism I identified with as a student stressed independence and resilience. In the intervening years, the climate of sanctimony about student vulnerability has grown too thick to penetrate; no one dares question it lest you’re labeled antifeminist. . . The new codes sweeping American campuses aren’t just a striking abridgment of everyone’s freedom, they’re also intellectually embarrassing. Sexual paranoia reigns; students are trauma cases waiting to happen. If you wanted to produce a pacified, cowering citizenry, this would be the method. And in that sense, we’re all the victims.
Seems pretty tame to me, even though it also seems a pretty accurate description of the problem that now exists on any number of college and university campuses.
As you might imagine, to the feminist left at the college, that’s heresy. And, as if she were an Islamic apostate, she was immediately attacked. Protests erupted on the Northwestern campus, “complete with feminists aping the mattress-carrying stunt of Emma Sulkowicz at Columbia University.” How dare she say what she said?!
Interestingly enough, the publication which came to Kipnes defense was none other than the bedrock of the far left – “The Nation”. It too seems to realize that enough is enough when it comes to stifling free thought:
As the protesters wrote on a Facebook page for their event, they wanted the administration to do something about “the violence expressed by Kipnis’ message.” Their petition called for “swift, official condemnation of the sentiments expressed by Professor Kipnis in her inflammatory article,” and demanded “that in the future, this sort of response comes automatically.” (University President Morton Schapiro told The Daily Northwestern, a student newspaper, that he would consider it, and the students will soon be meeting with the school’s Vice President for Student Affairs to further press their case.) Jazz Stephens, one of the march’s organizers, described Kipnis’s ideas as “terrifying.” Another student told The Daily Northwestern that she was considering bringing a formal complaint because she believes that Kipnis was mocking her concerns about being triggered in a film class, concerns she’d confided privately. “I would like to see some sort of repercussions just so she understands the effect something like this has on her students and her class,” said the student, who Kipnis hadn’t named.
Kipnis could hardly have invented a response that so neatly proved her argument. . .
This atmosphere is intellectually stifling. “Every professor’s affected by the current climate, unless they’re oblivious,” Kipnis told me via e-mail. “I got many dozens of emails from professors (and administrators and deans and one ex college president) describing how fearful they are of speaking honestly or dissenting on any of these issues. Someone on my campus—tenured—wrote me about literally lying awake at night worrying about causing trauma to a student, becoming a national story, losing her job, and not being able to support her kid. It seemed completely probable to her that a triggered student could take down a tenured professor with a snowball of social media.” . . .
“It’s the infantilization of women fused with identity politics, so that being vulnerable, a potential victim—or survivor, in the new parlance—becomes a form of identity,” Kipnis told me. “I wrote a chapter on the politics of vulnerability in The Female Thing from 2006, and since then it strikes me that vulnerability has an ever more aggressive edge to it, which is part of what makes the sexual culture of the moment so incoherent.”
As a quick aside, this statement had me laughing out loud – “Every professor’s affected by the current climate, unless they’re oblivious.” Yes, Ms. Kipnis, we agree – we dealt with Professor Oblivious yesterday.
Moving on though, it appears that the left is eating its own. The Nation realizes that what has happened has become “intellectually stifling”. It was a natural end state to the creeping oppression of speech codes, the “right” not to be offended and the idea that colleges should be “safe spaces” removed from the reality of the world where nasty things (and ideas apparently) can hurt you. If you don’t agree or if you wander outside the bright lines of approved speech and thought, they think nothing of subjecting the violator to everything they’re trying to avoid. Heresy is, after all, a serious matter when speaking of “religion”, and that certainly is how the devotees treat their ideology.
Steve Hayward wonders that if these attacks will actually cause the administrators at Northwestern to grow a spine and “tell the mob to sod off”. My guess? No, not yet. Don’t forget it was these university administrations that put this structure in place as well as aiding and abetting its growth. They’re hardly about to now say they were wrong to let this intellectual fascism bloom.
Another interesting perspective was found on Tumblr by Hayward. Another professor confessing his or her fears:
Personally, liberal students scare the sh*t out of me. I know how to get conservative students to question their beliefs and confront awful truths, and I know that, should one of these conservative students make a facebook page calling me a communist or else seek to formally protest my liberal lies, the university would have my back. I would not get fired for pissing off a Republican, so long as I did so respectfully, and so long as it happened in the course of legitimate classroom instruction.
The same cannot be said of liberal students. All it takes is one slip—not even an outright challenging of their beliefs, but even momentarily exposing them to any uncomfortable thought or imagery—and that’s it, your classroom is triggering, you are insensitive, kids are bringing mattresses to your office hours and there’s a twitter petition out demanding you chop off your hand in repentance.
Paranoid? Yes, of course. But paranoia isn’t uncalled for within the current academic job climate. Jobs are really, really, really, really hard to get. And since no reasonable person wants to put their livelihood in danger, we reasonably do not take any risks vis-a-vis momentarily upsetting liberal students. And so we leave upsetting truths unspoken, uncomfortable texts unread.
The fact that this problem is now a monster that devours its own is probably considered an “unintended consequence”. The fact that they didn’t take into consideration that limiting speech they found “unacceptable” would come back to bite them seems to be a result of some very sloppy thinking, doesn’t it? Or was there any real thinking going on at all when they began to impose their will? And then, of course, there’s the problem of the inmates essentially running the asylum. Hayward’s hope that a spine will somehow grow among the administrators of that school is a fairly farfetched hope. There is no prior history of that so why would we expect this instance to be any different? Until the administration does act in such a manner that tells the students to “sod off”, we shouldn’t expect it at all.
In the meantime, pop some popcorn, pull up a chair and enjoy the show.
The short answer is “yes”. Megan McArdle makes the point :
Higher education is becoming the ginseng of the policy world: a sort of all-purpose snake oil for solving any problem you’d care to name, as long as we consume enough of it. Education is a very good thing, but it is not the only good thing. An indiscriminate focus on pushing more people into the system is no cure for society’s ills–and indeed, often functions as a substitute for helping the people who are struggling in the current system.
In fact (beside the fact we can’t afford “ObamaCare for colleges”):
What if people in the policy elite stopped assuming that the ideal was to make everyone more like them, and started thinking about making society more hospitable to those who aren’t? My grandfather graduated into a world where a man with a high-school diploma could reasonably hope to own his own business, or become someone else’s highly valued employee, a successful pillar of a supportive community. His grandchildren graduated into a world where a college diploma was almost the bare necessity to get any kind of a decent job. Why aren’t we at least asking ourselves if there’s something we can do to create more opportunity for people without diplomas, instead of asking how many more years we can keep everyone in school? Why do all of our proposed solutions essentially ratify the structure that excludes so many people, instead of questioning it?
Indeed. For too long our policies have been driven by an elite. And for the most part, the elite have made an awful mess of things. Now they want to take on “community colleges”.
Anyone? How long before they start looking at 4 year colleges?
McArdle suggests the following probable effects of any program like Obama has proposed:
1. Offer a subsidy to middle-class kids who don’t really need the money?
2. Encourage middle-class families to transfer their kids to community college for the first two years of school, and thus help to moderate college costs?
3. Encourage financially constrained students who might not have gone to college to enter the system en route to a degree?
4. Encourage marginal students with a low chance of completing a career-enhancing degree to attend school, mostly wasting government money and their own time?
As she points out 2 and 3 are actually not bad policy goals in and of themselves. However, the much more likely effect will be 1 and 4. Another government sponsored and taxpayer funded boondoggle that will essentially give community colleges a subsidy (it’ll be all about headcount – no one will really care if the student’s succeed) and create bureaucratic jobs while doing little or nothing in terms of “education advancement”.
Oh, yeah, did I mention we can’t afford it?
I thought I did.
What’s old is new again.
What you need to focus on is the way the feminists would have you take any rape allegation made, without exception. That in the wake of any number of examples of false (Duke LaCross) and exaggerated stories (Dunham/UVa, etc.) and the propensity of certain institutions to ignore due process while having no qualms at all about forever branding the alleged perpetrator as a rapist for life. Facts are not necessary, just an accusation in many cases. No appeal. No place the accused can present evidence or demand evidence be presented (I’m talking particularly here about universities and the so-called rape epidemic that feminists are trying to allege is happening). If you’re accused, you’re condemned. the accuser’s narrative is inviolate (until it comes apart).
Automatic belief of rape accusations was a central principle of the KKK’s war on rape, too. This was one of the things that most shocked Ida B Wells, the early twentieth-century African-American journalist and civil-rights activist. ‘The word of the accuser is held to be true’, she said, which means that ‘the rule of law [is] reversed, and instead of proving the accused to be guilty, the [accused] must prove himself innocent’. Wells and others were startled by the level of belief in the accusers of black men, and by the damning of anyone who dared to question such accusations, which was taken as an attack on the accuser’s ‘virtue’. The great nineteenth-century African-American reformer Frederick Douglass was disturbedby the mob’s instant acceptance of accusations of rape against black men, where ‘the charge once fairly stated, no matter by whom or in what manner, whether well or ill-founded’, was automatically believed. Wells said she was praying that ‘the time may speedily come when no human being shall be condemned without due process of law’.
The author of this article goes on to say that at least no lynching is going on today. I disagree. There are all sorts of “lynchings” going on, they just don’t result in the death of the accused. But it certainly results in his reputation being lynched.
I can hear the feminists now – “how dare you compare us to the KKK”!?
I’m not. I’m comparing your tactics to those of the KKK. You can draw your own conclusions from there.
In reality the left is everything it condemns and is apparently not bright enough to know it:
A University of Michigan department chairwoman has published an article titled, “It’s Okay To Hate Republicans,” which will probably make all of her conservative students feel really comfortable and totally certain that they’re being graded fairly.
“I hate Republicans,” communications department chairwoman and professor Susan J. Douglas boldly declares in the opening of the piece. “I can’t stand the thought of having to spend the next two years watching Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Ted Cruz, Darrell Issa or any of the legions of other blowhards denying climate change, thwarting immigration reform or championing fetal ‘personhood.’”
She writes that although the fact that her “tendency is to blame the Republicans . . . may seem biased,” historical and psychological research back her up, and so it’s basically actually a fact that Republicans are bad! . . .
Republicans now, she writes, are focused on the “determined vilification” of others, and have “crafted a political identity that rests on a complete repudiation of the idea that the opposing party and its followers have any legitimacy.
Wow … irony anyone?
No not Obama’s decision to improve relations with Cuba – that’s pretty par for this president. If anyone is surprised, you shouldn’t be. As one person noted, he has to be among the worst negotiators in the world – although Bowe Bergdahl might disagree (btw, what was the finding of that Army investigation?).
Instead I’m talking about this absurdity going on in academia where poor traumatized students expect their professors to delay or cancel their finals because, you know, there’s injustice in the world. Another way to define “injustice” for these special snowflakes is any decision that goes against the narrative they prefer.
So, we have students demanding that their colleges and universities heed their trauma and give them what they want – delayed exams.
Of course there have been the usual capitulations – Harvard, Columbia. But not, surprisingly, at liberal Oberlin College. In fact, when a particular student wrote to a professor to ask that the school do what Harvard and Columbia have done, she got a very short, terse and to the point reply. One word. “No.” I admit, I laughed.
The student then put the email on her Facebook account and issued a “trigger warning”. No, seriously, a trigger warning.
“TRIGGER WARNING: Violent language regarding an extremely dismissive response from a professor. This is an email exchange I had with my professor this evening. … We are obviously not preaching to the choir. Professors and administration at Oberlin need to be held accountable for their words and actions and have a responsibility to their students.”
Yes, I laughed again. She’s a Freshman and has decided she runs the place. You can read her email and the prof’s reply here.
Speaking of “triggers”, this is what’s going on at Harvard in that regard:
Students seem more anxious about classroom discussion, and about approaching the law of sexual violence in particular, than they have ever been in my eight years as a law professor. Student organizations representing women’s interests now routinely advise students that they should not feel pressured to attend or participate in class sessions that focus on the law of sexual violence, and which might therefore be traumatic. These organizations also ask criminal-law teachers to warn their classes that the rape-law unit might “trigger” traumatic memories. Individual students often ask teachers not to include the law of rape on exams for fear that the material would cause them to perform less well. One teacher I know was recently asked by a student not to use the word “violate” in class—as in “Does this conduct violate the law?”—because the word was triggering. Some students have even suggested that rape law should not be taught because of its potential to cause distress.
You know, I thought academia was supposed to prepare students for the real world. Instead, it appears it is all about letting them build their own fantasy world. How in the world, given this line of “reasoning”, does someone who is a victim of this sort of crime hope to get competent representation from a bunch of pansies who are afraid to talk about it?
Robby Soave brings it home:
It’s time to admit that appeasing students’ seemingly unlimited senses of personal victimhood entitlement, unenlightened views about public discourse, and thinly-veiled laziness is not merely wrong, but actively dangerous. Colleges are supposed to prepare young people to succeed in the real world; they do students no favors by infantilizing them. But worse than that, by bending over backwards to satisfy the illiberal mob, colleges are doling out diplomas to people who are prepared for neither real life nor their eventual professions. Should medical colleges abdicate their responsibility to instruct students on how to administer a rape kit to a victim, or ask a victim difficult questions about her trauma, because that discussion is triggering to some of the students?
It would be better for professors to instruct students on how to confront their uncomfortable emotions and grow beyond them, but alas, that seems less and less common.
Ya think?! However, what we have here is a bunch of academics hoist on their own petard. They helped build this absurd world and now they’re stuck living with their creation.
In this era of absolutely absurd stories there’s this … frankly, it should be an Onion story, but it’s not – it’s real:
Columbia University has allowed law school students who feel they suffered trauma from two high-profile grand jury decisions to postpone taking their final exams, the school’s interim dean Robert Scott wrote in a message to students this weekend.
“The law school has a policy and set of procedures for students who experience trauma during exam period,” reads Scott’s message, according to the blog PowerLine.
“In accordance with these procedures and policy, students who feel that their performance on examinations will be sufficiently impaired due to the effects of these recent events may petition Dean Alice Rigas to have an examination rescheduled,” Scott continued, citing a St. Louis County grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting 18-year-old Michael Brown in August as well as a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo for using a chokehold which killed 43-year-old Eric Garner in July.
Both cases have sparked heavy protests, as both officers are white while both Brown and Garner are black.
“The grand juries’ determinations to return non-indictments in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases have shaken the faith of some in the integrity of the grand jury system and in the law more generally,” the message says.
“For some law students, particularly, though not only, students of color, this chain of events is all the more profound as it threatens to undermine a sense that the law is a fundamental pillar of society designed to protect fairness, due process and equality.”
Oh my goodness. This is just freakin’ sad. These little special snowflakes are traumatized by these events. So, Columbia makes concessions to them because they’ve set up a policy that likely pertains to family situations and that has been used to claim trauma in general. What’s next claims of PTSD? And what do you suppose the percentage of students allegedly traumatized vs. students who will claim anything to postpone an exam? Pwned.
Consider this though, what will the real world do when one of these duffuses claims trauma when he or she loses a law suit? Well certainly not this:
The school will be holding special sessions next week with trauma specialist Dr. Shirley Matthews, Scott announced. Several faculty members have also agreed to hold special office hours to discuss the implications of the grand juries’ decisions.
The school will set up a reading group, speaker series and teach-ins next semester to “formulate a response to the implications, including racial meanings, of these non-indictments.”
And here these folks thought the legal and judicial systems were perfect. How will they ever cope? In the real world they’d hear “suck it up, buttercup, and grow up!” But of course, academia has set itself up for years for stupidity like this … and now they have it.
Nauseating. Btw, if they’re this fragile make sure you don’t hire a Columbia law school grad for your lawyer. He or she will likely have to undergo trauma care if they take your case, and you’ll likely be billed for it.
Say what you will of Bill Maher (I’m not a fan), his statement about Muslims seems to have some legs:
“In his comments on his HBO show, Maher noted that too many Muslims reject the very notion of free thought and free speech, that the problem is not just ‘a few bad apples.’”
See Europe after the Mohommed cartoons and just about anywhere else concerning a little known video that Muslims found to be sacrilegious (and the US government blamed for the deaths in Benghazi). Or any of a thousand examples.
It is also something many of us believe about the left, for the most part. And good old UC Berkley has decided to prove the point. And Bill Maher is the “problem”:
In response to an announcement last week that comedian Bill Maher would speak at UC Berkeley’s fall commencement, an online petition started circulating Thursday that demanded that the campus rescind its invitation.
The Change.org petition was authored by ASUC Senator Marium Navid, who is backed by the Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian Coalition, or MEMSA, and Khwaja Ahmed, an active MEMSA member. The petition, which urges students to boycott the decision and asks the campus to stop him from speaking, has already gathered more than 1,400 signatures as of Sunday.
Maher, a stand-up comedian and host of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, is best known for his often-polarizing political commentary. Recently, Maher faced some backlash after controversial remarks regarding Islam during a segment on his Oct. 6 show.
Navid claims this isn’t about free speech, it’s a matter of “campus climate”:
“The First Amendment gives him the right to speak his mind, but it doesn’t give him the right to speak at such an elevated platform as the commencement. That’s a privilege his racist and bigoted remarks don’t give him.”
For the most part, I agree that freedom of speech doesn’t give one the “right” to speak anywhere – that, in fact, this is an invitation to speak at a “commencement”, and that’s a privilege the university extends. Okay, got it.
But that’s not what this is about … it’s about shutting Bill Maher and those like him up. It’s about letting a certain group outside the administration of the university decide who will be awarded the privilege to speak and who won’t. And in that case, it becomes a matter of free speech, doesn’t it?
Perhaps the most ironic development, though, was on MSNBC (of all places) when an advocate for free speech on campus crossed swords with a spokesman for CAIR:
In a heated debate on MSNBC with free speech advocate Greg Lukianoff, CAIR’s Ibrahim Hooper defended UC Berkeley students’ efforts to uninvite comedian Bill Maher for his comments on Islam, comparing him to the Grand Dragon of the KKK.
LUKIANOFF: The fact that people so vehemently disagree with him is the more reason to hear him out. It’s an art that I feel is actually being lost on the campuses, where we should be teaching people is to at least hear people out before you to get them kicked off campus.
HOOPER: So if they invited the Grand Dragon of the KKK…
CAIR, of all organizations, comparing any other organization to the KKK … well, let’s leave it at “ironic” shall we?
The left’s the “useful idiot” in the attempt of organizations like CAIR to stifle any debate or criticism of Islam. And, Maher is the Grand Dragon?
So I’m reading Kevin Williams National Review article about the state of Connecticut wanting to pass a law that requires homeschooling parents “to present their children to the local authorities periodically for inspection, to see to it that their psychological and social growth is proceeding in the desired direction.” This is in the wake of the Sandy Hook killings and implies that the problem was centered in “homeschooling” and not the fact that the killer was a mental case. Not only that he was a well-known mental case having been in public schools until, as a last resort, he was home schooled. Williamson then goes on to put forward the real reason the Sandy Hook excuse is being used. And it is something any life long observer of the “progressive left” figured out years and years ago:
The Left’s model of society is still the model of Marx and Bismarck: one big factory to be managed by experts. The government schools are an assembly line for human widgets, who are in theory there to be taught what the state requires them to know in order to fulfill their roles as workers, administrators, and other bits of human machinery. That is the assumption behind President Obama’s insistence that “if you quit on school, you’re not just quitting on yourself — you’re quitting on your country.” Students are also there to be instructed in the official, unspoken state ideology: submission to official power.
The Left’s organizing principle is control, and the possibility that children might commonly be raised outside of its control matrix is an existential threat from the progressive point of view. Institutions such as free markets and free speech terrify progressives, because they are the result of arrangements in which nobody is in control.
This is just another attempt at exerting control over a segment of society which eschews that control and the indoctrination it entails. And the thin gruel provided by the Sandy Hook tragedy was all the excuse necessary to try to exert control over this segment. It also sends a message – “we believe homeschooling may be the bastion of extremists”.
More than anything exerting such control serves both a constituency and an ideology which identified education decades ago as the road to political success.
If you have not followed the issue closely, it is probably impossible for you to understand how intensely the Left and the government-school monopoly hate, loathe, and distrust home-schooling and home-school families. Purportedly serious scholars such as Robin West of Georgetown denounce them as trailer trash living “on tarps in fields or parking lots” and write wistfully of the day when home-schooling was properly understood: “Parents who did so were criminals, and their kids were truants.” The implicit rationale for the heavy regulation of home-schooling — that your children are yours only at the sufferance of the state — is creepy enough; in fact, it is unambiguously totalitarian and reduces children to the status of chattel. That this is now being framed in mental-health terms, under the theory that Lanza might not have committed his crimes if he had had the benefit of the tender attentions of his local school authorities, is yet another reminder of the Left’s long and grotesque history of using corrupt psychiatry as a tool of politics.
But take a moment to fully appreciate the absurdity of the Malloy gang’s assumption. Our public schools are dysfunctional, depressing, frequently dangerous places. Their architecture is generally penal, incorporating precisely the same sort of perimeter control as one sees in a low-security prison, with dogs, metal detectors, and the whole apparatus of control at hand. They are frequently run bynakedly corrupt, self-serving men and women who are not above rigging test scores to pad out their bonuses and who will fight to the end to keep pedophiles on the payroll if doing so serves their political interests, as in the case of California. They cannot even keep their teachers from raping their students, but they feel competent issuing orders that every family present its children for regular inspection in the name of the children’s “social and emotional learning needs.”
Contrary to all of the sanctimony surrounding them, the government schools are in fact the single most destructive institution in American public life, and they are the bedrock of the Left’s power, providing billions of dollars in campaign contributions and millions of man-hours for Democratic campaigns. But they do more than that: They are the real-life version of those nightmarish incubator pods from The Matrix, and home-schooling is a red pill. We entrust our children to the state for twelve or thirteen years, during which time they are subjected to a daily regimen that is, like the school buildings themselves, more than a little reminiscent of the penitentiary: “bells and cells,” as one of my teachers used to call it. They are instructed in obedience and compliance, as though the most important skill in life were the ability to sit quietly and follow instructions; those children who are more energetic than the authorities care for are given psychiatric diagnoses and very often put on psychiatric drugs: Since the 1980s, the rate of antidepressant prescription for children has increased five-fold, while the rate of antipsychotic prescription has increased six-fold. Locking children up for the largest part of the day, in a dreary room with 20 to 30 other children all born within nine or ten months of each other, is a model that make sense — that is something other than insane — only if you think of children as batches — if you believe, as our president and those who share his views believe, that the children are the government schools’ product rather than their customers.
And that “product” is trained and expected to follow its indoctrination – you know, things like this:
A Nebraska school district has instructed its teachers to stop referring to students by “gendered expressions” such as “boys and girls,” and use “gender inclusive” ones such as “purple penguins” instead.
“Don’t use phrases such as ‘boys and girls,’ ‘you guys,’ ‘ladies and gentlemen,’ and similarly gendered expressions to get kids’ attention,” instructs a training document given to middle-school teachers at the Lincoln Public Schools.
“Create classroom names and then ask all of the ‘purple penguins’ to meet on the rug,” it advises.
The document also warns against asking students to “line up as boys or girls,” and suggests asking them to line up by whether they prefer “skateboards or bikes/milk or juice/dogs or cats/summer or winter/talking or listening.”
“Always ask yourself . . . ‘Will this configuration create a gendered space?’” the document says.
The instructions were part of a list called “12 steps on the way to gender inclusiveness” developed by Gender Spectrum, an organization that “provides education, training and support to help create a gender sensitive and inclusive environment for children of all ages.”
Other items on the list include asking all students about their preferred pronouns and decorating the classroom with “all genders welcome” door hangers.
If teachers still find it “necessary” to mention that genders exist at all, the document states, they must list them as “boy, girl, both or neither.”
Furthermore, it instructs teachers to interfere and interrupt if they ever hear a student talking about gender in terms of “boys and girls” so the student can learn that this is wrong.
“Point out and inquire when you hear others referencing gender in a binary manner,” it states. “Ask things like . . . ‘What makes you say that? I think of it a little differently.’ Provide counter-narratives that challenge students to think more expansively about their notions of gender.”
The teachers were also given a handout created by the Center for Gender Sanity, which explains to them that “Gender identity . . . can’t be observed or measured, only reported by the individual,” and an infographic called “The Genderbred Person,” which was produced by www.ItsPronouncedMetroSexual.com.
But the real problem and danger is among the homeschooled. Meanwhile, in the public schools, the enculturation continues unabated. The product, if metaphorically beaten over the head with nonsense like “purple penguins” will learn to eventually pretend reality doesn’t exist and that “gender” is actually a figment of the oppressor’s imagination. What they can’t risk is individualism – those who will pull the curtain back and reintroduce reality into the world. Homeschoolers are one segment that threaten that exposure because they reject the indoctrination. Time to get them under control. Time to make it more and more difficult for homeschoolers to continue to do what they do. Because as far as the left is concerned, the future belongs to “purple penguins” – as determined by their betters, of course.