Have you noticed that Democrats … really progressives in both parties … are freaking out lately? In a way, it’s fun to see. The media was so focused on the alleged extremism of the “conservatives” in the Republican Party that the extremism of the progressive Left in the Democratic Party was mostly ignored. Watching them trash cars and smash windows would be entertaining if it weren’t for the fact that people own those cars and windows. The dramatic impact of Democratic extremism on our economy and culture continue. Now that they’re showing themselves as the emotional adolescents some of us suspected they were, hopefully we’ve stopped living in denial, but I doubt it. Denial is so seductive.
Modern progressivism perplexes me, mainly because of adherents’ intolerance to alternative viewpoints. Consider campus speech codes. When I was a student on campus in a pretty conservative/libertarian state, we used to gather around and debate different positions in the student union. Nobody got really mad (well, the huffy ones usually just walked away in a huff), sometimes we learned something, and occasionally we strengthened our own arguments for the next time. There was an unwritten rule that everybody had a right to an opinion and to state it, but everybody also had a right to disagree and to state their case. This wasn’t just a group of my friends. The entire campus understood that University of Alaska Fairbanks was a good place to test your intellectural, moral and philosophical boundaries.
Today, it appears that my children’s generation has adopted the utopian vision of an offenseless society where politically correct speech codes ensure that hypersensitive young people will never be confronted with angst-inducing dissent. Both of my kids, raised in my home, say they were amazed at the uniformity of their friends’ philosophies until they realized that any of them who disagree with the unitary view simply had been driven into silence. Statistics bear out their observations.
By a margin of 51 to 36 percent, students favor their school having speech codes to regulate speech for students and faculty. 63 percent favor requiring professors to employ “trigger warnings” to alert students to material that might upset them.
According to the same Notable and Quotable piece in the Wall Street Journal, one-third of the students polled could not identify the First Amendment as the part of the Constitution that dealt with free speech. Thirty-five percent said the First Amendment does not protect “hate speech,” while 30 percent of self-identified liberal students say the First Amendment is outdated.
Does that scare you? It scares me.
Silly word games are now the object of intense study at many of our leading colleges and universities. As a parent who pays tuition, you pay for this pseudo-intellectualism. It’s time to remind our coddled children that a great big competitive and often nasty world awaits them. We need to expose the intolerance and stop indulging the idiocy. Time to make freedom cool again!
Now that the election is over and the US electorate has shown that the demographic tide theory of recent elections is not as strong as once supposed, there is no better time to start talking about liberty and principles again. Yeah, your kids need to hear you talk about it. Our son, like our daughter before him, doesn’t always agree with us, but he at least gets to hear that there’s more than one side to the discussion. He also gets to disagree and make his case, because that is a part of freedom. And maybe, some day, when he gets a little older, those discussions will bear fruit. The similar discussions I had with my parents eventually did.