College Kids: Suck it Up

Of late, it certainly appears that many colleges have invented a new right:  The right not be be offended.  Many college speech codes still are alive and well, and the broadest of them ban any speech that any particular listener "finds offensive"  (this example at Brandeis University carries especially sweet irony).  As I have written a zillion times, bans on hate speech are usually the leading edge of attempts to apply fairly comprehensive speech controls.

So Kudos to MIddlebury's President Ronald D. Liebowitz, as quoted at FIRE, who makes what should be an obvious point, that there is no crime in speech that makes you uncomfortable.  Speech one disagrees with needs to be answered with more speech.

But greater diversity means change, and change on college campuses
is almost always difficult. Few 18 to 22 year olds are skilled in
inviting or tolerating perspectives that are vastly different from than
their own. Frankly, the same goes for 30-, 40-, and
50-something-year-old academics. Even though a campus may become more
diverse in terms of the numbers of underrepresented groups present, the
level of engagement can still be inconsequential if those representing
different viewpoints are not encouraged and supported to express them.
If an institution is not prepared to make space, figuratively speaking,
for previously excluded groups, and support their presence on campus,
its diversity efforts cannot succeed. And if the wariness about
discomfort is stronger than the desire to hear different viewpoints
because engaging difference is uncomfortable, then the quest for
diversity is hollow no matter what the demographic statistics on a
campus reflect.
In order for the pursuit of diversity to be intellectually
defensible and valuable to those seeking a first-rate education at
places like Middlebury, it needs to result in deliberation. It cannot
simply facilitate the exchange of one orthodoxy or point of view for
another. The best liberal arts education requires all voices, those of
the old order as much as those of the new, and even those in between,
to be subjected to the critical analysis that is supposed to make the
academy a distinctive institution in society.

Lots more good stuff in the speech.


  1. James:

    How many presidents are taking positions like this today?

  2. Mesa EconoGuy:

    This is not a new right at all – I witnessed the development of this obnoxious pseudo-intellectual reverse peristalsis firsthand in the late 1980s at an elite eastern liberal arts college which shall remain unnamed.

    Senator Patrick Moynihan, no Bill Buckley, became the target of campus leftist radicals over his 1964 treatise on the inner city welfare “family.”

    The only problem was, none of these morons actually read the paper (I verified this personally). This really pissed me off. So I started writing for the best paper on campus, which wasn’t really on campus, just to piss them off.

    Colleagues of mine went on to become things like an ABC National Security reporter, and a NYT bestselling author. The latter observed about the situation, “I love liberal cannibalism.”


    This is by no means a new phenomenon. It is, however, a major warning/red flag to parents who expect to send their children to institutes of “higher education” that the extreme has literally seized control of objective thought and replaced it with dogshit.