Quotulatiousness

September 27, 2016

QotD: The abdication of traditional morality

Too often these days, critics of PC play the victim card. Many right-wing thinkers claim that a conspiratorial cabal of PC loons is ruining our lives. This conveniently absolves these thinkers of having to account for what happened to their morality and traditions. Where did they go? It is far easier to claim that society has been taken hostage by gangs of lentil-eating, language-obsessed nutjobs than it is to face up to and explain the demise of a way of life that had existed for much of the modern era. Indeed, in many ways the term ‘political correctness’ doesn’t really have much basis in reality — it is the invention of traditionalists unable to explain recent historic turns, so instead they fantasise about the onward, unstoppable march of sinister liberals riding roughshod over their superior way of life.

Of course, the demise of traditional morality did not have to be a bad thing. There was much in those old ways which was also censorious and pernicious and stifling of anybody who wanted to experiment with lifestyle or sexual orientation. The problem is that the old, frequently stuffy morality was not successfully pushed aside by a more progressive, human-centred moral outlook – rather it withered and faded and collapsed under the pressure of crises, creating a moral hole that has been filled by those who have influence in the post-traditional world: the increasingly vocal chattering classes.

But let’s not play the victim in the face of an apparently all-powerful ‘PC police’. No, if you feel like you are being treated as a heretic for thinking or saying the ‘wrong things’ in our politically correct world, then you should start acting like a proper, self-respecting heretic: have the courage of your convictions and say what you think regardless of the consequences.

Brendan O’Neill, “The new war against PC – it’s too late and it’s picked the wrong target”, Spiked, 2015-01-29.

September 19, 2016

Cultural appropriation

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Larry Correia isn’t impressed when people scream “cultural appropriation” at him:

I’ve talked about Cultural Appropriation before, and why it is one of the most appallingly stupid ideas ever foisted on the gullible in general, and even worse when used as a bludgeon against fiction authors.

First off, what is “Cultural Appropriation”? From the linked talk:

The author of Who Owns Culture? Appropriation and Authenticity in American Law, Susan Scafidi, a law professor at Fordham University who for the record is white, defines cultural appropriation as “taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artifacts from someone else’s culture without permission. This can include unauthorised use of another culture’s dance, dress, music, language, folklore, cuisine, traditional medicine, religious symbols, etc.”

The part that got left out of that definition is that engaging in Cultural Appropriation is a grievous mortal sin that self-righteous busy bodies can then use to shame anyone they don’t like.

Look at that definition. Basically anything you use that comes from another culture is stealing. That is so patently absurd right out the gate that it is laughable. Anybody who has two working brain cells to rub together, who hasn’t been fully indoctrinated in the cult of social justice immediately realizes that sounds like utter bullshit.

If you know anything about the history of the world, you would know that it has been one long session of borrowing and stealing ideas from other people, going back to the dawn of civilization. Man, that cuneiform thing is pretty sweet. I’m going to steal writing. NOT OKAY! CULTURAL APPROPRIATION!

Everything was invented by somebody, and if it was awesome, it got used by somebody else. At some point in time thousands of years ago some sharp dude got sick of girding up his loins and invented pants. We’re all stealing from that guy. Damn you racists and your slacks.

This is especially silly when white guilt liberals try to enforce it on Americans, the ultimate crossroads of the world, melting pot country where hundreds of cultures have been smooshed together for a couple hundred years, using each other’s cool stuff and making it better.

This weekend I painted miniatures for a war game from Spain, played a video game from Belarus, listened to rap music from a white guy from Detroit, watched a cop show from Britain, had Thai food for lunch, and snacked on tikki masala potato chips, while one daughter streamed K dramas, another read manga, and my sons played with Legos invented in Denmark.

A life without Cultural Appropriation would be so incredibly boring.

And most of you missed the really insidious part of that that academic, all-consuming definition. Without Permission… Think about that. So how does that work exactly? Who do you ask? Sure, these new Lays Tikki Masala chips are delicious, but are they problematic? Who is the head Indian I’m supposed to get permission from? Did you guys like appoint somebody, or is it an elected position, or what? Or should I just assume that Lays talked to that guy already for me? Or can any regular person from India be offended on behalf of a billon people?

This is all very confusing.

But hang on… India owes me. That’s right. Because vindaloo is a popular Indian dish, but wait! It was actually Culturally Appropriated from the Portuguese hundreds of years ago. I’m Portuguese! I didn’t give them permission to steal the food of my people!

So we will call it even on these chips.

And don’t get me started on Thai food, because the Portuguese introduced the chili pepper to Thailand. YOU ARE WELCOME, WORLD!

May 16, 2016

President Obama on political correctness and freedom of speech

Filed under: Liberty, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:07

I rarely agree with much that Barack Obama says, but I can’t disagree with this part of his speech to the graduating class at Rutgers University this weekend:

President Obama strongly condemned the rising anti-intellectual streak on the right — but also on the left — in his remarks at Rutgers University’s spring commencement on Sunday.

He harshly attacked the policies and rhetoric of Donald Trump (without mentioning him by name), asserting that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s deliberate ignorance is destructive.

“That’s not challenging political correctness,” said Obama. “That’s just not knowing what you’re talking about.”

But he reserved some time at the end of his speech to also criticize students who are too “fragile” to listen to people whose opinions offend them. He said it was a mistake for students to seek to disinvite speakers with whom they disagree.

“I know a couple years ago some folks on this campus got upset that Condoleezza Rice was supposed to speak at a commencement,” said Obama. “I don’t think it’s a secret that I disagree with many of the foreign policies of Dr. Rice and the previous administration. But the notion that this community or the country would be better served by not hearing from a former secretary of state or shutting out what she had to say, I believe that is misguided.”

The answer to bad speech is more speech, Obama continued.

April 6, 2016

QotD: “Cultural appropriation”

Filed under: Liberty, Media, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

The whole notion that culture can be “appropriated” in any negative sense is one of the most absurd notions being bandied about (and that is really saying something given the carnival of absurdities that passes for critical thinking these days).

Such ideas about culture are profoundly fascist in origin, a collectivist notion that somehow culture and identity must be preserved in a “pure” state from outside influences and somehow “belongs” to an ethno-national grouping. It is very much akin intellectually to abominating miscegenation. Yet strangely the same people who spout such arrant nonsense tend not to picket performances featuring oriental ballet dancers or black opera singers (as well they shouldn’t). Sorry (not really) but the future is cosmopolitan and voluntary. I will take whatever aspects of any culture I think are worth incorporating and there is not a damn thing anyone can do to stop me.

Perry de Havilland, “No one owns a culture”, Samizdata, 2016-03-26.

March 4, 2016

How to minimize your Cis Het cultural butt-print of privilege

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

David Thompson helpfully linked to a fascinating blog by a self-described “Objective Cis Het White Male Intersectional Feminist”, providing (among other life tips for over-privileged white male readers) this recommended tactic for dealing with some of the most privileged beings in the Patriarchy — white waiters:

I never tip white waiters. I don’t want to enable their sense of entitlement. I want to break the cycle of them getting what they want. I only tip minorities. It’s time we balance the power structure, one gesture at a time.

But in case that’s not enough undermining of the Patriarchy, our hero also describes in detail his own way of minimizing his enjoyment of privilege:

My Appearance:

At its core, the patriarchy is all about men and their overarching power. I am reluctantly part of that system, but that doesn’t mean I can’t attempt to break my ties with it. I feel that the first step is to deny my body to the patriarchy. This system relies on men looking threatening as one way to ensure they benefit the most from it. It is my duty as an intersectional feminist to go completely against that.

I make sure not to wear any bright or highly contrasting clothing. I stick to neutral tones with a lot of grey. A very light salmon pink is probably my favorite color to wear. I don’t wear anything that includes sharp objects or features on it. My duty is to minimize anything that might be threatening to others.

Facial hair is too violent. As a result, I have my entire head shaved. Men with facial hair are often seen as alphas/leaders, and such positions are those of power and ultimately oppression. I don’t want to emulate such a male ideal. It is a power fantasy that is dangerous to society as whole.

I am also very thin. The patriarchy expects me to be a big burly man to soak up all the privilege I can. However, I find that the thinner you are as a male, the more willing people are to interact with you because you are not so threatening. As I get thinner, the patriarchy has a harder time keeping a hold on me because I can slip through its fingers more easily. This is metaphorical, of course, but I like to put my fight in poetic terms.

As NeilsR comments on David’s post: “Because being a skinhead (black or white) has no violent connotations, noooooooo….” The blogger is also extremely careful to avoid giving any kind of offense in the public sphere:

My visual interactions are at a mandatory minimum. My gaze is focused on the floor, away from anyone, and especially away from women. This ensures that they do not feel victimized in any way. The Male Gaze is a crux of patriarchy that actually promotes men to give into their animalistic desires and mentally orgasm over how they objectify women. This is a disgusting practice that I take no part in. I simply avoid looking at anyone and mind my own business.

If I need to socially interact with someone, I have a few guidelines that I follow to ensure the other party is not threatened in any way. Once again, I keep eye contact to a minimum. I also lower my voice as to show submission and I only reply with (at most) three word answers. This prevents me from enacting any type of micro-aggressions. The privileged class usually don’t know how ACTUALLY offensive they can be when they mindlessly address characteristics and stereotypes. I do my best to avoid this altogether.

Lastly, I try my best to go to minority-owned establishments when I spend money. However, if the circumstances are such that I need to tip a white waiter, well, I think you already know my stance on that.

However, our hero has a very different approach when among friends:

I’m not some kind of loner weirdo. I have a group of friends that I have been with since college. They are typical white cis het males as well but they don’t take intersectional feminism seriously at all. As a result, I find myself educating them constantly when I hear them state something problematic. I do this with everyone that I know personally because I feel the patriarchy can be dismantled if more people are aware of it.

Because everyone appreciates someone policing their conversation for even the slightest hint of deviationism…

February 16, 2016

QotD: The Victimocracy

Filed under: Media, Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

The Victimocracy is a lot like any other tyranny. In an aristocracy, power belongs to the nobles, in a theocracy, power belongs to the clergy, in a meritocracy, to anyone with skill and a work ethic.

But in a Victimocracy the biggest and angriest whiner wins.

In a Victimocracy, suffering is the exclusive privilege of the elites. No one else is allowed to suffer except them. No one else has ever been oppressed, has felt pain, been insulted, abused, degraded, enslaved and ground down into the dirt except the very people who are grinding you into the dirt now.

Victimhood is what entitles them to special privileges, it’s what ennobles them as a superior class of people and gives them the right to rule over you. They are the victims. What they say goes.

Victimization is the currency of their power. They have 1/16 Cherokee blood and high cheekbones. They are ‘triggered’ by loud noises and differing opinions. They spent their twenties “coming to terms” with something because of the lack of sitcom role models for their favorite sexual preferences or skin color. They are all survivors of something or other. They were activists and someone once said mean things to them. And if all else fails, they are deeply passionate about the plight of the oppressed. Like, seriously.

Now stop oppressing them and educate yourself by recognizing their right to oppress you.

The Victimocracy is based around the superior moral power of their suffering. That is why no one else is allowed to suffer except them. Their convoluted theories of social justice eliminate the very possibility that the source of their exclusive moral power can be experienced by anyone else. They have strived to warp language around their political narcissism to define suffering as an experience unique to them.

Daniel Greenfield, “Life Under the Victimocracy”, The Sultan Knish blog, 2014-11-17.

January 22, 2016

Top 10 Onion parodies on higher education

Filed under: Humour, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Yeah, I know it’s a bit late in the year to still be publishing lame “top ten” roundups, but these are pretty funny:

1. Sex partner must say ‘yes’ every 10 minutes or it’s rape, 10th graders taught in California
2. Princeton student say he’s victim of microaggression over way he says ‘Cool Whip’
3. Study urges people to accept those who ‘identify as real vampires’
4. Professor: Harry Potter Helped Obama Get Elected
5. All-You-Can-Eat Taco Bars Deemed Offensive, Face Campus Extinction
6. Harvard Students Celebrate ‘Incest-Fest’ (tied with: Harvard University workshop to teach students how to have anal sex
7. Professors: Motorists more likely to run over black people than white people
8. Professor’s Book Hails ‘Apostle Barack,’ Compares Him to Jesus
9. University axes homecoming ‘king’ and ‘queen,’ replaces it with gender-neutral ‘royals’
10. Sexuality courses: Black dildos are proof of racism against African Americans

Update: Oh, wait. Sorry. These aren’t actually headlines from the satirical website The Onion. They’re all real headlines. My mistake.

January 20, 2016

A Swiftian modest proposal to solve the masculinity problem

Filed under: Cancon, Politics — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

David Thompson finds the eminently sensible and logical proposals of Feminist Current (“Canada’s leading feminist website”) editor Meghan Murphy to be well worth sharing:

… Murphy tells us that “female students are under constant threat” and that all women everywhere live in a state of unending terror:

    And who is it we fear? Is it other women? No. It is a male. A male with a penis that he may or may not use as a weapon.

Armed with a mind of infinite subtlety, Ms Murphy has more than a few ideas on how to combat this throbbing phallocratic menace:

    There are solutions: a feminist revolution… an end to masculinity… all of that would help.

An end to masculinity. Yes, I know, it’s quite a project. But first, baby steps:

    It’s time to consider a curfew for men.

One more time:

    While a curfew would not resolve the problem of patriarchy and male violence against women, it does, in a way, address entitlement and privilege… The more I consider the idea of a curfew for men, the more it makes sense.

Why, it almost sounds like a gratuitous power fantasy, the product of an unwell mind. Of course a curfew will make dating rather difficult if you’re not a lesbian, and overnight motorway maintenance will have to be done exclusively by ladies. And there’ll be no more working nights to support your family, you indecently privileged patriarchal shitlord. Happily, however, our collective punishment as menfolk may not be eternal:

    After a designated period of time, we’ll allow them back on the streets after dark to see how it goes.

Clearly, Ms Murphy is determined to upend idle stereotypes of feminists as batty misandrists unmoored from reality.

January 5, 2016

QotD: Culture War 2.0

Filed under: Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Paranoia is the political currency of the emotionally unstable culture warrior who is always certain that someone is looking at them the wrong way, threatening them on social media or committing some other microaggression against them.

There are people who can’t hear a “good morning” without seeing a conspiracy against them. In normal life, they’re diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenics. In political activism, they’re just sensitive to microaggressions.

The left has always valued oversensitivity because neurotics are easy to convince of their own victimhood. And career victims naturally dehumanize those they consider to be their oppressors. As neurosis has become culture, the only way to escape accusations of privilege is to find your own victimhood. And there’s nothing like being forced to develop insecurities to make you insecure.

Culture War 2.0 is culturally crazy. Its personal dysfunction so entangled with politics that there is no way to tell where one begins and the other ends. It politicizes insecurity and narcissism for campaigns that are indistinguishable from trolling. It reduces every issue to personal unhappiness and demands the abolition of traditional freedoms and rights as the answer to that unhappiness.

Its demands are unanswerable because they are personal. There is no solution to them except sanity. And in a cultural conflict where insanity is an asset, sanity is no answer. It’s an accusation.

The truly paranoid see the world as hostile and are driven to destroy it. Their crusade to find happiness by making everyone else miserable can only [succeed] halfway. They can never be happy, but they can always make others miserable.

Daniel Greenfield, “Our Insecure Culture Warriors”, Sultan Knish, 2015-11-02.

December 14, 2015

David Thompson explains why he is not androgynous

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Some are apparently so concerned at gendered pronouns that they hope to persuade everyone else to go linguistically generic:

    Let’s call everyone “they”: Gender-neutral language should be the norm, not the exception.

So writes Silpa Kovvali, an exquisitely progressive she-person, in the pages of Salon:

    We are forced to… give in and refer to our co-workers, students and friends as “he” or “she.” The result is that our language caps our ability to be progressive in this realm, forces us to immediately characterise people as male or female.

Which is only accurate and expected practically all of the time. And so,

    We ought to revert to the gender neutral “they” whenever gender is not explicitly relevant.

You see, Ms Kovvali believes that gendered pronouns and honorifics are an “outdated linguistic tic.” And not a useful, rather concise source of information, a signal of respect, and a way of clarifying who it is we’re talking about.

    The effect of elevating gender’s importance is felt by the cis-gendered as well. None of us fit neatly or entirely into a traditional gender binary, with all the expectations of masculinity and femininity that these buckets entail.

And yet despite this claim, and the somewhat random mention of buckets, almost all of us seem quite happy to be referred to as either male or female, as if it were in fact “relevant,” and the demand for gender-neutral pronouns remains, to say the least, a niche concern. I’d even venture to suggest that some of us might feel slighted by the wilful omission of – diminishing of – our respective maleness or femaleness.

[…]

That a tiny minority object to gendered pronouns, or pretend to object in the hope of seeming morally fashionable, is apparently grounds for the rest of us to be imposed upon, and possibly insulted, with a widespread and routine denial of our gender. It isn’t clear to me why un-gendering everyone is hugely preferable to the highly unlikely mis-gendering of one person, potentially, in theory. And much as I hate to be a bother, my “preferred pronouns” are masculine. Like almost all human beings, I am not alienated from my sex in psychologically hazardous ways. I am not of indeterminate gender. I am not a they.

December 2, 2015

QotD: “It’s microaggressions all the way down”

Filed under: Media, Quotations — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

A while back, when I wrote about shamestorming, I ended up in a Twitter discussion with a guy who chided me for letting my privilege blind me to the ways that minorities (specifically women in tech, and more broadly on the Internet), experience microaggressions. You know how that conversation ended? When I pointed out that he had just committed a classic microaggression: mansplaining to me something that I had actually experienced, and he had not. As soon as I did, he apologized, though that hadn’t really been my intent. My intent was to point out that microaggressions are often unintentional (this guy clearly considered himself a feminist ally).

But I inadvertently demonstrated an even greater difficulty: Complaints about microaggressions can be used to stop complaints about microaggressions. There is no logical resting place for these disputes; it’s microaggressions all the way down. And in the process, they make impossible demands on members of the ever-shrinking majority: to know everything about every possible victim group, to never inadvertently appropriate any part of any culture in ways a member doesn’t like, or misunderstand something, or make an innocent remark that reads very differently to someone with a different experience. Which will, of course, only hasten the scramble for members of the majority to gain themselves some sort of victim status that can protect them from sanction.

Megan McArdle, “How Grown-Ups Deal With ‘Microaggressions'”, Bloomberg View, 2015-09-11.

November 26, 2015

QotD: Culture warriors

Filed under: Politics, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Culture War 2.0 is as inescapable as it is obnoxious. Its loudest proponents, the Social Justice Warriors, live off a drama that they create, playing enlightened victim-activists fighting micro-struggles against micro-aggressions in areas most people have never even thought about.

The issues are ideological, but they’re mainstreamed by focusing on personal narratives. The victim-activists are usually millennials from wealthy families with useless degrees. It’s a story as old as radicalism, but in the dawn of the 21st century, it’s activism and culture war being replayed as farce.

Culture War 2.0 politicizes narcissism and insecurity. It obsessively masticates culture the way that its political predecessors destroyed people. Its target audience lives and thinks in terms of premium cable shows. They are to it what novels were to its 19th century counterparts.

Even its ideology is more grievance than theory. It only cares about theory to the extent of parsing the Victim Value Index and determining who has more or less privilege, who ought to feel more guilty and who ought to feel more victimized. This is ideology as soap opera. Politics as a means of deciding who gets to play what emotional role in a societal drama.

Its political expressions exist in the space of the personal narrative. In this tawdry post-Orwellian future everyone will get their essay of victimhood on Medium or ThoughtCatalog read for 15 minutes. Their drama will, very temporarily, be a trending topic. For a generation of overindulged children, broadcasting their petty pains is the closest thing their lives have to love and meaning.

Daniel Greenfield, “Our Insecure Culture Warriors”, Sultan Knish, 2015-11-02.

November 25, 2015

National Review‘s Katherine Timpf will not apologize

Filed under: Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

At least, she’s not planning on apologizing for making a few (not-even-PG-rated) jokes about Star Wars. Her critics, in addition to pouring scorn and hatred on her for daring to joke about such a holy topic, also threaten her life:

Now, I received a few death threats right after I posted the aforementioned tweet — which, by the way, was why I was saying Star Wars fans were “crazy” in the first place. Overall, though, it wasn’t a big deal, and I kind of forgot about it.

Then, this week, one Star Wars super-super-super fan who calls himself “AlphaOmegaSin” made a ten-minute (!) video brutally ripping me apart.

The YouTube comments on his manifesto were even better. You know, stuff like:

    justin 12 hours ago
    Maybe a SW nerd needs to sneak into her dark room, dressed like her bf, rape her, but she doesn’t know it’s rape because she thinks it’s her BF.

    needmypunk 16 hours ago
    I hope she gets acid thrown in her pretty little face.

    sdgaara2 1 day ago
    Wouldn’t it be great if she was beaten to death with “space nerd sticks”

    Guardian978 22 hours ago
    I want to cut that blonde c***’s face off and stick it to a thermal detonator. What a network full of c***s.

    dethklok21 1 day ago
    Wow what a f***ing thunder c***. I hope this b**** gets hit by a f***ing car.

    Mikki Yeong 1 day ago
    those death treaths are approved by me look at that b**** it’s a typical i wear big glasses to look smart but in fact i’m stupid as f*** btwthose glasses used to be only weared by nerds stupid h**

    TheValefor1984 1 day ago
    We should get her address then bury her a** in Star Wars memorabilia lol

    TheGreenStreak452 1 day ago
    I just want to burn Fox News to the ground and all their stupid employees.

[Asterisks not in the original.]

To be fair, AlphaOmegaSin did say that he denounced threats on my life because “Just because you’re a f***ing idiot doesn’t mean that you should have to die.”

A problem with being a free speech absolutist is that you have to accept that some members of the community are going to use it to be as grotesquely offensive as they possibly can. Way to live down to expectations, Star Wars fans.

QotD: The microaggression industry

Filed under: Liberty, Media, Politics, Quotations — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

The bitterness, anger, and even hate that radiates from them is shocking to me. “This conversation doesn’t make me feel safe” is genuine, actual college speak, in the “microaggressions” school of thought. The purpose is to silence speech that the listener does not care for or that threatens their worldview.

They care nothing for liberty, or truth, or honesty, they do not want a world where people interact and learn from each other, they want nothing save a continual, comforting womb of support and confirmation of their worldview. And they’re more than willing to crush anyone or anything that threatens this.

This attitude might be a byproduct of the bubble wrap children, who were raised so carefully, protected, and supported that they never encountered anything that challenged or made them question themselves. It might be a subversive method of silencing speech and dissent from a political agenda that cannot survive rational discussion. It might be the result of a psychosis that cannot abide being questioned. It might be a combination of some or all of those things.

[…]

What’s most troubling to me is that the loudest, most insistent, and most publicly conspicuous of this group are those who at the same time insist that they are lovers of liberty and will not tolerate intolerance.

And yet here we are, in the 21st century, where academics have churned out an entire system designed to do exactly the opposite of what academia is meant to be: silence any debate, questioning, or interaction that in any way threatens one specific certain viewpoint. And its done with passive-aggressive behavior taken to an astounding depth of creativity and precision.

Christopher Taylor, “SOCIAL JUSTICE KITTENS”, Word Around the Net, 2014-10-22.

November 14, 2015

Trigger warnings and Yale

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Jonathan Rauch discusses the now famous Yale courtyard temper tantrum:

During protests that followed, undergraduates confronted Nicholas Christakis, the master of Silliman, in a courtyard. When he told a student he disagreed with her claim that his job is “to create a place of comfort and home for the students that live in Silliman,” she began screaming at him: “Then why the f–k did you accept the position! Who the f–k hired you? You should step down! If that is what you think about being a master, you should step down. It is not about creating an intellectual space! It is not! Do you understand that? You are disgusting!”

The self-infantilization on display in this tirade lacked even the dignity of a sinister ideology. Its point was more like: “I want my mommy.”

But if students feel the modern university’s job is to create a “place of comfort” rather than an “intellectual space,” that is hardly all their fault. Many parents of my generation make it their business to spare their children any exposure to upset and risk. Then kids and parents alike are wooed by colleges that promise idyllic experiences at very steep prices.

Yale, for example, markets its residential colleges as “little paradises.” No wonder if some students expect college to provide shelter from intellectual and interpersonal storms.

And no wonder the movement for trigger warnings and safe spaces is gaining traction at colleges around the country. Trigger warnings supposedly help students cope with (or avoid) exposure to upsetting ideas and images; their other purpose, I and many other free-speech advocates believe, is to chill the presentation of controversial material. Either way, they seek to make higher education emotionally safer by making it less intellectually dangerous.

He also suggests the most appropriate kind of trigger warning to provide:

So it is only fair to warn students and their parents that higher education is not a Disney cruise. Tell them in advance so they can prepare. Not, however, with multiple trigger warnings festooning syllabi. One will suffice:

“Warning: Although this university values and encourages civil expression and respectful personal behavior, you may at any moment, and without further notice, encounter ideas, expressions and images that are mistaken, upsetting, dangerous, prejudiced, insulting or deeply offensive. We call this education.”

Display that trigger warning prominently on the college website. Put it in the course catalog and in the marketing brochures. Then ask students and their parents to grow up and deal with it. And watch as they rise to the challenge.

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