This furor over George Will’s June 6 column in The Washington Post is another example of how far to the extreme we have taken this sensitivity to something someone says or writes. The column was about the federal government’s efforts to curb campus sexual assault, and this is what he wrote referring to the potential response from colleges:
They are learning that when they say campus victimizations are ubiquitous (“micro-aggressions,” often not discernible to the untutored eye, are everywhere), and that when they make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate. And academia’s progressivism has rendered it intellectually defenseless now that progressivism’s achievement, the regulatory state, has decided it is academia’s turn to be broken to government’s saddle.
Many individuals, as well as the National Organization of Women (NOW), are petitiioning the Post to drop Will’s column, citing the “extraordinary harm” to victims: http://mm4a.org/TGR3ga
I’m not a fan of George Will, but not because of this. I just find his columns ponderous to read at times, more suited to an academic lecture than a column to be read by many. However, I do support his freedom to say what he thinks without having a bunch of angry people take him to task over a column. The Internet is abuzz with Tweets and messages and Facebook postings calling him names and insinuating that he thinks campus rapes don’t matter.
That is not what his column was about. I’m sure he takes the incidents of campus rapes very seriously. Reading and re-reading his column to cull through the million-dollar words and phrases, my sense is that he was pointing out the problems with the Education Department’s response to what has been called a rise in campus rapes. Here is another excerpt from his column:
Meanwhile, the newest campus idea for preventing victimizations — an idea certain to multiply claims of them — is “trigger warnings.” They would be placed on assigned readings or announced before lectures. Otherwise, traumas could be triggered in students whose tender sensibilities would be lacerated by unexpected encounters with racism, sexism, violence (dammit, Hamlet, put down that sword!) or any other facet of reality that might violate a student’s entitlement to serenity. This entitlement has already bred campus speech codes that punish unpopular speech. Now the codes are begetting the soft censorship of trigger warnings to swaddle students in a “safe,” “supportive,” “unthreatening” environment, intellectual comfort for the intellectually dormant.
See what I mean about the million-dollar words? Geesh! But the point he makes is that regulating what people read or hear on campus, or in the general public, has reached a level of extremism. Concern over some potential offense has impacted us is so many negative ways. Yes, we should be thoughtful and compassionate in how we speak to and about people, but sometimes we aren’t. Sometimes we just blurt things out without stopping to think. Does that make us a monster? Does that mean that if we have some celebrity status, we should lose everything and be branded for the rest of our lives? Does that mean we should ban every classic novel that has a word that might be found offensive?
Well, I’m glad I got that off my chest. Now here’s your Friday jokes and then I’m out of here. Hope you have a wonderful weekend.
It gets toad away.
I know, groaners more than laughers. You’re welcome to try to make me laugh. Go ahead. I double-dare you.