On Saturdays (not the usual day science news is broken), the News desk sometimes focuses on public trends that impact our issues, including the ongoing campus war on freedom of speech—in the United States, it typically surfaces as the war of the First Amendment to the Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
It’s no secret that the governing classes today don’t like the First Amendment and want to chip away at it.
One recent new tool has been “trigger warnings”—the notion that the content of university courses should be eliminated or modified to protect the interests of fragile persons for whom it would “create distress.”
The obvious question of whether such persons are best accommodated at a university is, of course, not up for discussion in elite circles because their own actual target is all the rest of us.
A friend sent this example:
Students Attack ‘Triggering’ Anti-Abortion Sign, Cop Says Free Speech Has Limits on Campus
‘What I’m here to tell you is that on campus we have additional rules other than just freedom of speech,’ said the cop.
Students at the University of Oregon clashed with an adult anti-abortion preacher earlier this week, eventually grabbing his graphic sign, tearing it, and stomping on it. One student told him, “this is not part of your First Amendment right.”
Yes, actually, it is part of his First Amendment right, just as it was part of the First Amendment right of a 19th century figure to similarly portray graphically the dreadful suffering of black people under slavery (floggings, mutilations, separations of families, etc.).
Did those who benefited financially from these practices appreciate being told how much harm they inflicted on the victims? One somehow doubts, just as one doubts below.
The protesters’ argument amounts to saying that a campus is a high class psych ward that offers degrees (and the right to sponge off those who earn their skills honestly, learning useful things?).
Look at those cops, too. Get a load of them. They may be a big part of our future.
Along these lines, see also: “Trigger warning” on Immanuel Kant (yes, that Immanuel Kant)
and Massimo Pigliucci gets something right, at least for now.
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