It’s not news that Social Justice Warriors and the Political Correctness Police have overrun modern college campuses. Heck, some colleges are essentially being held hostage by these forces, to the point where professors aren’t even sure it’s safe to be on campus at all. It’s hard to reconcile this news with the vision of college as a place for young adults to stretch and expand their minds and learn to value and honor other perspectives.
In fact, that’s one of the great ironies of modern college life, that the raconteurs are pushing to make things as diverse as possible while also wanting to shut down any viewpoints that don’t agree with their own perspective. And they are effective at shutting down other voices. Business Insider notes how many commencement speakers (nearly all from the more conservative end of the political spectrum) have been “disinvited” from delivering remarks on college campuses this year.
But not everyone on campus is embracing this mindset. When Milo Yiannopoulos spoke at the University of California, Berkeley, there were riots, but some students fought for his right to talk, not their freedom to try to shut him up. Some students are “sick of being patronized” and are trying to fight back. Consider Williams College sophomore Zachary Wood, a young African-American liberal who brought controversial speakers on campus to “challenge young progressives.” After getting shut down time and time again, he asked, “What is hate speech to begin with? It’s what people don’t like to hear.”
It’s not only students who are pushing back against P.C. norms. Northwestern University professor Laura Kipnis wrote an essay about “feminism hijacked by melodrama” on campus. The reaction? Students filed a Title IX complaint against her, saying the article had a chilling effect on students. Kipnis was eventually cleared of the charges, although she says she’s still considered a pariah on campus. She can commiserate with professor Bret Weinstein, a Caucasian who chose to remain on the Evergreen College campus during the “Day Without White People,” causing a near-riot.
But students who support free speech and open discussions should be careful not to embrace the tactics and extremism of those whom they oppose.
Consider Trump supporter Kiara Robles, who was pepper-sprayed during the anti-Milo protest at Berkeley and is now suing the school (along with Rep. Nancy Pelosi) for twenty-three million dollars for violating her First Amendment rights. But Robles seems confused about the justification for her lawsuit. As the San Francisco Chronicle reported, when Robles was asked what she hopes to accomplish with the suit she responded, “I honestly don’t know.” Nevertheless, this did not prevent her from casting herself as a “martyr for the deplorables.” “I do think order is the right way to respond to chaos, and a lawsuit is the civil way to respond to injustice,” she said.
In fact, lawsuits that attempt to solve complicated social problems through litigation are rarely the best way to respond to political correctness. And yet, more students are doing just that. University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point undergrad Donna Kikkert, for example, recently sued her poetry professor and the school after getting a poor grade in an Advanced Creative Writing class that focused too much, she claimed, on LGBT themes and skipped traditional poets like Robert Frost and Edgar Allen Poe. She lost—as well she should have.
If conservatives and other free speech advocates want to fight back against political correctness, they would do well to embrace the sort of tactics used by students such as Zachary Wood and bring controversial speakers to campus to spark debate, rather than filing frivolous lawsuits that embrace victimhood.
Image: Kiara Robles (YouTube)