Political Correctness

"Welcome to College. Now Please Stop Thinking."


When freshmen arrived at The University of Western Ontario this year, they encountered a student publication's special orientation issue. It included a clearly satirical article titled, "So you want to date a teaching assistant?"

If any hard-of-humor students didn't understand the ironic nature of the advice, there was this: "Know when to give up. At the end of the day, TAs are there to guide you through the curriculum – so there's a good chance you have to be okay with that and only that. They may not be giving you head, but at least they're giving you brain."

The piece immediately set off "a furor," with the union representing T.A.s calling for the piece to be taken down for promoting sexual harassment and the university provost publicly castigating the paper for being "disrespectful." The offending material was quickly pulled off from the paper's website and the editors wrote a groveling, ritualistic apology, promising to report "on these issues in a more serious manner in the future."

That's from my latest Time column, which goes on to argue:

Why are we treating the next generation of leaders, entrepreneurs, and citizens as hot-house flowers that cannot for one second be discomfited by what they see, hear, or read? Isn't one of the main reasons to go to college precisely to be pulled out of the world in which you grew up? It is not particularly difficult to espouse free expression for all without endorsing everything that gets said in the marketplace of ideas. It's exactly in the conversations among those with whom we disagree that old ideas get made better and new ideas flourish. But suppression of speech, whether done by the medieval Church, anti-sex crusaders in the 19th century, or contemporary campus commisars, leads nowhere good….

As the Western Ontario case demonstrates, when offense is taken, open discussion and debate is no longer the preferred method for dealing with disagreements. No, the bad words must be disappeared and the malefactors forced not simply to apologize but to admit their errors in thinking and promise not to do it again. That's the way a cult operates, not a culture. And it's certainly no way to help young adults learn how to engage the world that waits them after graduation.

Read the whole thing.

NEXT: Brian Doherty on 3 Problems Libertarians Have with Rand Paul's Foreign Policy

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  1. The piece immediately set off “a furore,”

    Good sir, I have taken the liberty of correcting your misstep.


    1. You brits do know a thing or two about setting off a fuhrer.

  2. That’s the way a cult operates

    That, in a nutshell, describes modern education – a cult.

  3. Isn’t one of the main reasons to go to college precisely to be pulled out of the world in which you grew up?

    When was college ever not about enforcing the views of the administrators?

  4. Sammy So So is not going to like that dude.


  5. From time to time it is entertaining to watch Christopher Hitchens on youtube. I assume this crowd needs no explanation of how devastating he could be in a debate.

    He once responded to a question from the audience by noting that all the person had said was that they were offended, and “I’m offended” is not an argument. Done.

  6. ” Isn’t one of the main reasons to go to college precisely to be pulled out of the world in which you grew up?”

    Well, isn’t a college that enforces conformity with a new world-view, particularly one that severely constrains intellectual inquiry, doing precisely that.

    1. I hate to use that word but Nick is sounding awfully…you know what with that sentence.

  7. No, the bad words must be disappeared…

    Nick’s ‘funny’ sometimes. There’s no specific agency behind the disappearance of the ‘bad words’ (like the University administrators) it’s just part of the zeitgeist.

  8. Isn’t one of the main reasons to go to college precisely to be pulled out of the world in which you grew up?

    No, actually its not.

    Its may be a nice benefit of attending college, but if you’re going so you could be ‘pulled out of the world in which you grew up’ you could do the same thing by joining the Peace Corps.

    College is about vocational training – if you’re not going with that as you’re main focus you’re throwing away 4+ years of your life.

    All this ‘expand your mind’ crap, college may have been *useful* for that even a generation ago, but its been a much longer time since it was necessary or even a school focus.

    1. No, a vocational training school is about vocational training. If you’re going to college for vocational training, you’re throwing away 100,000s of dollars.

      1. Then it sounds like college is just useless over all.

        There are other way ‘to learn how to think’ that don’t involve spending thousands of dollars.

        There are other ways to ‘broaden your mind’ that will even *pay you* while it happens.

        1. Right on.

          Though if you really, really, need that piece of paper, my institution offers an online-based Associates for 3,000 and a Bachelor’s in Communications or Healthcare management for 10,000.

          Of course, traditional non-profit privates and state schools are spitting blood over this.

          1. How good the football team?

            1. Learned.

        2. Spoken like someone who doesn’t want any impressionable youths learning subversive things like “libertarianism is warmed-over horseshit.” The important thing about “learning how to think” is that you don’t know what you don’t know–you must be directed to books and ideas you weren’t aware even existed. I know that doesn’t apply to all the autodidact geniuses here, who never approach reading and learning with any confirmation bias.

          1. Which is why my college had me sit in a required class that touted the merits of socialism and how Marx was right but misunderstood and Communism works, but was tried in the wrong places.

            Back then, the students could go home, turn on the TV and watch the wall come down in East Germany and decide for themselves how wonderful socialism was and how full of shit the prof was.

            1. What ridiculous school did you go to?

          2. I’m filing this comment under “Tony’s greatest hits”.

          3. Spoken like someone who doesn’t want any impressionable youths learning subversive things like “libertarianism is warmed-over horseshit.”

            Considering how intellectually inbred academia’s become, this comment is especially rich.

  9. Isn’t one of the main reasons to go to college precisely to be pulled out of the world in which you grew up?

    Um, isn’t being told that your views are wrong and you should shut up doing exactly that?

    1. You can join the Army for that.

      1. Or go to jail.

  10. Liberals: The most illiberal group in contemporary American life.

    1. Jeez whoever would have thought the Left supports civil liberties as long as you agree with them?


  11. Why are you complaining Nick? This is the social tolerance you are going on about.

  12. College is about getting tested for aptitude, then going away from your friends and family to live in a group with many other (largely young and/or rootless) people. There you pay far more money than you can afford to receive “secret” knowledge and network with VIPs. Meanwhile, you are taught a set of beliefs at odds with those of mainstream society, but which are normalized by relentless indoctrination, social humiliation, psychological intimidation, and an oppressive atmosphere of conformity in speech and thought. Those beliefs, when studied closely, seem largely designed to empower and enrich the leaders of your group at the expense of ordinary members, or else to maintain control and eliminate dissent.

    Wait, no, I was thinking of joining a cult, not college.

  13. I went to U of Ottawa, much the same, it’s the tyranny of appeasing the tyrants on campus. Since the 60’s it has been the slow but steady monopolization of all things education by the left.
    The classroom would have smarmy political comments made in a class, rampaging social justice nazis, and an environment of abject hypocrisy.
    My escape was math and economics classes. You learned math and economic models, and that was it. (Aside from learning to think past stage one)

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