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President Obama Just Said He Opposes Campus Censorship. Here's How He Can Prove It.

The president is the only foe of political correctness who can rein in the federal government.

ObamaWhite HouseThe plague of political correctness infecting every corner of life on American college campuses has grown so ubiquitous that even President Obama—by no means a conservative or contrarian on education matters—is bemoaning student-initiated censorship.

Here’s what the president had to say about college students during a town hall discussion in Des Moines, Iowa, on Monday, according to Vox:

It’s not just sometimes folks who are mad that colleges are too liberal that have a problem. Sometimes there are folks on college campuses who are liberal, and maybe even agree with me on a bunch of issues, who sometimes aren’t listening to the other side, and that’s a problem too. I’ve heard some college campuses where they don’t want to have a guest speaker who is too conservative or they don’t want to read a book if it has language that is offensive to African-Americans or somehow sends a demeaning signal towards women. I gotta tell you, I don’t agree with that either. I don’t agree that you, when you become students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of view. I think you should be able to — anybody who comes to speak to you and you disagree with, you should have an argument with ‘em. But you shouldn’t silence them by saying, "You can’t come because I'm too sensitive to hear what you have to say." That’s not the way we learn either.

Obama’s use of the word “coddling” suggests that the president read Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt’s recent Atlantic cover story on “The Coddling of the American Mind,” which argued that students’ penchant for avoiding conversations that troubled them was mentally unhealthy.

The Vox piece on Obama’s comments is largely positive; it certainly doesn’t criticize the president for observing that college students are too narrow-minded and censorship-driven. Perhaps that’s not so surprising—Vox has actually run at least two pieces from professors lamenting that the preferences of a few irate students have made teaching much more difficult and less rewarding. Indeed, many on the intellectual left are supportive of the idea that college administrators are all-too eager to humor the demands of the hyper-offended minority.

But I’m skeptical that any amount of public pressure from intellectuals can inspire campuses to change so long as the federal government continues issuing guidance to universities that obligates them to censor. If Obama is actually opposed to the new scourge of political correctness on college campuses, he could prove his dedication to the cause by directing the Education Department to relax its relentless Title IX inquisition.

The president, after all, is the only foe of campus censorship who is in a position to do anything about it.

Photo Credit: White House

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    He said the words, Rico. That's as much as you're going to get.

  • Charles Easterly||

    "The president, after all, is the only foe of campus censorship who is in a position to do anything about it."

    In the paraphrased words of Yodi, "No, there is another... FOE."

  • LarryA||

    The president is the only foe of political correctness...

    LMAO

  • Quixote||

    It is quite foolish, even nonsensical, to think that the president actually believes that academic officials should allow unacceptable trigger-speech and micro-aggression on the university campuses of our great nation. This is just the kind of thing politicians are required to say from time to time, so that the rest of the world won't unfairly attack us on the basis of whistle-blowers and NSA info-gathering and all our other efforts to draw some basic "free speech" boundaries. Hillary Clinton was very good at this a few years ago, when she explained that we here in America have a free Internet and other good things. When it comes down to the nitty-gritty, the president is well aware that college campuses are very special places where students and professors alike need to be protected from inappropriate speech that "twists words" and "stirs up controversy." See, for example, the documentation of America's leading criminal satire case at:

    http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

  • LynchPin1477||

    You know, I think he probably does believe the words, at least one some level. He just doesn't seem to really care enough to actually act on them.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    No, I suspect it's similar to the reasoning of a lot of censors - "Of course I support free speech, but not that!".

  • SusanM||

  • Almanian - Micro Trumper||

    What they're saying is support

    Almanian for President - 2016
    I Probably Won't Make It Any Worse

    And I was a fan of Bloom County the first time around.

  • Florida Man||

    You're a great American Almanian, you have my vote.

  • Tundra, well-chilled.||

    Yeah, but I'd like to see him debate Trump first. That would be epic.

  • Almanian - Micro Trumper||

    I'd ask Agile Cyborg to sit in for me, because that actually WOULD be epic.

  • Win Bear||

    Almanian for President - 2016
    I deliver what I promise... jack shit.

  • Lee G||

    THBBFT = That's How Big Bootied Females Twerk?

    TIWTANFL

  • Almanian - Micro Trumper||

    I'm Almanian, and I approve this message.

    Nice work, Lee!

  • kV||

    Obama: Closet libertarian.

  • DJ1706||

    No.

  • kV||

    But it wouldn't it be fun to know what he *actually* believes? I mean, somewhere deep inside he's got to believe something, right?

  • dantheserene||

    He believes he should be in power.

    That's about it.

  • Nohbody||

    He believes in himself, and that he shouldn't have to pay attention to anyone not telling him what he wants to hear.

    Beyond that? Who knows.

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    He believes in libertarianism for himself, and for everybody else in that he will do the thinking for everybody else to relieve them of that terrible burden of thinking identically.

  • JW||

    President Obama Just Said He Opposes Campus Censorship

    Robby, Robby, Robby....when will you learn to run anything he says through the Obamaparser?

    whirr...click

    "Obama Calls for Crackdown on Campus Speech"

  • Almanian - Micro Trumper||

    I'll bet that machine sounds like Keegan Michael Key

  • ||

    folks

    I think this might be the thing I hate most about this fuck. Does he expect anyone to believe that "folks" is in his real lexicon?

  • Mint Berry Crunch||

    Let me be clear. There are those who believe exactly that.

  • Almanian - Micro Trumper||

    To those who do not believe that "folks" is in his lexicon, I say, "You must reject those who would deny it."

  • LynchPin1477||

    It really exploded in usage. So many people use it now.

  • ant1sthenes||

    You know who else like to talk about the folks?

  • soflarider||

    Ferdinand Porsche?

  • Geoff Nathan||

    tsk!

  • ||

    What does he have to do in order to prove his folksy creds? Join the Aryan Brotherhood?

  • Ted S.||

    Obama's teleprompter may have read "The Coddling of the American Mind", but Obama only reads his own positive reviews, and what's put on his teleprompter.

  • Win Bear||

    If this is what being "coddled" feels like, I don't like it.

  • ||

    Oh Robbie, you poor naive fool. He meant people he likes shouldn't be censored. But hate speech isn't free speech, or some shit like that.

  • Citizen X||

    If you like your free speech, you can keep your free speech.

  • Rebel Scum||

    I was going to say that I can agree with the excerpt of Obumbles. But then I remembered that his words are only that; words. He is not honest. He is not genuine. He is a politician and he does not, principally, value any semblance of individual freedom, let alone free speech.

  • Win Bear||

    He is not honest. He is not genuine.

    In his mind he is. In his mind, it's just everybody else's fault that he can't deliver what he promises, you know, because we're all racist and don't let him succeed.

  • The Grinch||

    This just allows him to get the best of both worlds, appearing to oppose censorship on campus while doing fuck all about it. It's a nod and a wink.

    Will title IX be relaxed now? Will libertarian and conservative speakers now be welcomed because of empty, bullshit platitudes that are backed up with nothing? Fuck no.

  • Win Bear||

    This just allows him to get the best of both worlds, appearing to oppose censorship on campus while doing fuck all about it. It's a nod and a wink.

    Which is of course how he always operates. I don't think he's even smart enough to do it deliberately. I'm sure he thinks he has the best intentions, but is then getting thwarted by evil racist Republicans. Obama has great powers... of self delusion.

  • LynchPin1477||

    Sometimes there are folks on college campuses who are liberal, and maybe even agree with me on a bunch of issues, who sometimes aren’t listening to the other side, and that’s a problem too

    Statements like that remind me why people were so excited about Obama 8 years ago and honestly thought he would change things for the better. I disagreed with him from day one on a score of issues, but I'm still disappointed that he didn't carry through the sentiment above into the way he governed.

  • Will Nonya||

    Listening to the other side is not the same as active engagement.

  • LynchPin1477||

    It's a necessary first step.

  • The Grinch||

    Unless it's a smokescreen (which it was/is) which is essentially a step backwards.

  • Mackenzie Brunson||

    How do you engage with people that actively believe you are not an American and are Muslim?

  • Win Bear||

    but I'm still disappointed that he didn't carry through the sentiment above into the way he governed

    I think he simply turned out to be incompetent and overwhelmed with his job. In the end, all he ended up being was a windbag and a smooth talker.

  • GILMORE™||

    "Here's How...."

    AND YOU WONT BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED NEXT

    7 Ways Obama Ignored His Own Advice
    - and why it totally doesn't fucking matter now because he's months from retirement

  • Win Bear||

    Why would he want to "prove" anything? Our Bloviator in Chief likes to talk about how great and smart he is, while his administration actually engages in massive crony capitalism and destroys both the economy and the rule of law.

  • Episteme||

    This is one of those cases where I believe what Obama's saying but what he's saying has a certain context. Barack Obama is by nature an academic, he wants to debate things –but still go home to regulatory authority (think of the system of tenure and administration undergirding the symposial space of a college environment). I compare this to his thoughts on that other First Amendment issue, Free Exercise of Religion, where he's endorsed belief and practice within private spaces; so with the issues of Free Speech and Association in private intellectual spaces.

    Having taken a long time to complete degrees because I've paid for my educational personally, I've seen the shift in not only the climate at schools but in the intellectual sense of many of the students. I've just returned to graduate classes after being away for two years to work up more tuition money and am shocked at the world of difference in this group of classmates' analysis of history and economics versus those who I knew just a few years earlier.

    Those are the sort of things that someone like Barack Obama, who (despite his enjoying of overregulation and executive power) appreciates some element of the intellectual give-and-take of the academic atmosphere –and likely hoped and fooled himself (and certainly fooled many)into thinking that his election would bring that character to the broader country, must be at some level upset at seeing and is trying his lecturer best to "Come on guys, shape up!"...

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    You fell for it - you actually believed he meant it?
    When has Precious ever told the truth about anything?

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