MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

Do College Students Hate Free Speech? Let's Ask Them.

Occidental may institute a microaggression reporting system. Reason TV visited Occidental's campus to find out what exactly constitutes a microaggression.

The faculty council at Occidental College is considering instituting a system for students to report microaggressions perpetrated against them by faculty members or other students.

Reason TV visited Occidental's campus to find out what exactly constitutes a microaggression. One Columbia psychology professor defined the term this way:

Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.

After exploring the limitations of a microaggression reporting system, we discussed broader free speech issues with the students in the wake of a month of campus protests that resulted in the resignations of several faculty members and a university president

Most of the students defended free speech in principle, if not always in practice. This is consistent with a recent Pew Research Center survey, which found that although 95 percent of Americans agree that people should be allowed to publicly criticize government policies, support erodes when the question turns to offensive speech. While a majority of millennials still believe that the government should protect speech offensive to minorities, a whopping 40 percent believe the government should restrict such speech.

"If you say 'You're less of a person because you're Muslim/Jewish/Christian/Catholic... that's not okay. That's a hate crime," one student told us.

Another student argued that the government should curtail the speech of Donald Trump, while a protest organizer told us that free speech is a rhetorical device used by the priveleged against the oppressed.

Watch the full video above, or scroll down for downloadable versions. Approximately 8:30. Produced by Zach Weissmueller. Shot by Lexy Garcia. Additional post-production by Josh Swain. Music by Anitek, Redmann, and Doron Deutsch.

Subscribe to Reason TV's YouTube channel for daily content like this.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Sevo||

    "If you say 'You're less of a person because you're Muslim/Jewish/Christian/Catholic... that's not okay. That's a hate crime," one student told us."

    'Whadaya in for, man?'
    'I called some guy a papist; got 5 years....'

  • ||

    *Moves away from Sevo on the bench.*

  • JPyrate||

  • Mickey Rat||

    So they'll have to kick out any British monarchists, then?

  • DevilDocNowCiv||

    Sevo,

    We see the slide from the civil war letters from middle class to very poor on both sides who wrote home, and if you look at them the writing is as good or better in many than in our colleges today. The founders noted that if we dont have a well educated populace, we won't retain a free republic. This poll shows that to be true.

  • Lorenzo Zoil||

    "Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership."

    If I'm reading this rights it states that any such microagression against an adult (non-elderly) white male is permitted?

  • Brian||

    When I read a definition like that, I think:

    These people have gotten burned before. So, now they're making sure their definitions leave nothing to chance. See? It includes verbal and nonverbal! That's everything! It only effects marginalized groups! You can't micro-aggress against a white person!

    That's how we spell victory, people: Just bake it into the definitions from the get go, so there can be no argument.

  • Harun||

    Essentially they want a role reversal from the bad old days, except they get to have the special privileges now.

  • njolsson||

    Essentially they are Sneetches.

  • MarkLastname||

    Pretty much sums up identity politics.

  • ||

    When I read a definition like that, I think:

    Actually, with the vague and encompassing definitions of action, combined with the fine-grained defining of classes and character attributes, I think 'Fantasy Gaming'.

    Being a member of the privileged class that learns to wield microaggressions as both a passive pressure to suppress other characters as well as an active spells like hardened air would be totally bitchin'.

    Oppressed classes, while unable to wield microaggressions directly, can, with the aid of members of the privileged classes, can use microaggressions defensively to redirect such spells and annihilate their oppressors. Well-timed counter attacks like this carry an additional effect of erasing the target from history back to some point in history loosely based on the power of the (micro)aggression as well as the wielding/invoking parties.

  • Kevin Sorbos Manful Locks||

    I'm pretty sure you have to take the feat Patriarchy as a prerequesite to Microagression.

  • block30||

    Yes, from I've been reading, campuses are trying to word their microagression language such that microagressions cannot be "inflicted" on white people, particularly white men. Though (as was pointed out by someone else) hopefully it will be the juggling of all these oppressed groups of who can and cannot verbally harm whom, that the whole charade comes crashing down.

    I'm thinking the arbiters of who is and who is not "empowered"---it is THEY who are the empowered group.

    All this crap bodes extremely poorly for this country. I've donated to The FIRE...now to donate to Reason.

  • Lorenzo Zoil||

    So "equality" only applies as it is measured against revenge.

  • Harun||

    Now expect pushback against 23&me; as white people start getting tested to have evidence they are actually a minority. (Heard on the radio about a couple who found out they had a significant chunk of mongol ancestry...when the bank asked them the diversity questions, they could legit say "we're Mongolian ancestry.")

  • dan'o en barrel||

    Nope. The definition had the qualifier of targeting someone based on their membership in a marginalized group. "Fuck your white tears" is perfectly acceptable so long as its said to a cis-hetero male.

  • MarkLastname||

    So in other words, the rule only permits the marginalization of un-marginalized groups.

    Are we sure this isn't just a convoluted way to teach students Russell's Paradaox?

  • bvandyke||

    "Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership."

    Fucking losers can't take a joke!

  • The Grinch||

    If this wasn't cherry picked we're in deep shizzle. These idiots are the future of this nation.

  • to_each_his_own||

    ^^ Yes, these idiots are the future. WE ARE F**KED. (oops, was that a collective microaggression?)

  • Chocolate Starfish ( . )||

    Yes, "WE" is definitely a marginalized group.

  • block30||

    And the proggies win again; http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015.....tcmp=hpbt3

  • Lorenzo Zoil||

    The victims here are also progressives, with this limitation on speech discussion they're eating their own. Non-progessives could really give a fuck and certainly wouldn't resign or lose sleep over it.

  • Res ipsa loquitur||

    yup, no sympathy for the victims.

  • MarkLastname||

    Meh, I bet a conservative or a libertarian professor would get a lot more shit than these two got. I mean, if this is what happens to a lefty professor who refuses to police halloween costumes, how do you imagined these brainless fucks react when they hear a professor seriously express a non-leftist (i.e., sensible) political opinion? Students now know they can literally form an angry mob and run any professor they don't like, no matter how stupid the reason, off campus.

    Which means the institutions responsible for shaping the minds of almost half the kids in the country are becoming devoid of any real intellectual heterogeneity. Today, people like this have a near monopoly on education; tomorrow, it'll be a near monopoly on public opinion and therefore power. Bodes ill for all of us.

  • Sevo||

    Di Fi 'backs' free speech!

    " Sen. Dianne Feinstein is planning to reintroduce legislation that would require social media companies to report what they think is terrorist activism to law enforcement.
    “We are at a different stage now,” the California Democrat said. “I’m all for freedom of speech, but...."
    Stop right there; she opposes free speech.

    http://www.sfchronicle.com/bus.....ate-result

  • jmg09||

    "I'm all for free speech, except when I disagree with it!"

    Terrifying video.

  • Chocolate Starfish ( . )||

    hil-fucking-larius

  • Eye8apie||

    Anytime you here, I'm for freedom of speech, but....... You know it's good.

  • Eye8apie||

    I ment not good.

  • Lorenzo Zoil||

    Sticks and stone can break my bones but words,... OH FUCK are words suuuppppeeer dangerous.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Well, yes.

    Otherwise Socrates wouldn't have been sentenced to death, Galileo wouldn't have been imprisoned for life, Darwin wouldn't have been hounded, there would have been no Scopes trial, Marth Luther King Jr. wouldn't have been assassinated, the modern American home school movement wouldn't exist, and pro-life protestors wouldn't shout at women going into Planned Parenthood clinics.

    Disagree all you like about the relative power of "micro aggressions", but don't categorically dismiss the power of words. You do so at your own peril.

  • Sevo||

    "Disagree all you like about the relative power of "micro aggressions", but don't categorically dismiss the power of words. You do so at your own peril."

    Bull
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    shit.

  • Lorenzo Zoil||

    I'm going to challenge you to demonstrate how;

    1. Socrates' words speech any harm.
    2. Galileo's words speech any harm.
    3. Darwin's words speech did any harm.
    etc.

    You have conflated the responses by those who's comfort zones were challenged by the speech of an individual, and their irrational reactions with the speech itself causing harm. The only thing there that is vaguely close to causing harm are the abortion protesters, and even that isn't actually harming anyone unless threats are included.

    Yes, words are powerful. But they are not damaging without the sticks or stones.

    Now, as it relates to so called micro aggression, that isn't even the speech of others. That is the insecurities within an individual being projected upon another and being claimed as a form of assault. It's absurd.

  • daniwitz13||

    Free speech should be totally free. Say what one wants. One has the Right to say it and one has the Right to ignore whatever is said. Each have their Rights. One has a Right to be a Racist if one wants, a Right is a Right. Like the Westboro Baptist Church, as obnoxious as they may appear, they have a Right to be so. Not that one will be accepted in Society for being nasty, One does not have to like that Person, but it is a Right to make oneself a pariah if one wants, it is one's freedom. If one wants to use the word "wetbacks" to communicate, the "N" or any alphabet word, it is their free speech Right. Because it is not an acceptable behavior, one may find themselves avoided, not welcome, ostracized, etc. this is the chance they take to exercise their Right of free speech in that direction. To curtail someone for something you don't like, is curtailing their free speech. You are telling him what you don't like and he must only say only what you want. This is not freedom nor free speech. Pity

  • EscherEnigma||

    So which is it... it it acceptable to ostracize someone for being abhorrent, or is that "curtailing their free speech"?

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    If these halfwits are representative of this generation society will come to halt when they comprise the bulk of the workforce. They will be unable to cope with life and will remain at home in their parent's basement curled up in the fetal position clutching their favorite stuffed animal.

  • MarkLastname||

    I'm more worried about the ones who will beat us with truncheons in the street for using the wrong gender pronoun to describe Bruce Jenner.

  • Lorenzo Zoil||

    Pointless attention whore?

  • Empress Trudy||

    Free speech implies things that are objectionable to someone by definition. Who would need to defend things 'everyone' agrees with and likes to hear?

  • Juice||

    Those 3 girls (not #4!) were super cute though.

  • Long Woodchippers||

    but #4 seemed to be the more reasonable one. The cute ones would all report me for looking at them the wrong way.

  • Svenster||

    So if I tell that last chick that I want to fuck her so hard it would be a hate crime, would that be a hate crime?

  • Long Woodchippers||

    A young lady I know recently posted on Twitter, "Fuck me like you hate me, kiss me like you miss me"

  • ||

    What the hell is an environmental microaggression?

    Wait. Don't answer that. I don't want to know.

    *My spell check doesn't like the word microaggression, maybe because it isnt a real word. It changes it to micro aggression.

  • bvandyke||

    "What the hell is an environmental microaggression/"

    Well.......I think that would be when I piss on one of the microagressed because that is all the are good for.

  • Chip Chipperson||

    The only way that video could have been redeemed would have been if you beat each of those idiots to death with the microphone at the end.

  • Alan@.4||

    It would so seem, especially for anyone other than themselves.

  • oldnick||

    Just making a list of words to avoid when on campus or any meeting attended by someone under 25(+/-5).
    The word "ability" might be hurtful to someone with none. Then there all the similar words to be avoided - Competent, Genius, Skillful, Expert, Adept.
    Perhaps this all a smoke screen by those with average resumes trying to minimize the impact of those who achieved something.

  • Propaganda Czar||

    As a Millennial this shit makes me sad to be included in this group, but then again I am the progressive anti-christ: A straight, white, male, libertarian, veteran, business student. If only I majored in Finance my image would be complete!

    But kids change as they grow up. When life hands them social security cuts and the other fiscal realities, opinions will change. And I think a lot of Millennials say what they need to. No one wants to be labelled a racist. A vocal minority can rule the thoughtspace through fear.

    Sure the trend is downward, no 'Libertarian moment', but this is simply the next step on the long march towards the collapse of liberty. Is their any living generation that is net pro-liberty? We've been on this road for a long time and there is plenty of blame to go around.

  • EscherEnigma||

    I don't know a single millennial who thinks Social Security will still be there by the time we're in our sixties†, so I'm not sure why you think social security cuts are going to matter to any millennials. We know they're coming, and that they'll keep coming until they're gone.
    ________
    †Not "by the time we retire", mind you. I also don't know any millennials that have illusions of retiring.

  • Propaganda Czar||

    As a Millennial this shit makes me sad to be included in this group, but then again I am the progressive anti-christ: A straight, white, male, libertarian, veteran, business student. If only I majored in Finance my image would be complete!

    But kids change as they grow up. When life hands them social security cuts and the other fiscal realities, opinions will change. And I think a lot of Millennials say what they need to. No one wants to be labelled a racist. A vocal minority can rule the thoughtspace through fear.

    Sure the trend is downward, no 'Libertarian moment', but this is simply the next step on the long march towards the collapse of liberty. Is their any living generation that is net pro-liberty? We've been on this road for a long time and there is plenty of blame to go around.

  • Propaganda Czar||

    As a Millennial this shit makes me sad to be included in this group, but then again I am the progressive anti-christ: A straight, white, male, libertarian, veteran, business student. If only I majored in Finance my image would be complete!

    But kids change as they grow up. When life hands them social security cuts and the other fiscal realities, opinions will change. And I think a lot of Millennials say what they need to. No one wants to be labelled a racist. A vocal minority can rule the thoughtspace through fear.

    Sure the trend is downward, no 'Libertarian moment', but this is simply the next step on the long march towards the collapse of liberty. Is their any living generation that is net pro-liberty? We've been on this road for a long time and there is plenty of blame to go around.

  • Propaganda Czar||

    Damn squirelz!

  • bvandyke||

    @Propaganda Czar

    You think your point got across?

  • Rockabilly||

    I think that white guy at the end had to think hard whether saying 'God bless you,' was a micro aggression because his friends hassled him in the past for singing the song White Christmas, which is a racist song.

  • Rockabilly||

    'Zoolander 2′ shredded for Benedict Cumberbatch’s ‘cartoonish’ androgynous model

    The world of “Zoolander” — which features the madcap adventures of less-than-ingenious male models played by Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson — doesn’t seem suited to a gender politics dust-up. Yet that is what a new sequel to the 2001 film is faced with after a preview included a scene with an androgynous model played by Benedict Cumberbatch.

    “Are you, like, a male model or a female model?” the clueless Zoolander, played by Stiller, asks Cumberbatch’s character, a model named “All.”

    “All is All,” Cumberbatch replies.

    “I think he’s asking — do you have a hot dog or a bun?” says Hansel, played by Wilson.

    While this may have been humorous when the original “Zoolander” was released 14 years ago, it wasn’t a joke for the age of Caitlyn Jenner.

    “Cumberbatch’s character is clearly portrayed as an over-the-top, cartoonish mockery of androgyne/trans/non-binary individuals,” an online petition calling for a boycott of the film reads. “This is the modern equivalent of using blackface to represent a minority.”

  • Long Woodchippers||

    So will they have to take Pat off of SNL?

  • l4k||

    I see the brainwashing has been successful with that one. I see Haarika is majoring in Critical Studies and Social Justice. Too bad. She could have been a productive member of society if only she had chosen better. Good luck with that barista job.

  • Win Bear||

    Another student argued that the government should curtail the speech of Donald Trump, while a protest organizer told us that free speech is a rhetorical device used by the priveleged against the oppressed.

    He should see how the privileged can oppress people using speech regulations: lock him up for anti-American speech!

  • EscherEnigma||

    Occidental is a private school.

    So frankly, I don't give a damn what they do. Part of the privilege of being a private school is being a total dick to your students.

  • Nick W B||

    Ah, college students. Young, hopeful, eager to learn. They heard some fancy sounding sentence like "microaggressions enable the white privilege industrial complex" and think they can parrot it (but maybe replace a few words) and make it sound like they are making an equally intelligent but original statement.
    Don't worry, they will grow up. Either that or have a successful career in Human Resources coming up with plans to "synergize agile behaviors of a team centric work environment" which will be ignored even more than what they are saying now.

  • Jamespaul1||

    I disagree with Donald Trump, but the idea that microagrressions are akin to hate crimes and should be punished is totalitarian. If these ideas are not confronted they will continue to bring them with them into practice in the workforce and American society in general.

  • Douglas Nusbaum||

    What kind of "microaggression" / "hate speech" is this: During the robbery the nigger shot me? This is not a hypothetical since I was actually show tduring the hold up :-)

    I am currently in business with an actual person of African American ancestry. Am I a racist?

    I do have aspergers, and I can tell you with certainty, no "minority" has had to deal with micro aggressions that come close to what those with aspergers deal with since we reside in the uncanny valley.

    And on a more important note: Look here to find what the real source and possible solution is to almost all of the problems that blacks have. Hint, it is not descrimination per se, since immigrants from Africa to not have nearly the problems that native born blacks have. http://www.dnusbaum.com/LeadBlack.html

    I also direct microaggressions against stupid people. But as this article of mine (first on almost every search engine for 6 years --- search for orwells boot) shows, that is how evolution works. http://factotum666.livejournal.com/829.html

  • Lorenzo Valla||

    Plato wept.

  • JaysonP||

    There was a more substantial report about a psychologist who investigated freedom of speech at a high school in Northern California, I think limited to seniors.

    He found that nearly everyone said they believed in free speech, but when questioned in small groups, women and minorities said they had an environment of free speech, while nearly every white male said there was no such environment.

    The concept among liberally minded young people has morphed from the ideal of everyone can say whatever they like, to everyone can say whatever the liberally minded like, and everyone else is to be silenced.

  • The Independent Whig||

    If conservative students use this system to report every micraggression against them they'll never have any time for schoolwork.

  • Joe_C||

    I feel the word microaggression is derogatory to those in my marginalized group that finds anyone who uses that word to be an idiot.

    Seriously, this video is scarier than terrorism (not that that really expresses how scary it is).

  • Eman||

    yuck. surprisingly college students continue to be retards!

Click here to follow Reason on Instagram

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online