If colleges can’t educate students about core American values and principles like freedom of speech, what good are they? It’s worse than that, though. They appear to be teaching the opposite of those values, corrupting our upcoming generations and through them, poisoning our society.
Author Suzanne Venker, a conservative social critic who has called herself an anti-feminist, was scheduled to give a lecture at Williams College as part of a student-created “Uncomfortable Learning” series, but the group cancelled her appearance when students complained that her ideas would make them uncomfortable. The leader of the student group that created the series, Zach Wood, was subjected to protests like this:
“When you bring a misogynistic, white supremacist men’s rights activist to campus in the name of ‘dialogue’ and ‘the other side,’ you are not only causing actual mental, social, psychological, and physical harm to students, but you are also—paying—for the continued dispersal of violent ideologies that kill our black and brown (trans) femme sisters. You are giving those who spout violence the money that so desperately needs to be funneled to black and brown (trans) femme communities, to people who are leading the revolution, who are surviving in the streets, who are dying in the streets. Know, you are dipping your hands in their blood, Zach Wood.”
Physical harm! Hearing her speak would actually injure them!
Opined the student newspaper:
While free speech is important and there are problems with deeming speech unacceptable, students must not be unduly exposed to harmful stereotypes in order to live and learn here without suffering emotional injury. It is possible that some speech is too harmful to invite to campus. The College should be a safe space for students, a place where people respect others’ identities. Venker’s appearance would have been an invasion of that space.
Gee, I thought “safe” on campus today meant “safe from sexual relations that you decide after the fact were a bad idea, and that magically become rape after the fact.” My mistake. Apparently it means “Having one’s world view challenged.” Wood capitulated to the mob, demonstrating that Williams had failed to teach him and his group members integrity, the importance of keeping commitments, not to be weenies and to be willing to fight for what’s right, even when it is unpopular.Said Venker, who had already spent a lot of time crafting a provocative and thoughtful speech,
“It’s not a small thing to cancel people last minute. You don’t come up with a speech in an hour…This whole push for silencing dissent… it undermines the entire purpose of college. It makes a huge statement about your position. If you can’t even handle hearing another position, obviously you’re not comfortable with your own.”
This, of course, depends on what one thinks the purpose of college is. If students act like this and get away with it, I would argue that the purpose of college is, and has been for enough time to thoroughly warp both the educational culture and the culture of the US, is to indoctrinate upcoming generations with the biases, rigid leftist ideology and world view of faculty members, who are hostile to opposing views themselves.
After his decision was criticized by Reason among other critics, Wood changed his mind. His group re-invited Venker to Williams, and she, to her credit, told him that she had better things to do.
The good news is that Zach Wood has proven himself to have the ideal qualifications to be a typical college administrator.