I don’t know if you guys have heard about this yet, but our culture is going bananas.
In March, a campus-wide email at Pitzer College in California instructed all white girls to remove their hoop earrings because they were cultural appropriation. In April, a British student union tried to ban clapping and cheering at its conferences over concerns that it was not inclusive to deaf people. (Note: A previous conference’s attendees had been instructed to use “jazz hands,” apparently unaware of how exclusive that might be to the blind.)
In October, a school district in Toronto announced that it would be banning the use of the word “chief” in job titles over concerns that the word could be interpreted as a microaggression against indigenous people — even though the word is not of indigenous origin and its original meaning had nothing to do with indigenous people. That same month, students at the University of California, Berkeley demanded that they be excused from an in-class exam because they didn’t have enough privilege to be emotionally equipped to handle it.
Oh, and it gets worse. As the list of things deemed unacceptable to say or do grows, we’re also seeing huge numbers of our country’s young adults not just disrespect, but actually misunderstand the First Amendment. In fact, a recent study found that a whopping 44 percent of United States college students believe that hate speech is not protected by the Constitution — no, not that it should not be protected, but that it is currently not protected — and the only thing that surprised me was that the number was not higher. After all, I’m constantly seeing stories like the one I wrote about in October, where a group of student protesters crashed a College Republicans’ meeting demanding it be shut down because “white supremacists” and “fascists” don’t have a “right of free speech,” and their very presence was making the library too “unsafe” for other people. It’s not just the students, either: In September, Princeton University’s Constitution Day lecture was titled “F%*# Free Speech,” and detailed how “the academy has never promoted free speech as a central value.”
— Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review Online.