Op-Ed

Sometimes, political correctness goes too far

Student protester leads rally of like-minded students on the campus of the University of Missouri in Columbia last week.
Student protester leads rally of like-minded students on the campus of the University of Missouri in Columbia last week. AP

It seems that college students today, judging from two very different campuses, have a heightened sense of grievance. They’ve been coddled by parents who themselves were ruined by a nascent philosophy of permissiveness.

It used to be that going to college was a chance to spread your wings and experiment with identity, with different value systems, with exotic experiences and with all of the things that help expand the mind. For most people, college was an opportunity to push the envelope.

Nowadays, however, kids are more interested in finding something to be offended about than actually growing up. We hear about “trigger warnings,” which are the passive-aggressive threats to free speech and which hide philosophical fascism in progressive clothing. Some of those triggers are words that might cause a girl who’s questioning her identity (and which bathroom she belongs in) to feel uncomfortable. It’s a very subjective standard and gives the benefit of the doubt to the overly sensitive darlings who went from pampered womb to pampered home to pampered dorm.

Which brings us to Yale. Last month, as Halloween approached, the administration sent out an email warning students not to dress in racially, culturally, and whatever-ly offensive costumes. For example, dressing as Pocahontas was a no-no because God forbid some random kid who’d been frightened by a Washington Redskins pennant might get his loincloth in a knot. Similarly, you would not be able to use blackface, or I suppose white face if you were going to be a mime, and forget about pulling out the mariachis.

Thinking that this was a bit over the top, a Yale faculty member wrote an altogether reasonable email rebuttal to the administration’s edict, and the portal of Hell opened. Erika Christakis was stalked, slandered and threatened with dismissal when she had the audacity to suggest that students were mature enough to be a little, as she put it “obnoxious . . . inappropriate, provocative or yes, offensive.” The nation soon found out that Yale only admits high-strung, histrionic drama queens who say things like, “To ask marginalized students to throw away their enjoyment of a holiday, in order to expend emotional, mental, and physical energy to explain why something is offensive, is — offensive.”

I really thought that was a punch line to a bad joke.

Yale is supposed to be an elite college, where only the brightest minds are allowed to roam. But it seems they’ve sacrificed their pedigree to accommodate some really hypersensitive minorities who take offense to anything that doesn’t come in a nice innocuous package.

Instead of teaching them how to deal with the real world, the administration at Yale is patting them on the head.

At Missouri, the perceived problem was the same, although the response was less whiny and more of the show trial variety. Some students complained of “systemic racism” on campus, although they could only point to isolated incidents of the n-word being shouted at random coeds and a swastika painted in feces at a dorm. Not satisfied with the administration’s response to their complaints, one fellow went on a hunger strike, and the football team threatened to boycott their unimpressive season.

And the rest is history. President Tim Wolfe resigns, the chancellor resigns, mobs of students act like Bolsheviks rejoicing that the Romanovs have been deposed, and a journalism professor rallies her crew to muzzle . . . a journalist.

Some say that this is a shining moment, one in which oppressed students took their lives into their own hands and fought back against the evil white patriarchy.

But as the daughter of a man who braved the KKK in 1967 when he went down to Mississippi to register voters, the real evil is authoritarian political correctness, and it’s much scarier than any Halloween costume could ever be.

Christine M. Flowers is a lawyer and columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News.

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