Tuesday, 10 November 2015
Students. Still revolting after all these years
The butt hurt is strong on US campuses as the University of Missouri System president buckles to minority offence-seeking and calls it a day. Hunger strikes, for fuck’s sake? Really? Whatever happened to burning bras and walking around with misspelled placards and chanting scansion-free slogans? University used to represent centres of not just book-learning, but of real expansion of the mind; an opening up to the possibilities, not a closing down of choice.
Civilisation owes much to the university system. The glorious and occasionally clashing coalescences of art and engineering, humanities and cold, hard science has always been a tool for refinement, invention, thought and progress. But now there are dark clouds gathering and far from the liberating young minds universities are closing them down. No less a commentator than Roger Scruton has denounced US campuses for their illiberal, rule-heavy adherence to the new dogma – and it is increasingly happening here. Is there no offence so slight as to let it go un-marched against? Surely freedom of thought and speech – freedom itself - is far more important than the new prize, freedom from offence?
In the 70s we laughed at the more extreme demands of the various special interest groups; the Women’s Society, the various political oddities, the obscure ‘Free the Whatever’ clubs, the fanciful Nazi hunters and dismissed them all as free to hold their views but thankful their numbers were so small. Now adherence to every offence-seeking principle appears to be almost compulsory and without a hint of wry recognition of how ludicrous it sounds, some demand ‘safe spaces’, retreats to soothe them should they be ‘triggered’, which far from denoting any actual harm, means no more than being exposed to views with which they disagree. Having their idiocy indulged by creating safe space? We used to call that going back home to mummy.
This ridiculous state of affairs can be traced all the way back to early school and the nurturing of special little soldiers for the social revolution which is stifling progress for so many. The privilege of attaining a university place used to mean a way up and out of poverty for many working class kids. But why struggle to get ahead when you can have a clap-happy primary school system hand you your very own, individual special needs label and lead the charge to denounce all who don’t hold your entirely natural juvenile viewpoint of being the centre of the universe? And there may be compensation involved. The infection is widespread and its roots are deep; we need an alternative.
End this misery!
We should seek to return education to those who need it, not those who exploit it for their own political ends. There are enough playground politicians out there without indulging that predilection from the outset. Oddly enough we used to turn out perfectly decent, non-spitting, non-violent, non-offence-orientated citizens when we just stuck to, you know, teaching subject matter and not inculcating ideology. Surely it’s time to just stop recognising and pandering to all those differences and get back to reality. Life’s hard, then you die; here endeth today’s lesson.