by Alexander Lopez
Nicholas and Erika Christakis, a master and associate master at Yale’s Silliman College, respectively, composed an email the night before Halloween telling students, “If you don’t like a [Halloween] costume someone is wearing, look away, or tell them you’re offended.”
These students argued that their campus should be a ‘safe space’ away from harmful or offensive opinions of others. This led to a public debate between Christakis and student Jerelyn Luther about how schools should act against material that is seen as offensive.
Yale was forced to either please its students, as well as the majority of other students across the country, by either firing the Christakis, or defending their right to freedom of speech.
This case is the result of the developing politically correct (PC) culture in the United States that has continued since the 1990s; America has been more concerned with creating equality through eliminating stereotypes and seeing others as more than a skin color.
Leaders of the PC movement have taken to the Internet to showcase their frustrations. They have successfully set the standard of decency and common sense by setting the bar on what is considered rude and offensive, but have also unknowingly indoctrinated young children by exposing them to these viewpoints. This constant brainwashing has led to a new wave of an extreme and radical PC movement being directed by people who have yet to even finish college.
Contrary to how the original leaders were during the start of the movement, few of these new members actually progress the movement. Now a small, yet increasing niche of the movement is suggesting to impose extremely ridiculous laws and lifestyles such as monitoring our speech. Glady, we have not reached that point in society, but we have seen glimpses of what may come.
This movement has convinced college faculty and staff to change student policy regarding student expression throughout the nation by forbidding them from saying certain things or wearing anything that might ‘appropriate the culture.’
In fact, there are accounts of students being banned from class because they said, wore, or represented something offensive, even as a joke, much like with what happened at Dalhousie University, where two students majoring in orthodontics were expelled over posting a joke image on a private facebook page regarding chloroform.
The problem is not that others are offensive, it is that people are becoming too sensitive.
It is not a problem when you tell someone that you feel offended. By all means, it is perfectly acceptable. However, it becomes a problem when you start punishing them for hurting you. Having a student expelled for making a racist joke or having a teacher step down over what he or she thinks is right does not teach us how to appreciate other people; it teaches us to fear them, knowing that our future could be virtually over the minute someone states, “That’s racist,” or “That is unfair.” It teaches us that we are not in control over what we consider right or wrong; PC culture is in control.
The irony is that college campuses are meant to be an open minded and enlightening space, but the majority of the student body does not agree. By forcing schools to take action against anything offensive, they are obstructing the learning environment by eliminating other student’s points of view.
What people often forget is that with freedom of speech, comes the freedom to openly criticize people and ideas. More importantly, when restricting others opinions, we are restricting sociopolitical advancements because we are blocking the flow of opinions that were meant to change and transform society naturally. In what way does the control of the influx of ideas, negative or positive, appear academic? How are we to advance as a country if a portion of the population is shunned based on their beliefs?
According to Rasmussen Reports, a national telephone survey was conducted showing that about 79 percent of the country sees political correctness as a serious problem. President Barack Obama has even issued statements and warnings to universities and colleges all around the country, telling students, “I don’t agree that you, when you become students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of views.” Obama said. ”The way to [learn] is to create a space where a lot of ideas are presented and collide, and people are having arguments, and people are testing each other’s theories, and over time, people learn from each other.”
Students often forget the very reason they go to school, which is to learn. Learning comes with the risk of being introduced to ideas that are offensive and cruel, but not everyone has the same definition for what is ‘offensive.’ We should not encourage racism, homophobia or bigotry, but we should at least be decent enough to let them speak their minds and then argue with them later.
If it is in your best interest to change someone’s views, do so by telling them, explaining or even yelling at them about how what they are doing is wrong, after all, you have those same rights. The moment you force people to change beliefs, however, is the moment you cross the line.