Political Correctness is About to Get Even Worse on College Campuses
June 12, 2013
George Carlin – the greatest American prizefighter of comedy – lampooned the idiocy of censorship in his routine, “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.” The targets of his joke were conservatives who opposed cultural freedom with warnings of moral decadence.
Near the end of his life – older, but no less a rebellious and hilarious provocateur – Carlin issued his own warning about the biggest threat to free speech: “It’s left-wing paternalism. Years ago, we all got to expect that censorship would come from the right wing, but to expect it from the left wing – from the politically correct people on the campuses – that caught me by surprise.”
The virus of political correctness germinated in the 1980s, and now infects all aspects of American life, creating a culture of fear. When there are so many people who seemingly live for outrage, and the boundaries keep encroaching deeper into political commentary, cultural analysis, and entertainment, no one can predict what will earn the reputation-destroying label of “sexist,” “racist” or “homophobic.”
The California State Assembly wasted time to condemn comedian Seth McFarlane for a silly, but harmless song in which he identified actresses in the audience at the Academy Awards by naming the movies that contain their nude scenes. Most absurdly, President Obama received a harsh slap down, and eventually apologized, for calling the Attorney General of California “good looking.”
The restrictive speech codes of college campuses that infuriated Carlin are about to worsen by farcical proportions. It will soon become borderline criminal to attempt flirtation with a woman or even compliment her clothing.
The U.S. Justice Department recently sent a memo to all colleges that receive federal funding detailing the new policy for prevention and punishment of sexual harassment.
“Offensive” speech is now determined solely by the complainant, meaning that a committee cannot use reason, community standards, and adjudication to make a ruling on sexual harassment. The complainant has all power. If she claims that an elderly man greeting her with the statement, “I like those shoes,” degraded and objectified her, she wins.
Universities are now required to suspend the accused before holding a hearing on the grievance or even asking the accused for his side of the story. The new rules give advantage to anyone unscrupulous enough to slander a coworker because of personal animosity or professional ambition to eliminate competition for a promotion.
For a preview of how universities will enforce the federally mandated tyranny consider the case of a University of Nebraska graduate student who faced suspension for keeping a photograph of his wife in a bikini on his desk.
Another example illustrative of the imbecilic contempt the politically correct have for freedom was the dispute involving a janitor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. The school employee nearly lost his job after coworkers complained about him reading a book that made reference to the Ku Klux Klan on the cover. The book in question – “Notre Dame Versus The Klan” – is anti-racist. It celebrates the efforts of Notre Dame to keep the KKK out of South Bend. After the ACLU came to the janitor’s defense, college administrators decided that he was not “trying to disrupt the environment.”
Higher educational institutions should function as fertilizers for the free exchange of ideas. Instead they are transforming into bloodless and boring breeding grounds for sensitivity captains who think the world’s biggest problems are flirtatious comments, jokes about cleavage, and books with pictures of scary people on the cover, and it is all done in the name of liberalism by the same people who once laughed while Carlin mocked the squares.
The hippies who danced in the mud, made love, and played air guitar with Hendrix at Woodstock have become America’s scolds, and are teaching college students to practice intolerance under the justification of preaching “tolerance.”
With each victory, the politically correct contribute to the metamorphosis of American culture into a social machine of boredom. The dull conformity and repressive regulations that characterize college campuses must suffocate the joy, wit, and energy of students and faculty with independent minds, active imaginations, and appreciation for the pleasure of free conversation. Robust conversation, especially when flavored with the subtle spice of flirtation, is one of the great gifts of life.
Reasonable people can discern the difference between conversation and harassment, but reason no longer presides over American culture. It is in a stranglehold of outrage zealots, professional complainers, and postmodern prudes who have tissue paper skin.
Pulitzer Prize winning playwright David Mamet writes that “liberals proceed, from day to day, in a sort of sad, wistful fury at all things of life not recognized in their cosmogony.”
Americans mapping a different trip toward a social environment of sexual chemistry, laughter, and fun might want to start moving fast and speaking loudly, because before too long, all bridges will have armies manning the gates.