Archive for the ‘Free Speech’ category

Intolerance and Petulance on Campus

April 7, 2007

One of the great misnomers is the idea that free speech is embraced and welcomed at some of our nation’s largest and most prestigious universities. From “speech codes” to out and out attempts to silence the views of those not considered enlightened by today’s intelligentsia, campuses have become a hovel for petulent, impertinent adolscents who desperately need guidance from grown-ups. Unfortuantely, those masquerading around on campus these days as the grown-ups only instill such behavior.

Our campuses after all are now run by the same people who were the radicals from the 1960s but the difference from them and most of the people who grew up in that tumultuous era is that they never really got out into the real world. These people stayed in their cloistered little world of academia, apparently oblivious to the real world surrounding them. They see every little temper tantrum from today’s students as a throwback to their era. 

This has never been more evident than in the brouhaha that transpired at Columbia University this past October when an unruly mob stormed a stage and successfully shut down a speech by Minuteman Project founder Jim Gilchrist who was invited by Columbia’s chapter of the College Republicans, an officially recognzied campus organization. Gilchrist was there to speak on the hot-button topic of illegal immigration and his views did not set well with the various and sundry group of radical student groups who apparently feel that it is more important to shut down the opposition than to engage in meaningful discourse. Or maybe they are simply incapable of such discourse. But should not we expect more of students at an Ivy League school like Columbia?

Just 45 seconds into his presentation, Gilchrist was confronted onstage by several members of this angry mob which proceeded to destroy the lectern, trash the stage and hoist a banner reading “Minutemen, Nazis, KKK, Racists, Facists Go Away.” Several people rush the stage, fistfights ensue and according to one report a female student is kicked in the head.  Security appears, the curtain goes down and the melee appears to be over, but not quite.

Outside, a student who had the audacity to be a supporter of the Minutemen, is encricled by the mob, shouting “racist go home,” before security again arrives on the scene to break things up. The mob though is clearly pleased with itself, chanting, according to another report, ” Asian, Black, Brown and White, we smashed the Minutemen tonight!” Intolerant diversity in action. Such a moment of pride.

Nearly six months after this incident, Columbia finally decided to issue so-called “punishment” to the ringleaders. Befitting a University that has seen its prestige level crash and burn under the leadership of Lee Bollinger, the school issued the lightest punishment possible, almost the equivalent of the now infamous “double secret probation” punishment issued by Dean Wormer at Faber College.

The once credible school initially gave only “warnings to three students” which is the lowest level of discipline as such a “warning” only means that it will be noted on students’ transcripts and that any “future violations will be treated more seriously.” Only after this information became public, these students’ punishment was “upgraded” to censure which means that if the student gets a second warning, they will be suspended.

One of the organizers of the chaos that ensued that October night recognized it for what it was “a light punishment.” Monique Dols called it a “slap on the wrist. It’s a victory for free speech and anti-racism.” Another student, Andrew Tillett-Saks, was determined to have engaged in “conduct that places another in danger of bodily harm.” Some places would consider that to be assault. But on the glorious ivy league campus of Columbia, it’s all perspective. After all, that other person was just a racist, anti-immigrant neanderthal. No need to get worked up over those types!

Anybody who was ever young knows how convinced they were at that age that they were right and nothing could convince one otherwise. These young people on campus are being ill-served by the very people who are supposed to be the ones shaping our future leaders. Without guidance, direction and backbone, our campuses have become home to the kind of behavior most would consider intolerable at a day care center.

Advertisements