Nothing makes me angrier these days than the thought of paying tens of thousands of dollars per year to a university full of entitled leftists looking to brainwash my children with politically correct claptrap about “hate speech.” Nowhere is this sort of attitude more blatantly on display than in this editorial at The Wellesley News:
Many members of our community, including students, alumnae and faculty, have criticized the Wellesley community for becoming an environment where free speech is not allowed or is a violated right. Many outside sources have painted us as a bunch of hot house flowers who cannot exist in the real world. However, we fundamentally disagree with that characterization, and we disagree with the idea that free speech is infringed upon at Wellesley. Rather, our Wellesley community will not stand for hate speech, and will call it out when possible.
Wellesley students are generally correct in their attempts to differentiate what is viable discourse from what is just hate speech. Wellesley is certainly not a place for racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, transphobia or any other type of discriminatory speech. Shutting down rhetoric that undermines the existence and rights of others is not a violation of free speech; it is hate speech. The founding fathers put free speech in the Constitution as a way to protect the disenfranchised and to protect individual citizens from the power of the government. The spirit of free speech is to protect the suppressed, not to protect a free-for-all where anything is acceptable, no matter how hateful and damaging.
This being said, the tone surrounding the current discourse is becoming increasingly hostile. Wellesley College is an institution whose aim is to educate. Students who come to Wellesley hail from a variety of diverse backgrounds. With this diversity comes previously-held biases that are in part the products of home environments. Wellesley forces us to both recognize and grow from these beliefs, as is the mark of a good college education. However, as students, it is important to recognize that this process does not occur without bumps along the way. It is inevitable that there will be moments in this growth process where mistakes will happen and controversial statements will be said. However, we argue that these questionable claims should be mitigated by education as opposed to personal attacks.
We have all said problematic claims, the origins of which were ingrained in us by our discriminatory and biased society. Luckily, most of us have been taught by our peers and mentors at Wellesley in a productive way. It is vital that we encourage people to correct and learn from their mistakes rather than berate them for a lack of education they could not control. While it is expected that these lessons will be difficult and often personal, holding difficult conversations for the sake of educating is very different from shaming on the basis of ignorance.
First of all, this piece rates about a C minus on the basis of its writing alone. “We have all said problematic claims” is a phrase that would get a strikethrough from my red pen. I’d tell the authors to reword that sentence so it doesn’t sound like a slow seventh-grader wrote it. And I don’t think the authors understand what they are saying when they write: “Shutting down rhetoric that undermines the existence and rights of others is not a violation of free speech; it is hate speech.” Do they mean to say that shutting down speech is hate speech? I think they meant to say: “Rhetoric that undermines the existence and rights of others is not free speech; it is hate speech.” That would still be a nonsensical statement, but at least it would convey the message the authors intended to convey — even if that message is a vapid parroting of leftist cant.
Also — and now I’m getting really picky, but I can’t help myself — it’s “hothouse flowers” and not “hot house flowers.” A “hot house” is a house that is hot. A “hothouse” is a greenhouse — which is not the same thing as a green house, which is a house that is green. Another stroke of the red pen! Or take this monstrosity of a sentence: “The emotional labor required to educate people is immense and is additional weight that is put on those who are already forced to defend their human rights.” Bleccch! How does someone who writes this badly get into college, much less become a college newspaper editor?!
I could go on, but you get the point. Everyone expects students to emerge from these institutions as brainwashed P.C. robots. Is it too much to ask that they at least learn some basic writing skills?
But I would award an F to the authors of this diatribe on the basis of content. The founding generation did not intend to prohibit speech that is “hateful and damaging” when it ratified the Bill of Rights. In addition to writing instruction, these students need some remedial civics and history classes.
But the rhetoric isn’t just wrongheaded — it is, at times, positively menacing:
This being said, if people are given the resources to learn and either continue to speak hate speech or refuse to adapt their beliefs, then hostility may be warranted. If people continue to support racist politicians or pay for speakers that prop up speech that will lead to the harm of others, then it is critical to take the appropriate measures to hold them accountable for their actions.
Conform or be cast out.
It’s not enough to respond to speech with speech, you see. You must “adapt” your “beliefs” or “hostility may be warranted.” If you bring speakers to campus whom we don’t like, we will have to “hold you accountable” — whatever that means (and it sure sounds like punishment of some sort, doesn’t it?).
Gee, this editorial is starting to sound “hateful and damaging,” isn’t it? And in a very real way, with the violence we have seen at Berkeley and Middlebury College, the sort of attitudes on display in this ignorant editorial are more “problematic” (to use the editors’ laughable and repeatedly used term) than anything Charles Murray ever said. Sentiments like this tend to lead to the throwing of Molotov cocktails. They result in professors wearing neck braces.
Why, viewed in the correct light, the sentiments expressed in this editorial are positively hateful!
Maybe The Wellesley News needs to be shuttered, and its editors brought up on vague disciplinary charges for their hate speech. In the name of free speech.
It’s what the founding fathers would have wanted, don’t you think?