This is an important article from the Atlantic on how our attempts at censorship in the name of protecting students from hurt feelings is bad for them in just about every way. It is a longer piece, but worth the time if you can make it all the way through without gouging out your own eyes in disbelief and frustration. The article is full of examples about the insanity of the reigning version of political correctness.
I think it is a significant article because it is polite, but also coming from the more liberal side of the field. The author approaches the topic from the standpoint of counseling (specifically cognitive psychology) and so is in a good position to address the concerns behind all the trigger warnings (e.g. “you are going to make people relive trauma”).
As I waded through the examples in the article, I kept mumbling to myself in shock. Are we trapped in a Monty Python sketch? Yet, the big ideas resonate with me because I have seen some of this personally. I just didn’t realize this monster was growing so quickly.
“Attempts to shield students from words, ideas, and people that might cause them emotional discomfort are bad for the students. They are bad for the workplace, which will be mired in unending litigation if student expectations of safety are carried forward. And they are bad for American democracy, which is already paralyzed by worsening partisanship. When the ideas, values, and speech of the other side are seen not just as wrong but as willfully aggressive toward innocent victims, it is hard to imagine the kind of mutual respect, negotiation, and compromise that are needed to make politics a positive-sum game.
“Rather than trying to protect students from words and ideas that they will inevitably encounter, colleges should do all they can to equip students to thrive in a world full of words and ideas that they cannot control. One of the great truths taught by Buddhism (and Stoicism, Hinduism, and many other traditions) is that you can never achieve happiness by making the world conform to your desires. But you can master your desires and habits of thought.”
Here is an editorial from the LA Times expressing the opposite perspective. After reading the Atlantic piece, it seems pretty weak.