"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Thursday, November 29, 2012

We Have Become a Silly People

Victor Davis Hanson and Michael Barone have terrific articles up on NRO about two areas in which we have become a silly people.  

Hanson writes about the "t-ball" mentality of attitudes in the West toward the war between Israel and Hamas:
In terms of the Middle East, contemporary T-ball war works out like this: A far weaker Gaza sends a shower of missiles into Israel, hiding its launchers among civilians to ensure collateral damage and favorable propaganda during Israeli retaliation.

Israel, with its technological savvy, knocks down most of the incoming rockets, but then responds by killing far more Palestinians in Gaza than it lost inside Israel. That is considered unsportsmanlike play. In a fair T-ball fight, Israel should have stopped the war when the losses were equal and not tried to run up the score.
We didn't think this way when we were raining bombs on Berlin or Dresden or Tokyo or Hiroshima.   War was about winning because our side represented the good and the other side represented evil.

Meanwhile, Barone savages the idiocy of contemporary colleges:
Those who graduated from college before the late 1980s may not realize that speech codes have become, in Lukianoff’s words, “the rule rather than the exception” on American campuses.

They are typically vague and all-encompassing. One school prohibits “actions or attitudes that threaten the welfare” of others. Another bans e-mails that “harass, annoy or otherwise inconvenience others.” Others ban “insensitive” communication, “inappropriate jokes,” and “patronizing remarks.”

“Speech codes can only survive,” Lukianoff writes, “through selective enforcement.” Conservatives and religious students are typically targeted. But so are critics of administrators, like the student expelled for a Facebook posting critical of a proposed $30 million parking garage.

Students get the message: Keep your mouth shut. An Association of American Colleges and Universities survey of 24,000 students found that only 40 percent of freshmen thought it was “safe to hold unpopular views on campus.” An even lower 30 percent of seniors agreed.

So institutions that once prided themselves as arenas for the free exchange of ideas — and still advertise themselves as such — have become the least free part of our society.
The highlighted sentence is scandalous.   Every college President who doesn't immediately take action to make sure that it is "safe to hold unpopular views" on his or her campus needs to be fired.   Alternatively, isn't there an enterprising lawyer out there who might want to bring a class action against universities on behalf of conservative students on the basis that the universities have created a hostile learning environment that threatens their civil rights, including their right to free expression of political beliefs?   There's a lot of money in college education at stake... just the type of fat cows that plaintiffs' lawyers typically target.   And the discovery process would be highly instructive methinks.   

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