Mizzou Madness Signals Maturity Crisis

Simon Pegg loves Star Wars, but hates the prequels. He’s expressed the sentiment before, but recently doubled-down in an interview with the New York Daily News. Pegg bluntly declared his disdain for the prequel films, using grand hyperbole which raised more than a few eyebrows.

Pegg’s rant served as a trigger for sensitive Star Wars fans, many of whom took to social media calling for Pegg’s exclusion from their beloved franchise. Indeed, a petition has emerged calling upon Lucasfilm to ban Pegg from future Star Wars projects:

With the petition we implore Star Wars fans, Kathleen Kennedy, Lucasfilm and Disney to say enough is enough. It’s okay to not like the prequels, but continual attacks on the man that created the franchise which we adore so much is NOT OKAY. And such a man, like Simon Pegg, doesn’t deserve a cameo in the Force Awakens. He deserves to be banned from any participation or visiting the sets of future Star Wars films. #standupforgeorge

The tone reminds us of far more serious incidents taking place at colleges and universities across the nation. Prominent incidents have occurred at Yale and the University of Missouri, and are spreading elsewhere, featuring a bizarre breed of cry-bully who has emerged to destroy anyone who offends him.

We did not get here overnight. The current trend has emerged from a steady regression of human reason, particularly in the Western academy. Somewhere along the line, the meaning of words was abandoned, facts were discounted, and feelings became the chief instrument of institutional policy.

The rhetoric surrounding these cultural complaints at places like Yale and Mizzou hinges upon notions of “hate” and “safety” which have nothing to do with the meanings of those words. The perversion of these terms lies at the heart of our social rot. If we can reclaim these words and start using them appropriately, we might have hope of turning society from the course set by current college dwellers.

Part of the problem is that none of these people, with scant few exceptions, have experienced actual hate or been truly unsafe. If they had, they would appreciate the difference between the real thing and what they’re citing.

Here’s a list of things perceived as “hate” which are in fact not:

  • Not being chosen
  • Not being affirmed
  • Encountering disagreement
  • Enduring criticism
  • Processing new ideas
  • Being reminded of something unpleasant
  • Being called a name, and perhaps most important of all…
  • Coexisting with people who think differently

For far too many modern Americans, any of the above proves an intolerable violation of their “safety.” This call for “safety” proves little more than a thuggish demand to be kept from any stimuli which might negatively impact their delicate constitutions.

Next: Civilization rests upon human maturity…

Human maturity is defined by the capacity to deal rationally with reality, to adjust to shifting circumstance and live productively without intruding upon others. Such is the object of parenthood. As a father, my job is to prepare my boys for the eventual moment beyond which they will be on their own. When that day comes, they must be capable of rationally defining and pursuing their happiness. Every lesson taught, every punishment dispensed, every correction made must resolve to that effect. If I prove successful, they will reach adulthood capable of facing disagreeable circumstances with dignity and a specific form of contentment.

You can be content even in disagreeable circumstances. You can be content even as you endure criticism, confront new ideas, and entertain people who vehemently disagree with you. Such contentment proceeds from confidence in your ideas and, where that lacks, confidence in your capacity to adjust to new information.

Children insist that they’re right, even when their claims prove plainly absurd. Children get angry and launch into tantrums when their feelings get hurt. Children demand that others be punished for offending them. Mature adults do not. Sane full-grown human beings with the capacity to rise cities and tame wilderness do not get tripped up on their feelings.

What’s happening at Yale and Mizzou deserves our complete and urgent attention. These are matters which signal whether we will continue as a civilization or descend into a modern dark age. That may seem like hyperbole, until you pause to examine what makes civilization possible.

The dividing line between a civilized society and an uncivilized one, between true safety and true danger, is a well established cultural understanding of individual rights. People need to know what their rights actually are. They must expect that those rights be upheld. And they must commit to respecting those same rights in others. Absent that sensibility among a vast majority of any given culture, it will descend into disorder and tyranny.

That’s a real fear in a context where the Mizzou police department put out an email urging students to report “hurtful speech.” We have raised up a generation of immature adults who are willing to back their emotional tantrums with force. Worse, we have public institutions which yield to or abate them. This is a recipe for disaster, and we’re watching it play out before our eyes.