June 5, 2015

WELL, THAT’S BECAUSE NOW IT’S LIBERALS BEING TARGETED: Jonathan Chait: The Liberal Backlash Against The New Campus PC Is In Full Swing:

The bizarre Title IX investigation of Northwestern professor Laura Kipnis represents a milestone in the growing awareness among liberals that the left’s approach to identity has gone badly astray. The notion that Kipnis’s essay ridiculing the campus sexual atmosphere was not merely misguided, but an act of gender discrimination, crossed a threshold of ridiculousness. The absurdity of the proceedings was compounded, Erik Wemple reports, when Kipnis’s “faculty-support person” briefed their colleagues about her bizarre ordeal, and that person also became the subject of Title IX discrimination charges, the classic witch-hunt logic by which anybody who questions the fairness of the accusations becomes the subject of more accusations. . . .

What’s important, rather, is that Kipnis’s antagonists believe that she deserves to be punished by the university administration for writing a column they didn’t like. The official demand of mattress-bearing protestors was “a swift, official condemnation of the sentiments expressed by Professor Kipnis in her inflammatory article” on the grounds that the offending column “has caused tremendous hurt to members of Northwestern’s community.”

The move to sanction Kipnis was not a misguided one-off, but the natural expression of a worldview that I described in a story earlier this year about resurgent political correctness. This is a set of illiberal social norms that have spread throughout much of academia and some virtual communities in social media.

After I published the story, Vox responded with a story by Amanda Taub explaining, “The truth about political correctness is that it doesn’t actually exist.” Now Vox has a new story explaining that, actually, political correctness is everywhere.

You can always count on Vox. But yes. Student activists — usually egged on by faceless “student life” and “diversity” administrators — formed the Red Guards of this cultural revolution. There were never very many of them, but they were loud and universities bent over backward to accommodate them because, basically, they agreed with them. Only when it became obvious — as some of us had been warning for a while — that this threatened to destroy higher education’s reputation at a time when it was already financially and politically vulnerable, and when it became plain that left-politics were no shield against such attacks, did the backlash start.

Related: Josh Marshall: Thoughts on The Kipnis Clown Show and the Drama of University Life. “In other words, Kipnis wrote a sharp-tongued, one-dimensional caricature of university sexual assault and trigger warning activists at Northwestern. And they turned around and proved her one-dimensional caricature 100% right.”

Meanwhile, I’d like to know the names of the students filing all these bogus complaints. And a question: If you file bogus complaints under Title IX to silence people’s exercise of free speech, are you guilty under federal and state laws regarding conspiracy to deprive people of civil rights? Note that there’s a civil suit provision, too. . . .

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