November 9, 2015

A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE SAFE SPACE FORUM AT YALE: If you missed Glenn’s posts over the weekend on the bizarre incident last week at Yale, John Hinderaker offers up an excellent capsule summary at Power Line titled, “We Live In a World Gone Mad, Yale Edition:”

The Daily Mail recounts one of the strangest controversies we’ve seen in a while. It relates to offensive Halloween costumes at Yale. Or rather, the potential for offensive Halloween costumes.

The story starts with the wife of Nicholas Christakis, Silliman College’s master, sending out an email addressing the subject of Halloween costumes, which, as we have noted before, has taken on a sudden importance at colleges and universities. The email suggested that if students didn’t like someone else’s costume, they should “look away, or tell them you are offended.”

This was seen by many students as soft on Halloween costumes. They accosted Professor Christakis and unleashed the fury that is characteristic, these days, of unstable college students. In the video below, a young woman, presumably a Yale student, screams profanities at Professor Christakis for reasons that appear unintelligible:

Read the whole thing. (And don’t miss the freaky-deaky cult-like finger-snapping rather than the more — I can’t believe I’m typing this — “triggering” sound of applause. Either that, or the Sharks and the Jets from West Side Story are getting ready to rumble on the Yale campus.)

I was afraid to say it, for fear of sounding too fuddy-duddy or Pollyanna-ish, but my first thought when watching the video on Friday was very much akin to the question that Hinderaker asks: “What happened to the girl who screamed at the professor? When I was in college this would have been unthinkable. But if someone had not only thought of it but done it, he surely would have been expelled from school. Somehow I suspect that won’t happen here.”

No, of course not — “Yale administrators apologize for not creating ‘safe spaces’ on campus.” Hot Air noted on Sunday. On Friday, Reason’s Robby Soave wrote, “Yale just became ground zero in the campus free speech wars” — but it looks like they’re more than willing to discuss surrender terms.

To paraphrase one of the subheads of the excellent write-up of the incident by Haley Hudler of FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education), what does this moment say about the future of freedom of expression and the marketplace of ideas? (Or the lack thereof?)

Are the students’ protests against the Christakises protected speech? Of course.

But the students’ demand that the Christakises lose their jobs for their dissident opinions represents another strong example of the phenomenon Lukianoff and social psychologist Jonathan Haidt talked about in their September cover story for The Atlantic, “The Coddling of the American Mind.” In their article, Lukianoff and Haidt argue that students are increasingly engaging in a culture of “vindictive protectiveness” that seeks to control campus speech in a way that not only limits free expression and chills candor, but that can also promote distorted ways of thinking.

The theory proposed by Lukianov and Haidt, as blogger Ace of Spades paraphrases in his post on the Yale student’s meltdown, “is that colleges and the SJW left is now engaging in a very massive negative cognitive behavioral therapy session, which, instead of teaching people to control their feelings and remain in command of themselves, is instead conditioning them to be hysterics and neurotics who scream and foot-stomp over anything at all.” To become “the cry-bullies,” “a hideous hybrid of victim and victor,” that Julie Burchill profiled in the UK Spectator earlier this year.

And as Glenn noted, in linking to Hot Air’s post on Yale’s apology for its lack of “safe spaces,” “This is basically an admission that much of the student body is mentally ill.” Yale certainly played a role in making the students that way — which is why, as Milo Yiannopoulos tweets, “It gives me so much pleasure to see liberal professors face to face with the monsters they created.”

With a little help from the Obama administration, of course.

Exit quote from Daniel Lin, economics professor at American University: “Someone told me to ‘give it the old college try,’ so I crumbled into an incoherent mess when I heard an opinion that differed from mine.”

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