“It’s not just sometimes folks who are mad that colleges are too liberal that have a problem. Sometimes there are folks on college campuses who are liberal, and maybe even agree with me on a bunch of issues, who sometimes aren’t listening to the other side, and that’s a problem too. I’ve heard some college campuses where they don’t want to have a guest speaker who is too conservative or they don’t want to read a book if it has language that is offensive to African-Americans or somehow sends a demeaning signal towards women. I gotta tell you, I don’t agree with that either. I don’t agree that you, when you become students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of view. I think you should be able to — anybody who comes to speak to you and you disagree with, you should have an argument with ‘em. But you shouldn’t silence them by saying, ‘You can’t come because I’m too sensitive to hear what you have to say.’ That’s not the way we learn either.”
The full article on Obama’s stance against coddled college students can be read here.
I go to a school with a decidedly liberal slant. Most of the time, I appreciate that fact. The mental health organizations that I participate in thrive in an environment that, for the most part, supports the idea that mental illness is real and a problem that can be tackled through advocacy, consciousness, and good old-fashioned research. 100% of the student body may not have developed a real sense of why racist and/or sexist and/or derogatory remarks are hurtful and damaging, but you can be damn sure that if hurtful speech is thrown around, someone will say something.
The question is, in the latter case, what exactly gets said?
I recently met a friend who has, at this point, become rather dear to me. He also has the habit of referring to people he doesn’t like as fags, which I find fairly offensive because of the word’s history and the deeper implications of the natural dislike of all things homosexual. I’ve worked on correcting this habit. I mention that it bothers me every time he says it, trying to get at the reasons I find it offensive rather than simply “you shouldn’t say that,” and it seems to have made at least a minor impact on the frequency with which he throws it down.
Silvana’s approach to meeting a similar guy here at Penn was a little different. After she heard him make a joke tinged with a rather sexist spice, she asked, “Are you a feminist?” When he replied with a long and rather well-developed answer explaining how he did not identify with the descriptor because he felt he could support the goals of feminism but not the approaches to achieving those goals, Silvana replied “Oh.” After he had left the room, she launched into a diatribe about how much that bothered her, and how she’d make sure to “educate him” over this school year.
Education is not a weapon. It is not meant to be a means to control a population and twist their thoughts to match the cookie-cutter standard. Education is a step taken to explore new knowledge, enter a new world of understanding based on what one already knew and what one discovers. The Quentinist in me burns furiously at the idea that there is a right way to think that can be taught by society. The Quentinist in me screams internally whenever I bring up that my roommate Antonio is a Libertarian, and the more liberal of my friends wrinkle their noses (“How do you live with him??”). It frustrates me to the point of madness that there are people who believe there is a right way to learn, a correct set of beliefs to hold, a proper way to live one’s life — and a way that is wrong.
When President Obama… the socialist President of the 21st century… the man who drove for universal healthcare… rebukes you for forcing your views on others, it is time that you rethink the way you are acting.