I saw this interesting article on the Spectator about a disturbing trend among university students in the UK.
I was attacked by a swarm of Stepford students this week. On Tuesday, I was supposed to take part in a debate about abortion at Christ Church, Oxford. I was invited by the Oxford Students for Life to put the pro-choice argument against the journalist Timothy Stanley, who is pro-life. But apparently it is forbidden for men to talk about abortion. A mob of furious feministic Oxford students, all robotically uttering the same stuff about feeling offended, set up a Facebook page littered with expletives and demands for the debate to be called off. They said it was outrageous that two human beings ‘who do not have uteruses’ should get to hold forth on abortion — identity politics at its most basely biological — and claimed the debate would threaten the ‘mental safety’ of Oxford students. Three hundred promised to turn up to the debate with ‘instruments’ — heaven knows what — that would allow them to disrupt proceedings.
Incredibly, Christ Church capitulated, the college’s censors living up to the modern meaning of their name by announcing that they would refuse to host the debate on the basis that it now raised ‘security and welfare issues’. So at one of the highest seats of learning on Earth, the democratic principle of free and open debate, of allowing differing opinions to slog it out in full view of discerning citizens, has been violated, and students have been rebranded as fragile creatures, overgrown children who need to be guarded against any idea that might prick their souls or challenge their prejudices. One of the censorious students actually boasted about her role in shutting down the debate, wearing her intolerance like a badge of honour in an Independent article in which she argued that, ‘The idea that in a free society absolutely everything should be open to debate has a detrimental effect on marginalised groups.’
This is an insane development, how can a civil society function when it is based on a principle like “Your rights end where my feelings begin”? Does it really make sense to say that debate should be censored just because some people might find it uncomfortable? These students seem to think so and I can’t imagine a worse turn for a free society.
How exactly do people expect this to end? Treating students as children and protecting them from BadThink. If you protect them from all unapproved ideas all you will do is destroy their ability to reason critically about issues. I think Thomas Sowell put it perfectly when he said
The problem isn’t that Johnny can’t read. The problem isn’t even that Johnny can’t think. The problem is that Johnny doesn’t know what thinking is; he confuses it with feeling.
This is the result. Students unwilling to listen to a debate and the debate being cancelled, and everybody prevented from listening, because the idea of open and free debate, whichever side of an issue you on, is so threatening and has the potential to make these fainting wallflowers so uncomfortable that it needs to be stopped. They don’t even have the decency just to do something else for the evening. The debate must be stopped because, I can only assume, they are terrified that someone might encounter an unapproved idea and think for themselves about it.
All we are doing by tolerating this madness is creating a generation who will be extremely vulnerable to the first demagogue that comes along. With no functioning critical thinking abilities, they will be led by their emotions into madness, blood and fire.