Guest Opinions

Why can’t college students respect free speech? Look at how they were brought up

In this April 27, 2017 file photo, demonstrators argue during a rally near the University of California, Berkeley campus to show support for free speech and to condemn the views of Ann Coulter and her supporters. Coulter's speech was cancelled.
In this April 27, 2017 file photo, demonstrators argue during a rally near the University of California, Berkeley campus to show support for free speech and to condemn the views of Ann Coulter and her supporters. Coulter's speech was cancelled. AP

Quite a few college students of today react to opposing speech as a physical assault that allows them to bless the use of any means to include real physical attacks against their “transgressors.”

This is perfectly predicable and understandable.

In the physical world they were raised in, they began outside life tucked into cushioned protective containers either in their trams or car seats or parental body packs. They incessantly were cleansed in a dizzying array of soaps and sanitizers.

They wore varying degrees of body armor when engaged in outside activities or sports — ideally without competition — to eliminate both physical and emotional risks and their diet comprised of an ever-shrinking list of options as one dirge of “don’t ever eat x” after another was struck up by the non-scientific hyper-health bandwagon (and clever marketers).

Since the concept of “sticks and stones may break my bones” was rendered wholly unfathomable then the conclusion that “words will never hurt me” had to morph into “political words will grievously harm me.” Thus a life devoid of the possibility of physical pain elevated the “aural pain” of public political discourse to the level of bodily assault.

But things did not stop there.

Intellectually, they were brought up in “Lake Wobegon” schools where everyone was above average and every year, save the end of high school, was celebrated with self-indulgent if fatuous graduation ceremonies. Much too often they were spoon-fed politically correct social science pap rich in Orwellian “newspeak” but seldom if ever critically challenged or introduced to diverse opinions.

Throughout their entire life, they were embedded within an adult-led supervisory regimen where they were center of “all that is” and any externality remotely unsettling was screened out. Of course, as they aged (not necessarily matured) they demanded that their rights supersede those of the adults.

When they arrive on campus, many expect that lifestyle to continue and in as much as you are not them, then when you intrude into their self-centric world you must comply with their wants — always and at all times — or else.

It is that simple.

Kinda reminds me of that Twilight Zone rerun “It’s a Good Life” starring Bill Mumy.

Mike Walker is an historian and retired Marine. His book, “The 1929 Sino-Soviet War” (University Press of Kansas), was just released in March. He lives in Meridian.

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