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Wed Aug 12, 2015, 11:34 PM

The Coddling of the American Mind

Something strange is happening at America’s colleges and universities. A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense. Last December, Jeannie Suk wrote in an online article for The New Yorker about law students asking her fellow professors at Harvard not to teach rape law—or, in one case, even use the word violate (as in “that violates the law”) lest it cause students distress. In February, Laura Kipnis, a professor at Northwestern University, wrote an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education describing a new campus politics of sexual paranoia—and was then subjected to a long investigation after students who were offended by the article and by a tweet she’d sent filed Title IX complaints against her. In June, a professor protecting himself with a pseudonym wrote an essay for Vox describing how gingerly he now has to teach. “I’m a Liberal Professor, and My Liberal Students Terrify Me,” the headline said. A number of popular comedians, including Chris Rock, have stopped performing on college campuses (see Caitlin Flanagan’s article in this month’s issue). Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Maher have publicly condemned the oversensitivity of college students, saying too many of them can’t take a joke.

Two terms have risen quickly from obscurity into common campus parlance. Microaggressions are small actions or word choices that seem on their face to have no malicious intent but that are thought of as a kind of violence nonetheless. For example, by some campus guidelines, it is a microaggression to ask an Asian American or Latino American “Where were you born?,” because this implies that he or she is not a real American. Trigger warnings are alerts that professors are expected to issue if something in a course might cause a strong emotional response. For example, some students have called for warnings that Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart describes racial violence and that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby portrays misogyny and physical abuse, so that students who have been previously victimized by racism or domestic violence can choose to avoid these works, which they believe might “trigger” a recurrence of past trauma.

Some recent campus actions border on the surreal. In April, at Brandeis University, the Asian American student association sought to raise awareness of microaggressions against Asians through an installation on the steps of an academic hall. The installation gave examples of microaggressions such as “Aren’t you supposed to be good at math?” and “I’m colorblind! I don’t see race.” But a backlash arose among other Asian American students, who felt that the display itself was a microaggression. The association removed the installation, and its president wrote an e-mail to the entire student body apologizing to anyone who was “triggered or hurt by the content of the microaggressions.”

This new climate is slowly being institutionalized, and is affecting what can be said in the classroom, even as a basis for discussion. During the 2014–15 school year, for instance, the deans and department chairs at the 10 University of California system schools were presented by administrators at faculty leader-training sessions with examples of microaggressions. The list of offensive statements included: “America is the land of opportunity” and “I believe the most qualified person should get the job.”

Read more: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/09/the-coddling-of-the-american-mind/399356/

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Reply The Coddling of the American Mind (Original post)
TexasTowelie Aug 2015 OP
handmade34 Aug 2015 #1
PSPS Aug 2015 #2
dixiegrrrrl Aug 2015 #3
bluestateguy Aug 2015 #4
Smarmie Doofus Aug 2015 #5
eppur_se_muova Aug 2015 #6
dixiegrrrrl Aug 2015 #7
eppur_se_muova Aug 2015 #8
dixiegrrrrl Aug 2015 #9

Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Wed Aug 12, 2015, 11:43 PM

1. "Microaggressions"

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Wed Aug 12, 2015, 11:53 PM

2. This is all part and parcel of our increasingly popular fetish of victimhood.

The other increasingly popular US fetish is sadism.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Thu Aug 13, 2015, 12:35 AM

3. That is a most excellent article, I read it this afternoon.

And I can recognize those concepts in thread comments here on DU from time to time.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Thu Aug 13, 2015, 04:53 AM

4. Even some very leftist professors are disturbed by this trend

So-called microaggressions, trigger warnings, etc.

You get to a point where people feel afraid to say anything, lest it be turned into a campus disciplinary matter.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Thu Aug 13, 2015, 07:43 AM

5. K and R. I just hope this "disturbing" OP survives long enough for me to finish it.

 

( That won't be before tonite; it's a loooong one.)

But it's not so much disturbing ( although it IS that; and I mean in a GOOD way) ...... as.... gee, can I say it?......*funny*.

Thanks for posting.



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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Thu Aug 13, 2015, 09:11 AM

6. Offensensitivity ...

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Response to eppur_se_muova (Reply #6)

Thu Aug 13, 2015, 02:25 PM

7. Just had a great example of that happen in a thread

and I pointed to your term, which is great, in my reply.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/10141175768

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Response to dixiegrrrrl (Reply #7)

Thu Aug 13, 2015, 03:19 PM

8. Interesting to note the strip is from 1982 ...

plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.




(pssst ... I think you pointed me to the wrong link. )

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Response to eppur_se_muova (Reply #8)

Thu Aug 13, 2015, 04:33 PM

9. This is the post, it opened for me..

http://www.democraticunderground.com/10141175768

I was referring to the jury alert in the thread.

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