Saturday, November 21, 2015

Where have all the young gone?

Back in April, I blogged about the rule-obeying college students, in which I wrote:
And students seem to want such rules.  They seem to want to bring more rules on what they should not do on campus.  In fact, they gladly even lead such efforts.
What the hell is wrong with the youth today?
Since then, the pace of commentaries has not been able to keep up with the rate at which students are demanding rules that would govern their own behaviors.  Reason comments on a report from Pew Research Center:
While two-thirds of Americans correctly believe the U.S. government should not prohibit speech that offends minorities, a shockingly high number of millennials—40 percent—support such censorship. Young people, it turns out, are more likely to favor suppression of offensive speech than older Americans.
One would think that it will be older Americans who will want to impose censorship, yet it is a significant number of youth who want rules that would suppress free expression.  WTF!

The Economist also worries about this trend, exemplified in the controversy at Yale:
As happens at many American universities, Yale administrators sent an advisory e-mail to students before the big night, requesting them to refrain from wearing costumes that other students might find offensive. Given that it is legal for 18-year-old Americans to drive, marry and, in most places, own firearms, it might seem reasonable to let students make their own decisions about dressing-up—and to face the consequences when photographs of them disguised as Osama bin Laden can forever be found on Facebook or Instagram. Yet a determination to treat adults as children is becoming a feature of life on campus, and not just in America. Strangely, some of the most enthusiastic supporters of this development are the students themselves.
 As I noted in another post, this is not the kind of student that Mario Savio would have ever imagined as successors to their free speech movement in the 1960s.  The Economist also reminds us about that:
Fifty years ago student radicals agitated for academic freedom and the right to engage in political activities on campus. Now some of their successors are campaigning for censorship and increased policing by universities of student activities. The supporters of these ideas on campus are usually described as radicals. They are, in fact, the opposite.
It is crazy. Bizarre. And very much unlike the student protesters of the 1960s, the students of today are demanding care from authority figures:
When they experience the hurt that motivates them to political action, they’re deeply disappointed with parental surrogates for not responding adequately or quickly enough to support and nurture them.
While Mario Savio, et al, declared a "fuck you" on the establishment, including Ronald Reagan who was the governor of California then, today's college students want more and more safety and security from the establishment.  As my neighbor, "Archie"--who is a conservative establishment man himself--often comments with disgust, the youth seem to want to stay attached to mommies and do not want to be weaned off the breast milk!

Another commentary at Reason notes that while students are seeking the security and comfort of their small little "safe spaces" they are completely missing in action on the urgent problems of the day:
Throughout history—recent history, even—students have been some of the most reliable anti-war protesters. Where are they this time? (Indeed, where have they been for the last eight years of continued bombings in Afghanistan and Iraq?)
Students can pick whatever battles they like. But it would be great—and might even make a difference—if they were to organize against military interventionism and anti-immigrant xenophobia with as much urgency as they have against offensive Halloween costumes, problematic mascots, and Woodrow Wilson. (Even though he deserves it.)
I suppose navel-gazing is quite fascinating!

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