As part of it's year-end round-up on campus crazies and the anti-free speech movement infecting college campuses nationwide, Reason magazine asked some experts their thoughts about what's been happening.
One of them was Christina Hoff Sommers who came to campus last year in a event notable for the freak-out Georgetown's fragile feminists had and their decision to set up a "safe room" for the mentally unstable. But what really got everyone's attention and led to national media coverage and a bit of embarrassment for Hoyas everywhere was when the College Republicans were threatened by CSE to take down the video.
Anyways, here's Hoff Sommers:
“I have been lecturing on campuses for more than twenty years. I have never seen anything like what is happening today. In the past, students who disagreed with my critique of hardline feminism would either ignore my talks or come to spar and debate. Today they organize boycotts. Why? Because I might give them PTSD.
When I spoke at Oberlin and Georgetown last spring, campus activists organized safe spaces where students could flee if they were panic-stricken by my arguments. Angry flyers were pasted on the walls: "Free speech does not mean hate speech." There was yelling and hooting throughout my talk. When a kindly philosophy professor stood up and urged students to be civil, he was jeered and mocked, and someone in the crowd angrily ordered him to "Sit down." After my lecture, two police women escorted me out of the room, hurriedly put me in a van, and drove me off campus to a restaurant where I was meeting College Libertarians and Republicans for dinner. Though I was not censored or silenced, the students’ antics did create a hostile environment for free expression. Such antics—and worse—are now common on campuses throughout the country.
Some will argue that elite enclaves like Oberlin and Georgetown matter little to real world freedoms. Who cares, they say, if some students act out in bizarre ways? But the new zealotry is hardly confined to these two campuses. Nor is it just students. College deans, urged on by student safe-spacers, risk-averse attorneys, and officials in the Education Department, have formed an axis of repression. Together, they are quietly amending the Constitution and creating their own definition of harassment. They are replacing the First Amendment with their own little codes and guidelines. Freedom of expression is being eclipsed by the right not to be made uncomfortable. Due process is treated as a barrier to justice rather than its essence. Armies of gender apparatchiks are monitoring and policing speech, ideas, humor, sexuality—even clapping. Orwell’s Junior Anti-Sex League has set up shop right in our midst.
The safe-space scourge may not be the worst threat to freedom in American history—but the threat is real and appears to be intensifying. Today’s millennials are going to have to decide: Will they be the generation that stands by helplessly—or even applauds—as basic freedoms are stripped away? My best guess is that they will eventually rally and defend their liberties. I already see signs of resistance. I just hope this resistance forms quickly. I am scheduled to speak at Berkeley in February.”
Christina Hoff Sommers is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. She is the author of several books and hosts a video blog, The Factual Feminist.
You can read all the responses here.