Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Microaggressors and Micromanagers

When we were small children we probably all had the experience of running in tears to our mother or father because a sibling had said or done something we thought terribly hurtful or mean and then pleading with our parent for redress. At some point in our development, of course, we outgrew this behavior and realized that being a crybaby was infantile.

If and when we became parents ourselves we encouraged our children to ignore slights or to handle them in a more mature fashion than demanding sympathy and succor from us. That's what grown-ups try to teach the young - unless, that is, the grown-ups are administrators at Penn State University. There the administrators have apparently chosen to assume the aspect of a parent who actually encourages little Suzy to tattle on her brother:
At Pennsylvania State University, no hurt feeling is too small, no slight too inconsequential, no unintentionally biased statement too unimportant. Administrators want to know it all.

The public university is in the midst of a massive campaign that encourages students not only to watch what they say, lest they offend someone, but also to report any and all biased statements to campus officials.

“There is no place for hate, overt or subtle, at Penn State – such actions do not represent our mutually held values,” Eric Barron, president of Penn State, stated in a recent message to the campus community.

More than 1,000 images of a stop sign in the form of posters and magnets have been distributed at Penn State. They tell students to “be the difference” and “take a stand for a positive campus climate.” The posters classify a wide array of situations as a “bias incident” including cases of discrimination, bigotry, inequity, sexual assault, injustice, and much more.

Barron, in his message to the campus, stated that students should report acts of “hate or intolerance.”

Lisa Powers, director of Penn State’s strategic communications office, said in an email to The College Fix that an act of intolerance includes microaggressions. “An act of intolerance can be identified as any forms of microaggressions, verbal assaults, and/or racial subjugation,” Powers said.
And what constitutes "racial subjugation"? Does expressing strong disagreement with an opinion expressed by a person of another race in a classroom discussion count? What constitutes a "verbal assault"? Does calling President Barron a dimwit count?

Weirdly, Ms Powers averred that this policy is actually not a threat to students' First Amendment rights: Powers said the bias reporting acts as a catharsis of sorts for students, acknowledging the public university has no right to hinder students’ First Amendment rights.

“Penn State stands firmly behind free speech and free expression, even in those instances when the views being expressed are disturbing or insulting, or the actions hurtful,” Powers told The College Fix. “The First Amendment doesn’t just apply to those who express ideas with which we agree. It also applies to those whose ideas we may find challenging, repugnant or even appalling. By providing an outlet for individuals to report bias they have seen or experienced, we are giving them an equal right to express their thoughts and feelings on the matter.” Sure, but if she really believes this what's the point of the Speech Police at PSU spending a lot of money to get students to report speech which hurts their feelings? Is the next step to somehow sanction the transgressors?

Like the child who wails for parental justice because her brother is "looking at her," it won't be long before "microaggressions" are deemed weighty enough by the students who suffer the pain of being "looked at" to demand the full weight of the University disciplinary apparatus be brought down on some unfortunate student's head.

There are two fascinating characteristics of modern-day Progressivism on display here: The first is the manifestation of the totalitarian impulse which has always tempted the ideological left. The second is the infantilizing of our young men and women which, of course, makes them easier to control and manipulate. A university that treats its students as if they're attending a day-care prepares them for the sort of governmental regimentation the left has always wished to impose.

This is the perhaps inevitable consequence of placing authority and power in the hands of Progressives, for these are people who feel it their mission in life to micromanage other people's lives.