Give Me Comfort

Apparently, everyone has now had their fill of safe spaces. On Sunday, The New York Times published an op-ed that objectively eviscerated the idea for all sensible people.

Safe space is the name given to college areas where “offensive” thought is not allowed and supposed victims are coddled after being triggered by ideas they don’t like. They’re becoming more prevalent at America’s preeminent universities and serve as the curator for what type of speech is allowed. If a speaker has a viewpoint that might “trigger” some students, then that speaker will be barred from speaking in order to make the school a “safe” environment for all.

No, this isn’t a hippie-dippie preschool, this is what the modern university is turning into. The right to not be offended and the high status attached to “victimhood” is trumping free speech and dissenting viewpoints. Even though these are supposedly not kindergarten settings, the décor of safe spaces eerily match up with the classroom style of learning centers for kids—complete with “cookies, coloring books, bubbles…and videos of frolicking puppies.”

The piece, written by one Judith Shulevitz, critically documents the reactions that offended students have to “harmful” opinions and the emotional trauma it somehow afflicts upon them. The (all female) respondents basically utter “I can’t handle ideas I don’t like” in plain English. For real.

“I was feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against my dearly and closely held beliefs,” said one Brown student who fled to the comfort of the bubble-filled safe space after encountering a speech that disputed the veracity of rape culture. The article lists a litany of similar events at similarly prestigious schools where a group of victims shuts down a speech or event that threatens their safety.

The gist of the editorial is that free speech conflicts on college campuses have changed over the years. For previous generations, speakers were protested and criticized for promoting ideas that some students just didn’t like. Now protests occur because controversial speakers are not merely advocating bad views, they’re jeopardizing the “safety” of particular students. In Shulevitz’s opinion, this nicely coincides with the rise of a veritable cottage industry of professionals that serve every emotional need of college students—which all leads to the point that there is a general infantilization of college-aged kids. This, as Shulevitz alludes, helps explain why there’s this sudden demand for protection from opposing viewpoints and universities are beginning to resemble postmodern elementary schools.

But Shulevitz does not connect this infantilization with what’s happening in the larger culture. To the article, it may seem like this a problem limited to the college campus. But that’s wishful thinking. We live in a society that is progressively trying to eliminate anything that might be offensive to certain protected classes. On a college campus, female rape “victims” (as the UVA case shows, they don’t even need to actually be raped to be a victim) earn a high status and their desire to eliminate discomfort is easily granted. Blacks and other minorities also get this same privilege on campus. . .and with the rest of society. Not only do they have the right to be free of offensive speech, they have the moral righteousness that comes with playing the offended party. They shut down benign conferences over the fear that it could jeopardize public safety to allow White men in suits to openly discuss race. They can get people with dissident thoughts fired for creating unsafe workplaces. They try to banish dissidents from their communities to erase the hazard of having a “hater” next door.

It’s easy to browbeat college students for acting like spoiled brats when it comes to speech they don’t like. . .but they are only following in the footsteps of their parents. It’s also easy to knock privileged White kids for acting like this when non-whites are the worst offenders in relation to speech restriction. And our entire society coddles non-whites with government subsidies, “history” months, and the excusing of their bad behavior with bullshit theories.

What’s happening on campus is only a reflection of a deeper trend in society. Our society has a problem with unpopular ideas and castigates them with full force. While everyone may clamor for “exposing” yourself to scary ideas, no one is serious about it. Otherwise, you would have Jared Taylor making the rounds at every college campus. We baby minorities to the detriment of the majority and place their self-esteem above the interests of the now-forgotten historic American nation. We hate "hate" and can't stand viewpoints that undermine the orthodoxy.

In an age where comfort is the highest value, is it shocking that we hate uncomfortable truths?