Thursday, September 8, 2016

Rutgers University And The Sound Of Silence

                Rutgers University published a guide to preventing “bias incidents” in which it warned students that the very idea of free speech is a lie. There is a page in the guide, dedicated to the school’s “Bias Prevention & Education Committee,” stating, “There is no such thing as ‘free’ speech. All speech has a cost and consequences.”
                The school has since backed off on that statement, but is racing full speed ahead in its attempt to get students to “think before you speak” and therefore reduce the occurrence of “microaggressions.” As part of this effort, Rutgers has instituted a “language matters” campaign consisting, in part, of 60-90 minute workshops examining how “negatively charged words…create a damaging environment for all of society.” Presenters at the workshops seek “to demonstrate how microaggressions hinder our ability to have a diverse and inclusive society/community.”
                These heinous microaggressions are often unintentional and can be “nonverbal” or even “environmental,” according to the university. (I’m sure it’s a microaggression if you accidentally, quietly drop your empty Aquafina bottle into the garbage rather than a recycle bin).
                Rutgers is heroically attempting to eradicate other egregious behaviors, as well, including microinsults, microinvalidations and microassaults. Pray tell, what are these you ask? Telling someone they are strong “for a girl,” would be an example of a microinsult. Asking a person of color where they are from would be a classic case of microinvalidation. The school claims that “avoiding someone” qualifies as a microassault. Avoiding someone is an assault??!
                Avoiding someone is essentially the opposite of assaulting them. Avoidance and assault are virtually antonyms. Would you rather have someone avoid you or assault you?
Trigger Warning: Some may be offended by the following statement. Please seek out the closest available safe space, preferably one containing puppies. Grab some play-dough and a warm cookie, and put on a Barbara Streisand song.
                When we’ve reached the point where we deliberately conflate these two concepts at our “institutions of higher learning” because we value diversity and inclusion over the truth, real learning, work ethic and integrity, it is (past) time to pull the plug on them.
                “Hello darkness my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again, because a vision softly creeping left its seeds while I was sleeping. And the vision that was planted in my brain still remains within the sound of silence…
                 “And no one dares disturb the sound… of silence.”

 (excerpts from “The Sound of Silence”--written by Paul Simon—Copyright © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group)

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