Academic Freedom

Academic Freedom
Charlie Chaplin as Adenoid Hynkel in the film The Great Dictator (1940)

Academic Freedom

I just read a chilling article in the Atlantic, called The Coddling of the American Mind.

The theme is political correctness going even farther than I could ever imagine. I am not an academic myself but attended graduate school, but my father was a college chemistry professor.

The liberal arts is more likely to be controversial than Chemistry, but my dad and his closest friend at work used to tell raunchy jokes and sing bawdy lyrics, and share limericks. In today’s crazy climate, they probably would have been brought up on charges, if heard in the wrong places.

Social media has changed the game. Now, if the wrong group decides it doesn’t like you, you could wind up in charge. The Scarlet Letter has been introduced to Social Media. The article mentioned one liberal professor saying he is afraid of his liberal students. Words can help words can hurt. I never heard of micro or trigger aggressions before this article.

Example: Simple curiosity, “where were you born?”
I would find that interesting. Did you know to an Asian American or Hispanic American, it can be taken as offensive; that you are challenging their right to be in the United States and that they can be true Americans.

I realized I asked two of my Mexican-American coworkers, would they ever return to Mexico, if they became wealthy. I now realize, my curiosity and interest could have been taken another way.

Doesn’t that mean, curiosity really did kill the cat, and you better mind your manners and your curiosity? Trigger warnings may mean for certain books, an English professor better give warnings like TV shows; not suitable for…

The Internet can unite or divide us. You can meet all sorts of people and become friends, or you can find the group that suits that ideology. If we keep this up, do we need separate universities, based on one’s ideology? If you are this coddled, how do you survive in a job, if you hate any opinions other than your own, can you work with others?

I don’t think this is what the Founding Fathers of the United States, had in mind.

1 Comment
  1. Avatar of Joyce White
    Joyce White says

    So true. Because we writers are curious about many things, we ask questions that can be misunderstood.

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