I didn’t go to university to have my preconceptions challenged, or to open myself to weird knowledge and dangerous ideas. I wasn’t seeking to push my personal boundaries or take intellectual risks. It’s not that I don’t think those are valuable experiences, it’s just that such things can be done by anyone, anywhere, without the empty validation of a reading list and a final exam.
University life wasn’t that far removed from not-university life anyway—sure, there were a few misanthropic left-radicals who were angry and judgmental, but they were an avoidable fringe. Not many people were trying to force your worldview, show off about correcting social justice or, even worse, blame you for social injustice. If there were people like that, they were easily ignored from the depths of the SU bar.
Which is why the current state of politically correct academic culture is so troubling. Ideological fanatics, with the backing of fully complicit college authorities, are fostering a campus environment that looks far removed from the norms of everyday life. In this sealed-off, Lord of the Flies echo chamber irrational ideas are being allowed to exert control, and it’s all been officially signed off at the top.
The historical left-liberal bias of academia has allowed the new regressive left to claim authority. Administrators bow to the petulant demands of student unions not fit for purpose, and lecturers are carried fearfully down the river. While some staff might resist, it’s difficult not to think that the soft liberal consensus many of them have slavishly adhered to for their entire careers is what enabled this takeover in the first place. Here’s your petard. Now get hoisted.
When the campus Overton Window lets in light from all-out Marxism to the centre-left but nothing beyond that, you need to call an Overton glazer. Either fix the imbalance or buckle yourself in to a rattling, lunatic feedback loop, in which dissent and debate happen only within the biased ideological spectrum defined by the prevalent orthodoxy.
If I were 18 now, would I like to go to university? It would be hard to escape the feeling that I’d be stepping into a dystopian science fiction novel. Spiteful blowhards who’d be told to sit down and shut up in any normal environment have appropriated control, and I wouldn’t look forward to spending three years trapped in a power struggle with such self-serving, morally dysfunctional creeps.
In a recent online conversation between Jordan Peterson, a University of Toronto professor fighting back against the social justice autocrats, and Gad Saad, the well known scientist and academic, Saad mischievously slips in the ‘sneaky fucker’ strategy’ from zoology with reference to male social justice warriors.
Basically, they’re disingenuous geeks who’ve slipped in the backdoor and joined the social justice crowd in search of sexual opportunity. This looks believable, but I’d extend it further—the entire PC/SJW mob movement is a conglomeration of sneaky fuckers. Disguising themselves as progressives campaigning for equality, they have corrupted and undermined the entire concept of social justice. Not looking for sex, but searching for power, or in the case of the more deranged individuals at the top of the SJW power structures, motivated perhaps by other questionable motives.
Where those who instinctively understand the checks, balances and clarity inherent to real justice have straightforward, consistent ideals, in the far left we now have a shifting, self-contradictory mess in which relativist nonsense, crass identity judgments, and belligerent, immature rhetoric have sabotaged the very concept of social justice, whatever that once meant.
Review the infamous Yale University video from one year ago, in which a mob of cry-bullies intimidate their professor on the campus grounds. When not yelling expletives at him (their professor!) they would burst into tears.
Why did they do this? Because they got a gentle email from his wife, also a professor, telling them politely that it wasn’t the university’s business to proscribe what students should and shouldn’t wear at Halloween. Quite simply, they read an innocuous mail, it didn’t compute with their rigidly simplistic groupthink, and the sole response they could manage was to meltdown in anger.
Taking a further look at the Yale video, the students’ behaviour is still appalling, but the professor’s response is also frustrating. It must have been an overwhelming situation and his intentions were good, but he indulged the students’ group hysteria. Engaging earnestly with an angry mob gives the impression that it’s acceptable to form angry mobs. Offering partial apologies for hurt feelings to hyper-sensitive neurotics legitimizes the notion that their own out-of-control emotional inconsistencies trump all other considerations.
Years ago, ‘PC gone mad’ sentiments were associated with Basil Fawlty-esque Little Englanders, upset that they could no longer use bigotry-loaded racial epithets while lamenting the retreat of Empire.
Cut to 2016 and you’d be forgiven for thinking that the blazer-at-breakfast B&B owners were in fact stunningly prescient, as political correctness has, actually, gone mad. That’s mad as in pathological, while the ideologies it’s coupled with have become skilled at cult-like indoctrination, and at acquiring formidable amounts of real power.
Political correctness is used to shield regressive left politics from criticism, and has allowed our society to be altered in non-consensual, corrosive ways. The next time you hear a public figure being shouted down and discredited for bigotry, racism, or any of the other slurs employed without restraint by PC enforcers, be sure to check just what exactly it is that the silenced party wanted to say, and why those shutting them down might not have wanted it to be heard.
One way to navigate an argument you can’t win legitimately is to pull the mic on your opponent. That’s a little conspicuous though, so here’s another way. You let it be known that certain topics are beyond discussion, and that by extension certain ideas are unconscionable. You don’t have to make your opponent believe it at all—as long as the audience buys in, then you can’t lose. It will take time and deceit to achieve a consensus—you’ll need to be a very sneaky fucker indeed—but once that consensus has been established, then who will be able to withstand the heat, face down the mob, and break the spell?