August 26, 2015

Where Are The Artists?

Today we wander far afield from the mundane world of advertising and dip our toes into the murky waters of education. Yes, today we become The Ed Contrarian.

A couple of recent articles about life on American college campuses have painted a very disturbing picture of 1984-style bullying in which students -- by claiming an ultra-sensitivity to subject matter and opinions which they either don't approve of or don't agree with -- have effectively gotten discussion of these topics barred from campuses and from classrooms.

The first article is called "I'm A Liberal Professor, And My Liberal Students Terrify Me". The thrust of the article is that there is a Stalinist-like atmosphere on campus in which professors have to be very careful about what they say:
"I have intentionally adjusted my teaching materials as the political winds have shifted. (I also make sure all my remotely offensive or challenging opinions, such as this article, are expressed either anonymously or pseudonymously). Most of my colleagues who still have jobs have done the same. We've seen bad things happen to too many good teachers ...being removed from classes after a single student complaint..."
A second article called "The Coddling of the American Mind" appeared in the Atlantic and said... 
"This new climate is slowly being institutionalized, and is affecting what can be said in the classroom, even as a basis for discussion. During the 2014–15 school year, for instance, the deans and department chairs at the 10 University of California system schools were presented by administrators at faculty leader-training sessions with examples of microaggressions. The list of offensive statements included: “America is the land of opportunity” and “I believe the most qualified person should get the job.”
This ethos is a perversion of "liberalism," which is meant to be a philosophy of tolerance. Instead it is nothing more than puerile politics masquerading as personal sensitivity. Just to be clear, this small-mindedness is not limited to one political point of view. 

I am not at all surprised that college faculties and administrators have become hostage to student touchiness. Ever since I went to college a thousand years ago, it was clear to me that faculties are replete with weak-kneed popularity-seekers who pander to the people they're supposed to be educating.

What I want to know is, where are the people who usually stand up to coercive ignoramuses? Where are the artists?

We've always had our Henry Millers, Pablo Picassos and Leo Tolstoys to give the finger to philistines who wanted to dictate what is acceptable.

Why do we hear nothing from the art community about this?

An academic institution is supposed to be a place where controversial ideas are examined, not banned.

If you are too sensitive to hear an unwelcome point of view, you are too delicate to be educated.

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