This video shows a young woman (presumably a Yale student) screaming in the face of Yale professor Nicholas Christakis about the alleged plight of minority students. Why the hysterical, profane shrieking? Because the professor’s wife (a Yale lecturer) had the audacity to write an email to students at Silliman College, one of Yale’s so-called “residential colleges,” questioning excessive sensitivity over Halloween costumes.
Here is core of the email that elicited such vile hatred ...
Even if we could agree on how to avoid offense – and I’ll note that no one around campus seems overly concerned about the offense taken by religiously conservative folks to skin-revealing costumes – I wonder, and I am not trying to be provocative: Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious… a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive? American universities were once a safe space not only for maturation but also for a certain regressive, or even transgressive, experience; increasingly, it seems, they have become places of censure and prohibition. And the censure and prohibition come from above, not from yourselves! Are we all okay with this transfer of power? Have we lost faith in young people’s capacity – in your capacity – to exercise self-censure, through social norming, and also in your capacity to ignore or reject things that trouble you? We tend to view this shift from individual to institutional agency as a tradeoff between libertarian vs. liberal values (“liberal” in the American, not European sense of the word). Nicholas says, if you don’t like a costume someone is wearing, look away, or tell them you are offended. Talk to each other. Free speech and the ability to tolerate offence are the hallmarks of a free and open society. But – again, speaking as a child development specialist – I think there might be something missing in our discourse about the exercise of free speech (including how we dress ourselves) on campus, and it is this: What does this debate about Halloween costumes say about our view of young adults, of their strength and judgment? In other words: Whose business is it to control the forms of costumes of young people? It’s not mine, I know that.
Even the secularist magazine The Atantic blasts these Yale students here in a piece entitled "The New Intolerance of Student Activism" ...
... none of that excuses the Yale activists who’ve bullied these particular faculty in recent days. They’re behaving more like Reddit parodies of “social-justice warriors” than coherent activists, and I suspect they will look back on their behavior with chagrin.
... Notice that the student position allows no room for civil disagreement.
Given this set of assumptions, perhaps it is no surprise that the students behave like bullies even as they see themselves as victims. This is most vividly illustrated in a video clip that begins with one student saying, “Walk away, he doesn’t deserve to be listened to.”
... In “The Coddling of the American Mind,” Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt argued that too many college students engage in “catastrophizing,” which is to say, turning common events into nightmarish trials or claiming that easily bearable events are too awful to bear. After citing examples, they concluded, “smart people do, in fact, overreact to innocuous speech, make mountains out of molehills, and seek punishment for anyone whose words make anyone else feel uncomfortable.”
What Yale students did next vividly illustrates that phenomenon.
According to The Washington Post, “several students in Silliman said they cannot bear to live in the college anymore.” These are young people who live in safe, heated buildings with two Steinway grand pianos, an indoor basketball court, a courtyard with hammocks and picnic tables, a computer lab, a dance studio, a gym, a movie theater, a film-editing lab, billiard tables, an art gallery, and four music practice rooms. But they can’t bear this setting that millions of people would risk their lives to inhabit because one woman wrote an email that hurt their feelings?
Finally, Daivd French comments on this video with wise words of insight ...
A group of students confronted Professor Christakis on campus, and a student pitched what is best described as a toddler-style screaming fit. I haven’t seen this kind of conduct from any of my children since they were three years old, but — ladies and gentlemen — I present to you a member of America’s student aristocracy, a social justice warrior in full battle cry:
Whenever I write about political correctness on campus, readers will post a number of comments noting how poorly this kind of behavior works out in the “real world.” Yet it’s crucial to note that many social justice warriors never enter that ”real world.” They stay on campus as professors or activist administrators, or they join left-wing nonprofits, or — worst of all — they join the leftist quarters of the bureaucracy, where they turn their temper tantrums into policy. There exists an entire parallel universe that is almost entirely insulated not just from the rough and tumble of the market, but also from the inconvenience of contrary ideas. And in that parallel universe that young student is a hero. She spoke “truth to power,” and she’s on her way to greater respect and influence at Yale and beyond.