It’s awful that huge majorities of college students are totalitarian enough to support corporal punishment for unwanted speech. It’s almost as bad that similar majorities think favored speech should be compelled.
Even more worrisome, the speech they wish to compel is actually pernicious.
This column reported yesterday on the eighth annual national survey of college undergraduates conducted for the William F. Buckley Jr. Program at Yale, released Oct. 25. This year’s results were by far the most disheartening yet. Less than 40% of those surveyed could bring themselves to oppose the idea that “some types of offensive speech even merit the death penalty.” And an absolute majority agreed that violence can be justified to prevent the utterance of hateful views.
Now consider the collegians’ views on that equation’s flipside — namely, that speech should be compelled in some circumstances. More than 65% agreed with each of the following two scenarios: first, that professors and administrators should forfeit their jobs if they don’t “make statements in favor of diversity, equity, and inclusion,” and second, that “new employees at any company, business, or organization” should be “required” to “sign” such statements.
This is stunning and scary. It is like the old Communist Party loyalty oaths.
Outside of the realm of faith-based employers — where, of course, the transmission of faith is part of the very mission of the organization — a requirement for adults to express a particular opinion is just tyrannical thuggery. By analogy, the political Left would explode in self-righteous anger if colleges required, as a condition of employment, a signed statement even as anodyne as agreeing with Alexis De Tocqueville that voluntary “associations” are necessary “in order that men remain civilized or become so.”
Yet two-thirds of college students are so mindlessly attached to the cult of diversity that they would compel their own professors to pronounce fealty to it rather than intellectual inquiry and free thought.
Likewise, by an 11-point margin, a majority of these petty tyrants say colleges “should require that students, professors, and faculty state their preferred gender pronouns when introducing themselves” — even though 66% of those surveyed say they themselves don’t state their own “preferred gender pronouns.” Do the math: At least 15% of collegians would compel others to do what they themselves don’t do.
College kids are supposed to be the intellectual cream of the crop. Something is deeply wrong with our education system for failing to open these minds. And something is also deeply wrong with the individual minds of those who reach the age of majority in a free country but favor cultlike orthodoxy, enforced upon pain of one’s livelihood.
And all of this isn’t even to get into the intrinsic wrongheadedness of the modern “diversity, equity, and inclusion” contagion. Anywhere and everywhere — but particularly on a college campus, where the entire enterprise should be about helping students free themselves from their inherited “identities” in order to learn to think for themselves — it should be anathema to act as if racial or gender “identity” defines us more than character and abilities. The diversity-identity cult is dehumanizing.
Again, though, even if the modern diversity movement were entirely beneficent, it would be wrong to compel people, especially on campus, to adhere to it. Thomas Jefferson may now be disdained on most campuses for being a “dead, white male,” but he was right, for his time and forever, to say that he had “sworn upon the alter of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”
Oh … and Jefferson’s gender reference was intended to be inclusive, by the way.