Wednesday, August 26, 2015

I Hate to Say I Told You So...

A few days back, I penned a lengthy treatise on the flawed ideas of "protecting" students (and people in general) from being exposed to "harmful" thoughts and words:

Supporting this idea, The Atlantic magazine published an article where the author described the desire of modern society to shield people (but especially young adults) from words and ideas that make some uncomfortable.  
But the implementation of this absurd notion frequently goes far beyond merely shielding people from "bad" thoughts.  
This movement seeks to punish anyone who interferes with that aim, even accidentally. You might call this impulse vindictive protectiveness.  (   

The author then reached an all-to-prophetic conclusion:
When speech comes to be seen as a form of violence, vindictive protectiveness can justify a hostile, and perhaps even violent, response.” 
So now we reach yet another unfortunate tie-in with current events.  Earlier today, a man by the name of Vester Lee Flanagan shot and killed a reporter and cameraman during a live broadcast. A disgruntled former reporter for WDBJ TV in Roanoke, Flanagan's VA Facebook and Twitter feeds were filled with hateful and vindictive statements about how he had been mistreated by coworkers (and society, in general) because of his being black and gay.  

According to the WDBJ Station Manager:
Vester was an unhappy man. We employed him as a reporter and he had some talent in that respect and some experience. He quickly gathered a reputation of someone who was difficult to work with. He was sort of looking out to people to say things he could take offense to. Eventually, after many incidents of his anger, we dismissed him. He did not take that well. We had to call police to escort him from the building.

It's still early, but it looks like the horrific events outside of Roanoke, VA were motivated by the shooter's inability to cope with perceived slights against him, and responded with the violence that is justified by vindictive protectiveness. Clearly, his employer and coworkers felt that he had been looking for reasons to be offended.  And the indoctrination from today's society dictated that such verbal offenses justified some sort of response.

We've seen -- and I fear we will continue to see -- more and more cases of violence as overly-sensitive young adults, conditioned by today's academic environment, encounter a real world which will cause them psychological trauma for every perceived slight, insult, or disappointment they experience.  

Proponents of such a system have blood on their hands.

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