The understandable gut reaction to reports of #BlackLivesMatter protesters disrupting students at the Dartmouth College library is to say the protesters should be arrested. They should be, but that almost seems to grant their actions too much legitimacy. They are acting like spoiled brats. What they — and their like-minded cohorts at Yale and Missouri and so many other campuses — really need is to be spanked and sent to bed without supper.
That so many college administrators have kowtowed to these pathetically juvenile delinquents is worrisome. The infantilization of American culture is now a serious contagion. Worse, the denigration of free speech inherent in so many of these protests is evidence of an authoritarian tendency that — if reasonable adults don’t intercede — will surely end by destroying its own tantrum-throwing toddlers.
As much as such a result would seem like a merited punishment, this is not an outcome we should desire. It would be far better to convert and redeem these Animal Farm denizens than to wish self-destruction upon them. A society in which the (supposed) brightest act like children is a society at risk of collapse.
Here are ten lessons these children need to learn.
1) All lives matter.
2) It is free speech that needs a safe space — and the extent of that safe zone should be universal.
3) The only exception to the right to free speech should be direct threats to limb or life (not threats to tender sensitivities). A swastika painted on a synagogue is a direct threat. A Facebook post suggesting that a public figure be killed is a direct threat. A costume involving a sombrero — uh, not so much.
4) Bad cops should not be tolerated. But the vast majority of cops are not bad cops. Most cops who patrol the streets of America are protectors of black lives — and of all lives — not threats to them. Cops also need firearms far more than bureaucrats enforcing oft-idiotic civil regulations.
5) The best responses to “micro-aggressions” — if such things actually exist — are a quick wit and/or a stiff upper lip. It might also help to avoid desperately looking for reasons to be offended. If one cannot help being offended, then he should have an adult conversation with his offender, rather than appealing to an outside authority to shut him up. It is far more effective (and sensible and proportionate).
6) Rape is a truly heinous crime. But retroactive regret does not make sex rape. Moreover, a false accusation of rape is heinous, too. There is good reason why the American system of justice is predicated on presumed innocence before guilt is proved. False accusations can ruin and have ruined lives.
7) Nobody “owes” you anything — unless you either lent them something or you earned something under agreed-upon terms. (And college education, by the way, is not a right but a privilege and/or an earned reward.)
8) There’s a good reason why the story of the boy who cried wolf has been around so long. Learn its lessons.
9) There’s no such thing as “white logic” or “paternalistic logic.” There’s just logic — or the lack thereof. Hint: If syllogisms aren’t in some way involved, then you’re probably not dealing with logic. (And if you don’t know what a syllogism is, then you probably ought to learn.)
10) If you think your relatively cloistered existence on campus is particularly tough, then you’re really not ready for the “real world.”
Finally, if you find any of these lessons offensive, unusual, or anything other than reflective of basic common sense . . . well, then, get a life.