Culture

Student Op-Ed: ‘Microaggressions Lead to Mass Shootings’

A student at a Canadian college thinks saying something uninentionally mean directly causes race-based violence.

An op-ed titled “How Microaggressions Lead to Mass Shootings” appeared in the official student newspaper of Quebec’s Concordia University on Tuesday, asking people to think about how their insensitive remarks might be leading to murder. 

In the piece, student Florence Lee argues that since “racial violence builds itself on top of its smaller forms,” everyone shares responsibility for events like the January shooting at the mosque in Quebec City. 

Yep, Lee says, stuff like that all starts with a microaggression — which she defines as “a comment or action that is subtly and often unintentionally hostile or demeaning to a member of a minority or marginalized group.” 

According to Lee, subtle, “unintentionally” mean comments “alienate people and subconsciously start to form an insidious divide,” which then leads to “prejudice” and “overgeneralizations,” which then leads to “discrimination,” which then ultimately leads to murder. 

“In this whole process, there has been an abuse of so-called freedom of speech,” Lee writes in the Concordian. “If you think about it as ‘just political correctness’ or ‘limiting freedom of expression,’ I hope you also think about your part in inciting race-based violence in direct and inevitable ways.

“Please consider your role in the ongoing tensions,” Lee continues. “You may not have fired the gun, but you helped load the bullets.” 

Okay, Lee. I did “consider” it, and have come to the conclusion that I, in fact, have had nothing to do with any mass shooting of any kind — not to brag!

The truth is, people kill people for all kinds of reasons. Yes, some attacks are racially motivated. Sometimes, they happen because a cheating wife wants to spend her husband’s life-insurance money on a new life with her new lover. There has even been some speculation that the Muslim student who stabbed his classmates at Ohio State University did so because an anti-microaggressions class convinced him that he was being victimized by white people. 

It’s obviously never okay to murder, and we obviously should do all we can to stop people from murdering, but I’m pretty sure that telling people that even the slightest, most accidental missteps in their speech are causing murders is not the way to go about that. Why? Because that’s crazy. 

I’ve faced microaggressions. Hell, I’ve faced full-on aggressions, and do you know how many people I’ve murdered? Zero. Do you know how many people I’m planning on murdering? Zero. Why? Well, because I’m not a deranged psychopath, and that’s how us not-a-deranged-psychopaths do things. 

If you want to talk about how it’s bad to say mean things to people, then fine. If you want to talk about how racism is bad, then fine. I’d agree with both of those things. But responding to thoughtful concerns about how political correctness might hinder free speech with a simple, “Well, but if you’re not politically correct enough, then people will die” is not making a legitimate, well-reasoned argument — and it’s a great way to get people to stop taking you seriously. 

Most Popular

White House

Out of Order

A  question in the spirit of Donald Trump’s tweets this morning might be: Who’s trying harder to crash U.S. markets, the president of the United States or the president of China? After Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell didn’t forecast the loosening of monetary policy that Trump craves and China ... Read More
Film & TV

Netflix Debuts Its Obama Manifesto

This week’s widespread media blitz heralding Netflix’s broadcast of its first Obama-endorsed presentation, American Factory, was more than synchronicity. It felt as though U.S. publicists and journalists collectively exhaled their relief at finally regaining the bully pulpit. Reviews of American Factory, a ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Capital versus Tucker Carlson

Advertisers do not advertise on Tucker Carlson’s show to endorse the views of Tucker Carlson. They advertise on his show for the same reason they advertise elsewhere: a captive audience — in Tucker’s case, the second-largest one in cable news — might spare thirty seconds of attention that will, they hope, ... Read More
Natural Law

Are Your Sexual Preferences Transphobic?

Last year, a study exploring “transgender exclusion from the world of dating” was published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. Of nearly 1,000 participants, the overwhelming majority, 87.5 percent, irrespective of their sexual preference, said they would not consider dating a trans person, ... Read More
Culture

R.I.P. David Koch

Making the click-through worthwhile: breaking news that David Koch, a giant of philanthropy and the libertarian movement, has died; a couple of politicians who warn us about climate-change-driven rising oceans and worsening hurricanes pay millions for oceanfront property; an insane decision surrounding a morning ... Read More