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.