Phi Beta Cons

Augustana College Bans Yakety-Yak on Yik Yak

Yik Yak is an app that’s popular with college students and young people. It allows them to communicate anonymously with peers in their vicinity. If you download the app and post a comment, anyone else with the app who’s within 10 miles of you will see it. A friend of mine downloaded it recently just to see what all of the hullabaloo was about, and then showed me some of the posts. I saw a lot of talk about partying, inquiries about where to find marijuana, crude sexual comments, lowbrow one-liners, and lame attempts to pick up dates for the weekend. Lots of amateur comedians, you see.

I can understand how some people may be offended by such vulgarity, but the appropriate response to the stupid and cringe-worthy posts is a face palm (or deletion of the app), not outrage and calls for a ban. That’s why I was disappointed to see that the private Augustana College in Illinois recently used a firewall to block access to the app on its campus. Augustana’s Black Student Union, Student Government Association, and something called the Multicultural Club Council had complained to the administration about “racist” and “offensive” comments that were posted on the app. 

Augustana’s administration should have responded with a line used often by one of my former professors when responding to whiny students: “too bad, so sad.” In other words, get over it! Thick skin is important. Colleges that cater to the emotional whims of their students or try to coddle certain groups to “protect” them from the Big Bad World undermine the foundations of free speech and end up encouraging the incivility they originally sought to eliminate. If a society’s mindset toward offensive or disagreeable ideas is “We need to ban that!” then that society is on the fast track to authoritarianism.

Jesse Saffron — Jesse Saffron is a writer and editor for the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, a North Carolina-based think tank dedicated to improving higher education in the Tar ...

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

The Great Misdirection

The House Democrats are frustrated, very frustrated. They’ve gotten themselves entangled in procedural disputes with the Trump administration that no one particularly cares about and that might be litigated for a very long time. A Washington Post report over the weekend spelled out how stymied Democrats ... Read More
World

Australia’s Voters Reject Leftist Ideas

Hell hath no fury greater than left-wingers who lose an election in a surprise upset. Think Brexit in 2016. Think Trump’s victory the same year. Now add Australia. Conservative prime minister Scott Morrison shocked pollsters and pundits alike with his victory on Saturday, and the reaction has been brutal ... Read More
NR Webathon

We’ve Had Bill Barr’s Back

One of the more dismaying features of the national political debate lately is how casually and cynically Attorney General Bill Barr has been smeared. He is routinely compared to Roy Cohn on a cable-TV program that prides itself on assembling the most thoughtful and plugged-in political analysts and ... Read More
Film & TV

Game of Thrones: A Father’s Legacy Endures

Warning! If you don't want to read any spoilers from last night's series finale of Game of Thrones, stop reading. Right now. There is a lot to unpack about the Thrones finale, and I fully understand many of the criticisms I read on Twitter and elsewhere. Yes, the show was compressed. Yes, there were moments ... Read More
Culture

Cold Brew’s Insidious Hegemony

Soon, many parts of the United States will be unbearably hot. Texans and Arizonans will be able to bake cookies on their car dashboards; the garbage on the streets of New York will be especially pungent; Washington will not only figuratively be a swamp. And all across America, coffee consumers will turn their ... Read More
National Security & Defense

The Warmonger Canard

Whatever the opposite of a rush to war is — a crawl to peace, maybe — America is in the middle of one. Since May 5, when John Bolton announced the accelerated deployment of the Abraham Lincoln carrier group to the Persian Gulf in response to intelligence of a possible Iranian attack, the press has been aflame ... Read More