Madison Gesiotto is a law student at Ohio State, and is also the author of the “Millennial Mindset” column at the Washington Times.
(Pause for laughter at the thought of “Millenial Mindset”)
She recently wrote a column called “The number one killer of black Americans.” What is this killer? According to Gesiotto, the number one killer of Black Americans is abortion. She believes that life begins at conception (as a lot of people do) and she then tallies up deaths from disease, murder, etc., and comes to the conclusion that this is a real problem.
I don’t agree with her. But, ok… I get what she was trying to say. It’s fair to criticize it. But, it is consistent with a “pro life” or “anti-abortion” agenda.
Some in the law school student body weren’t having it. No, these were bad thoughts.
The Black Law Students Association issued a statement that its members were offended by “the racist undertones of the opinion piece and question its journalistic integrity.” (source)
Her politically correct classmates descended like social justice locusts on her Facebook page, according to an article in the Washington Times. (source) Gesiotto told the paper that a fellow student wrote on her Facebook page “[t]he government cannot take action against you for your offensive and racist article. But your colleagues can.”
Gesiotto said she reported to her law school dean’s office that she was “extremely nervous” after reading that post, and was not sure if that meant her fellow student intended to hurt her, physically.
Let us presume that the Facebook post happened. (I have no present reason to disbelieve her story). And, let’s set aside for a moment how ludicrous her “I don’t feel safe” story is, just for a few paragraphs.
Gesiotto also told the Washington Times that several deans met with her, but not to address her feeling that she was not “safe.” Rather, she says, they met with her to give her column writing advice. “[The Dean] explained that she thought this was not proper legal writing or journalistic writing,” Ms. Gesiotto told the newspaper. “She further explained that in her mind this article could be taken various ways and left questions to be answered.” (source)
The deans suggested that she participate in a “facilitated discussion” with her outraged classmates, she said.
If we take her at her word, or even if we don’t, it does not strain credibility to say that Gesiotto’s views were incompatible with the politically correct narrative required on college campuses.
In fact, you can’t even call it “politically correct” anymore, as even that term is a “microagression.”
Then instead of “political correctness,” maybe we should call it the less euphemistic, but accurate term — neo-Stalinism. What else would you call a movement that demands that we erase our memory of Thomas Jefferson, because he owned slaves? (source) His slave ownership is at odds with his purported philosophies. But, this idea that we should make historical figures into “un-persons” because we judge them imperfect, that is simply too reminiscent of Uncle Joe.
Conservatives are an oppressed minority in academia. And I don’t say this as a member of that minority. I personally think Bernie Sanders could go a little further left, if he really wanted to dial it in. But, I also think that there is plenty of room for Ms. Gesiotto’s views in the marketplace of ideas.
But too often that marketplace is not welcome in academia. This Ohio State episode is just one example. Others? A Washington State class requires white students to “defer” to “students of color.” (source) At the University of Tennessee, there was an initiative to ban pronouns, because pronouns are sexist. (source) We have the idiocy of “trigger warnings,” where academics are expected to predict who might be uncomfortable with an upcoming statement, but now even the term “trigger warning” needs a trigger warning! (source)
At the University of Missouri, a journalism professor (of all things) called for “muscle” to remove a journalist from covering student protests over racial issues at the campus. (source) Smith College banned journalists from covering its campus protests unless they were vetted to be friendly to the cause. No objective journalists welcome. (source)
Why? Because the “social justice” crowd needs “safe spaces.” What is a “safe space?” It is an intellectual blankie – a bubble where people are free from criticism or ideas that might challenge their own. It is a shield from the marketplace of ideas.
I support Ms. Gesiotto in part, but I also criticize her for using the same tactics as her whiny leftist tormentors. She put her views out there in her column. Other people are allowed to criticize her. Politics is just slightly rougher than no-helmet hockey, and you have to expect to take a few metaphorical punches. Gesiotto’s claims that she did not feel “safe,” are not credible.
I will give her deans some credit. Calling for a “facilitated discussion” is a great way to bring the marketplace of ideas to life. Let there be debate. Let there be disagreement. Let there be enlightenment that grows from the heat of such engagement.
But let’s be real. Would they have done that if Ms. Gesiotto happened to espouse their pet views, and then complained about “not feeling safe?” I can’t say for sure, but I doubt it. “Safe spaces” are not for conservatives. And the deans’ other “suggestions” make me skeptical that this “facilitated discussion” would have been much more than the attempted re-education of Ms. Gesiotto for having heretical views.
It is easy for the social justice warrior professors to screech for “diversity,” but what they really want is diversity in their recruiting brochures, but homogeneity of thought.
That is not what education is about.
This post originally appeared on Popehat. View it here.