Remember when universities used to encourage freedom of academic inquiry and were seen as intellectual and social preparation for the transition into adulthood? I know; that was a long time ago — before the left infected these institutions.
Everyone knows about the leftward slant of most American universities: their monolithic biases; their bent toward politicizing their curricula; and their practice of indoctrinating students. But increasingly the results of leftist community organizing — the toxins of political correctness — are seeping into university disciplinary rules.
This deplorable trend has concerned me for years, but it is particularly disturbing when it is occurring at my alma mater, the University of Missouri.
I'm not talking about Mizzou's recent racial controversy but reports that the university is now encouraging its students to file a report any time they witness or experience a "bias incident." It would be one thing if they were talking about true incidents of racial or some other form of discrimination, but it appears it's much more expansive than that.
According to the university's online statement, a "bias incident is an act of intolerance which is committed against any person, group or property and which discriminates, stereotypes, harasses or excludes anyone based on" any of some 20 different categories, from race to religion to gender expression, and yes, even physical appearance.
Look out, social fraternities. You better make sure no one overhears your actives talking to pledges.
Does it ever bother you that liberals seem to be preoccupied with these kinds of things — as if they just sit around stewing about how they might be offended?
Do you think it helps society for academic institutions and government to shove these things in our faces all the time and invite us to feel offended at the drop of a hat? Shouldn't we aspire to colorblindness, not look for slurs at every opportunity?
Is it good for students that institutions of higher learning proactively try to turn them into thin-skinned, paranoid wimps? Isn't it bad enough that they offer classes largely devoted to convincing students that men hate and exploit women, whites routinely abuse blacks, the rich are evil and exploit the poor, cops are the enemy and Christians are science-averse Neanderthals — as well as other types of poisonous bilge?
I am not discounting actual incidents of racial bias where people are harmed. But I don't think it's healthy for our institutions to pressure students to see racial or other types of prejudice at every turn. Why pit people against each other? Why stoke people's suspicions of each other? Won't that lead to distrust instead of reduce it?
College students are being groomed for the workforce where they will encounter all kinds of challenges. Should our schools train them not to handle even minor perceived sleights on their own but instead hone their skills as tattletales? I suppose it's not that surprising, considering that progressives advocate cradle-to-grave dependency in other respects.
The progressive mindset thrives on generating angst between different groups. Along those lines, Katherine Timpf has observed in National Review Online that the university is encouraging not just alleged victims of "bias" to report these incidents but also others who witness them, even if the alleged victim doesn't feel victimized. The school might as well supply volunteer student thought policemen with uniforms to troll around campus to chill speech.
It appears that this nanny-state administration wants students to report, for example, teasing based on physical appearance. It may not be nice, but does this rise to the level of a disciplinary matter?
Indeed, "name-calling" is listed on the form as an "act of intolerance." The instructions go so far as to say that "extreme examples of bias incidents — regardless of severity — can be reported using this form." Regardless of severity? Wow.
There's another problem with these speech and conduct codes. Those who promulgate and enforce them often have their own biases and generally don't recognize certain groups as worthy of protection. Do you think, for instance, your typical university administration would consider the dissing of Christianity or conservatism actionable violations of the code?
These types of overzealous regulations trivialize actual incidents of discrimination and harm the very groups they purport to help as well as society as a whole.
Maybe the people obsessing over "intolerance" are projecting their own malcontented worldview and would be better served, and would serve others better, if they would just chill out and back off a little bit. Students aren't as helpless or as prejudiced as progressives enjoy depicting them.
David Limbaugh is a writer, author and attorney. His latest book is "The Emmaus Code: Finding Jesus in the Old Testament." Follow him on Twitter @davidlimbaugh and his website at www.davidlimbaugh.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.