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Liberals Are Killing the Liberal Arts

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  • Liberals Are Killing the Liberal Arts

    The panel started innocuously enough with Ms. Kaminer criticizing the proliferation of campus speech codes that restrict supposedly offensive language. She urged the audience to defend the free exchange of ideas over parochial notions of “civility.” In response to a question about teaching materials that contain “hate speech,” she raised the example of Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” arguing that students should take it as a whole. The student member of the panel, Jaime Estrada, resisted that notion, saying, “But it has the n-word, and some people are sensitive to that.”

    Ms. Kaminer responded: “Well let’s talk about n-words. Let’s talk about the growing lexicon of words that can only be known by their initials. I mean, when I say, ‘n-word’ or when Jaime says ‘n-word,’ what word do you all hear in your head? You hear the word . . . ”

    And then Ms. Kaminer crossed the Rubicon of political correctness and uttered the forbidden word, observing that having uttered it, “nothing horrible happened.” She then compared the trend of replacing potentially offensive words with an initial to being “characters in a Harry Potter book who are afraid to say the word ‘Voldemort.’ ” There’s an important difference, she pointed out, between hurling an epithet and uttering a forbidden word during an academic discussion of our attitudes toward language and law.

    The event—and Ms. Kaminer’s words—prompted blowback from Smith undergraduates, recent alumnae and some faculty members. One member of the audience posted an audio recording and transcript of the discussion, preceded by what has come to be known in the academic world as a “trigger warning”:

    “Trigger/Content Warnings: Racism/racial slurs, abelist slurs, anti-Semitic language, anti-Muslim/Islamophobic language, anti-immigrant language, sexist/misogynistic slurs, references to race-based violence.”
    Smith is not the epicenter of hostility to free speech. On university campuses nationwide we are witnessing an increasing tide of trigger warnings. They are popping up on syllabi, in discussions of public art, and even finding their way into official school policies
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Paprika View Post
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
    On campuses across the country, hostility toward unpopular ideas has become so irrational that many students, and some faculty members, now openly oppose freedom of speech. The hypersensitive consider the mere discussion of the topic of censorship to be potentially traumatic.
    Yes, and it is not the conservatives doing this. How long have I been ringing this clarion bell?
    Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

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    • #3
      I'd say that "Huckleberry Finn" is a poor choice of example for one group "killing the liberal arts." That's a book that's been beset with criticism and outright bans for over 100 years, for reasons ranging from promoting bad manners among youth to anti-Southern sentiment to coarse language to racism. Virtually every major ideological group has taken pot shots at "Huck Finn," proving its subversive worth a thousand times over.

      The topic, though, seems to be the inclusion of "trigger warnings" or the use of perceived hate speech outside the confines of academic discussion or education. It's difficult to see how this opposing "freedom of speech" in a particularly untoward manner.

      Points for the Yeats quote, btw.
      "I wonder about the trees. / Why do we wish to bear / Forever the noise of these / More than another noise / So close to our dwelling place?" — Robert Frost, "The Sound of Trees"

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Sam View Post
        I'd say that "Huckleberry Finn" is a poor choice of example for one group "killing the liberal arts." That's a book that's been beset with criticism and outright bans for over 100 years, for reasons ranging from promoting bad manners among youth to anti-Southern sentiment to coarse language to racism. Virtually every major ideological group has taken pot shots at "Huck Finn," proving its subversive worth a thousand times over.

        The topic, though, seems to be the inclusion of "trigger warnings" or the use of perceived hate speech outside the confines of academic discussion or education. It's difficult to see how this opposing "freedom of speech" in a particularly untoward manner.

        Points for the Yeats quote, btw.
        Hate speech is what needs protecting the most since it's the most controversial. Support for abortion could be considered hate speech too, for example.
        "As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths." Isaiah 3:12

        There is no such thing as innocence, only degrees of guilt.

        Comment


        • #5
          Samuel Clemens was a true genius, and a rather liberal one at that.
          βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον·
          ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

          אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

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          • #6
            Originally posted by seer View Post
            Yes, and it is not the conservatives doing this. How long have I been ringing this clarion bell?
            Trigger warnings are used too often nowadays, but they aren't remotely opposed to freedom of speech, because all they do is warn people that they may find the content disturbing. It isn't censorship at all.
            Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.--Isaiah 1:17

            I don't think that all forms o[f] slavery are inherently immoral.--seer

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Sam View Post

              The topic, though, seems to be the inclusion of "trigger warnings" or the use of perceived hate speech outside the confines of academic discussion or education. It's difficult to see how this opposing "freedom of speech" in a particularly untoward manner.
              Kuminae was speaking at a panel for alumnae titled “Challenging the Ideological Echo Chamber: Free Speech, Civil Discourse and the Liberal Arts.” If you'd read the article, the backlash for her speaking the unspeakable was significant.

              Trigger warnings are the precursors to censorship. Indulge a sense of victimhood; encourage others to wallow in the pain of encountering contradicting ideas and you have a ready-made excuse: to protect their feelings.
              Last edited by Paprika; 11-12-2014, 11:52 PM.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Paprika View Post
                Kuminae was speaking at a panel for alumnae titled “Challenging the Ideological Echo Chamber: Free Speech, Civil Discourse and the Liberal Arts.” If you'd read the article, the backlash for her speaking the unspeakable was significant.

                Trigger warnings are the precursors to censorship. Indulge a sense of victimhood; encourage others to wallow in the pain of encountering contradicting ideas and you have a ready-made excuse: to protect their feelings.
                The full article is paywalled, unfortunately. But there are two potential topics here: one deals with public backlash against saying something deemed hate speech in public and the other deals with the discussion and study of the Liberal Arts, presumably in classes or academia. In the latter case, I think we're really dealing more with trigger warnings than anything else, as a liberal arts class in college is unlikely to shy away from "banned book" content or such discussions.

                And trigger warnings themselves no more "indulge a sense of victimhood" than viewer discretion warnings on television do. I've never once felt a sense of victimhood when something like "Law and Order: SVU" opens with investigators combing the scene of a brutal rape — but I'm happy to have the heads up, nonetheless, and I imagine some people really do benefit from having that warning to change the channel. Trigger warnings for books do no harm, except in this nebulous sense of "indulging a sense of victimhood" stuff that seems a lot more callous than caring. When we start getting licensed psychiatrists agreeing that this is a real problem, we'll be justified in giving it more weight.
                "I wonder about the trees. / Why do we wish to bear / Forever the noise of these / More than another noise / So close to our dwelling place?" — Robert Frost, "The Sound of Trees"

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Sam View Post
                  The full article is paywalled, unfortunately. But there are two potential topics here: one deals with public backlash against saying something deemed hate speech in public and the other deals with the discussion and study of the Liberal Arts, presumably in classes or academia. In the latter case, I think we're really dealing more with trigger warnings than anything else, as a liberal arts class in college is unlikely to shy away from "banned book" content or such discussions.
                  Perhaps you should read the article instead of relying on what you think.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Paprika View Post
                    Perhaps you should read the article instead of relying on what you think.
                    Seeing as how it's pay-walled, all I've got to go on is what you're providing in the OP and subsequent posts. If there's more context and you want the discussion to revolve around that, you've got to set it up — I ain't never paid for no WSJ articles and I ain't startin' now!
                    "I wonder about the trees. / Why do we wish to bear / Forever the noise of these / More than another noise / So close to our dwelling place?" — Robert Frost, "The Sound of Trees"

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Sam View Post
                      Seeing as how it's pay-walled, all I've got to go on is what you're providing in the OP and subsequent posts. If there's more context and you want the discussion to revolve around that, you've got to set it up — I ain't never paid for no WSJ articles and I ain't startin' now!
                      Is ingenuity altogether lacking? It is possible the article is reproduced on other websites that do not have paywalls.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Paprika View Post
                        Is ingenuity altogether lacking? It is possible the article is reproduced on other websites that do not have paywalls.
                        Why not link to that instead of chiding people for not reading the article following the paywalled link into the OP? Not sure why you're trying to call me out on this.

                        Regardless, your paragraph about trigger warnings can stand or fall on its own merits without the article as backup. If trigger warnings aren't a matter of topic, it's strange that they're included in the OP. If they are a matter of topic, I imagine we can discuss them with or without everyone else first scouring the Internet for a site that's circumvented WSJ's copyright.
                        "I wonder about the trees. / Why do we wish to bear / Forever the noise of these / More than another noise / So close to our dwelling place?" — Robert Frost, "The Sound of Trees"

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Sam View Post
                          Why not link to that instead of chiding people for not reading the article following the paywalled link into the OP? Not sure why you're trying to call me out on this.
                          I don't chide people for not reading the article, as though it is compulsory to read it; I chided you for not reading it and yet concluding that something is what is "really" being dealt with as opposed to another.

                          Regardless, your paragraph about trigger warnings can stand or fall on its own merits without the article as backup. If trigger warnings aren't a matter of topic, it's strange that they're included in the OP.
                          It is a matter of topic in the article. What was the problem was you trying to make out that the article was "really" about them and not "anything else".

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Paprika View Post
                            I don't chide people for not reading the article, as though it is compulsory to read it; I chided you for not reading it and yet concluding that something is what is "really" being dealt with as opposed to another.


                            It is a matter of topic in the article. What was the problem was you trying to make out that the article was "really" about them and not "anything else".
                            Uhh . . . no. I first wrote, "The topic, though, seems to be the inclusion of "trigger warnings" or the use of perceived hate speech outside the confines of academic discussion or education." Note that I wrote "seems to be," since I only had your quote in the OP to go on. Then you chided me, saying that if I'd read the article, I'd know that the backlash for "speaking the unspeakable was significant." From that, I wrote that there are two potential topics: the subject of "hate speech" spoken in public and the subject of "hate speech," as it pertains to academic discussion of the liberal arts. In the second topic, I wrote that I think we're really dealing with trigger warnings more than anything else. If the issue is the first topic, hate speech merely being spoken in public then trigger warnings and are not the main concern.

                            Nothing I wrote assumed what the article was "really" about. I tried to lay out a framework based on the information you provided and explained my inferences from that. I think they are decent and rational inferences but they are very tentative and easily changed given new information. If you want the discussion to go in a different direction based on information in the article that isn't accessible to others, you have to provide that information. Otherwise, you can't complain when people try their best to make and explain the inferences they get from the OP!
                            "I wonder about the trees. / Why do we wish to bear / Forever the noise of these / More than another noise / So close to our dwelling place?" — Robert Frost, "The Sound of Trees"

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Sam View Post
                              Nothing I wrote assumed what the article was "really" about.
                              I didn't chide you for what you assumed.

                              I tried to lay out a framework based on the information you provided and explained my inferences from that. I think they are decent and rational inferences but they are very tentative and easily changed given new information. If you want the discussion to go in a different direction based on information in the article that isn't accessible to others, you have to provide that information. Otherwise, you can't complain when people try their best to make and explain the inferences they get from the OP!
                              If only you've tried as hard to find the article and actually read it.

                              Comment

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