Friday, November 13, 2015

Microaggression obsession threatens First Amendment Values

Violence and threats are not protected by the First Amendment, but the trending microaggression obsession threatens those values.  Some call such conscious and unconscious acts and words "the new face of racism."  Like it or not, racist comments and hate speech are generally protected by the First Amendment.  Just as right-wing political correctness chilled protected speech during the McCarthy years, left-wing political correctness threatens those same freedoms on many college campuses today.
Both the left and right are capable of amazing hypocrisy and authoritarianism.  It seems like too many people want to wear he mantle of "victim," when others behave in provocative ways that are constitutionally protected.  First Amendment freedoms have fallen victim to campus speech codes.  I guess the next step is microaggression codes.
Further, First Amendment values are central to the educational process. 

“Some call it the new face of racism — not the blatant acts of bias that recently led to the University of Missouri's campus unrest and resignation of the president and chancellor. Instead, a phenomenon known as "microaggression" — everyday slights and snubs, sometimes unintentional — is drawing widespread attention across college campuses and kicking up a debate about social justice and free speech rights. . . .  Some critics, however, say they worry that the microaggression movement chills free speech, increases conflict and perpetuates an aggrieved sense of victimhood.

Bradley Campbell, a an associate professor of sociology at Cal State Los Angeles, said the movement is transforming society from a "dignity culture," in which people are taught to have thick skins and refuse to allow others to affect their sense of self-worth, to a "victimhood culture" that advertises personal oppression. . . . Such a shift, he argued, could increase mental health problems and 1st Amendment conflicts, such as campus speech codes and the recent attempt by University of Missouri students to bar journalists from entering a public area they deemed their "safe space."

He also said that labeling those who unintentionally offend as aggressors seemed harsh, potentially creating more conflict and alienation among groups.

Others defend the focus on microaggression as the next step forward in the country's long, slow march toward greater equality and understanding.”


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