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Is Safetyism Destroying a Generation?

A review of The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, Penguin Press (September 4, 2018) 352 pages.

In recent years behaviours on university campuses have created widespread unease. Safe spaces, trigger warnings, and speech codes. Demands for speakers to be disinvited. Words construed as violence and liberalism described as ‘white supremacy’. Students walking on eggshells, too scared to speak their minds. Controversial speakers violently rebuked – from conservative provocateurs such as Milo Yiannopoulos to serious sociologists such as Charles Murray, to left-leaning academics such as Bret Weinstein.

Historically, campus censorship was enacted by zealous university administrators. Students were radicals who pushed the boundaries of acceptability, like during the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley in the 1960s. Today, however, students work in tandem with administrators to make their campus ‘safe’ from threatening ideas.

Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff’s new book, The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, persuasively unpacks the causes of the current predicament on campus – which they link to wider parenting, cultural and political trends. Haidt is a social psychology professor at New York University and founder of Heterodox Academy. Lukianoff is a constitutional lawyer and president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. In 2015, they wrote The Atlantic cover story of the same name.

Haidt and Lukianoff’s explanation for our era of campus craziness is primarily psychological. In sum, a well-intentioned safety culture which has led to ‘paranoid parenting,’ and screen time replacing unstructured and unsupervised play time, has created a fragile generation. Haidt and Lukianoff focus on people born after 1995, iGen or Generation Z, who began attending college in the last five years – just when things started to escalate.

This cohort is experiencing a dramatic rise in anxiety, depression and suicide. When they arrived on campus, in an increasingly polarised political climate, they were unprepared to be intellectually challenged. They – or at least the ‘social justice’ activists of this generation – responded by creating a culture of censorship, intimidation and violence, and witch hunts against non-believers. Universities, led by risk adverse bureaucracies, are treating students like customers and allowing an aggressive, censorious minority set the agenda.

The dangers of safety culture

Greg Lukianoff

Haidt and Lukianoff focus on the unintended consequences of safetyism – the idea that people are weak and should be protected, rather than exposed, to challenges. Safety culture has the best of intentions: protect kids from danger. It began with a focus on physical safety – removing sharp objects and choke hazards, requiring child seats, and not letting children walk home alone. Safety, however, has experienced substantial concept creep. It now includes emotional safety, that is, not being exposed ideas that could cause psychological distress. Taken together, the focus on physical and mental safety makes young people weaker.

Humans are what author and statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls ‘antifragile’. We ‘benefit from shocks; [humans] thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty’. Peanuts are a case in point of needing to be exposed to danger to build resilience. From the 1990s, parents were encouraged to not feed children peanuts, and childcare centres, kindergartens and schools banned peanuts. This moratorium has backfired. The LEAP study (Learning Early About Peanut Allergy) found that not eating peanut-containing products during infancy increases allergies. The researchers recruited 640 infants with a high risk of developing peanut allergy. Half were given a peanut-containing product. The other half avoided peanuts. The study found that 17 per cent of those who did not consume peanuts developed an allergy by age 5, compared to just 3 per cent of those who did consume the peanut-containing snack. Our immune system grows stronger when exposed to a range of foods, bacteria, and even parasites.

Antifragility applies to emotional health as well. When you guard children against every possible risk – do not let them outside to play or walk home alone – they exaggerate the fear of such situations and fail to develop resilience and coping skills. Stresses are necessary to learn, adapt and grow. Without movement, our muscles and joints grow weak. Without varied life experiences, our minds do not know how to cope with day-to-day stressors. Measures designed to protect children and students are backfiring. Fragility is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you think certain ideas are dangerous, or are encouraged to do so by trigger warnings and safe spaces, you will be more anxious in the long run. Intellectual safety not only makes free and open debate impossible, it setting up a generation for more anxiety and depression.

Haidt and Lukianoff use an array of data that shows a shocking increase in American youth anxiety, depression, and suicide in the last five years, but particularly for young women. By 2016, one out of every five American girls met the criteria for having experienced a major depressive episode in the previous year – an increase of almost two-thirds over five years. There has also been an increase in male suicide by one-third, and female suicide has doubled since the early 2000s, reaching the highest recorded since 1981.

Notably, it is not just the American mind that has been coddled. Consistent with Haidt and Lukianoff’s findings in the United States, there has been a substantial increase in youth mental health issues in other Anglosphere countries such as Britain and Australia.

In July, Britain’s National Health Service reported a record 389,727 ‘active deferrals’ for mental health among people aged 18 or younger. The crisis is more pronounced among women, who have experienced a 68 per cent rise in hospital admissions for self-harm over the past decade and a 10 per cent growth in anxiety. Another survey found a doubling in self-reported mental health problems among university students between 2009 and 2014.

Mission Australia’s Youth Mental Health report has found that a 23 per cent of young Australians have a probable serious mental health, an increase from 19 per cent just five years ago. A separate Mission Australia survey in 2017 found that for the first time mental health is the number one issue of national concern for young people in Australia. Meanwhile, the suicide rate among young Australians grew by 20 per cent over the last decade.

Feelings over debate

There is a link between rising mental health issues, safety culture and campus trends. It is notable how often students put censorious demands in the language of feeling safe. Students demand trigger warnings because ideas are emotionally challenging, safe spaces to hide away from scary situations, and the disinvitation of controversial speakers to feel safe on campus. While it is important to show courtesy in public debate, it is patently absurd to suggest that simply hearing an idea you dislike makes you unsafe in any meaningful way. As the old saying goes, ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’. In fact, the opposite is true, post-traumatic growth is a real phenomenon: difficult situations do make us stronger.

While America has experienced the worst of campus craziness, over-parenting and rising mental health issues correlate with similar university trends across the Anglosphere. In Britain, speakers are ‘no platformed’, and songs and newspapers are banned. In Canada, teaching assistant Lindsey Shepherd was reprimanded for showing a debate in class. In Australia, universities are adopting trigger warnings, succumbing to demands for censorship to protect ‘feelings’, and on some occasions protests have turned violent. In New Zealand last month a free speech debate was interrupted by protesters.

In recent weeks La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia almost banned sex researcher Bettina Arndt from speaking about sexual assault issues on campus. While the university reversed their earlier decision, it nevertheless informed students that counselling would be available – solidifying the idea that the mere existence of a contrarian voice necessitates therapy. Students have continued to demand censorship of Arndt on the basis that her ideas make them feel ‘unsafe’.

In recent days the La Trobe Student Union’s student representatives released a statement calling for Arndt to be prevented from speaking. The statement mentions the word ‘safe’ a total of nine times. One of the student representatives explicitly declared that ‘What Arndt chooses to speak on makes me feel incredibly unsafe… The university is currently allowing this event to go ahead under the pretence of free speech, however I do not think free speech should come at the expense of student safety.’ This is not the language of radicals – this is young people appealing to authority figures for protection.

Safety culture undermines the entire purpose of a higher education. Universities exist to challenge students, to expand their worldview and develop their critical thinking. This is done by hearing and responding to ideas that make us feel uncomfortable. Efforts to censor speakers because they make some people feel ‘unsafe’ prevents the necessary process of argument and counter-argument in the pursuit of finding the truth.

Debate on campus is already undermined by the lack of viewpoint diversity – most academics come from a similar political pedigree, meaning students have fewer opportunities to be challenged in the first place. A lack of exposure to different ideas means a much more limited and weaker education. As British philosopher John Stuart Mill wrote, ‘He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that.’ In other words, to make an argument thoughtfully, it is necessary to understand the counterfactual of one’s own argument.

Emotional reasoning and good versus evil

Jonathan Haidt

Haidt and Lukianoff argue that the focus on feelings is a symptom of a culture that encourages emotional reasoning: letting feelings guide our interpretation of reality. Students are being taught to engage in thought patterns that make the world appear more threatening – such as focusing on a worst possible outcome, overgeneralising, assuming that one knows what other people are thinking, and only seeing the negative in situations. These are the precisely the same cognitive distortions that lead to anxiety and depression (e.g. the world is a dangerous place for a person like me, everyone I know hates me, etc).

The encouragement of cognitive distortions also undermines academic pursuits. For example, the claim often made in academic fields such as critical race theory that ‘all white people are racist’ is an overgeneralisation that can lead to both anger and aggression in students who believe it.

Another untruth that has become prominent within academic and wider public discourse is the notion that life consists of many small battles between good and evil. In this framing, it is presumed that one’s opponent has the worst possible intentions, creating feelings of victimisation, anger, hopelessness in students who believe it. The notion of ‘microaggressions’ presumes many innocent comments – such as ‘I believe the most qualified person should get the job’ – are hiding underlying racist sentiments. Encouraging students to be concerned about unintended sentiments ensures that they are always suffering. And in practice, it means students do not speak their minds for fear of being misinterpreted as sexist, racist or homophobic. This is not an environment conducive to freely exploring ideas.

Haidt and Lukianoff recommend confronting this challenge by following the proven method of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Considered the gold standard of psychological therapy, CBT focuses on not letting your feelings and cognitive distortions consume you. Exercises that are used in CBT help people to understand that situations are not black and white. Not every ambiguous interaction is designed to hurt you. Catastrophic thinking in response to negative events is largely within our control.

Hope for the future

The Coddling of the American Mind is both an enlightening but disquieting read. We have a lot of challenges in front of us. Safety culture is embedded into parenting styles. Mental health issues among young people are rapidly increasing. A censorious culture is the norm on campus. Universities are facilitating a self-destructive culture not only through speech codes, but in teaching simplistic theories about human society. Academics far too often pursue social justice causes over empirical inquiry. New ideas – like speech is violence, and therefore it is justifiable to use violence against speech – are downright frightening.

Haidt and Lukianoff conclude by offering a wide array of useful suggestions for students, parents, teachers, schools, and colleges – from choosing a college that clearly prioritises intellectual freedom, to increasing unstructured and unsupervised play time for children, and reducing screen time. They effectively mix together diagnoses of the problem, and some ideas for how to fix it.

But more fundamentally, we should not discount an entire generation. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Safety culture and censorship is engendering its own backlash. Arguably, more than any time in recent history, we are seeing an intellectual renaissance outside of traditional institutions such as the university. The more that some students – and administrators – seek to censor contrarian views, the more the mischievous instinct will play out, online and elsewhere.

At least from my experience on campuses across Australia, young people are thirsty to partake in the battle of ideas, challenge orthodoxies, and investigate dangerous ideas. While there are some who violently shut down opposition, there are many others who reject the imposition of safety culture. The challenges are not insurmountable.

 

Matthew Lesh is a research fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs, Australia, and author of the forthcoming book “Democracy in a Divided Australia: The Inners-Outers Divide Ripping Us Apart.” Follow him on Twitter @matthewlesh.

118 Comments

  1. According to Haidt and Lukianoff, the cause of “safetyism” lies in “the focus on feelings,” which “is a symptom of a culture that encourages emotional reasoning: letting feelings guide our interpretation of reality.”

    The question that immediately pops in my head when I read this is the following: What then would have changed in our culture over the last twenty years or so that might have caused so much of the “focus” in academia to switch from one guided by “reason” to one guided by “feelings”?

    There’s one possible explanation that I’ve never heard anyone provide. (Trigger warning: This explanation may be hurtful to some people, and cause them to feel unsafe.) How about the rapid growth in the number of female academics (especially in the humanities and “studies” programs) and administrators (especially in the more activist-oriented sectors of university administration) in colleges in the US over the past couple of decades? Most of the “safetyist” mumbo-jumbo seems to be coming from the humanities and “studies” departments, and the newer administrative divisions dedicated to missions of “inclusion,” diversity,” and so forth. These seem to be increasingly staffed by women; in many cases, women easily outnumber men.

    There are dozens of studies in psychology that show that women tend to rely more than men upon feelings and empathy in guiding how they frame reality. Does it not then make sense that a fairly rapid increase in the number of women engaged in idea formation and decision-making on US campuses might be accompanied by a new focus on “feelings” — giving rise to concepts and practices such as “safe spaces” and “no platforming” of speakers — often at the expense of things like statistically-valid data and reason?

    • Roman says

      There is room for both, in my view. If we scrapped all feeling in the pursuit of data and reason we could easily turn into heartless eugenicists. As it stands now, however, I see that the feeling end of the spectrum has run roughshod over scientific inquiry, which is bad news.

      • @ Roman

        Jonathan Haidt himself has floated the idea (although perhaps only semi-seriously) of establishing two types of “universities” — one which would pursue scientific inquiry and critical thinking, and the other which would pursue “social justice,” because he increasingly believes that the two cannot co-exist within the same institution. I agree (more than semi-seriously) with this idea because, unlike you, I don’t think there should be anything other than a very limited role for a college — at least for any college that I would want to attend — in exploring “feelings.” Everybody’s got “feelings.” On the other hand, very few people, left to their own devices, are very good at critical thinking — that’s where the university should step in and perform its proper and centuries-long function. I can learn to be a gentle and kind person at a church service or a group therapy meeting. I don’t want to waste my tuition dollars on these sorts of efforts, especially when their expression on campuses these days is so nakedly anti-intellectual.

        • AC Harper says

          Many years ago, in the UK, after one of the many tertiary education reorganisations, Loughborough University of Technology was formed in 1966 from Loughborough College of Advanced Technology and its predecessor colleges.

          I studied there early on and it was noteworthy that unlike universities elsewhere at the time there was little political discontent and the political activities of the Student Union were mostly ignored. We were too busy ‘doing science’, and growing up, drinking, and going to musical events.

          So if Jonathan Haidt wants to put flesh on his idea – the experiment has already been done. Plus the University expanded in 1996 to include ‘the Art Colleges’ at the bottom of the hill so we have a potential before and after scenario.

        • I’m fully supportive of the idea of having separate universities for those who want to advocate for a cause they know fuck all about and those who actually want to learn something.

          I should imagine employers would also find it useful when determining can do the job and who is just a lawsuit waiting to happen.

          • I think that our colleges and universities should exclude “feelers”, as those who disdain reason and logic are too poorly equipped to benefit from the education offered. I understand a number of institutions have added political, “social justice” curricula such as “Women’s Studies”, courses in Marxism, and classes which degrade men, whites, and especially white men with the same racist fervor for which the old KKK used to degrade blacks. Educators like that would deprive students enrolled in such curricula of any meaningful information or skills that would prepare them for a life outside of academia, where they would end up regurgitating that swill to other students when they discover they can’t find useful employment in the real world.

            The students who refuse to utilize logic, reason, and proper manners/behavior when interacting with others on any campus should be expelled. The same for any employees of the institution, be they tenured professors or administrative staff. I understand some associate professors like to instruct others by striking them with heavy bicycle locks about the head and shoulders, but such individuals should not be permitted to continue working for any legitimate institution of higher learning. Even after they have served time in prison. People who attack others – especially physically – for simply disagreeing with them are “wired” improperly between the ears, and even having had time to reconsider their behavior in a cell for a few years would still likely be unable to act as a reasoning human being.

            Just because the “feelers” and the current crop of professors and instructors wish to push their Marxist agenda upon all of the students attending a college or university doesn’t mean it should be allowed. When a school like Stanford University makes it impossible for freedom of speech to exist upon its campus, we should realize how far we have strayed from the Judeo-Christian moral code, our Constitution and Bill of Rights, and the decent behavior that was once a hallmark of ladies and gentlemen in this country.

            The Left should feel free to say what they wish, whether there is actually any value in their speech or not. However, they should be made – at risk of being denied further access to the University if they refuse – to allow others to speak even if they disagree with the content expressed. If they can’t handle that, perhaps they would be better served by leaving and joining an SEIU picket line, where that kind of attitude and actions are common and apparently encouraged.

          • Designer says

            But that would only stimulate the “helper industries”. They had to waste lots of taxpayer’s monies (generated by the productive part of society) to get all the SJW into a job. In the long run society would become a “therapeutic corporation”.

          • Tom Udo says

            I’m with you, S.t.A., and I vote for you to be that university’s first president. I’ll send my kids there.

        • Roman says

          Not implying you need to study feelings at university, necessarily. But we should still find healthy ways to nurture empathy, in our own ways.

        • In other words one university where graduates are employable and contribute back to society and the other where graduates never work, are never gainfully employed, heavily in debt, neurotic, dysfunctional, and blame their problems on everyone else.

        • John McCormick says

          The only universities we need are ones who have the following as their motto:

          “Let no one ignorant of mathematics enter.”

      • It seems to me, the most common, modern incarnation of eugenics comes in the form of selective abortions due to some in uterus diagnosis of physical or mental abnormality.

        Those that go through with the abortion at that point, don’t do so because of some cold, data driven reasoning; it’s an emotional choice based on the anticipated burden on the parents, expected suffering of the child (or, at least claiming that as the reason to not feel selfish, or a combination of the above.

        Reason can tell you that a child with Downs Syndrome can still have a healthy, fulfilling, and happy life, therefore deserves a chance to pursue it.

        So, a return to reason doesn’t seem dangerous to me, based on where we are now.

        • Enough is enough says

          Reason can tell you that a child with Downs Syndrome can still have a healthy, fulfilling, and happy life, therefore deserves a chance to pursue it.

          Only as long as the parents are around to help them. What happens when they die? Who takes up their burden?

          • Nothing says that the parents won’t outlive that child with DS.

            Nothing says parents will be alive to raise any child for any length of time – a 2 month old baby is a significant burden as well.

            But, to answer your question: family, close friends, then community should pick up the burden.

            I don’t like big govt programs that enable sloth or entrap generations in poverty. However, I do like government programs that can provide support to the legitimately handicapped.

            If you admit that a disabled person can live a fulfilling, happy life, and perhaps contribute to society, then it is unreasonable AND immoral to use the potential burden on others as a justification to snuff that person out (or fetus if you’re picky about stages of development).

            I don’t see that as a reasonable or well-reasoned position; morality can, and should, inform reason just as much as logic.

        • Peter Kriens says

          Science can tell you the fact but balancing all these facts into an action is the domain of morals. For you this means taking up the burden since you value the fetus more than the burden upon the parents. However, I fail to see how that choice can be made rational?

          • If your suggestion is that the only, or most rational way to deal with a burdensome person is death/ abortion, what is the limiting principle?

            Everyone, even the healthiest among us, is a burden at some point in our lives – some at several times in our lives.

            There is no rationale or reason behind using that as the determining factor in which one is allowed to live.

      • Peter Kriens says

        How can feelings ever be effective when any actions are based on wrong data? Science is about reason and data, the morals are something completely different. Morals are the domain of politics and the larger society where we all should have a say. The task of science is to provide us with the highest possible quality facts and only the facts. Feelings imply activism and activism belongs in the political domain. Not in universities with their non-democratic and non representative structures. Universities must focus on educating facts and doing research that provides new facts. Except for philosophy, sentiments should stay out.

        • Reason and morals are not mutually exclusive. Reason can inform morals and morals can inform reason.

          Are you equating morals to feelings?

      • “Scrap[ping] all feelings in the pursuit of data and reason” wouldn’t lead to eugenics if academia were to again revere traditional Western morality, which is rooted in traditional Christianity. Morals and ethics shouldn’t be rooted in feelings, and they can’t be philosophically any more than they can be rooted in science, which is amoral. The university ignores the transcendentals at their own — and civilization’s — peril.

      • John McCormick says

        @Roman,

        “heartless eugenicists”, no.

        This stereotype of logical thinking about the biological foundations of human behavior arises from ignorance of the evolution of life, ignorance of the meaning of science, and the deliberate confusion caused by “social scientists” between actual science and “social science”. The eugenicists were “social science” progressivists (abetted by medical doctors) who saw it as their duty to “fix society” and the foundations of their “social science” are/were not scientific at all, but at best, philosophical. It is today’s social scientists who are still trying to “fix society” by “fixing” individual people. A century ago, progressivist “social scientists” started removing some people’s means to reproduce, and today, their modern ideological descendents are telling the parents of children exhibiting behaviors of indeterminate gender that they need to “transition”, and yes, abetted again, by medical professionals.

        Scientists seek to understand. Social scientists seek to “fix” people and society.
        Scientists have questions. Social scientists pretend to have answers.
        Scientists observe. Social scientists lecture.

        • @ John McCormick
          That’s a really black and white attitude. Social scientists are not all trying to fix – some are trying to understand, they are scientists too. Activists, busy bodies and political animals are the ones trying fix everything and everybody, that some of them are social scientists is secondary.

    • Can I Get A Litmus says

      New Radical Centrism – Oh, don’t be silly. There is no such thing as “reason” or “truth,” scientific or otherwise. Haven’t you taken a literature or philosophy or cultural studies course in the last thirty years? Any “truth” resides in our “feelings,” and what we know from what we learned in college is that the feelings felt by a sophomore at, say, Oberlin or Evergreen State (just to pick two totally random schools) are just as valid as the consensus view in a well-established scientific discipline like biology. For example, if I “feel” like I’m no particular sex, then I’m not. I don’t need medical science to tell me otherwise. Got it?

      • J Hadidian says

        And why should I consider your “feeling” on the matter to be substantive?

    • Peter Kriens says

      @a_centrism increases in female power has been my hunch for some time to explain the loss of rationality and increase of focus on feelings. I think it is not limited to universities though. Feminism has also changed the roles in parenting at the expense of the ‘laisez faire’ father role. I mostly see younger couples where the mother does not accept any input from her partner when it is about their kids. Anti vaxxers point in case who are by far majority mothers. Although I’d fight for equal rights any day I am more and more convinced later feministic waves are fiddling a system no one understands well.
      One of the primary problems is that we men seem to find it a lot easier to go along instead of standing our ground. The fact that society tends to chose the female over a male in a conflict makes that maybe understandable but still wrong.

    • Charlie says

      Are we ignoring the decline in toughness of life? When ships were made of wood , men were made of steel. Reefing a sail in winter 100 ft above the deck, in winter when the mast is winging through 90 degrees or more requires strength courage and skill. Women worked in coal mines , factories and farms. If one observes women who run stables and ride, especially eventing and hunting, they are strong, courageous and athletic. Anyone who has worked with animals will have been knocked/ kicked by them. Look at paintings of women who worked the land in paintings pre 1850s, they have broad shoulders, deep chests, wide hips and strong forearms and hands: all indicators of prolonged manual labour. A maid who had to milk the cows and then carry two pails to market using a yoke, was probably carrying 60-70 lbs.

      If one looks at women who farm uplands areas they are tough and fit: carrying hay out to a ewe which is lambing, walking uphill, through blinding snow or rain, across swollen streams is tough, mentally and physically.

      A competent tough fit farmers/sailors daughter would want to marry an equally tough competent and fit man, not a milksop worried about his feelings. A wife wrapping bandages around a husband who has had ribs or limbs broken while working does not want someone whining about hurt feelings. Nor would she have much time for a teenage son or daughter who whines as they would be expected to be working after the age of 5 years and be full time by the age of 14 years.

      The BBC series describes the life of a Tudor Monastery Farm and Ruth Goodman demonstrates how even churning butter is quite hard physically.

      https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01k3b96

      As peoples spirit declines, so does fortitude, resilience , robustness, pain threshold and ability to take risks. One cannot have an adventurous spirit if one is dispirited. A gymnast falling off an apparatus; a boxer being punched, a rugby player being tackled , a farmer falling into a river or being kicked by an animal is the Universe’s way of saying you have made a mistake.

      http://www.thefullwiki.org/Violet_Elizabeth_Bott

      The women in many humanities departments appear to want to turn ladies in Violet Elizabeth Bott’s rather than a Hallows GC, Khan GC, Szabo GC, F Nightingale, M Thatcher, G Meir , Elizabeth 1 or Bodicea.

      When it comes to personal safety, I have seen a farmer’s daughter knock a man down and nearly unconscious with a single slap.

      • James Lee says

        @Charlie

        I tend to agree with you. I think that the unprecedented low level of threat in the modern West has significantly impacted human psychology. Haidt himself has pointed out that the academy markedly shifted to the left following the retirement and deaths of the Greatest Generation, who had lived through the great depression and fought wars, and who were much more conservative than following generations.

        What to do about it? Eric Weinstein tweeted tongue-in-cheek that maybe we need to set off an above ground nuclear test every so often to remind people of the world we actually live in.

        Perhaps we should reinstate a national draft, and not just use a professional soldier class.

        The low level of threat in the West is a bubble that can and very likely will end, judging by what we know of human history.

        • Charlie says

          The public schools of Britain , the private ones of pre 1914 and especially pre 1840s were very tough. Cold baths, little heating, the sports were bare knuckle boxing, cudgel fighting, fencing, rowing and some sort of rugby. Boys were thrashed regularly. At Harrow, dukes were thrashed twice for being dukes. A return to the belief that the sons of the ruling class should be brought up in Spartan conditions. Byron boxed at Harrow and Shelly at Eton. If one looks at the special forces/commando officers of WW2, most were brought up in cold draughty homes ( central heating damages the 18th century furniture ), cold boarding schools where they were thrashed regularly, boxed from the age of five, played rugby and either played cricket or rowed.

          An education based around Latin, Greek and Maths ( pure, applied( physics and stats) would be an improvement on modern humanities. emnt p. This sort of education produced Palmerstone, Peel, Gladstone , many who had double firsts in Greats and Maths and were more capable of dealing with calculus than modern politicians. The historian A Bryant, educated at Harrow School , who fought in WW1 (flew in RFC) stated in his histories of Britain that gentleman was expected to be able to fight in boxing ring or street; clear any fence or hedge on a horse and face down a mob . To use the vernacular of the period ” Clear a lane with his morleys( fists). Until 1840s or so, there was no Police force so the wealthy had to be easy with their tenants or workers, in case they rioted but also be able to defend themselves. A police force was considered an instrument of government tyranny and namby pambyism. If a gentleman cannot fight off the mob they should not have provoked them in the first place. A gentleman needed to be able to fight to oppose tyranny.

          When the son of Edward 111, the Black Prince was surrounded at Crecy, he told the knights he had to earn his spurs. Edward was prepared for his son to die in order that he would earn the respects of the warrior knights.

          When it comes to wealth the fundamental difference is aristocratic/military /naval and commercial. Those with military traditions would rather have their sons die, then live as cowards and besmirch the family name.

          The divide in the USA occurred in the 1960s when the wealthy did not send the sons to die in Vietnam. From 300 AD , the wealthy Romans stopped sending their sons to die and it went into decline.

          In WW2, 20% of the British aristocracy was killed, 10% of the officers and 5% of the NCOs and privates. Harrow School lost 27% in WW1. There will always be divides in wealth but when the more affluent die in disproportionate high numbers compared to the poor, there is justice. Perhaps if we had a system of death rates of 20% for upper income, 10% for middle income and 5% for lowest income, there would be fewer wars. No dispensation for illness, cripples can always walk into minefields or be used to identify snipers.

          This would be reversion to Republican Rome and early Greece where the ability to fight for the state conferred citizenship, not wealth. In early Rome, the plebians were not allowed to fight as it was considered an honour only worthy on the land owning classes.

          If there are not enough wars to kill the children of upper income in sufficient number, a years service in the most violent cities undertaking the most dangerous Police work, could be undertaken. Much of the violence is due to drugs and much is due to consumption by then wealthy. The wealthy would be the first through the door on a drugs raid. If the children of the wealthy were killed say busting a cocaine gang, there would be less support for the drug. Where the wealthy are not prepared to die to defend their property and pay others to protect them, then I think spiritual decline starts. Perhaps as the final part of part of drugs rehab would be to be the first person through the door on drugs raid. To whom much is given, much is expected.

        • Swrichmond says

          Modern American communism seems to have constructed its army from snowflakes who engage in primal scream when they just lose an election, and are aptly described by the authors as needing safe spaces, coddling and therapy (as well as endless free stuff) in order to just be able to stand being alive.

          It is often said and usually true that it is unwise to underestimate one’s existential enemy. But when the snowflake left starts the civil war and we respond by killing them in large numbers, it seems likely they will crumble like a wet cheap napkin. Frankly, I hope this doesn’t happen; as an example, the US military overwhelmed Iraqi forces so quickly that they were not destroyed, merely dispersed and were able to form the bulk of the insurgency, already armed and trained. It is better to fight until the enemy is destroyed totally.

        • I agree, men should be soldiers, but NOT for any federal government. Fuck the government and fuck YOU if you support a draft. Serving your country should be a right, not responsibility. The men should decide for themselves if their country is worth saving. You wanna be a soldier? Go do something about it. Go door to door, dragging men away from their wives and mothers, forcing them to fight for a country that simply doesn’t deserve that sacrifice. Or better yet, fight on behalf of your own family. If you even have one. We don’t choose where we’re born, moving ain’t cheap, and the American police state has such a far reach anyway. Yeah, sure we need a draft to go with our surveillance and censorship. Real freedom.

    • “What then would have changed in our culture over the last twenty years or so that might have caused so much of the “focus” in academia to switch from one guided by “reason” to one guided by ‘feelings’?”

      I’d say it’s information technology and the ability to engage one’s mind in a somewhat disembodied state, without emotional clues to contextualize the information being consumed. Screen time used to mean television and movies, but now it means serious research and discussion and engagement, often without accompanying non-verbal cues. The feelings are sort of up in the air, implicit, and private. The role and image one plays in a discussion online can be controlled, shaped, and measured instead of having to act in realtime where one’s gestures and behavior give one’s real self away.

      After being comfortable acting and interacting within a virtual space, who wouldn’t find the scrutiny of others in live, immediate performance in life a threat to their identity? Wouldn’t such people have their minds and bodies slightly out of sync? The ability to participate so actively and yet vicariously in social life with ease has only been popularly available and affordable for a few decades.

  2. Kirsten says

    As a NSW high school teacher (in a single-sex girls school), it seems to me that smart phones are intimately linked with this rise of ‘safetyism’, and parents are possibly driving the problem.

    When I suggested to my Year 7 students that they try leaving their phones at home for a day as a radical social experiment, there was genuine horror. The responses included “But Miss, what if someone follows me home? What if someone tries to kidnap me?” and “What if my mum needs to contact me urgently?” and “My mum wouldn’t let me leave without my phone”.

    These beliefs appeared to held by most, if not all, of my Year 7 students. Extraordinary times.

    • x-moose says

      I was the 5th grade then. Or possibly 4th… One day some fun extracurricular activity came up quite unexpectedly. I wouldn’t be at home on time. Traveling home meant 5 min on foot from school, 15 min by subway and another 15 min by bus. I did the drill since I was 6. There was no phone at my parent’s flat. I knew where my mom worked though (the place way out across town) and thought out to seek her leave to be late. I went to the street corner phone booth and dialed 8. (Directory assist – I knew that!). That got me my mom’s workplace general switchboard number. I talked to them for a while (that was a huge place) and after some 15 phone call iterations got her on the phone. She wasn’t surprised in the least. I got my leave.

      I am typing you this 40 years later. Things must have changed since then, but not necessarily for the better.

    • I don’t know, I’m a teacher and I find those protestations disingenuous and manipulative (in a normal teen way). I think they just want their phones, and they say this – ‘what if there’s an emergency?” -because they’ve found this is how the adults will allow them to keep their phones. Anyway, I just take their phones and tell them their parents can always contact the school; at that point, all they’re really worried about is losing contact with social media and their friends.

    • Lilly P. says

      I grew up in the window before smartphones but victim to “safetyism”, and based on experience I do not believe smartphones a cause but a possible catalyst. Paranoia instilled into parents by the media then into children justified the need to hand cell phones, and eventually smartphones, to increasingly younger children. Parents always seemed to be paranoid because of news cases of kidnaps, murders, rapes, and so on, ignoring the rarity (and benefits of taking the risks) because of the violent epidemic the news made real.

    • No kidnapper is going to pause to let someone make a phone call. Phones give parents a false sense of security. We need to give our children skills instead.

  3. Farris says

    I confess, I have not read the book but after reading Mr. Lesh’s review, I intend too.
    I hope the book contains chapters on “Self Esteem” and “Toxic Masculinity”. My children age college age and when they were growing up “ Self Esteem” was all the rage. In a nutshell many parents believed the precious little Johnny or Kate could hear a negative comment or a criticism and be doomed to a life of low self esteem and depression. These parents endeavored to build their children’s self esteem by over complimenting and praising them. What they should have been teaching their children is that their are two types of criticism; Destructive and Constructive. Destructive criticism should be ignored as it is generally a product of spite. Destructive criticism says more about the speaker than the target. It identifies the speaker as a bitter resentful person. Constructive criticism may sting a bit but is to be valued. There is something to be gained from constructive criticism and the speaker is attempting to assist not harm.
    Masculinity is not toxic, it is the yin to the yang of femininity. Both masculinity and femininity compliment one another and both are present in males and females. Femininity civilizes us and makes us more sensitive and compassionate. Masculinity gives us a stiff upper lip and teaches how to deal with adversity. The fact that masculinity is more prevalent in males does not make it less valuable any more than a prevalence of femininity in females makes it more valuable. There will eventually come a time when males must get in touch with there feminine side, just as one day females will be forced to utilize their masculine side. This may feel uncomfortable at times but fleeing necessary discomfort produces weakness. This is but one reason males and females seek each other out. Unions produce a partnership where each is more adept at dealing with the less familiar feelings that may make their partner uncomfortable. Feminizing boys will not make a society more safe, it will make it weak and hence less safe. This is not a criticism on non traditional gender roles. It is a recognition of the make up, strengths and weakness of most males and females.
    Unfortunately “Self Esteem” and “Toxic Masculinity” have achieved bedrock status in many Universities. However it is easy to blame the University. These kids were parented long before they arrived on campus. If you want your children to have high self esteem, demonstrate it to them by having it in yourself. If you treat children as fragile, they will pick up on the clues and become fragile. Teach them that worst word in the English language is “can’t”, and when some tries to tell you what you “can’t do” or “handle” something endeavor to persevere.

  4. Greg Lorriman says

    Most girls are not going to universities.

    Rather than safetyism, I should think their depression is caused by having enough sense to see a bleak future of having a ‘career’ in a call-center or store-till or factory instead of a well-slept mum with kids and a buzzing household, but not enough brains to do anything to avoid it. Lower IQ girls aren’t necessarily stupid, they often have the wisdom to see their limitations.

    In the better regulated countries of the past, even peasant women were tolerably contented, so long as the local lord wasn’t a tyrant, and there was no ongoing war. But girls today have little to look forward to beyond early waking, commuting, a tutting boss and management propaganda about how amazing the company is, while telling people to have a nice day.

    And if it’s not that, then it’s the psychedelics and synthetic cannabis that’s blowing their brains and causing chronic anxiety. Forums are full of people trying to recover from this phenomena. The LSD guys are wrong: a whole lot of people unlucky in the brain-chemistry genetics lottery end up with serious issues.

    Feminism and drugs is too much to handle: it’s a pincer movement.

  5. Greg Lorriman says

    I should at least part of the problem is the modern denial of our anthropology.

    Men are wired to fertilise as many women as possible.

    Women are wired to be picky about who tries to fertilise them.

    And if they have their heads screwed on, they make sure to secure the man so that resources and protection are provided for a long time. That means solemn promises before the elders and community before he gets his way with her.

    The undermining of this basic anthropology means girls experiencing a kind of chaos of insecurity that contradicts their anthropological needs.

    • Nathan says

      I disagree. Men are also wired to be very protective of their partners and children. Marriage (i.e. solemn promises) is as much for men, too. Because of the burden of raising kids, and the use of their resources, many men have an insecurity about the provenance of the children they are raising.

      • Greg Lorriman says

        I agree, on the basis that the vows are two way and involve sexual fidelity (but in a primitive situation I would suspect not for the man). I wasn’t addressing other sides to this, just female insecurity.

        But another side you may well also disagree with is this: as well as inseminating as many women as possible, at least until those vows, the man is only willing to commit to a women who says ‘no’ to sex before concrete commitment (ie, solemnly before the community). And not just because the provenance becomes problematic (for which the hymen is crucial, and maybe why it exists since most hymen are not fully closed, ie protection against infection), but because the man will intuitively/instinctively know that the women will not make a good mother.

        After all, she doesn’t have what it takes to say ‘no’, a crucial ability and sign of wisdom and intelligence in the face of the obvious disaster of unprovided, insecure fertilisation.

        She’s not strong. She won’t say no to her own kids. And her own kids won’t be trained in right-conduct. And she won’t say no to external threats, even the tribal elders. And she will likely to be internally running away from herself and other issues.

        If the man is going to be devoting resources, then he may be selective as to how far he helps all these women, some not at all and some are going to get priority. So there must be criteria, and I believe that ‘no’ to be foundational. A man who is forced to ‘marry’ a woman who didn’t say ‘no’ is more likely to abuse her even if he loves her, and be internally conflicted in his feelings towards her.

        The irony is that this mechanism may have selected for some women who don’t desire or enjoy sex.

      • Don’t forget the burden of raising some other man’s child (or worse, paying to have raised) after being lied to about being exclusively married. This is a common outcome in the USA since the 1960’s when divorce and birth control hormones (making female brains male-like, without the systematizing advantages of actually being male) began to wreck M-F relations leading to stable families.

  6. ccscientist says

    One strange thing is that few students ever attend any particular talk by an outside speaker, like 50 or 100 out of a campus of 40,000, and that is a simple solution to not liking the speaker–don’t go. The mere existence of a speaker makes you unsafe? In the outside world from campus all sorts of things are going on around you, including actual crime. In the real world you will have bad bosses, employment that goes out of business, friends who forget you, natural disasters, and friends and relatives die. All of these I can promise you. There is no safe space from the real world. No one cares like the campus officials pretend to (notice I said pretend–they just want happy customers).

    Feelings are not a reliable guide to one’s life. You may not “feel” like studying, but you need to. When my child threw up on me I “felt” like barfing, but I had to overcome it. When confronted by an angry dog you need to think clearly even if scared. You may “feel” like spending all your money on fun stuff but hopefully you overcome that feeling.

  7. The thesis being presented here seems rather dishonest in the motte and bailey mold.

    The authors start by talking about a wide claim of “safetyism” ranging from physical danger to emotional danger, in all of America, then retreat to really just talking about colleges, then retreat further to just complain that conservative ideas are unwelcome on college campuses.

    They aren’t proposing to eliminate safety features like car seats, they don’t want to let children view R rated movies.
    No, they really just have one specific ax to grind, and that is against leftist college students.

    Jonathan Haidt had a terrific insight in The Righteous Mind, where he spoke eloquently about the deep seated need for taboo and sacredness. But that insight seems to have left him.

    What is happening on college campuses is the collision between competing versions of what is sacred and what is profane. And it isn’t new, not by any stretch.

    There never was a period when speech was unregulated- what changes is merely who decides, and whose speech is made taboo. When I was born in 1960, a person could get arrested for publicly saying words that we now hear on cable tv shows.

    • Peter from Oz says

      I get the impression that Haidt and Lukianoff are saying that the university is one place where debtae should be as open as possible.

      Just because speech has always been regulated doesn’t mean that it should continue to be regulated.

    • Have you been on college campuses lately? This is indeed new. It’s not ‘competing versions of what is sacred and profane.” There is no ‘competition.’ Students are afraid to even speak.

      It comes from the extreme Left, and it is a shame-fear based dogma, quasi-religious, different utterly from anything in Western universities before in its scale and intolerance. Just to give one tiny example: My son’s French teacher (in a top college) informed the class that they were not allowed to use the word ‘migrant’ or ‘illegal immigrant’ in her class – in essays or in conversations – because ‘no one is illegal.’ They were *required* to use the word “undocumented workers” (in French). This is not at all uncommon. It is not ‘competing versions.’ This is indoctrination. The president of the university (who is paid over a million but I digress) regularly pontificates with Leftist (not Liberal) talking points. It’s from the top down and it is rigid and rejects debate.

      The ‘safety’ issue must be viewed within this frame. If you are in danger, who or what are you in danger of? To the Leftist, it always stems from oppressors, who are always white hetero men. In other words,the profane is one thing always. Again, this is not debate, and while it’s true that speech has always been regulated, you are comparing a riptide (the past) with a tsunami.

  8. diana says

    Like so many of the intellectual/upper middle class, including well intentioned ones as here, the authors do not seem to see past their class,and assume that what is universal within their own social class, is universal amongst all social classes. Or else they fail to recognize their observations are tied to class/culture at all, even as they derive their examples from colleges – which are not representative of many social classes – and a certain subset therein (eg those in a practical major such as nursing or physical therapy have, I’d wager, nowhere near the fragility as those, say, in women’s studies or sociology, for a variety of reasons).

    In ignoring class and seemingly unaware of (unconcerned?) how it plays into the phenomenon, the authors not only ignore the experience of probably the majority of people, but, having failed to fully define the problem, they fail to diagnose the solutions.

    What they call ‘safety culture’ is foreign to the working class and lower classes, as well as to many ethnicities. As a teacher in the inner city, for instance, my own students suffer from far too little attention paid to safety, not too much. And raising my kids in a blue collar town, I was part of a large group of working class parents (if married, with two jobs), who left their kids to play by themselves, and start to work early, to earn money to contribute to the home or to pay for their own cars.

    I do see the neurotic worry they describe–it’s just from the outside, and it always seems foreign and ludicrous to me and my children. Within colleges, too. I wonder just what percentage of students really do feel the neurotic & extreme fear the coddled upper class/wanna-be upper class students feel. I know my own kids in college thought it was rarer and silly, although you are a) rewarded for whining very loudly as admin rolls over and B) can use social media to amplify your voice and shame others into at least silence if not compliance.

    Don’t get me wrong. It’s a real problem. But it’s not a problem that stems from parents in isolation nor does it impact I’d say the majority of young people.

    Why do administrators roll over the second a single kid peeps on social media, when in all probability the peep represents 5% of the voices?
    Why do they roll over if a similar type of parent demands action?
    Why does the media broadcast this and lend the students power?
    Why is this an upper class/intellectual class problem as opposed to a generalized problem?

    I think the answers are complex but involve several things. First is economic. It is far far more expensive to go to colllege now, and far more risky not to. Parents sacrifice a great deal so that their kid goes to college and fear – and the fear is real – that if they don’t, their kid’s entire future, their entire life, will derail into lower class and poorer jobs, impacting their grandchildren even. This is a real fear and it is borne out by real economic issues everyone is familiar with but somehow no one really talks about (loans, expense of college, disappearance of good jobs that require no college). Parents are fearful of economic failure and ruin, and *it has worked so far* that they micromanage their kids’ lives. Schools jump, they get into colllege. Meanwhile, lower income parents are not as fearful because college is out of reach socially and often economically.

    As far as why admin rolls over–well, it justifies their existence. The more hysterical and needy the students, the more admins are needed.

    Why does the media feed into it? It sells. It also feeds into a collective narrative, that the world is scary and an authority needs to enforce its will on the group.

    For all these reasons and more, Safetyism is thriving. Telling parents to let their kids play outside more, while well intentioned, is both utterly tone deaf (lower class kids play outside all the time) and useless in the scheme of the far larger fears – particularly economic – that consume so many parents.

    • Charlie says

      Wealthy families who have a tradition of serving in the armed forces, or ownership of land expect their children to play rugby, hockey, lacrosse, take part in cross country riding competitions, hunting and steeple chasing where bones are broken and riders sometimes killed. Many of the elite regiments are officered by very tough members of the upper and middle classes. In Downton Abbey, the Dowager Countess says to Lady Mary that her an aunt manned the guns at The Siege of Lucknowe. One only has to look at Princess Anne or Zara Phillips to see how tough some upper class women can be.

      Many schools shows matches of rugby, hockey or lacrosse on Youtube which show fit tough young people pushing themselves to their physical limits.

      The founders of the SAS, Sterling, Lewes and Blair Mayne were all graduates. Orwell said, the left wing middle class despised physical courage, patriotism and British culture ( in the 1930s and 1940s being a sportsman was more important than being an intellectual ).

      From the 1660s, The British were mad keen on sports be it bare knuckle boxing, cricket, horse racing, rowing, inter village football ( no weapons allowed). What we see from the 1890s is that left wing middle class intellectuals hated sport and never took part in them.

      How many lecturers in women’s studies departments ever played hockey, lacrosse or took part cross country horse events ?

      The reality is that the robust and resilient people, whether from rich, middling or poor backgrounds, who enjoy the rough and tumble of life; physical competition and life’s challenges, have declined in numbers. They are a minority in university humanities departments, The Law, Civil service, politics and the media.

      We now live in a wimpocracy.

  9. Cynthia says

    I agree with both of A New Radical Centrism’s comments. First, we are seeing the results of a “feminization” (not sure that’s a word) of the academy, not only in the creation of things like safe spaces, but also in the popularity of concepts such as “toxic masculinity.” It’s hard to imagine either of these emerging if men (even the kind of beta males that predominate in college faculties) still controlled academia. Second, it is by now abundantly clear that science and “social justice” don’t mix very well – they’re like oil and water. Most of the rampant science denialism going on on the left (such as that relating to subjects like human intelligence, stereotype accuracy, sex differences, and the heritability of psychological traits) boils down to the poisonous presence of SJWs on campus.

    • Martin28 says

      @ Cynthia. It is a philosophical problem. The philosophy that has overtaken the academy and other major institutions viewing men as oppressors and women as oppressed necessarily denigrates and devalues masculinity. Our institutions are essentially fatherless, they view the father as the bad guy. It turns out that fathers are really important. One of the negative effects, and there are many, is you overemphasize safety and create a bubble-wrapped, stifling world.

  10. Lorne Carmichael says

    It’s not just freedom of speech that people are afraid of. Nobody is being forced to go to a talk and hear stuff they don’t like. You can live your life among friends quite happily. We all do, to some extent.

    More precisely, it is freedom of assembly that is under attack. What some folks really don’t want is to have other people meet and discuss ideas where they can be sure the conversation will go in a direction that they don’t like.

    Milo is reviled because he fill auditoriums with a noise that is terrifying to the left. It’s not that these fragile souls are hearing it directly. They are not in the audience. It’s that so many others are hearing it.

    Laughter.

    • Bubblecar says

      I think you’re being somewhat naive if you think celebrity controversialists like Milo (and Bettina Arndt, for that matter) are genuinely disadvantaged by the confrontation they generate on their “speaking tours” (which are intellectually pretty pointless, since anyone can familiarise themselves with the views of these performers on the internet without actually attending their gigs).

      In fact they thrive on this confrontation as it brings them endless free and dramatic publicity – the more protests and bannings, the better.

      This can put university administrators in a difficult position. In the case of Arndt (who wants to deliver talks at universities in which she tells everyone that rape and sexualt assault on campus is a myth), she’s well aware that universities have a responsibility to take this topic very seriously, and will need to carefully weigh the pros and cons of hosting a speaker with such a deliberately confrontationist axe to grind.

      What should be more important to them – furthering the “controversial” career of Bettina Arndt, or reassuring their students that they take the issue of rape on campus seriously?

      • Bettina and Milo comparisons? That’s laughable. I’ve watched a few of Bettina’s and Milo’s videos, and there really isn’t much of a comparison except for talking about rape / sexual abuse statistics in a logical and reasonable matter without feelings.

        Arndt doesn’t want to say rape and sexual assaults on campuses is a myth; she wants to point out that, statistically, they’re one of the safest places on earth.

        I never knew citing statistics was controversial. Shows how far we’ve come unfortunately.

        • Bubblecar says

          I’m sure most universities want to maintain a calm and realistic towards the incidence of sexualt assault on campus, but it’s easier to do that without inviting a strident MRA to come and deliver inflammatory talks about how rape is exaggerated by the feminist lefties etc.

          You won’t get “without feelings” from Arndt, she’s a veteran shit-stirrer who thrives on “taking on” the feminists.

    • Martin28 says

      @ Lorne Carmichael That’s a really important point. Nobody talks about the freedom of assembly much, but it is most definitely under attack from the radical left. The right to assemble and discuss ideas is absolutely crucial and should be talked about more.

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  15. “While it is important to show courtesy in public debate, it is patently absurd to suggest that simply hearing an idea you dislike makes you unsafe in any meaningful way.”

    How about “I intend to kill you in the next 5 minutes”

    • John Laing says

      I’d say hearing about that particular idea makes someone much safer than if they hadn’t heard, when holding the underlying truth of the proposition invariant.

      • A threat is not an idea. And all who read your comment are not unsafe now. Most blather and rants are not actually unsafe as most expressions like this are vents, not preludes to physical attacks, and it’s only that physical attack that makes you unsafe. When people say, “F*** you” they are not proposing intercourse. And “F*** off and die” is said millions of times without a single injury taking place.

    • “I intend to kill you in the next 5 minutes” – dave September 3, 2018

      That’s a criminal threat which should be taken very seriously. I would excuse myself from the premises or order the person to leave immediately (if my premises). If leaving is not possible (how? aircraft or boat.), the person making such threats should be secured by the Commander. If enjoying civil society, report the threat after departing. If in the wilderness, I would be inclined to acquit the killer of the person making such a threat after hearing a reasonable account as a judge or juror.

      Don’t make threats, and always go about armed. You have options when armed.

    • Assault, like battery, has been illegal for a long, long time in the West. We also recognize such things as “fighting words.” And as to speech in general, obscenity wasn’t legal when the American Founders wrote the 1st amendment.

  16. I attended a drone class at a community college, it was some kind of program from City of Los Angeles social services to help students get employment. The first four hours were to inform students how to be a victim. I thought with the attitude they promoted you would have zero chance of accomplishing anything.

  17. This is all well and good, but universities have a Duty of Care to their students. Until this burden is relieved, no progress can be made. The Duty of Care means safe spaces and bias response teams. It’s not going to get any better.

    Relax, the far left has nothing but a bright future in store for us once they finish educating the next generation of leaders in their ideas.

    • Back in the day, say 30 or 40 years ago, colleges and universities in the US did not stand “in loco parentis” with respect to their students; the courts had been saying they had not such duty for more half a century before 1980. This is duty, if it exists, is one the colleges have assumed.

      • Aren’t colleges and universities staffed and attended by adults (with a few genius exceptions)? In Loco Parentis is unacceptable for Adults over 18 years who are not committed involuntarily.

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  19. I’d postulate that safety is not only destroying a generation but that it has destroyed civilization.
    Physical safety; the gene pool is far dirtier, more stupid people living to breed more stupid people.
    Emotional safety; the ignorant programming rather than educating the youth.

  20. OtherWay says

    The challenges actually are insurmountable. Because the kids are not the problem. The problem lies now with the administrators. These administrators find themselves more necessary now. Dependency is job security for administrators and politicians. When you show us how to remove the $400,000 administrative position of “Diversity Coordinator” at UCLA (which you could pay 3 faculty with) I will believe it is insurmountable. Until then I will simply hope academia fails sooner rather than later, so that we can move on to something reasonable. I work in academia and think the kindest thing possible would be to shoot it in the head.

  21. Muscles, brains, bones and immune systems only get stronger through exposure. Being safe is wise to a point, but risk taking is how we advance. Fear is fine when measured, but paralyzing or violent when it grows beyond a threshold.

  22. P Cutler says

    For an interesting counterpoint read “Millennials aren’t taking offence. They’re hunting for victims” by Lionel Shriver in The Spectator perhaps they aren’t the shrinking violets they appear to be.

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  24. In a nutshell:
    The Patriarch in the U.S. (it is what it is don’t be dumb) created an abundance of safety and comfort, and the Patriarch also has a hierarchy. Hierachry is established Naturally in a fair way, i.e. you get what you give.

    Lazy weak bitter resentful people with safety and comfort to exist in, have a platform to share their opinions on, protected by the Patriarch, are and have been attempting to “bring it down” (destroy it) and replace it with some weak ass bs, any problems?

    OK here’s the clincher, the people in the anti-Patriarch class (the mob) are being used like puppets by those in the Ruling Class that are and have been trying to create “A New World Order”. The American Patriarch is the biggest obstacle and threat to their vision. And with ours truly being elected November 2016, the pendulum is swinging back, men are reclaiming their proper places in society, they’re speaking up and calling bs and aren’t fearful of being called a racist or white supremacist, slowly but surely the Left is getting… left.

    PS too much intellectual masturbation on here, I can tell there’s people that are aware of the problem and wanting and willing to do something about it, stop being so nice.

    • We don’t live in a fucking patriarchy. Men and women will never be equal, because males and females are designed differently, for different roles in society. On average. Yes, there are some men with more feminine wiring, and some women with more masculine wiring. I know, I’m the manliest little girl you’ll ever meet. But on average, women are better at nurturing offspring and keeping the “nest” tidy. Mean are better at taking charge and hunting down pretty. Unfortunately, our population is overcrowded, and so we currently face a bottlenecking event. Social roles in most species get confused at such times. Sorry, but humans are animals too. My generation will probably be one of the last before our population declines. Smarter school faculty won’t help, nor will drafting citizens and forcing them to fight for a government that encourages censorship and surveillance. Only wildfire can prevent wildfire.

      • * taking charge and hunting prey. Not hunting “pretty”, hunting PREY. Fucking autocorrect keeps changing “prey” to “pretty”….

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  26. Diane D says

    Academia is a pathetic pool of impotent wimps. Other than selected STEM colleges are of negative value.

  27. Robert Darby says

    Quote from La Trobe Student union representative: “What Arndt chooses to speak on makes me feel incredibly unsafe … The university is currently allowing this event to go ahead under the pretence of free speech, however I do not think free speech should come at the expense of student safety.”

    The illiteracy and intellectual vacuity of this comment (more accurately, whinge) does not say much for the quality of the education that its author has received. More than anything else it reminds me of Mrs Coulter’s syrupy explanation of why children must be separated from their daemons in Pullman’s Northern Lights (Golden Compass):

    “Darling, these are big, difficult ideas. It’s not something for children to worry about. But the doctors do it for the children’s own good, my love. Dust is something bad, something wrong, something evil and wicked. … But a quick operation on children means they’re safe from it. Dust just won’t stick to them ever again. They’re safe and happy and – ” … Lyra thought of little Tony Makarios. She leaned forward suddenly and retched.”

    I don’t know what Bettina Arndt was to lecture on, but as I remember her she is an old style feminist (the sort who burned their bras back in the 1970s) who believes in sexual liberation, equality between the sexes, honest sex education and fun for all. Whatever her views, there is no possibility that anything she could have said would make any normal person feel unsafe, let alone “incredibly unsafe” – whatever that means. “Incredible” is the correct term: I don’t believe a word of it. Arndt does not really make the La Trobe Student Union official feel unsafe; she is merely offering ideas that may be out of tune with with his/her current mindset. And what does it mean to refer to “pretence of free speech”: that the university was not really pursuing a free speech agenda, but only pretending to? That its aim was secretly to suppress free speech?

    I would like to see the student union official’s entire statement set as a clear thinking exercise.

  28. ONLY in anti social mass mind-raped fa$ci$t phoney Ang£owphonia.

    PC=Pure Cowardice.

    “Stay in pro social modern EU – Leave anti social mediEVI£ UK/U$A”.

  29. Ira Slomowitz says

    Universal conscription for three years, like they do in my country (Israel) will relieve most of them of the emotional distress of feeling unsafe due to someone saying things they don’t like to hear.

    If the west is too fickle to do that then how about during the year before college, no mommy’s or daddy’s can make lunches for their little boys and girls and they (the boys and girls) should have to write 100 times a day “sticks and stones can break my bones but names can never hurt me”.
    What is going on in the west ??!!

    • Yes, because forcing people to serve a corrupt bullshit government is so much better than college censorship. Don’t forget that the government (police and military) fully supports this culture of censorship. Special snowflakes may seem bad for society, but they make big money for the corporations and industries that pay our government officials. Censorship and conscription are different arms of the same beast.

  30. peanut gallery says

    It’s nice to have the warning if you ask me. This gives me a lot more options other than surprise in five minutes. I could be elsewhere, or attack them right now in self-defense. Personally, if I had murderous intentions, I probably wouldn’t advertise. Amateurs.

    • Surpise while learning is the best and most real learning. If what they teach you is unsurprising, then you are not learning anything new or interesting, and a book would have done better for you than going to a university.

  31. Tyler says

    I’d rather live in a society with an extreme left academia and an increasing proportion of weak young adults (and I’m fully aware of the current and potential harm from this) than one in which citizens are slaves to the state for three years, or even one day. The former can be adjusted peacefully over time, the latter is a level of State control that requires violence to end. Not to say that the experience wouldn’t benefit a lot of these whiny kids.

    • Charlie says

      A friend who migrated to Australia in the 1940s said all immigrants had to spend 2 years in a logging camp, be they former professors or labourers. This was when trees were cut down with axes and saws. He said it turned all immigrants into Australians.

      It would not have to be military service : two years of hard PT, manual labour , plus say training in mountain, fire and sea rescue would produce fit, tough, practical useful people who could work as a team.

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  33. Bob57 says

    I was the president of a swim club in the Midwest of America in the early 2000’s, What I experienced from the parents was a precursor to the present state of the tender flowers that now inhabit academia. When one of our female swimmers skinned her knee in a fall during a plyometric exercise, her mother exploded and started a safety jihad, The kid had a clumsy moment, and was not really hurt, but the mother adamantly hammered the coaching staff as well as the board of directors. She demanded, not asked, demanded, that the whole exercise regimen be made “as safe as possible”. Really? Your kid was clumsy. Now you want her protected?
    I knew then that things would continue to spiral down, given this ‘safe as possible’ culture.
    I used the opportunity to teach both of my daughters that there are things worse than falling down, namely not being allowed to fall down.

  34. Alex Gdalevich says

    “Universities, led by risk adverse bureaucracies, are treating students like customers…”

    This certainly contributes to the problem. Here in the USA at least, with college students takimg on large amounts of debt to pay ever higher tuition, they technically are the customers.

    There are few if any businesses who would make a paying customer feel “unsafe”, uncomfortable, or even “challenged”. I have a few friends in a academia who complain about administration pressuring faculty to make their classes easier. The goal being to keep students from dropping out and keep the tuition money going.

    • True to a point, but the best universities tend to be research oriented and are there to promote the intellectual pursuits of professors, and students attend to learn from these academics. Once you think the student is a customer, then you get grade inflation, fancy housing and entertainment facilities, and of course less educated students. School is closer to being an academic apprentice than a customer.

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  36. Kathleen Lowrey says

    The more we promote and provide mental health services, the more mental distress we seem to generate. The strange thing is, the lefty academics who putatively are behind all of this (such as those awful nasty no good feminists identified by the first commenter) are usually crack analysts of the phenomenon: Foucault’s “incitement to discourse” comes to mind — you generate a frame that says “no one talks about mental health enough! We are very daringly going to talk about mental health and encourage everyone else to talk about mental health too!” and pretty soon you’ve got mental health eleventy on your hands. You didn’t uncover the problem, you produced the problem.

    [this is Foucault’s take on “Victorian sexuality” — the idea that sexuality was repressed was used by Victorian scholars as a rationale for talking about sex ALL THE TIME and generating an expert class for managing sexual ideas and practices]

    So you identify / produce a problem (repressed sexuality, poor mental health) and then you are neatly off to the scholarly and managerial races (researching it, managing it) of something that conveniently gets bigger and bigger and bigger the more you research and manage it, microwave popcorn style.

    This is Lefty Analysis 101. So why doesn’t it get applied to student mental health? I don’t actually think it is because feminists are ruining everything. Feminists are also pretty crack analysts of the phenomenon whereby protection and putative fragility are used as a means of restraint (“oh darling, you just stay at home looking at the yellow wallpaper, anything more stimulating would cause you to crack up”)

    I suspect this situation has more to do with faculty not actually running universities anymore than it does with feminists being The Worst and the entrance of women into the professions Ruining Everything.

    The managerial university is happy to have multiple points at which administrative interventions are necessary to “protect” students against wicked faculty with wicked ideas. They are also happy to systematically undermine student vitality via the application of a smothering series of feather bolsters and rest cures. The more management they apply, the more management is needed!

    Students in my experience are generally pretty scrappy. Condemning their fragility (“they were all helicopter parented, the little bastards!”) and pointing the finger at Bad Faculty (“curse those feminist ladyprofs!”) actually *participates* in the phenomenon rather than correctly diagnosing it.

  37. Kathleen Lowrey says

    I’ve also thought that the current university approach to students in academic trouble is the opposite of genuinely supportive. The messaging tends to be “here are resources for time management, student wellness, counselling, peer support, etc. etc.” rather than “maybe this class is not what you are good at”. This presumes it would be horribly insulting to tell a student that [x] is not their forte; much better to suggest that what lies behind flunking Chem or English 101 is general mental and / or emotional chaos.

    So if 25 years ago you emerged from the first year of university thinking “wow, I am not as good at English or Engineering as I thought” but otherwise still feeling pretty intact as a human, now you emerge thinking “well as soon as I get my anxiety / depression / OCD / PTSD under control, I’m totally going to be a crack Shakespeare scholar or bridge designer!”

    which *might* be true in a few cases. But much of the time, is a set up for a spiral of confirmation that you really are a mental and emotional mess, every time you don’t manage to get the grades of which you are *putatively* capable in those subjects. So that you emerge at the end with a sense of being an overall wreck of a human being with unrealized dreams, rather than with a sense of being a fine person who figured out what was actually the best fit for your particular skill set.

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  39. Disappointed says

    Is safetyism destroying a generation?

    Probably not. If you had any real evidence to support this it would be in the headline.

    I can tell you that the savagery of the internet has made my generation hyper-aware of clickbait tactics and that there is a fatigue accociated with articles that waste our time.

    You don’t like something and thus it should be suggested that it destroys society without any real evidence? How is this any different from the tribalists this publication sets out to combat?

    • The evidence is clearly cited in scientific studies, rising suicide rates, etc. If you need anything else to tie it together perhaps it’s this: the anglosphere blames all the world’s ills on the anglosphere. White leftists (who run the show in schools and media) have this ominous masochistic fetish, and everybody else hears constantly that they’re oppressed victims. So the former risks becoming anxious and depressed while the latter risks becoming naive and vengeful. Does this look like progress to you? You might also just read the book, if you really think this is “clickbait” and a “waste of time” and reducible to “you don’t like something” and it’s “tribalist”. Good grief. I question your hyper-awareness of anything.

    • Your generation? You mean OUR generation? No? Then speak for yourself. Aside from some dumb comments from both political extremes, I find this article refreshing. As a “special snowflake” myself, I agree that most of us are pathetic hypersensitive morons with no real life skills whatsoever, but the so-called “safetyism” of our modern culture absolutely pales in comparison to the savagery of this internet you speak of. If it wasn’t for the internet, we might actually have fulfilling lives without commenting on some random article that triggered us.

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  42. Michael says

    Here’s one for the philosophy class of 2018:

    Education begins when you leave the academic reserves populated by chiefs who have no idea which way to dance round the fire and braves who blindly follow their mindless meandering.

    Discuss.

    Or better still, just don’t go jump into the sausage machine.

  43. Eric377 says

    Unstructured play with peers is much harder these days then in my 1960’s childhood. Reduced family sizes play a critical role in this. I am pretty old, but have 4 young kids and live in what seems to be a very normal “family” suburban neighborhood. And it is definitely family, but with the typical family size of 2 kids and my observation that 1 or 0 is more common than 3 or 3+, my kids just do not have children their own age in the closest 18 houses (4 left and right and 9 across the street). This is so common that many families have thrown in the towel and simply have moved their kids to organized activities, usually not in the neighborhood, so even the children the right ages are not that available.

  44. David Thomas says

    Safety culture among many Western parents can be attributed to several factors. First, the near ubiquitous nature of two working parents per household creates guilt (usually with the mother) for not devoting enough time to her children, leading to a “momma bear” mentality in which parents compensate by being overly protective, indulgent, and non-critical. Second, social media has made us hyperalert to threats because of the ease with which information can be disseminated. This has created a culture of fear among parents that is projected on their children. Third, screen time replacing physical activity among children has sanitized and sterilized their worlds. You can’t scrape your knee when sending a text, nor can you feel the thrill (and fear) of climbing a tree just a little bit higher than you should. Finally, the cult of “wellness”, where people pamper themselves excessively because they “deserve it” has made children much more “precious” than in the past. We now live in a world where 12 year-olds go to salons to get their nails done and take yoga classes in air conditioned studios instead of being outside in the heat of the day, getting scuffed up, dirty, and sunburned.

    On this basis, some students enter university with an entitled mindset in which their feelings and well-being trump virtually anything else, including truth and freedom of expression. Compounding the issue is this idea of students as customers. This is, in part, a function of the increasingly high cost of a post-secondary education. We all know the customer is always right. The students know they are the customers and exploit this position. But it is time for university administrators to stand up to the vocal minority on their campuses and show a bit of tough love.

    I steered my first child away from programs and universities where Social Justice issues distract from the quality of education as well as reputation. I will do the same with my second child, not by dictating which program or school she can or cannot attend, but by having open and honest dialog around these issues. Today’s children don’t need to be bubble-wrapped but it requires that parents take some evasive measures away from today’s norms such that children will be able to debate sensitive and divisive topics rather than run away from them.

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  49. Ocean Creature says

    What a weird world – we protect children in bubble wrap until their mid-thirties and we dismembered babies bodies in the womb with surgical clamps and scissors. Who is precious???

    This psychotic coddling reminds me of the account of Heinrich Himmler watching Jews being shot into a mass grave, but becoming hysterical at the death of his parakeet.

    This behavior is the hallmark of a decadent society – one so self-absorbed with its preciousness and hysterically unable to navigate existence. How about these swaddled millenials spend a week on a Third World garbage dump and man-up.

    I have no illusions that the next generation will fail. With such maladaptive behavior, it will cease to exist at all. Snowflakes melt in the sun.

  50. If you really think “science”, “logic”, and “reason” are capable of trumping our “emotions” and “feelings” as humans, then you lack the logical reasoning to understand just how central our emotions have ALWAYS been to our behavior. Humans are animals. As animals, we have certain instincts in response to certain environmental stimuli. And as animals, we express these instincts differently, depending on our sex, race, age, diet, habitat, etc. Many of these instincts are poorly understood by science. Humans are undoubtedly a clever species capable of building complex systems, but we are still only human and forever shit-slinging monkeys.

    Trigger Warning! Some numbers for you nerds:

    The human species has been around for 100,000+ years.

    We didn’t start writing until about 5000 BC.

    In 5000 BC, the human population was less than 20 million.

    Less than 0.25% of the current population.

    Not 25%, just 0.25%.

    As for the “centuries old” universities so many folks praise?

    Yeah, a whole 1000 years old.

    Like 1% of human history, if that.

    Oh sorry, history didn’t start until writing started. Oops.

    But now?

    We have over 7 billion people, mostly living on the internet.

    In other words: you “logical” types are just as stupid as all these whiny fucking social justice warriors. Everytime I find a thought-provoking article about the real problems in our society, the other cultural extreme rears its ugly head. Yes, the war against free speech has certainly gone too far, but encouraging a draft or any other legal mandate is just as bad. We the people are all just rats in a crowded cage, liberals and conservatives all just rats with different psychological problems. Even your “reason” is a product of your feelings. What was considered “science” is now considered pseudoscience, all in vain denial of your own uncertainty.

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