By Peyton Dracco
I am in full support of providing people, in general, the ability to feel respected as individuals; I consider this an inalienable right of the human being. In so far, of course, as the individual has not committed a crime against someone else’s immutable rights; and then second chances are often warranted. I believe that all people should be treated equally by the law regardless of their orientations (sexual or cultural) and any biological characteristics. I stand by this and will fight vehemently to ensure that all are given it. However, there is a problem with the idea of “safe spaces” in educational institutions – it precludes the exercising of a student’s most important duties: to think critically, to learn to value logic and reason, and to understand the meaning of evidence. Sheltering our young people from dangerous ideas is only ensuring that they eventually become prey to those who conceive daring concepts. The world at large does not offer protection against controversy; it is full of it; rife with occurrences of discrimination and violations of basic human integrity. Now, I’m not by any means implying that because the world is a bad place we should accept it as such – not in the least – we should embrace our mission to understand and correct current social plagues. What I’m saying is that by allowing the future of our societies to hide behind constructs like political correctness and cultural relativism (to name a few of the more pervasive social norms) we are, in essence, creating individuals who will not be able to face this mission.
All ideas, religious, cultural, and individual should be accessible to everyone at all times. Furthermore, all ideas should be open to criticism without exception. There is no sacred cow, and there is nothing that stands beyond critical scrutiny if it cannot stand up to it by its own merits. What tends to offend many of us has power and at times greater stature than our universities currently allow their student bodies to see. Remember that at one point in time, and not too long ago, allowing women to vote, or black people to sit beside white ones was a very offensive impression to much of the population of the western world. That all human beings were entitled to the same rights made people feel uncomfortable… but those who were not afraid to challenge the existing state of affairs persevered and ensured that women had a say in government, and that our brothers and sisters of African descent could sit anywhere on the bus without fear of social repercussions.
Those who claim social justice as a reason for silencing others who think differently are not thinking critically and are acting illogically out of emotional confusion. Some fundamental truths are hard to take and harder still to understand but tying to suppress them because they make us feel insecure is intellectually bankrupt and morally dishonest. Critical thinking is the only answer. Through logical argument and an honest respect for reason and evidence we can learn and teach the world to make better judgments, to make more just decisions about how we treat each other. By guiding our people to think critically we empower them to defend themselves against the ideas that hurt them – we make them stronger.
Perhaps this solution of mine is too hard to implement, too much work. Can it really be easier to be sheltered and treated like infants through our academic careers? If it is, we are all in big trouble. Our future generations will be fair game to those minds that are not afraid, and only keen on taking control of our most valuable asset: our youth.
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