Mack Hall, HSG
Georgia’s Emory University, 180 years old, is one of the world’s great schools. Art, music, languages, literatures, science, medicine, public service – Emory is justly proud of its graduates’ accomplishments in every area of intellectual and artistic endeavor.
Unfortunately, a political slogan recently written in chalk on the sidewalks at Emory have provided a thin excuse for the usual suspects to claim the usual Aunt Pittypat vapors and demand investigations, safe spaces, and all the other victimist impedimenta of the self-indulgent.
The blood-curdling message was “Trump 2016” chalked here and there, triumphalist Trumpist trumpetings which to some forty students constituted a hate crime just like, y’know, not enough Che Guevara pizza days, and shooting Bambi’s mother, and, like, y’know, stuff. The Society for the Perpetually Offended protested to the president, James W. Wagner, who cravenly submitted to their demands and promised criminal investigations and prosecutions.
One wonders if complaints about scrawls of “Feel the Bern 2016” would have resulted in sending in the sensitivity police to arrest people.
Does anyone really want to feel the Bern? Sounds a little felony-assault creepy.
The entire student body of Emory, and by extension all university students, have been scorned on glowing electronic screens (hardly the press anymore) all over the world for their hypersensitivity and their anti-freedom demands.
And yet, as a real Emory student noted, the would-be censors of freedom constitute only about .05 % of Emory students.
As Conor Friedersdorf, no Trump fan, notes in his excellent article “How Emory’s Student Activists Are Fueling Trumpism” (http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/03/a-letter-to-emory-please-stop-fueling-trumpism/475356/), there is no evidence that more than one Emory student chalked Trumpetry. Further, chalked sidewalk messages are a tradition at Emory as they are on many campuses. If this chalked message is suppressed and its writer punished for free speech, then it follows that all subsequent chalked messages would be monitored through direct observation and security cameras by the Emory administration and by the campus and local police.
Now that would be insensitive.
According to Mr. Friedersdorf, the reaction (no irony intended) of the Emory student body was to criticize and mock the protestors for their demand that free speech be restrained.
Ironically, those students supporting free speech feel compelled to do so through anonymous websites. One infers that the majority of Emory students, who are in favor of freedom of speech even for candidates and causes they dislike, must argue in favor of free speech anonymously for fear of retribution from other students and perhaps elements in the administration.
Chalk is a last medium for free expression since all email, both in universities and in what we may with a wry smile refer to as the real world, is monitored. A very small number of future Stasi or OGPU functionaries at Emory now want the chalk and the sidewalks observed by police and spy cameras.
Suppression of discourse has obtained for the last half-century in universities in Cuba and North Korea, and occasional government-approved entertainments featuring geriatric three-chord commandos cannot obscure this unhappy reality. At Emory University, the happy reality is that only .05% of students disapprove of the free exchange of ideas.
The focus in this matter should be living the First Amendment, and not stereotyping Emory students or any other group.
After all, not every adult in Connecticut beats up little children for Easter eggs: