Generation Snowflake thinks free speech is a weapon used against them

The liberal panty-waists of Generation Snowflake are now arguing that simply advocating for free speech is “a cudgel against them“.

They sound remarkably like a few health troughers I am acquainted with.

The conventional wisdom surrounding American college life these days views campuses as hotbeds of intolerance for free speech, with students themselves leading the charge.

But a new report by PEN America, to be released on Monday, questions that story line while warning of a different danger: a growing perception among young people that cries of ?free speech? are too often used as a cudgel against them.

Poor little petals. Can’t cope with free speech.

The report, titled ?And Campus for All: Diversity, Inclusion and Freedom of Speech at U.S. Universities,? covers a broad range of hot-button topics, including trigger warnings, microaggressions, safe spaces and controversial campus speakers. While it cites ?troubling incidents of speech curtailed,? it finds no ?pervasive? crisis.

But it does worry about an ?apparent chasm? between free speech advocates and student activists, thanks in part to a conversation that sometimes dismisses students? demands for equity and inclusion instead of parsing how they do, or don?t, infringe on the ?bedrock principles? of free speech.

?A rising generation may be turning against free speech,? the report warns. ?Before these developments deepen and harden, PEN America hopes to open up a wider, more searching dialogue that can help all sides to these debates better identify common ground.? ?

Campus speech debates are somewhat new territory for PEN, a writers? organization that historically has been concerned with protecting authors and journalists around the world, whether from censorship and imprisonment or more amorphous threats like electronic surveillance.

But Suzanne Nossel, the group?s executive director, said the report was consistent with PEN?s broad mission, which includes promoting more diverse voices through projects like its annual World Voices Festival of International Literature.

It is also, she said, a departure from the ?doctrinaire ?free speech or bust? position.?

?There?s a lot of attention in the world of free speech advocacy to barriers to expression,? Ms. Nossel said. ?There has been somewhat less given to what needs to be in place to enable and unleash expression.?

The report arrives at a moment when many free-speech advocates see a growing, and troubling, generational divide. A Gallup poll last spring showed that college students were overwhelming in favor of free expression on campus in general but also significantly in favor of some restrictions on ?intentionally offensive? speech.

You either believe in free speech or you do not. You can’t pass some sort of filter across speech to decide if it is “intentionally offensive” or not. To do so is applying the rules of a censor and that is fraught with danger.

?From an old-fashioned free-speech perspective, it strikes one as contradictory,? said Alberto Ibarg?en, the chief executive of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a sponsor of the poll.

The PEN report digs right into those seeming contradictions. It outlines the cases for and against demands for safe spaces, trigger warnings (which some students demand be given with class assignments relating to difficult topics, like sexual assault) and campaigns against so-called microaggressions (small, often unintentional racial or other slights), and then explores the ways they do, or don?t, conflict with free expression.

People seriously need to get a life. All this rubbish about safe spaces and micro-aggressions….pullllease. Harden up, they are words, and safe spaces aren’t really. In the big bad real world there aren’t any safe spaces to run to if someones words upset you.

Jerry Kang, the vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion at the University of California, Los Angeles, said he appreciated PEN?s efforts to understand students? point of view.

?It?s very smart and thoughtful and avoids caricature,? Mr. Kang, a legal scholar who has studied implicit bias and was interviewed for the report, said. ?They are fully committed to robust, uninhibited speech. But they also recognize that words matter.?

Since when did “sticks and stones” cease to be relevant?


Society has raised a generation of snowflakes…that melt away the moment the slightest bit of heat is applied to them.

What next cupcake lessons for all?


– New York Times