Generation Cry-Bully want a Cultural Revolution

Caption: Image by Ben Garrison,

If you?ve ever observed a kitten or a puppy encountering a match or candle for the first time, you?ll know exactly what happens: the curious animal takes a sniff, burns its nose, and avoids flames from then on. It?s a classic case of a mildly painful experience teaching a valuable life lesson. Failure can be a great teacher.

The children entering universities today have never been allowed to fail. Consequently, they have no real concept of actual harm. At the same time, they have been told all their life just how ‘special’ they are. As Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt argue, this arrogant naivete has created a generation distinguished by its vindictive moralising. Quote:

There is no longer any tolerance?for an older generation. “Everyone has to conform to the norms of people in their teens and twenties.” End of quote.

That’s because teenagers and young adults are renowned for their life experience and wisdom. At least, the left certainly think so: there?s hardly a week goes by without some ‘woke’ child setting the left?s agenda.

But we?ve seen these authoritarian children before, in many guises. As the mania for statue-toppling and monument-destruction shows, these students are fomenting a Cultural Revolution. It?s not just an American problem, either. Quote:

New Zealand has no shortage of people ready to take offence at any hint of racism or gender bias, or able to detect any trace of political correctness or the nanny state. Former National Party leader Don Brash was “disinvited” to speak at Massey University by Vice-Chancellor Jan Thomas. She cited “security concerns” but an email trail showed that she didn’t like his anti-Treaty rhetoric.

Student demands have escalated for “safe spaces” where students can be protected from speakers, language or ideas that offend them ? if they have been unsuccessful in getting invitations to such speakers withdrawn in the first place. Some students demand that lecturers give “trigger warnings”?There are shame circles, denunciations and ritualised apologies as during the Cultural Revolution in Communist China. “We have data showing students are afraid, mostly of each other, and the professors are afraid, mostly of the students.”

The idea that some people are so fragile they need protection, or at least a warning, before being exposed to images or ideas that are neither violent nor offensive, is also not new to New Zealand; the ban on uniformed police marching in the Auckland Pride Parade is the latest high-profile example?Moreover, the bar for what is deemed harassment or offensive is inexorably lowering. University of Auckland political science lecturer Paul Buchanan was sacked after sending an angry email to a student who had sought an extension, telling her she was “not suitable for a graduate degree” and “close to failing”. He was quietly reinstated after an Employment Relations Authority decision awarding him $66,000. End of quote.

These cry-bullies are the result of the everyone-gets-a-prize generation of conceited brats being insulated from failure all their lives. Quote:

Haidt and Lukianoff are certain that what they describe as a culture of “safetyism”?spawned the phenomenon of “overparenting” and, Haidt argues, the demands of these children once they reach tertiary institutions are a natural result of not having to learn how to brush off criticism, and to sort out their own disputes.

The authors argue that protecting children from risk also prevents them from gaining important experience: walking or riding their bikes to school, using scissors or climbing trees. End of quote.

Combine this insufferably ignorant moralism with the left?s dogma of ‘intersectionality’, and you get a generation of cry-bullies who want to be ‘victims’. Quote:

The term “prestige economy” is used to describe rankings in social order?[today] there is also prestige in suffering and being a victim. That mentality encourages students to feel vulnerable, to believe that they do not have any control and to see themselves as victims of a world that is hostile?for those students who cannot claim to be victims of racism, homophobia or other forms of discrimination, their recourse is to stand up for those who they perceive could be victims.

“This gives us the worst of call-out culture ? the many students who are desperate to find offence in order to gain prestige points themselves.” End of quote.

Hence the odious phenomenon of smug ‘allies’ and rich, white elites who ‘hate white people’ and see Mary Poppins?s sooty face as ‘racism’. Quote:

“It has spread very fast here and it’s an open question whether in places such as New Zealand and Australia, distance will render this new morality less potent, or whether you are simply a year or two behind and in two years’ time you will have all this stuff, too, in the same intensity.” End of quote.


Call me a cynic, but I?m betting it?s a big ‘yes’ on that.