In his latest column for The Huffington Post, FIRE President Greg Lukianoff reflects on the campus culture wars with reference to two of our most famous cases: Hayden Barnes' expulsion for a collage at Valdosta State University and the University of Delaware's former Residence Life program.
Discussing the cases side by side, Greg demonstrates how censorship is usually engaged in by "someone who thinks they are, to a greater or lesser degree, saving the world, their country, or humanity's eternal soul." As Greg points out, these censors are missing the fundamental point:
This should be obvious, but in the culture wars many of us tend to break down the world to an "us versus them" dichotomy, with anything used to attack "them" being, at the very least, "understandable." I spoke at the University of Delaware shortly after the school abandoned this invasive program and some resident assistants were absolutely furious, despite my attempts to explain that nobody should want to live in a country where agents of the state have the power to quiz you on sexual identity and practices or political beliefs with the goal of browbeating you into changing them. I tried to explain that just a few decades ago, such a program would doubtless have been used to rout out suspected homosexuals and communists. But having once again given in to the passions ignited by the culture wars, those who truly believed in this program wanted to hear none of it. That is why you can rest assured that this is not the last time we will see resident life officials taking it upon themselves to turn the dormitories into reeducation centers.