Sandy Hingston of FIRE’s hometown Philadelphia Magazine marks the 20th anniversary of the infamous "water buffalo incident" at the University of Pennsylvania with an extended discussion of how the last 20 years have borne out the arguments made in FIRE President Greg Lukianoff’s book, Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate.
The "water buffalo incident" started a national discussion about political correctness on campus, inspired the writing of The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America’s Campuses, and ultimately led to the founding of FIRE by that book’s authors. Titled "A History of Political Correctness: 20 Years After Penn’s ‘Water Buffalo’ Incident," Hingston’s article takes readers through a litany of ways in which political correctness, rather than dying the death that nearly everyone seemed to think it deserved, instead spread from our campuses to society at large and has delivered predictable yet depressing results.
The article is excellent and deserves to be read in full, so I encourage everyone reading this to head over to Philadelphia Magazine‘s website and read it now. Hingston makes point after salient point about where 20 years of living with the campus thought police has left us. I’ll leave you with one of my favorites:
[T]he venting of opposing opinions is vital to learning, not to mention to democracy. What gets lost in the noise raised by those claiming they’re offended is this: Put a lid on a boiling pot, and eventually that pot boils over. Publicly clamping down on people’s ability to say what they think is a lot like that pot.
Well said, Ms. Hingston.