Political Correctness Gone Crazy !

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”
Evelyn Beatrice Hall

For anyone who’s read George Orwell’s 1984, you’ll recall how a big part of the sense of oppression and discomfort comes from the apparent ease with which the populace fall in to Groupthink – a sort of somnambulent, unquestioning acceptance that there’s one way of thinking and all go along with it for an easy life. Of course, as we see in the film, this is encouraged and developed by those who control ‘the system’ so as to keep the population subservient and controlled.

There are plenty of commentators who have been more than ready to show the examples of how the education systems of many developed countries have been used to achieve similar things, going right back to the early days of mass education. The use of bells, strict imposed discipline, rigidity and rewards and recognition for reproducing the views and perspectives conveyed by the teachers are amongst many examples given. The argument is that this ensured that mass education produced obedient followers, not thinking leaders ready to break moulds – a way for the 1% to ensure that the 99% stayed where they belonged.

However, here’s a pretty disturbing article from The Atlantic that highlights a trend that has been going on in colleges across the USA for some time (and arguably elsewhere as well) that has all the appearance of a self-imposed and willing form of Groupthink emanating from the students themselves as a bi-product of the sheltered and cotton-wooled childhoods that they’ve experienced. The students themselves are creating climates within which there is “one right way” to think and communicate and anyone who deviates is immediately made to pay a heavy price for their audacity.

The Atlantic – Article – The Coddling of the American Mind

One aspect not talked about in the article, but that I believe is playing a part is levels of debt and the costs of a college education. In such circumstances the pressures become far greater to see college as a means to an end, rather than as a free form growth opportunity. In my own college years, fierce debate, argument and counter-argument formed a vital part of college days (and nights). By no means was everything expressed ‘politically correct’. At times, the older (maybe wiser) me might shudder at the naivete of some of the thinking behind views that were expressed. Nevertheless, I believe the activity of forming an argument, defending it, presenting evidence, listening to others and setting out to understand why they held the views they did (without having to agree with them) was a vital learning process that I wouldn’t have missed for anything.

Where are we headed, as a species, when the person who dares to hold an unorthodox or unconventional view is to be neutralised, stifled, forced to clam up and keep it to themselves whilst all gaily sail to oblivion on a sea of group think. Where is the space for Apple’s crazy ones, the misfits?

Apple Advert - To the Crazy Ones

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