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It would be easy to call protesting college students crybabies and brats for pitching hissy fits over hurt feelings, but this likely would lead to such torrents of tearful tribulation that the nation’s university system would have to shut down for a prolonged period of grief counseling.

Besides, it would be insensitive.

Instead, let me be the first to say, it’s not the students’ fault. These serial tantrums are a direct result of our Everybody Gets A Trophy culture and an educational system that, for the most part, no longer teaches a core curriculum, including history, government and the Bill of Rights.

They simply don’t know any better.

This isn’t necessarily to excuse them. Everyone has a choice whether to ignore a perceived slight — or to form a posse. But as with any problem, it helps to understand its source. The disease, I fear, was auto-induced with the zealous pampering of the American child that began a few decades ago.

The first sign of the epidemic of sensitivity we’re witnessing was when parents and teachers were instructed never to tell Johnny that he’s a “bad boy,” but that he’s “acting” like a bad boy.

Next, Johnny was handed a blue ribbon along with everyone else on the team even though he didn’t deserve one. This had the opposite effect of what was intended. Rather than protecting Johnny’s fragile self-esteem, the prize undermined Johnny’s faith in his own perceptions and judgment. It robbed him of his ability to pick himself up when he fell and to be brave, honest and hardy in the face of adversity.

Self-esteem is earned, not bestowed.

Today’s campuses are overrun with little Johnnys, their female counterparts and their adult enablers. How will we ever find enough fainting couches?

Lest anyone feel slighted so soon, this is also not to diminish the pain of racism (or sexism, ageism, blondism, or whatever -ism gets one’s tear ducts moistened). But nothing thus far reported on campuses the past several weeks rises to the level of the coerced resignations of a university chancellor and president.

The affronts that prompted students to demand the resignations include: An off-campus, drive-by racial epithet apparently aimed at the student body president; another racial epithet hurled by a drunk white student; a swastika drawn with feces in a dorm restroom.

Someone certainly deserves a spanking — or psychoanalysis. Sigmund Freud had plenty to say about people who play with the products of their alimentary canal.

But do such events mean that students have been neglected, as protesters have charged? Or that the school tolerates racism?

Concurrent with these episodes of outrage is the recent surge on campuses of “trigger warnings” in syllabuses to alert students to content that might be upsetting, and “safe zones” where students can seek refuge when ideas make them uncomfortable. It seems absurd to have to mention that the purpose of higher education is to be challenged, to be exposed to different views and, above all, to be exhilarated by the exercise of free speech — other people’s as well as one’s own.

The marketplace of ideas is not for sissies, in other words. And it would appear that knowledge, the curse of the enlightened, is not for everyone.

The latter is meant to be an observation, but on many college campuses today, it seems to be an operating principle. A recent survey of 1,100 colleges and universities found that only 18 percent require American history or government, where such foundational premises as the First Amendment might be explained and understood.

The survey, by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, assesses schools according to whether they have at least one required course in composition, foreign language at the intermediate level, American government or history, economics, science, mathematics and literature. Coincidentally, the very institutions where students are dominating what passes for debate also scored among the worst: Missouri, D; Yale, C; Dartmouth, C; and Princeton, C — all for requiring only one or a few of the subjects. Amherst scored an F for requiring nothing.

Such is the world we’ve created for young people who soon enough will discover that the world doesn’t much care about their tender feelings. But before such harsh realities knock them off their ponies, we might hope that they redirect their anger. They have every right to despise the coddling culture that ill prepared them for life and an educational system that has failed to teach them what they need to know.

Weep for them — and us.

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(5) comments


This has been coming for decades and now we are surprised at the outcome. The whole school system has been corrupted and it was allowed to do so. Instructors, teachers, professors all had a good gig and the security to go with it. We have now given them enough rope. Now try and deal with it. They have got into a position where you can not do a thing about it. The horse is out of the barn. All you had to do is follow the money and funding. No more need be said.


A whole generation lost because parents forgot to teach their kids about the hard life they'll be facing when they leave the nest. This generation of kids have been given everything they want instead of being made to work for it. They think they're entitled to everything and they're surprised when their feeling are hurt because they never knew how tough the world real was. This generation needs to grow up and face the world as it is without crying about it if they're ever going to succeed at anything.

Liberty Peak

The kids that were raised by electronics, seem to be the biggest crybabies because they don't know how to interact with the outside world. Sitting in your( safe zone) house 10 hours a day playing video games only teaches you to be good at playing video games, and when they go out into the real world they can't hack it. Some of those kids don't know how to deal with conflict, so the do what they have learned by the violent video games, and go on a shooting rampage. And they have cell phones in which to block out the real world. The problem doesn't effect all the kids, it's just the ones that cant adjust to being adults, and learning they can't always get what you want.


On another note it seems anyone today that has a "degree" feels they are to good to start at the bottom and work their way up by proving it with their work ethic. Working to expand a business in Eau Claire years ago I pretty much gave up working with people fresh out of college. Give me someone that has work and life experience over the sense of entitlement any day.


KP: "....history, economics, science, mathematics and literature. Coincidentally, the very institutions where students are dominating what passes for debate also scored among the worst..."

Thankfully, there's a fix for dummied-down academic institutions. Just build more stadiums, let the NCAA continue to scam students and athletes (fake students) while your institution rakes in all that TV sports revenue.

"Academe, n.: An ancient school where morality and philosophy were taught. Academy, n.: A modern school where football is taught." - Ambrose Bierce

'Charles J. Sykes charges that college teaching has become a lucrative racket, where the most important responsibility--undergraduate teaching--has been abandoned in favor of trendy research, the pursuit of personal or political agendas, outside consulting contracts, and the drive for tenure.' -- "Profscam: Professors and the Demise of Higher Education"

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