College Journalist Bigots: The Wellesley News
A particularly egregious example appears in the Wellesley News, the student paper of that very expensive, very elitist northeastern institution.
Many members of our community, including students, alumnae and faculty, have criticized the Wellesley community for becoming an environment where free speech is not allowed or is a violated right. Many outside sources have painted us as a bunch of hot house flowers who cannot exist in the real world. However, we fundamentally disagree with that characterization, and we disagree with the idea that free speech is infringed upon at Wellesley. Rather, our Wellesley community will not stand for hate speech, and will call it out when possible.Of course, what speech is “hate speech” is a matter of opinion. In a free society, anybody has a right to their opinion as to what is “hate speech.” We think the speech of Black Lives Matter is hate speech. But in a free society, nobody has the right to decide that certain opinions need to be shut up.
Wellesley students are generally correct in their attempts to differentiate what is viable discourse from what is just hate speech. Wellesley is certainly not a place for racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, transphobia or any other type of discriminatory speech. Shutting down rhetoric that undermines the existence and rights of others is not a violation of free speech; it is hate speech. The founding fathers put free speech in the Constitution as a way to protect the disenfranchised and to protect individual citizens from the power of the government. The spirit of free speech is to protect the suppressed, not to protect a free-for-all where anything is acceptable, no matter how hateful and damaging.Translation: people we agree with should be protected by the Constitution, but not people we disagree with.
This being said, the tone surrounding the current discourse is becoming increasingly hostile. Wellesley College is an institution whose aim is to educate. Students who come to Wellesley hail from a variety of diverse backgrounds. With this diversity comes previously-held biases that are in part the products of home environments. Wellesley forces us to both recognize and grow from these beliefs, as is the mark of a good college education.So the “home environment” is bad, but the Wellesley environment is good. And just who decided that? People completely assimilated into the Wellesley environment.
However, as students, it is important to recognize that this process does not occur without bumps along the way. It is inevitable that there will be moments in this growth process where mistakes will happen and controversial statements will be said. However, we argue that these questionable claims should be mitigated by education as opposed to personal attacks.Sounds nice, but just read on.
We have all said problematic claims, the origins of which were ingrained in us by our discriminatory and biased society.Yes, it’s “society” that is prejudiced, and Wellesley is a model of enlightenment.
Luckily, most of us have been taught by our peers and mentors at Wellesley in a productive way. It is vital that we encourage people to correct and learn from their mistakes rather than berate them for a lack of education they could not control. While it is expected that these lessons will be difficult and often personal, holding difficult conversations for the sake of educating is very different from shaming on the basis of ignorance.Note the utter contempt for anybody whose opinions might differ from those of these student journalists.
This being said, if people are given the resources to learn and either continue to speak hate speech or refuse to adapt their beliefs, then hostility may be warranted.Yes, we have the right to shame and bully people who don’t agree with us.
If people continue to support racist politicians or pay for speakers that prop up speech that will lead to the harm of others, then it is critical to take the appropriate measures to hold them accountable for their actions.Yes, we have to punish people who try to bring “racist” speakers to campus. And we leftists get to decide who is a racist.
It is important to note that our preference for education over beration regards students who may have not been given the chance to learn. Rather, we are not referring to those who have already had the incentive to learn and should have taken the opportunities to do so. Paid professional lecturers and politicians are among those who should know better.But “productive dialogue” has to exclude anything that we consider “racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, transphobia or any other type of discriminatory speech.” That is, pretty much any political opinion we disagree with, we intend to try to shut that up.
We at The Wellesley News, are not interested in any type of tone policing. The emotional labor required to educate people is immense and is additional weight that is put on those who are already forced to defend their human rights. There is no denying that problematic opinions need to be addressed in order to stop Wellesley from becoming a place where hate speech and casual discrimination is okay. However, as a community we need to make an effort to have this dialogue in a constructive and educational way in order to build our community up. Talk-back, protest videos and personal correspondences are also ways to have a constructive dialogue. Let us first bridge the gap between students in our community before we resort to personal attacks. Our student body is not only smart, it is also kind. Let us demonstrate that through productive dialogue.
That people like this will soon be dominating the mainstream media is a scary prospect indeed.