Quote of the Day:

But then the discussion began, and it was the most unremittingly hostile questioning I’ve ever had. I don’t mind when people ask hard or critical questions, but I was surprised that I had misread the audience so thoroughly. My talk had little to do with gender, but the second question was “So you think rape is OK?”

–Jonathan Haidt at Minding the Campus

The main point of Haidt's post is summed up in the headline: "Campus Turmoil Begins in High School." In it Haidt recounts going to give a talk in a private high school about a month before Yale's meltdown over of all things Halloween costumes. The theme talk was on "Coddle U vs Strengthen U: What a Great University Should Be."

Haidt thought that the talk had been well-received until the Q & A period began. The question about rape was asked in a hostile atmosphere:

Like most of the questions, it was backed up by a sea of finger snaps — the sort you can hear in the infamous Yale video, where a student screams at Prof. Christakis to “be quiet” and tells him that he is “disgusting.” I had never heard the snapping before. When it happens in a large auditorium it is disconcerting. It makes you feel that you are facing an angry and unified mob — a feeling I have never had in 25 years of teaching and public speaking.

After the first dozen questions I noticed that not a single questioner was male. I began to search the sea of hands asking to be called on and I did find one boy, who asked a question that indicated that he too was critical of my talk. But other than him, the 200 or so boys in the audience sat silently.

After the Q&A, I got a half-standing ovation: almost all of the boys in the room stood up to cheer. And after the crowd broke up, a line of boys came up to me to thank me and shake my hand. Not a single girl came up to me afterward.

A smaller session aftereards was civil, with boys encouraged to speak. At a gathering for parents that evening, Haidt heard from parents of boys how glad they were that their sons had had the opportunity to express themselves because many felt "bullied into submission by the girls."

Haidt comments:

You might think that this is some sort of justice — white males have enjoyed positions of privilege for centuries, and now they are getting a taste of their own medicine. But these are children. And remember that most students who are in a victim group for one topic are in the “oppressor” group for another. So everyone is on eggshells sometimes; all students at Centerville High learn to engage with books, ideas, and people using the twin habits of defensive self-censorship and vindictive protectiveness.

And then… they go off to college and learn new ways to gain status by expressing collective anger at those who disagree.

I also want to commend to your attention Christine Rosen's Commentary column headlined "Campus 'Safety' and the Will to Power." Christine writes:

On campus, safety is now a matter of feeling rather than fact. And young activists have lots and lots of feelings. . . .

In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche wrote, “Suppose nothing else were ‘given’ as real except our world of desires and passions, and we could not get down, or up, to any other ‘reality’ besides the reality of our drives.” This was what he called the “will to power,” or “the world viewed from inside.”

Today, the will to power, coated in a thick layer of feelings, is repackaged as empathy, which, like safety, has become an unassailable human right.