The Dangers Of Ideology And The Importance Of Free Speech & Debate

The Dangers Of Ideology And The Importance Of Free Speech & Debate

Universities are currently policing thought, indoctrinating students into a radical egalitarian ideology, and crushing dissenting opinion.
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It’s truly amazing to consider how quickly the culture on college campuses has changed over the last several years. Once staunch defenders of speech and academic freedom, modern universities are quickly turning into ideological echo chambers, indoctrinating students into a radical left-wing egalitarian worldview, while crushing dissenting opinion.

The disturbingly Orwellian trend to quell free expression on campuses can best be illustrated by an event that unfolded last year at James Madison University’s freshman orientation, when “student leaders” distributed a list of 35 things that incoming students should avoid saying, including phrases such as “you have a pretty face,” “love the sinner, hate the sin,” “we’re all part of the human race,” “I treat all people the same,” “people just need to pick themselves up by their bootstraps,” among other expressions.

You might find yourself laughing this off as nonsense, an isolated set of events perpetuated by a select group of fringe radicals. Unfortunately, I can assure you that this is not an isolated incident. In addition to the slew of protests that erupted at universities last year in response to conservative speakers being invited to campus, these kinds of events are indicative of a larger, and more pernicious attempt by the radical left to control the linguistic territory.

At universities across America, the campus left now demands that people accept certain preconditions for discussion. Not the kind of reasonable preconditions such as “treat people with respect,” or “don’t resort to personal attacks.” Rather, It is demanded that you accept a neo-Marxian worldview, rooted in the notion that the world is nothing more than a power struggle between two groups of people: those who oppress and those who are oppressed. They demand that people accept notions like white-male privilege as axiomatic – not to be debated – and force people to acknowledge how they've been privileged by the current socio-economic structure.

Refusing to accept these presuppositions not only bars someone from participating in the discussion. To challenge an idea, such as white privilege, is to reject the fact that racism and bigotry exist in our society. To challenge the notion that being white necessarily means you must be more privileged than a person of color is akin to blasphemy. To push against the idea that certain classes of people in America are ‘victims of systemic oppression’ is to deny the humanity and individual experiences of people of color, women, and other minority groups.

The campus left emphatically espouse the notion that “the personal is political.” Thus they believe, unequivocally, that the primary responsibility of the University should be to ensure students from “diverse cultural backgrounds” feel safe – and by safe they mean “not having their identities challenged;” and by identities they are referring to their belief systems – the lens by which they perceive the word.

From the perspective of a radical leftist, to participate in debate is not seen as merely engaging in criticism of some abstract idea. To challenge an idea is to challenge someone’s identity, and to challenge someone’s identity is to debate their humanity.

And that is one of the axiomatic rules of the campus Left – you cannot debate someone’s humanity.

Indeed, with more than a fifth of college undergrads now believing its okay to use physical force to silence a speaker who makes “offensive or hurtful statement,” the future of the First Amendment itself is currently uncertain.

What exactly is so dangerous about this movement?

For starters, the freedom of speech has wrongly been construed as just another value that we in the West hold in high regard. But it is more than a Right that we share as citizens of this nation. It is, ultimately, the mechanism by which keep our psyches and societies functioning.

See, most people just aren’t that good at thinking. I don't mean this as a sleight against anyone, but we’re all insufficient and we have limited awareness of most things because we just can’t know everything. We rely on communication with one another to facilitate the process of learning about things outside our realm of knowledge. Often we have to, first, stumble around like the blithering idiots we are, espousing our biased beliefs in a public forum, and subjecting our ideas to criticism before we can properly orient our thoughts.

When the open exchange of ideas is allowed, you get the opportunity for multiple people to put forward their biased oversimplifications and engage in debate that raises the resolution of the particular question and answer at hand. Ideas are hit with hammers, combed for contradictions, inadequacies and even falsehoods. On an individual level, this kind of scrutiny sharpens the schema you use to navigate the world because other people can tell you things you can’t know by yourself.

Maybe it’s an opinion espoused, or a behavior that manifests itself, or a misconception you hold- in any event, subjecting your beliefs to criticism is, in the short term sometimes painful because we often learn things about the world and ourselves that are uncomfortable; but, in the long term, it is the only way method we have for moving closer towards something that more closely resembles truth – and if not anything true, at least something less wrong. As a result, the lens by which you look at the world becomes clearer.

Further, it is also through a collective process of dialectic that we identify problems in our societies, formulate solutions, and come to some sort of consensus.

Thus the right to say what you believe should not just considered as "just another value." It's a conical value, without which all the other values we hold dear, that people have fought so hard, in such an unlikely manner, to preserve and produce all disappear.

Without it, there can be no progress. Without it, individuals abdicate their responsibility to engage in the sacred process of discovery and renewal. Without it, we can’t think. Without it, there can be no truth. Without it, there can be nothing but nihilistic psychopathology. The end result is a populist that is not only afraid to say what they think, but that doesn't even know what they think because they haven’t been allowed to stumble around in the dark to find some tiny fragment of light.

Therefore, when we consider placing restrictions on the freedom of speech we must do so with the most extreme caution. By setting ridiculous preconditions for discussion, the campus left not only makes the process by which we solve the problems with our society more difficult, but also, if taken to its extreme, it can lead to totalitarianism.

In the wake of dozens of campus protests last year, universities are now in a position where they have to choose between two incompatible values: truth or social justice. The former will lead us to a greater understanding, while the latter can only divide.

Cover Image Credit: Teen Vogue

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Your Wait time At Theme Parks Is Not Unfair, You're Just Impatient

Your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself.

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Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios "unboxed" on June 30, 2018. My friend and I decided to brave the crowds on opening day. We got to the park around 7 AM only to find out that the park opened around 6 AM. Upon some more scrolling through multiple Disney Annual Passholder Facebook groups, we discovered that people were waiting outside the park as early as 1 AM.

We knew we'd be waiting in line for the bulk of the Toy Story Land unboxing day. There were four main lines in the new land: the line to enter the land; the line for Slinky Dog Dash, the new roller coaster; the line for Alien Spinning Saucers, the easier of the new rides in the land; Toy Story Mania, the (now old news) arcade-type ride; and the new quick-service restaurant, Woody's Lunchbox (complete with grilled cheese and "grown-up drinks").

Because we were so early, we did not have to wait in line to get into the land. We decided to ride Alien Spinning Saucers first. The posted wait time was 150 minutes, but my friend timed the line and we only waited for 50 minutes. Next, we tried to find the line for Slinky Dog Dash. After receiving conflicting answers, the runaround, and even an, "I don't know, good luck," from multiple Cast Members, we exited the land to find the beginning of the Slinky line. We were then told that there was only one line to enter the park that eventually broke off into the Slinky line. We were not about to wait to get back into the area we just left, so we got a Fastpass for Toy Story Mania that we didn't plan on using in order to be let into the land sooner. We still had to wait for our time, so we decided to get the exclusive Little Green Man alien popcorn bin—this took an entire hour. We then used our Fastpass to enter the land, found the Slinky line, and proceeded to wait for two and a half hours only for the ride to shut down due to rain. But we've come this far and rain was not about to stop us. We waited an hour, still in line and under a covered area, for the rain to stop. Then, we waited another hour and a half to get on the ride from there once it reopened (mainly because they prioritized people who missed their Fastpass time due to the rain). After that, we used the mobile order feature on the My Disney Experience app to skip part of the line at Woody's Lunchbox.

Did you know that there is actually a psychological science to waiting? In the hospitality industry, this science is the difference between "perceived wait" and "actual wait." A perceived wait is how long you feel like you are waiting, while the actual wait is, of course, the real and factual time you wait. There are eight things that affect the perceived wait time: unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time, pre-process waits feel longer than in-process waits, anxiety makes waits feel longer, uncertain waits are longer than certain waits, unexplained waits are longer than explained waits, unfair waits are longer than equitable waits, people will wait longer for more valuable service and solo waiting feels longer than group waiting.

Our perceived wait time for Alien Spinning Saucers was short because we expected it to be longer. Our wait for the popcorn seemed longer because it was unoccupied and unexplained. Our wait for the rain to stop so the ride could reopen seemed shorter because it was explained. Our wait between the ride reopening and getting on the coaster seemed longer because it felt unfair for Disney to let so many Fastpass holders through while more people waited through the rain. Our entire wait for Slinky Dog Dash seemed longer because we were not told the wait time in the beginning. Our wait for our food after placing a mobile order seemed shorter because it was an in-process wait. We also didn't mind wait long wait times for any of these experiences because they were new and we placed more value on them than other rides or restaurants at Disney. The people who arrived at 1 AM just added five hours to their perceived wait

Some non-theme park examples of this science of waiting in the hospitality industry would be waiting at a restaurant, movie theater, hotel, performance or even grocery store. When I went to see "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," the power went out in the theater right as we arrived. Not only did we have to wait for it to come back and for them to reset the projectors, I had to wait in a bit of anxiety because the power outage spooked me. It was only a 30-minute wait but felt so much longer. At the quick-service restaurant where I work, we track the time from when the guest places their order to the time they receive their food. Guests in the drive-thru will complain about 10 or more minute waits, when our screens tell us they have only been waiting four or five minutes. Their actual wait was the four or five minutes that we track because this is when they first request our service, but their perceived wait begins the moment they pull into the parking lot and join the line because this is when they begin interacting with our business. While in line, they are experiencing pre-process wait times; after placing the order, they experience in-process wait times.

Establishments in the hospitality industry do what they can to cut down on guests' wait times. For example, theme parks offer services like Disney's Fastpass or Universal's Express pass in order to cut down the time waiting in lines so guests have more time to buy food and merchandise. Stores like Target or Wal-Mart offer self-checkout to give guests that in-process wait time. Movie theaters allow you to check in and get tickets on a mobile app and some quick-service restaurants let you place mobile or online orders. So why do people still get so bent out of shape about being forced to wait?

On Toy Story Land unboxing day, I witnessed a woman make a small scene about being forced to wait to exit the new land. Cast Members were regulating the flow of traffic in and out of the land due to the large crowd and the line that was in place to enter the land. Those exiting the land needed to wait while those entering moved forward from the line. Looking from the outside of the situation as I was, this all makes sense. However, the woman I saw may have felt that her wait was unfair or unexplained. She switched between her hands on her hips and her arms crossed, communicated with her body language that she was not happy. Her face was in a nasty scowl at those entering the land and the Cast Members in the area. She kept shaking her head at those in her group and when allowed to proceed out of the land, I could tell she was making snide comments about the wait.

At work, we sometimes run a double drive-thru in which team members with iPads will take orders outside and a sequencer will direct cars so that they stay in the correct order moving toward the window. In my experience as the sequencer, I will inform the drivers which car to follow, they will acknowledge me and then still proceed to dart in front of other cars just so they make it to the window maybe a whole minute sooner. Not only is this rude, but it puts this car and the cars around them at risk of receiving the wrong food because they are now out of order. We catch these instances more often than not, but it still adds stress and makes the other guests upset. Perhaps these guests feel like their wait is also unfair or unexplained, but if they look at the situation from the outside or from the restaurant's perspective, they would understand why they need to follow the blue Toyota.

The truth of the matter is that your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself. We all want instant gratification, I get it. But in reality, we have to wait for some things. It takes time to prepare a meal. It takes time to experience a ride at a theme park that everyone else wants to go on. It takes time to ring up groceries. It takes patience to live in this world.

So next time you find yourself waiting, take a minute to remember the difference between perceived and actual wait times. Think about the eight aspects of waiting that affect your perceived wait. Do what you can to realize why you are waiting or keep yourself occupied in this wait. Don't be impatient. That's no way to live your life.

Cover Image Credit:

Aranxa Esteve

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What We're Witnessing Is One Of Humanity's Biggest Tests–Will We Stand Up Or Stand By?

It's time for a mental overhaul: Turn the volume up on the news, read into the issues, recognize what is wrong.

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As I pushed the button to speed up the stairmaster at the gym, I stared absentmindedly at the TV screens across all of the walls in the cardio section. I breathed heavily as I pressed on and didn't think about what I was watching and seeing. Our joke of a president, wildfires, and babies at the border that broke my heart seemed to fly by as I climbed on and on.

But they were there, in my mind. Like everything else that is wrong. Spinning. I think I've landed myself in the most unfortunate mental space during these Trump years. And here is why.

When Trump was elected, I was a first semester college student, experiencing a whirlwind of my own and then heartbroken to see Hillary nearly fade from view. It was the nightmare I feared for so many months but what was more sickening was the fact that I knew, as a young white woman, it would not hit me as hard as others.

And being in a stressful time, being so young, and seeing something so heart-wrenching, so incredibly cruel, and so concerning happen to the country left me hopeless at first.

If you've read any other pieces I've written, you might have sensed that. You also may have sensed my drive to veer away from that sense of hopelessness and I hope, maybe you felt motivated to step up.

But as I climbed on and on during this stairmaster workout, I felt like I was at the bottom of a very large hole and as I screamed for help, no one could hear me and trying to climb out myself would be useless.

In the Trump era, a girl who was once so enthusiastic and active and empowered, now found herself hopeless and living with a mindset that actions don't actually make a difference. I'd probably tell you otherwise, but this is an honest account of how I feel, and yes, that girl is me.

I'm not a politician, I'm not in a place where I have ample time to give up my job to be an advocate, and I'm finding that as life speeds by, other interests fall in the way of my path. A few years ago, I was that annoying teacher's pet type kid who ran for every student-body election, was in a million clubs, and wrote for the school paper. Back then, I was immersed in my little bubble of high school and felt that my words and my actions could make a difference. Often, they did. Even on the outside, being a leader in my community paid off. But in the adult world, life got overwhelming. And then we were thrown this asshole of a president and suddenly, the news and every part of the world became a battleground – what would he say next, who would he threaten, what would he shock us with, and mostly, what would he reveal about our country through his actions?

Trump supporters have not gone away quietly. They are alive and well in their masses. And the most important thing we can take away from Donald Trump is that, the worst and most nightmarish thing CAN happen in what's supposed to be the greatest nation on Earth (I'd beg to differ but we'll save that for another article) and when it does, we'll be able to see with the utmost clarity who the people of our country are and how deeply-rooted racism, xenophobia, hate, and bigotry really are. And it's a crumbling, sinking, devastating feeling we get from seeing this reality.

I'm not going to lie to you, every time I know of someone in my life or my circle that is a Trump supporter, I'm stuck wondering if they're incredibly, incredibly stupid or if they managed to hide a disgusting truth so well. Don't EVEN get me started on the people who go on and on and on about how they have friends who voted for Trump and friends who voted for Hillary and no matter what they're still friends.

That mentality is weak, that mentality is being a bystander, and that mentality condones evil. I HAD friends who voted for Trump. Note the past tense. They're not a part of my circle now. I prefer to keep the accepting, loving, equality-supporting, and DECENT human beings close. I know I know, how dare I label someone a racist or evil or horrible for a VOTE? Sue me.

Let me remind you, the votes we cast in any election are valuable. Have been fought for. Are still fought for. They are the center, the core, of our democracy. If you valued that so little as to vote for an ORANGE who is applauded for his racism, his hate, and who vows to tear our nation apart, you're not someone I want to associate with.

Something that people take so much pride in through their support for this man is how he "really speaks his mind and says what he thinks,".

When I hear this kind of language, I recall a teammate I used to have. In every bit of honesty, she was one of the most mean and disrespectful people I've met. But she was fast in the boat and did very well. One of the best people on our team. And whenever she said something mean, everyone would make the excuse… "Oh, that's just Sarah,"* or, "She's just like that,". They excuse poor behavior and being a bad person because of a status on a team, just like people excuse Trump's cruelty for him simply "speaking his mind,". And he's not even a star athlete – he a failed businessman and annoying reality TV star who might have some ounce of charisma if you're into that orange, nasty kind of charisma.

These people, who follow him and who believe he's simply speaking a truth that we need to hear, are the biggest problem. They're bystanders to the truth that needs to be heard, that he is a monster. But just like they are bystanders to the problem that sits in the oval office, I feel as though I am a bystander in a different way.

I'm not like them, but as I watch it all unfold and go about my life, I feel that I need to do more. But I also find that I am stifled by the news, the disaster that is unfolding before my eyes, and without much power in being an ordinary citizen that I can see and believe in during these dark times, I say with the saddest honesty that I feel like a bystander too. I'm turning a blind eye, in some ways. And I am part of the problem. We all are. But to what end can we continue under this disgraceful, discouraging, conditions?

By realizing that he's on a path of destruction like a hurricane. And his that truthfully, things may get worse before they get better. And most importantly, the ones we love that are bound to fall victim to his evil policies are going to get hurt. We're coming up on a crucial time where we must have a societal reckoning – how can we be a voice for the voiceless, how can we amplify the oppressed and oppress the hateful voices from the other side? How can we be of action when action seems impossible?

I've chosen to write. And to write until I feel the hope again. But we all can realize that this is the greatest test we've come across, and we're going to fail if we don't come to terms with one thing: This IS wrong. We might not come out in good shape. The people who struggle the most in this country will continue to hurt. And how we think, how we act consequently, how we raise our children, and how we choose to live our lives will determine if we give them a fighting chance.

It's time for a mental overhaul: Turn the volume up on the news, read into the issues, recognize what is wrong.

I'm begging, for every person on the streets tonight, for every toddler stuck at the border, for every family wondering about their fate as a minority in this country. For all of us.

This is not normal, and never will be. America deserves better. Press on.

*Name altered

Cover Image Credit:

https://pixabay.com/en/trump-donald-trump-donald-president-1915253/

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