I know I’m going to sound like an old fart for saying this, but I seriously think that it’s time to just give up on Millennials as a generation. I’m sure there are individual people in that age group who are great – probably some of you reading this now, disgusted with the simpering worthless mess of conformity-loving little monsters that your age group have become. I’m sure a lot of you individually can be saved. But as a whole? It’s time to write Millennials off as hopeless.
The last straw for me? A coalition of them have come together to lobby the government to please censor them. Seriously. They’re literally begging the government to take away their rights and freedoms!
This coalition of various student ‘activist’ groups are requesting that the Department of Education use legal and financial threats to coerce all U.S. colleges to punish students who express the wrong speech and to outlaw social media apps like Yik Yak on campuses.
How did we even get here? How did we produce a generation of permanently stunted mental and emotional infants who desperately want government to decide for them what they should think, say or do?
Long ago and far away, I remember that there was once a certain internet forum dedicated to talk about tabletop RPGs (my hobby and other job). Sometime around 2002 or 2003, a group of far-Left posters wrote a public manifesto demanding that the site become an “emotionally safe environment” by engaging in massive banning of anyone who intimidated or even argued with them.
They were laughed off the forum. Everyone thought they had to be crazy. Seriously? An “emotionally safe environment” – were they out of their minds? We were the Wild West, a place where everyone spoke their mind. Where we had 100-page fights about Elves! OK, so we definitely weren’t cool (or making the best use of our time), but we were free.
And at the time we thought these people were a tiny and absurd minority. And yet, within five years those very same people and people like them had taken over that site, and purged it through banning of almost everyone who disagreed with them (including yours truly). In the process, the majority of posting on the site stopped being about games and became about politics (always only the ‘correct’ kind because, if you expressed the wrong opinion, you’d be banned). The place had changed completely from “Wild West” to “Stalin’s Russia” in about half a decade.
And it wasn’t just one site. It was so endemic to the whole hobby that in the end, in order to keep having free speech about D&D games, I had to go run my own forum.
This anecdote is just a personal reflection of how quick the Left has turned over the last 20 years. And how this was largely due to a process of subversion that started in the education system and worked its way through into a nearly complete shift, in one generation, of the Left’s understanding of free speech.
Look at this case with this coalition of student groups. Their argument begging the Department of Education to censor Universities cites a court case, Tinker vs. Des Moines, which argues that elementary and high schools can restrict speech.
But Tinker vs. Des Moines depends on the fact that it is school administration of underage children acting in loco parentis. These university students want the government to treat adults, to treat all of us, as if we were children forever, and the government (under the guidance of the right Critical Theory experts, no doubt) as our eternal parents who must choose what is best for us.
But legal precedent when it comes to college and universities goes the other way. Several notable cases have ruled that, being ADULTS, universities cannot censor the free speech rights of their students. And here’s the irony: the fundamental groundwork for this precedent was largely set by left-wing free-speech advocates in the 1960s.
Healy v. James and Papish v. Board of Curators were both cases where left-wing student groups fought for the right of free speech on campus. In Healy, it was the famous civil rights and anti-war group Students for a Democratic Society who sued to have the right to free speech activities. In Papish, a female student at the University of Missouri fought for her right to distribute an underground newspaper that the administration considered subversive and sexually indecent.
So the left-wing students of today are fighting to strip away the freedom of speech that their left-wing parents or grandparents fought to defend. How unspeakably f*cked up is that?!
It’s so screwy, it has me defending the Baby Boomers. Usually, I would be the first to condemn that bloated stinking gang of shallow self-absorbed narcissists, the “me” generation, and of course a lot of what they set up led us to this mess down the road. But at least, selfish as their reasons were, they were always trying to fight for MORE freedom, not less. The Millennials have managed to beat them in the Crapulence Olympics: they’re just as shallow, just as self-absorbed, but they spend their time fighting to have LESS freedom.
I think maybe the problem is that they were all born too late to really understand any of the good lessons of the ’60s (being left only with a Disney-fied, flower-power image of what that time was like that ignores any of the really important stuff) and way too late to grasp just how much the Boomers F*cked Everything Up beyond all recognition. Unlike Gen-Xers, they can’t even remember a world that wasn’t entirely subverted to what philosopher Ken Wilber calls “Boomeritis:” a paradigm centered on relativism and narcissism that views all hierarchy and authority as inherently illegitimate and seeks to establish Consensus by force. So the Millennials are taking this worldview to its logical conclusion: safe spaces matter more than being free. For the sake of personal comfort, we can forcibly silence people who refuse to join our Consensus – because none of their arguments are real anyways. Everything is relative and nothing matters more than my own feelings.
So now 72% of students think other students or even professors who make them uncomfortable should be disciplined and silenced, while 51% think that campuses must have forced speech codes. Also, 63% think trigger warnings should be made mandatory and 30% of self-identifying liberal students think the 1st amendment should be abolished.
Pity us poor Gen-X punks. We spent most of our lives so far resenting and fighting against the dominance of self-absorbed Boomers, and now we can see we’ll be stuck spending the other half fighting the totalitarian narcissism of clueless Millennials.
But hey, I’m an incurable optimist. There is hope. Not only from the minority in the Millennials’ own ranks who are fighting their own paradigm and turning on to Libertarian ideas (cultural or otherwise), but also hope for the future. Each generation seems designed to piss off the previous one, and the Post-Millennials (those kids born after 2001) are going to start taking over college campuses in less than 5 years. They will be walking into an environment they had nothing to do with making and have no allegiance to, where everyone will be telling them what to do, allegedly for their own good. And where the only way left to be a rebel will be to embrace Individualism just as strong as their big siblings and parents rejected it.
Me, I’ll be cheering them on from the old folks’ home.
Photo by Ferenc Gerak / Getty Images
Kasimir Urbanski doesn’t write on a specific subject; he’s EveryJoe’s resident maniac-at-large. A recovering Humanities academic and world-traveler, he now lives in South America and is a researcher of fringe religion, eastern philosophy, and esoteric consciousness-expansion. In his spare time he writes tabletop RPGs, and blogs about them at therpgpundit.blogspot.com.
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