“2014 was the year, thanks to the hack of Sony Pictures in retaliation for the spoof movie ‘The Interview,’ that even the North Koreans made the ‘do not offend’ list.
It was the year that a scientist made an abject apology for wearing a shirt that offended feminists in a TV broadcast; that Amazon Prime put a label warning of racist content on ‘Tom and Jerry’ cartoons; and that various news outlets refused to say the name of the NFL team from Washington on grounds that even uttering it made them complicit in rank offensiveness.
It was a year when the nation’s colleges and law schools cemented their reputations as places where easily offended children go for a few years to become slightly older easily offended children.
Colleges canceled appearances by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Condi Rice (who technically pulled out of her scheduled Rutgers commencement) and George Will for fear students might hear something they disagree with from a figure they object to.
The University of California at Irvine offered grief counseling (‘in a constructive space’) for students upset at the grand-jury decision in the Ferguson case, and Occidental College brought in a religious counselor to comfort students who had volunteered for losing Democratic Senate campaigns.
An open letter from law students at Harvard upset at the nonindictments in the Ferguson and Eric Garner cases captured the spirit of the year, and deserves an honored place in the history of the rhetoric of plaint.”
We have a cultural problem when the exquisitely overly-sensitive minority gets to define and enforce acceptable discourse. We’re a long way from “I may disagree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it”.