Thought Control and Morality on Campus

Throughout the campus of a major urban university, two signs dominate.  They are found inside and/or immediately outside every elevator on campus.  One sign is a list of eight sexual harassment behaviors that are rejected and deemed despicable by the university. The other sign pertains to discrimination and lists 21 areas of potential discrimination that will not be tolerated by the university.  Thus, there are 29 despicable behaviors that are verboten. None are defined by the warnings, but the seriousness of breaching any of these prohibited behaviors is clear.  Anyone who has “encountered” any of these behaviors is given an office to call, and a telephone number.  No specific punishments are mentioned for engaging in any of these behaviors. 

The Old Testament had Ten Commandments as the cornerstone of morality, and 613 commandments overall.  The New Testament has two great commandments plus an inner reformation requiring that one be “born again” in order to be part of the family of God and to follow Him. But quotes from the Old Testament moral law or from the New Testament are not seen on campus.  In the p.c. environment of higher education, we do not even see quotations from Buddha, Confucius, Muhammed, or even the Beatles or Bob Dylan.  Instead, we see these 29 harshly stated no-no’s that will define the good campus citizen from the one who is anti-social and against the envisioned social norm.  There is no statement on the signs as to what the punishment(s) for engaging in these wrong behaviors (which could presumably include wrong speech as well as wrong action) could be brought against malefactors. Further, no literature about how individual cases of violations have been handled is easily available.  The severe tone of the posters is to suggest horrible reprisals against those found guilty of violating these 29 no-no’s.

Clearly these ubiquitous posters are not merely restatements of employment law.  Faculty and other employees are required to take periodic online training modules on employment law with respect to harassment or discrimination in the workplace. Instead

the exhortations and commands not to engage in these long lists of anti-social actions are directed towards the student population on campus.  These commands are ever-present reminders that the Orwellian Big Brother is watching you and will call you to account in some unspecified way if you make the egregious mistake of falling into any of the 29 grievous behavioral errors.  Positive words and terms like respect, courtesy, patience, consideration, sociability, kindness, golden rule interactions, self-restraint, integrity, purity, brotherhood of man, or responsibility are not on any posters.

About 30 years ago, this writer took a job as a waiter at a restaurant across from Madison Square Garden in New York City. I was surprised to find that most of the waiters were homosexuals.  One waiter kept making sexual remarks to me.  I would just glare at him, and keep going about my business, but one day he actually tried to grab my genitals.  At that point I really lost my cool and started yelling at him.  The manager came over and I continued my heated tirade as the manager listened and other employees gathered around.  Undoubtedly many of the customers could also hear me.  I asked the manager “How would you feel if this was done to you?”  There was a cooling down.  The manager did not reprimand my co-worker.  I finished the day’s work, but never went back.

So the question is this:  does the reader think that the present campus signs against sexual harassment -- decades later -- are intended to stop the kind of sexual harassment I experienced years before as a waiter? The sign rejects “unwelcome sexual advances,” “request for sexual favors,” “suggestive or lewd comments, graphic or sexually suggestive gestures,” or “inquiries of discussions about sexual activities.”  It seems more likely in today’s climate that this sign is a sop to feminist mindsets about boys hitting on girls on the campus.  In today’s climate, the homosexuals are considered the righteous ones victimized by the straight world, so if the sign were intended for homosexuals to keep their hands to themselves that would be considered negative and stereotyping.  Rather, this sexual harassment sign is clearly a bone being thrown to the feminists who are aggrieved by male aggression to the point where even the so-called progressive Governor Andrew Cuomo was driven out of office as a sexual harasser at the height of his popularity as a spokesman of New York’s pandemic policies. The Sexual Harassment sign does not say “male students beware,” but in the context of today’s anti-male culture, the intent is clear.

The sign opposing discrimination is more wide-ranging than the sign on sexual harassment. The word “discrimination” is not defined. Undoubtedly, as with most issues of this kind in today’s world, the matter of discrimination is defined on a case-by-case basis with the subjective “feelings” of the victim looming as a large factor in determining whether the discrimination was real, imagined, or falls in a gray area of talking or deeds that are unwise but not full-blown discrimination.  One is “partnership status.” Related to that is “marital status.” The difference between these two is not specified. But the implication is that any views about the legitimacy of a “partnership” or “marital status” are wrong.  All variations are acceptable. What if a religious person says to someone who is living in with his or her boyfriend or girlfriend that they think couples should only live together if they are married?  This is a classic conservative view held by Jews, Christians, and Muslims although ignored by millions today. Would saying something be considered an act of “discrimination?”  Would not inviting someone to a party at one’s apartment because they are deemed immoral be considered an act of “discrimination?”  Because of the non-specificity of the sign, the no-no’s like this and the others on the sign might be considered a type of thought control, not merely behavior control.

The unstated words “all people are acceptable and beyond criticism” are implied by the list which includes: disability, religion (this is in the First Amendment of our Constitution but the others are not in the Constitution), national origin, citizenship, sex, military status, and color are some of the items on the list. Is it not better to be a citizen of the USA than not to be a citizen?  Is selling kosher food or only eating kosher food an act of discrimination against non-kosher persons?  If students do not eat in the cafeteria because it is not kosher, are they discriminating against other students? Is the poster really trying to prevent discrimination or is it to promote thought control and a certain mindset.  This writer tends to see the anti-discrimination poster as an attempt at social engineering rather than an action to protect people.

Advancing negative values and prohibitions will never substitute for positive, godly values advancing the cause of respect for individual achievement and integrity, the heterosexual monogamous family, and honest dialogue among people. When America was seen more through the lens of being a melting pot and not as a balkanized land of special needs and special interests, we did not need signs like these.

Image: Ivan Radic

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