Viewpoint discrimination: The overlooked oppression

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Caroline Martin/The Carolinian

Mark Parent
Opinions Editor

Everyone is oppressed in college; or, at least, that’s how it feels sometimes. Of course, I seldom witness these many oppressions—and, honestly, most of those crying wolf over all of these “injustices” are probably in the same boat as me.

I get it, though. Whenever one considers the fact that an individual is being systematically disadvantaged for no reason other than that of his or her birth, it’s utterly horrifying. And, frankly, it’s this very sense of morality that will prove to be pivotal in our ongoing fight against real cases of injustice.

Unfortunately, this maxim is as common in our student population as teetotalism at a Catholic wedding. For our student body, it seems like everything is worth protesting—gentrification, construction projects, low wages, the General Assembly, education rights, Margaret Spellings, and every phobia in the book.

And if you hold even a smidgeon of objectivity, then you’ll concede that these gatherings are often labeled as “UNCG protests.” Hence, the assembly connotes widespread support from the student body—that’s right, all of us.

To make matters worse, walkout protests frequently engage in peer pressure; this is especially the case when professors abuse their authority and dismiss—in some cases, lead—their class to the protest site. For instance, last month I personally witnessed a class participating in the walkout against Margaret Spellings.

Of course, this didn’t surprise me; during the spring semester of 2014, multiple professors led their classes to the massive protest against the new Rec Center.

Now, could someone please explain to me how a professor can feel compelled to dismiss class in order to engage in a meaningless protest? That’s right, most of them are completely meaningless—it neither shifts opinion in the community, nor on campus.

On top of that, students pay for classes. So when professors lead walkouts they are, essentially, engaging in an act of thievery against their students.

But that’s not all. Anytime these walkouts occur, students are pressured to participate. And as you might expect, it is very difficult to resist participating in a political event that is being openly and actively endorsed by your professor.

Luckily, walkout protests do not occur very often; however, when a hot-button political issue enters the public discourse, it’s hard for the university to resist commenting.

And whenever the university looks to endorse a certain political position it immediately disenfranchises a group of students. Commonly, at UNCG, that group encompasses conservatives—especially social conservatives.

The irony is that our “accepting and diverse” campus is anything but open to individuals who hold these views. In fact, the many “tolerant” individuals that make up the bulk of the student activist class are, perhaps, the most intolerant group of people on campus.

If you happen to be pro-life, support HB-2, or advocate for traditional marriage, then your contemporaries are bound to call you a bigot. Put simply, we are entering a new age of McCarthyism.

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Like Joe McCarthy, the activist class is against any type of ideological opposition; if, for some reason, one bucks the trend and decides to act contrary to public feeling, then they are almost surely going to be forced to endure vicious ad hominem attacks.

And if you don’t believe me, ask a conservative on campus for a personal anecdote. I can assure you that they’ll have plenty.

Also, I’m perfectly aware of the counterargument to this piece, which is that conservatives, like everyone else, have a right to protest and speak out on campus.

Well, to put it bluntly, most conservatives don’t care about protesting. We understand that UNCG is a progressive campus in every possible way. All we want is a fair atmosphere that values each and every opinion, not just the ones that professors and student activists view as being most compatible with the university’s values.

After all, the activist class believes that all values are relative. They say that we shouldn’t condemn Saudi Arabia for its abhorrent treatment of women because it would be ethnocentric; or, in a more common example, we should applaud and value the legacy of Che Guevara—remember, he’s the anti-Semitic, racist, homophobic, abusive freedom fighter whose face hip progressives like to display on shirts and posters.

But if you even think of questioning these views—of which there are countless examples—then a self-righteous, ill-informed activist will quickly inform you of your bigotry.

Now, I feel it is important to reference the inspiration behind this article. As everyone is surely aware, North Carolina recently passed legislation clarifying existing law surrounding bathroom usage—in doing so it also overturned a closely contested Charlotte city ordinance.

Unsurprisingly, there was outrage on campus—as there should have been. The LGBT community has a right to fight against what they deem as outright discrimination against their persons. Interestingly, this time, my problem is not with the activist crowd.

Instead, I have a serious problem with some of the language employed by Chancellor Gilliam in his university message following the passage of HB-2. In the message, Gilliam stated, “I, like many of you, am deeply concerned by the passage of this law and its impact on our LGBTQ community.”

There you have it. The administration took a position on a hot-button political issue. Rather than solely focusing on how the university will fairly implement the law, like Margaret Spellings chose to do, the Chancellor found it convenient to assure his students that his position on HB-2 was no different than theirs.

By taking this course of action, the chancellor, essentially, told all students in favor of HB-2 that their opinion doesn’t matter.

Now, I don’t expect the chancellor to walk back his statement; in fact, I doubt he’ll even read this article. But, I want to be clear: university administrators should strive to create an atmosphere that is accepting of all viewpoints. Too often, administrators subtly frame campus debates in a manner that is favorable to only one side of the political spectrum.

With that being said, it becomes crucial for all students to be keenly aware of the various types of viewpoint discrimination that strips our campus of ideological diversity—and, in doing so, marginalizes collegiate conservatives.

After all, college should be an intellectually stimulating atmosphere where views are constantly challenged and sharpened by frank discussions between ideological opponents.

If this were to occur, then our generation would be equipped with real life skills and perspective, rather than entitlement and grievance.

Yet, like Voltaire, I’m not too optimistic.



Categories: mark's minute, Opinions, Uncategorized

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