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[2015.11.14]The right to fright受惊吓的权力

发表于 2015-11-23 10:00:32 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式

Student protests

The right to fright

An obsession with safe spaces is not just bad for education: it also diminishes worthwhile campus protests

Nov 14th 2015 | From the print edition

HALLOWEEN is supposed to last for one night only. At Yale University (motto: “Light and Truth”) it has dragged on considerably longer. As happens at many American universities, Yale administrators sent an advisory e-mail to students before the big night, requesting them to refrain from wearing costumes that other students might find offensive. Given that it is legal for 18-year-old Americans to drive, marry and, in most places, own firearms, it might seem reasonable to let students make their own decisions about dressing-up—and to face the consequences when photographs of them disguised as Osama bin Laden can forever be found on Facebook or Instagram. Yet a determination to treat adults as children is becoming a feature of life on campus, and not just in America. Strangely, some of the most enthusiastic supporters of this development are the students themselves.


In response to the Yale e-mail, a faculty member wrote a carefully worded reply. In it she suggested that students and faculty ought to ponder whether a university should seek to control the behaviour of students in this way. Yes it should, came the reply, in the form of a letter signed by hundreds of students, protests and calls for two academics to resign for suggesting otherwise. Tellingly, the complaint made by some students at Yale’s Silliman College, where the row took place, was that they now felt unsafe.  

On the face of it this is odd. New Haven, which surrounds Yale, had 60 shootings in 2014, 12 of them fatal. Thankfully, there has never been a shooting at the university. The choice of words was deliberate, though. Last year a debate on abortion at Oxford University was cancelled after some students complained that hearing the views of anti-abortionists would make them feel unsafe. Many British universities now provide “safe spaces” for students to protect them from views which they might find objectionable. Sometimes demands for safe space enter the classroom. Jeannie Suk, a Harvard law professor, has written about how students there tried to dissuade her from discussing rape in class when teaching the law on domestic violence, lest it trigger traumatic memories.

从表面上来看这件事很奇怪,耶鲁坐落在纽黑文,此地区2014年共发生60起枪击案,其中有12人丧生,幸运的是,学校并未受到牵连。然而人们还是小心翼翼地字斟句酌,去年一场在剑桥大学举办的关于堕胎的辩论被取消,因为一些学生申诉对反对堕胎的言论感到不安全,很多英国大学将学生放进保护区,保护他们不受争议话题的威胁,有时甚至要将课堂也放入保护区,Jeannie Suk —哈弗大学法学院的一名教授—-写了一篇关于此类现象的文章,提到有一次学生试图劝说她取消在刑法课堂上讨论强奸的案例,以免唤起学生不好的回忆。

Bodies upon the gears
Like many bad ideas, the notion of safe spaces at universities has its roots in a good one. Gay people once used the term to refer to bars and clubs where they could gather without fear, at a time when many states still had laws against sodomy.


In the worst cases, though, an idea that began by denoting a place where people could assemble without being prosecuted has been reinvented by students to serve as a justification for shutting out ideas. At Colorado College, safety has been invoked by a student group to prevent the screening of a film celebrating the Stonewall riots which downplays the role of minorities in the gay-rights movement. The same reasoning has led some students to request warnings before colleges expose them to literature that deals with racism and violence. People as different as Condoleezza Rice, a former secretary of state, and Bill Maher, a satirist, have been dissuaded from giving speeches on campuses, sometimes on grounds of safety.

然而最糟糕的是,一个本用来指代人们可以不用担心被起诉的地方的术语,却被学生重新启用作为他们将思考拒之门的辩词。在科罗拉多大学,一个学生团体提出“安全问题”以抵制一部赞美Stonewall暴动的电影的反映,因为这部电影贬低了少数族裔在这场同性恋维权运动中的作用。同样,也是因为安全问题,一些学生要求校方在给他们引入有关种族歧视和暴力题材的文学作品时,给予他们事先警告。持极端观点的人,如Condoleezza Rice(前国务卿)和 Bill Maher(一名讥讽作家),被制止在大学做演讲,有些也是因为出于对安全问题的考虑。

What makes this so objectionable is that there are plenty of things on American campuses that really do warrant censure from the university. Administrators at the University of Oklahoma managed not to notice that one of its fraternities, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, had cheerily sung a song about hanging black people from a tree for years, until a video of them doing so appeared on the internet.  At the University of Missouri, whose president resigned on November 9th, administrators did a poor job of responding to complaints of unacceptable behaviour on campus—which included the scattering of balls of cotton about the place, as a put-down to black students, and the smearing of faeces in the shape of a swastika in a bathroom.

因为在美国校园里,确实很多事情有必要通过校方的审查,所以安全问题才备受争议。University of Oklahoma 一个兄弟会—Sigma Alpha Epsilon—快活地把一首关于把黑人吊死在树上的歌唱了好几年,而校方管理人员一直睁一只眼闭一只眼,直到他们唱歌的视频被传到了网上。University of Missouri 前段时间出现了一些系列让人无法接受的行为,其中包括将棉花球散落在各处以羞辱黑人学生和在洗手间出现了涂抹的纳粹标志,而校园管理层对师生的投诉反应迟钝,于是该校校长于11月9号引咎辞职。

Distinguishing between this sort of thing and obnoxious Halloween costumes ought not to be a difficult task. But by equating smaller ills with bigger ones, students and universities have made it harder, and diminished worthwhile protests in the process. The University of Missouri episode shows how damaging this confusion can be: some activists tried to prevent the college’s own newspaper from covering their demonstration, claiming that to do so would have endangered their safe space, thereby rendering a reasonable protest absurd.

区别这一类事件和引人反感的万圣节戏服应该不是什么难事,但是将小过失和大错误相提并论使这样的区别变得更加困难,并且,将有价值的抗议扼杀在了摇篮里。University of Missouri 事件说明了混淆的危害,一些激进主义分子试图阻止校园报报道这起事件,声称这会波及学生的安全,于是关于此案合理的抗议就显得荒谬了。

Fifty years ago student radicals agitated for academic freedom and the right to engage in political activities on campus. Now some of their successors are campaigning for censorship and increased policing by universities of student activities. The supporters of these ideas on campus are usually described as radicals. They are, in fact, the opposite.



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发表于 2015-11-26 10:02:28 | 显示全部楼层

1. The right to fright   吓唬别人权利

2. If you diminish someone or something, you talk about them or treat them in a way that makes them appear less important than they really are.

3.  If something is worthwhile, it is enjoyable or useful, and worth the time, money, or effort that is spent on it.
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