‘There is more than one way to burn a book’, wrote Ray Bradbury. Well, Wesleyan University’s ideological enforcers couldn’t possibly burn wrong-thinking publications (one must be an eco-friendly authoritarian, after all), so they found a green alternative: recycle them!
This is the news that students and administrators at the Connecticut university are ‘boycotting’ the Wesleyan Argus student newspaper for publishing an op-ed that was mildly critical of some aspects of the anti-police-brutality group Black Lives Matter (BLM). Their petition reads: ‘This boycott includes recycling the Argus and demanding [its] funds… be revoked.’ According to the op-ed’s author, Bryan Stascavage, hundreds of papers have already been stolen, some possibly burned or shredded.
To paraphrase a favourite movie of mine: You keep using that word, ‘boycott’. I do not think it means what you think it means.
So this looks bad. Really bad. But reason has not completely left college campuses yet. Stascavage has previously praised professors and students at Wesleyan for being open and challenging his conservative views: ‘[R]ather than trying to protect the ideological bubble around their classrooms, the professors are ecstatic when a view is brought up that is diametrically opposed to standard liberal beliefs.’
Most students on college campuses are open to opposing views and welcome ideological battle. And, despite the flurry of campus censorship of late, the forces of sanity have begun to break through. President Obama has spoken out (albeit hypocritically) about campus coddling, and reason prevailed at the University of Warwick this week when the students’ union lifted its ban on anti-Islamist campaigner Maryam Namazie.