Northwestern University President Calls Faculty And Students Opposed To Safe Zones “Lunatics”

bio-page220px-Northwestern_University_Seal.svgI recently expressed unbridled pride in my alma mater, The University of Chicago, in taking a stand for free speech and rejecting the notion of sheltering students from opposing or disturbing views with “safe spaces” and speech codes. Now, across town, my other alma mater, Northwestern University, appears intent on embracing the opposing view. Northwestern President, Morton Schapiro, has called faculty and students who adhere to views underlying the “Chicago Principle” as nothing more than “lunatics.” Fortunately, I only went to Northwestern for graduate school and was able to secure my undergraduate degree at Chicago in a free and robust community of free thought and free expression. The contrast in the two schools on different sides of the city captures the deep division among academics. However, as one of those “lunatics” and “idiots” denounced by Schapiro, there is no question in my view where the better educational environment can be found in light of Schapiro’s comments. He also denounced those with opposing academic views as just speaking from their privileged backgrounds and lifestyle.

The University of Chicago last week promised incoming students something that is increasingly rare in the United States: an unfettered and uncensored education. While most schools are actively curtailing free speech, its letter warned the students that they will not be protected against ideas or given “safe spaces.” Instead, they will be educated in an open and free environment where they will be challenged by a range of different views — ideas that will at times thrill and at times outrage them. Chicago told its incoming class: “Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called trigger warnings, we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.”

Over in Evanston, students received a very different message from Northwestern’s President Schapiro: “Look for safe spaces. if you can’t find them, we will help you find them. . . . If they say that…you shouldn’t be warned to prepare yourself psychologically for that, that somehow that’s coddling, those people are lunatics.”

He added that “The people who decry safe spaces do it from their segregated housing places, from their jobs without diversity — they do it from their country clubs. It just drives me nuts.”

As to the ambiguous notion of microaggressions, which now can involve anything from mispronouncing names to using terms like “melting pot,” Schapiro insisted that microaggressions “cut you to the core” and called those of us who object to the vague definition of this new offense as “idiots.”

It is rather ironic to see Schapiro decrying intolerance and calling for a more protected and safe environment by denouncing members of his own faculty and student body with opposing views as lunatics and idiots.

university of chicagoSchapiro has succeeded in not just abandoning principles of free speech but directly assaulting core values of academic freedom. The chilling effect of his words will be most felt by untenured faculty who may think twice about advocating views that Schapiro has not defined as lunacy and idiocy. He might want to ride the EL over to the lunatic fringe on the South side where the third highest ranked university in the nation continues to teach in an open and free environment of ideas.

101 thoughts on “Northwestern University President Calls Faculty And Students Opposed To Safe Zones “Lunatics””

  1. “There is a documentary called “Jesus Camp” about a summer camp for children run by God Bothering moralizing humbugs fundamentalist Christians who don’t believe in evolution.”

    When I was a kid, not long after the good lord spend a busy 6 days creating the earth and the heavens, every church – fundamentalist or not – ran a summer church camp that began shortly after the end of public school.

    So far as we know the camps did not do too much damage to the children involved and most of them overcame the superstitious influence as they grew to adulthood.

    The evidence suggest that it is pretty hard to mess up a kid so long as they have a good family life.

  2. So Prairie Rose Tulsi Gabbard was home schooled. what is your point? Obviously she was not home schooled by insular regilious nut jobs (Jesus Camp).

    1. Autumn,
      I simply wanted emphasize that homeschoolers are not a monolith of religiously conservative people who wish to shield their kids from “the threat of exposure to new and different ideas”.

      It’s a diverse bunch, many of whom want their kids to learn ‘outside the box’.

      We are Methodist, more or less, so my kids go to ‘Jesus Camp’. 😉

      The percentage of “insular, religious nut jobs” who homeschool is not as all encompassing as is sometimes assumed. People have assumed this of me, so I try to speak up when it seems that stereotype is being perpetuated.

      I realize it is sideways from what Mike is saying, but it still ‘colors’ homeschoolers as insular and narrow-minded.

      1. Prairie Rose,
        reminder to self: don’t drink and type late at night.

        Sorry, I misunderstood you =) Several of my friends home school and their kids are all very well educated and well adjusted. “Jesus Camp” was fundamentalist wasn’t it?

        1. ““Jesus Camp” was fundamentalist wasn’t it?”

          You must be making an allusion to something I do not know. I thought you meant “Jesus Camp” like that group of people who follow Jesus (Democrat camp, Republican camp, etc). Is that a movie or an actual place/event?

            1. Um…whoa. Nope, didn’t know about this. Pentecostal?

              My kids attend Methodist church camp and Vacation Bible School–neither of which has anything like what was in that clip.

          1. @Prairie Rose

            There is a documentary called “Jesus Camp” about a summer camp for children run by God Bothering moralizing humbugs fundamentalist Christians who don’t believe in evolution. Whether the camp itself was named “Jesus Camp” I do not know, this may be just the title of the movie.

  3. This idiot wrote an article in the WSJ last year with the fold following quotes. I wonder if he has experienced some sort of brain trauma.

    “What’s a president to do? I have learned over 15 years in this job at two institutions that you better have a compelling reason to punish anyone—student, faculty member, staff member—for expressing his or her views, regardless of how repugnant you might find those views.

    Freedom of speech doesn’t amount to much unless it is tested. And if the First Amendment doesn’t matter on college campuses, where self-expression is so deeply valued, why expect it to matter elsewhere?

    A decade or so ago, I returned from Shabbat services at my synagogue to learn that a student had hung posters mocking the Holocaust Remembrance Day posters distributed in the dorms. The message had been turned into a celebration of Hitler ’s birthday; the picture of concentration camp victims had for some reason been replaced by a marijuana leaf. It is hard to imagine a more disgusting display.

    But here is the question we asked: Did the student hang those posters randomly, or instead single out the rooms of members of groups targeted by the Nazis such as Jews, blacks and gays? If it had been the latter, it might have constituted verbal assault. But it was the former, and in our view that was protected free speech. This wasn’t an easy decision, or perhaps the most expedient, but it was the right one.”

    What happened to him?

  4. It will come as no surprise to frequent commenters here that my view is that the true “idiots” are those who believe that “safe spaces” are either necessary or desirable, let alone constitutional. But for those who fear that education brings with it the threat of exposure to new or different ideas, there is already a protective system available as an alternative. I believe it’s called “home schooling.”

    1. Mike A – now that fully accredited schools like ASU offer degrees online I guess you can ‘home school’ your degrees. However, usually a PhD requires a year in residence.

    2. Mike,
      ” But for those who fear that education brings with it the threat of exposure to new or different ideas, there is already a protective system available as an alternative. I believe it’s called “home schooling.””

      That is a problem in a subset of homeschoolers. However, as a homeschooler, I can say that has not happened at our house or my friends’ homes. We are a freedom to learn bunch who try to encourage exploration and curiosity about the world. We have friends of diverse races and religions. The kid who just got into Cornell was homeschooled, as was Tulsi Gabbard.

  5. Succinctly, the better method of addressing argumentative social justice warriors is to tell them to Talk to the Hand and walk away. It is pointless to offer an opposing view since any other than their own is either wrong, racist, bigoted, misogynic, hateful, or stupid.

    The only effort worthwhile in countering their mantras is when they are about to affect policy or law.

  6. So the learned professor feels it okay to denigrate anyone who opposes safe zones and label them as lunatics rather than discuss the issue. From the Northwestern website we find these figures; $70,421 per year for tuition, fees, books, room and board etc or ball park a four year under grad degree at 300k. Seems awful pricey for a closed mind.

  7. The President is a lunatic. And just what is one? Well, he fits the notion. He is against all the facets of University life. He needs to be retired. Not shot. No, that is for people who kill other people. But retired without pay. He came in dumb and he needs to go out dumb too.

  8. Those who grew up in secure environments of privilege don’t have a clue about trigger words or micro-aggressions, or lack of safe spaces, each of which inhibit the education of those for which the words are triggers, or the micro-aggressions are truly aggressive (bullying) and many spaces are unsafe. This isn’t about exposure to new ideas that can cause discomfort and expand one’s understanding. This about limiting aggression (bullying) against “others” in ways that limit their ability to learn.

    1. bettykath,
      I grew up poor. My parents divorced. We were on welfare for awhile. My mom had bad mental health struggles. I was even molested. Should I be reactive to trigger words and micro-aggressions?

      I find the idea of ‘safe spaces’, trigger words and micro-aggessions abhorrent. Such terms muddy interactions. One must walk on eggshells. It seems to me that such concepts are a way to control and manipulate conversations and interpersonal relationships. How is that healthy?

      While they are a reaction to passive aggressive bullying and a general deterioration in thoughtfulness, they are not a counter-weight. Such things do not balance kindness and civility. With the idea of safe spaces, trigger warnings, and micro-aggressions there is no grace or mercy when people are awkward. There is an assumption that the “offender” was trying to cause offense. That reaction is neither fair nor civil.

      People that adhere to such notions keep others at arms length. One must be so very, very careful how you talk and be around them as to forge no intimacy.

      I am reminded of Paul Simon’s “I Am A Rock”:

      “I’ve built walls,
      A fortress deep and mighty,
      That none may penetrate.
      I have no need of friendship, friendship causes pain.
      It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.
      I am a rock,
      I am an island.
      Don’t talk of love,
      But I’ve heard the words before;
      It’s sleeping in my memory.
      I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died.
      If I never loved I never would have cried.
      I am a rock,
      I am an island.
      I have my books
      And my poetry to protect me,
      I am shielded in my armor,
      Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
      I touch no one and no one touches me.
      I am a rock,
      I am an island.”

      1. And synchronicity strikes for the 4th time today! Because the other book that came in today was “Classic Paul Simon: The Simon and Garfunkel Years” which has the music for the first four S&G albums, including “I Am A Rock.”

        Squeeky Fromm
        Girl Reporter

    2. bettykath – my BIO100 lab was unsafe. Several other of my classes were also unsafe. And several of the nuns I had were unsafe.

  9. Extremism ruins everything it touches – religion, politics, environmentalism, sports fans, soccer matches…

  10. Right. That’s what the extreme Left does. Disagree with them on anything, absolutely anything, and they call you stupid/racist/bigot…It’s like Mad Libs.

    That’s how gay men get labeled homophobic if they oppose opening women’s showers to men, without a hint of irony. That’s how Richard Dreyfus was threatened with getting drummed out of Hollywood merely for attending a Ted Cruz rally out of mere curiosity. And now Professor Turley is technically lumped in with the “stupid lunatics” for opposing safe spaces and free speech restrictions. It’s how they call a black cop shooting a black armed suspect a racist, and Hillary Clinton declares she has to talk to white people to get this to stop.

    It’s the rise of the New Fascism of the Left, which will drive many conservative Democrats completely away.

    If you find your favored political party beginning to restrict free speech, resort to ad hominem attack by rote, and you require safe spaces with bubbles and teddy bears in order to fortify yourself to discuss adult topics, then you might be a Liberal Fascist. Hey, Jeff Foxworthy, I think we have a new version of “You Might Be a Redneck.” Quick! Someone write a coffee table book! I need some dark humor to get me through the lemming insanity.

  11. If you have an offspring do NOT let him/her go to that dungeon called a school. If you are an employer do not hire a graduate from Northwestern. Fly over and flush.

  12. Squeek, You’re correct. Although there are a good number of conservative Boomers, that generation has been pigeonholed as hippies. It was tough for people like myself, blue collar, ethnic, traditional values, going to college in the 60’s/70’s. Yours and vinegart’s parents are not rare, the MSM just makes people think they are. If Trump wins, he can thank conservative or just plain fed up, Boomers. And, not all white ones either.

    1. Thanks NickS! Unfortunately, I think I am also right about nothing changing the downward trajectory in the United States without some kind of extinction level Biblical Apocalypse event. Which I am planning on surviving, but who knows where an errant meteor is going to strike??? Plus, I think this is maybe why people are so enamored of Zombie shows, like The Walking Dead. Because somehow in our collective unconscious we know we need it, to be able to change. Sooo, that kinds of makes The Walking Dead not a nightmare, but a dream. . .

      Gee,is that profound, or what???

      Squeeky Fromm
      Girl Reporter

  13. If President Schapiro isn’t the poster child for “academia insulation” I don’t know who is.
    He reminds me of Brendan Fraser’s character in “Blast From The Past”.

  14. I sometimes wonder if for the first time, we are closer to the point of high school dropouts being better prepared for life than many graduates of highly regarded universities.

    The drop out is forced by circumstance to become better adaptive to life’s challenges despite having fewer job opportunities. At some point most will come to the realization that unless they succeed in finding employment and maintaining that employment, their future will be bleak. In their environment being responsible for one’s actions becomes paramount as they become damaged by bad decisions, and can be rewarded proportionately better through hard work and fortitude. When they succeed in finding a trade I suspect they will treat their employers with more loyalty and gratitude.

    On the other hand the snowflakes requiring safe-zones and protection from everything “bad” in life have earned degrees in various subjects, employers are going to tire very quickly of their “everyone else is wrong attitude”, sanctimonious attitude, and requiring continual supervision and babysitting. But beyond employment they will be far worse than the high school dropout in relating to others beyond their own coffee klatch and house of mirrors. Many things will be a crisis to them when they emerge from the womb of academia, especially when they indenture themselves to non-marketable academic pursuits and degrees such as Gender Studies and Underwater Basket Weaving. Eventually, having found the real world to be upsetting, they can return to an academic setting, resulting in a negative-feedback loop producing greater numbers of graduates even less likely to make it in life.

    1. I think you may be right. Because the whole white collar worker sitting at a desk shuffling papers thing is dying out. Now the workers spend as much time surfing the net and watching porn and playing Candy Crush as they do on meaningful work. But plumbing still needs to be fixed, and air conditioners ( Hecho En Mexico! – (which means they’re having heck in Mexico???)) still need freon stuff added to them, and roofs still need to be replaced.

      So probably anything that a robot or a computer program can’t do is the place to be. Or, just go to work for the government.

      Squeeky Fromm
      Girl Reporter

    2. good musing Darren IMO. I am sort of a reverse snob. parents sent me from Germany to “collitch” in TN and I rebelled as I was surrounded by folks who were intent on getting their creds and not interested in the world at large. So I spent my tenure hiking, water skiing and smoking excellent reefer as well as going to numerous “Animal House”-like festivities. It was great fun, but then I became bored – the biggest life lessons I took away was hanging at the local coffee shop and meeting working class folks. The nightly discussions ranged from crop rotatation to Shakespeare.

  15. Darn! Talk about synchronicity! Which is, from wiki:

    Synchronicity is a concept, first explained by psychiatrist Carl Jung, which holds that events are “meaningful coincidences” if they occur with no causal relationship, yet seem to be meaningfully related.[1] During his career, Jung furnished several slightly different definitions of it.[2]

    The French writer Émile Deschamps claims in his memoirs that, in 1805, he was treated to some plum pudding by a stranger named Monsieur de Fontgibu. Ten years later, the writer encountered plum pudding on the menu of a Paris restaurant and wanted to order some, but the waiter told him that the last dish had already been served to another customer, who turned out to be de Fontgibu. Many years later, in 1832, Deschamps was at a dinner and once again ordered plum pudding. He recalled the earlier incident and told his friends that only de Fontgibu was missing to make the setting complete – and in the same instant, the now-senile de Fontgibu entered the room.[17

    George Gamow writes about Wolfgang Pauli, who was apparently considered a person particularly associated with synchronicity events. Gamow whimsically refers to the “Pauli effect”, a mysterious phenomenon which is not understood on a purely materialistic basis, and probably never will be. The following anecdote is told:

    It is well known that theoretical physicists cannot handle experimental equipment; it breaks whenever they touch it. Pauli was such a good theoretical physicist that something usually broke in the lab whenever he merely stepped across the threshold. A mysterious event that did not seem at first to be connected with Pauli’s presence once occurred in Professor J. Franck’s laboratory in Göttingen. Early one afternoon, without apparent cause, a complicated apparatus for the study of atomic phenomena collapsed. Franck wrote humorously about this to Pauli at his Zürich address and, after some delay, received an answer in an envelope with a Danish stamp. Pauli wrote that he had gone to visit Bohr and at the time of the mishap in Franck’s laboratory his train was stopped for a few minutes at the Göttingen railroad station. You may believe this anecdote or not, but there are many other observations concerning the reality of the Pauli Effect! [19]

    The wiki article is fascinating, and that is a lot more at the link. Anyway, the mailman delivered two books to my door today. One of them was “The Fisher King and the Handless Maiden” by Robert A Johnson, who also wrote “He Said, She Said” or something like that which I have copies of somewhere. Where was I going? OH, Anyway sooo I have this thread open on my laptop by the chair, and I open up the book and VOILA! The first sentence in the introduction is:

    “This book is about our wounded feeling function, probably the most common and painful wound which occurs in the Western World.”

    Dang! You could have knocked me over with a scarab!

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  16. Yeah, with all these lunatics, idiots & mafia guys running around, people need a safe space. Jerry ate some of birthday cake frosting & knew it was dosed with 800 hits of LSD. And went into a paranoid stage.

    He might want to ride the EL over to lunatic fringe on the South side where the third highest ranked university in the nation continues to teach in an open and free environment of ideas.

    Play for your life video.

  17. His comments are filled with mocking of those of us with mental illness or differently abled intelligences. (lunatic, nuts, idiots).

    He should be fired for his #ableism.

    I am so triggered right now.

  18. What a wackadoo. Primal scream over a potential breach in the lefty echo chamber safe zone kindergarten.

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