Snowflakes: you have no right to a 'safe space'

Sometimes John Cleese just hits the nail on the head. And this is one of those times.

Who – apart from spoilt, politically dangerous and bullying undergrads – wants to live in a world where Cleese, Peter Tatchell and Germaine Greer are considered unsuitable university campus guests?

Claire Fox, founder and director of The Institute of Ideas, referred to these students as ‘The Snowflake Generation’. In a recent Spectator article linked on Facebook by John Ford, The New Colloquium’s New York correspondent, Fox said, about talking to students: “Even making a general case for free speech can lead to gasps of disbelief.”

You’d be forgiven for thinking, therefore, that they’re called the ‘Snowflake Generation’ (previously Y Generation, or Millennials) because they melt at the slightest hint of heat.

In fact, they got the name because – like snowflakes – each of them thinks they’re unique and worthy of close attention.

In truth, we have a generation of graduates who think it’s beneath them to make a cup of tea or do the mail. And then we have the underclass who can barely look you in the eye.

Literacy has gone backwards; numeracy has gone backwards; and a generation of parents, who believed in praise not truth, has raised a cohort of kids who truly believe they have to be listened to, and that what they have to say is valid.

The irony is that because of the way they’ve been raised, what they have to say is not valid. It’s hard to build a solid point of view if you’re childish thoughts are never challenged. And then you go to university and demand ‘safe spaces’ and that your English Literature Professor warns you in advance of any passage in a book or play that might upset your sensitive heart.

This is what happens when you remove adventure and risk from childrens’ lives. You coddle them, complain about ‘bullying’ when some other kid has just been mean, and never tell them that that drawing on your fridge door ‘is not terribly good, really, is it darling? It doesn’t really look like our house, and no-one would know that was mummy and daddy.” No, we tell them it’s “brilliant, sweetie”.

Enough. Listen to Cleese.

Leah Bentley has written an admirable blog on the subject

Imogen Wilson was censured for putting her hand up at a meeting. Eighteen of those present voted that she should ‘leave the meeting’.


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