First Aziz Ansari, then James Charles and now the American university system. It seems that liberals are unfazed in their attempt to silence all that dare share any idea that doesn’t conform to their narrow set of politically correct principles. Over the past few weeks, I’ve grown increasingly concerned about online outrage and its demands that everyone think and act in the same liberal way. Given that Duke has moved to “cancel in-person undergraduate classes for [the] remainder of Spring semester,” it’s clear that cancel culture on college campuses has gone too far.
“Cancel culture” refers to the practice of denouncing celebrities, corporations or movements that appear offensive to an ever-changing standard of social acceptability. I’ll admit that the idea was once appealing to me, too. It feels empowering to deny society’s worst offenders their platform with the ease of a few tweets. The problem is that this issue is a slippery slope. One minute we oppose a sexual predator, and the next moment we’re all supposed to direct our Twitter accounts and outrage against a private research university in Durham, North Carolina?
At Duke University, none other than President Vincent Price is the leader of this movement. Sitting behind his laptop screen, the keyboard warrior (joined by an online army of social-justice administrators) explained in an email to the student body that “all on-campus classes will be suspended until further notice, and we will transition to remote instruction (video and other forms of delivery) for all undergraduate, graduate and professional schools.” By canceling the University’s physical environment in favor of a digital alternative, Duke pathetically bowed to the highly politicized and overly sensitive demands of online mob mentality.
Of course, this whole policy was designed so that special snowflake students could turn the world into “safe spaces” where they’ll never have to hear criticism on video-conferencing services like Zoom. On this platform, students can mute their professors when they hear something they don’t like from the comfort of their home bedrooms. Turning off their cameras and microphones during lectures to eat their avocado toast, these students imagine that this is the real world—as if businesses and real jobs would ever transition to online services like this one. Can you even imagine?
After a brief investigation, I could not even find any impetus for the cancellation of Duke classes. In his email, Price explains that the measures are intended “to minimize health and safety risks to Duke students, faculty, staff and the larger community,” as if the possibility of hearing an alternative viewpoint on Abele Quad is some global pandemic that all students should shield themselves from. What an embarrassment to all of us that still value something called free speech.
That’s not all. It seems that so-called “progressives” have recently decided to cancel all of humanity, recommending “social-distancing” in an effort to avoid all other humans they may come into contact with. Perhaps cancel culture was always going to reach this conclusion—if you set up artificial purity tests, every politically incorrect idea is unsanitary and dangerous. When will the “tolerant left” realize that living in their quarantine-like bubbles, trying to shut out the rest of the world, isn’t so tolerant of after all?
Liberals like Price seemingly expect us all to just flee the University without our personal belongings, stock up on toilet paper, and retreat to our homes for the foreseeable future all to avoid encountering controversial opinions. Well, I disagree. No viral hashtag or vocal minority of angry students ought to get in the way of our right to congregate together as a campus, and any suggestion otherwise is just another case of cancel culture gone too far.
Otherwise, who can say what’s next for America? A nearly complete shutdown of regular societal interaction and economic activity barring essential services? Sounds like a real communist dystopia to me. I, for one, refuse to conform to the PC police’s progressive order and will maintain my first amendment right to spew meaningless conservative nonsense on the internet. I hope you’ll join me.
Jordan Diamond is a Trinity junior. His column, “diamonds in the rough,” typically runs on alternate Tuesdays.
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