By: James Neyer ~Staff Writer~
Whenever I go home, I always do three things: cuddle with my big dumb dog Max, grab a bunch of fresh food made for me and engage in a lively debate with my mom. My mother and I vary greatly in respect to some beliefs, and we often engage in debate concerning politics, religion and occasionally Star Wars. It is because of our differences that I welcome these debates.
My mom challenges me to think critically and to try and understand opposing viewpoints. Everyone has their own set of beliefs that they hold dear. Occasionally these beliefs can be challenged. They can be battered. They can be broken. It is through this deconstruction of what we hold dear that we are able to grow. College is one of the best places for this type of growth. Or at least, it should be.
In last week’s episode of South Park, they tackled the issue of “safe spaces.” After Cartman posts a photo of himself on Twitter post – workout, he is met with a barrage of comments saying that he is fat. Cartman becomes upset because he just wanted to read comments from people supporting him. Randy, on the other hand, wants the cashier at the whole foods to stop asking him to donate money to hungry children whenever he shops at Whole Foods.
Randy works with celebrities like Demi Lovato and Steven Seagal to create a #shamelessAmerica. In a sappy infomercial set in an impoverished village, Lovato speaks to the audience amidst a group of malnourished people.
Not everyone can be this skinny and healthy, she explains. As the starving children look onward with wide eyes, the episode ends with the town cheering as they lynch Reality and feel no shame for their actions.
Cartman and the town feel uncomfortable being judged either for how they look or what they are doing. But being judged is a natural thing and is necessary for change. When we become comfortable, we become resistant to change. Change takes effort and can be painful. So, why do it?
We need to be challenged in order to grow, and one of the biggest places for growth should be college. It should teach controversial views, challenge you to think differently and help you realize that the world does not revolve around you.
South Park is known for taking things a bit too far at times. But their depiction of reality does not seem that far off. Criticism is a part of reality and is something to be faced every day, especially once we have left college and entered the so called “real world.” That’s the thing that college is supposed to prepare us for. We should not be coddled and constantly comforted in college, because that is not how we learn.
Some colleges ban speakers who hold views that differ from the majority, and could be considered controversial. Colleges should seek people with differing viewpoints so that students can engage in debate with them and have their views challenged.
In a speech regarding political correctness on college campuses, President Obama said that if someone with a differing view speaks to you, you should debate them. Instead, colleges seem to be saying: “You can’t come because I’m too sensitive to hear what you have to say.”
Recently, the Wesleyan Argus, the oldest biweekly student newspaper in the country, had its funding slashed from $30,000 a year to $13,000. The budget decrease followed the publishing of a controversial op-ed that was critical of the Black Lives Matter movement.
In the op-ed, the writer said that he is unable to support a movement that vilifies and denigrates police officers. The writer does state that Black Lives Matter has a point regarding inequality in the criminal justice system. People responded by destroying copies of the newspaper, starting petitions to end the paper and complaining on social media. If they and South Park have taught me anything, it’s that the only way to stay in your “safe space” is to make others feel unsafe.
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