President Barack Obama waded into the debate over campus free speech and “trigger warnings” Monday night, telling a town hall meeting that there is no need to let college students be “coddled” from views they don’t like.
Obama was speaking in Des Moines, Iowa, and fielded a question from a student who asked what he thought of Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson’s idea to cut off federal funding from schools that show too much political bias.
Unsurprisingly, Obama didn’t like that idea.
“The idea that you’d have somebody in government making a decision about what you should think ahead of time or what you should be taught, and if it’s not the right thought or idea or perspective or philosophy, that that person would be — that they wouldn’t get funding runs contrary to everything we believe about education,” he said. “I guess that might work in the Soviet Union, but it doesn’t work here.”
But Obama then used the question as a chance to talk about ideology on campus in general.
“It’s not just sometimes folks who are mad that colleges are too liberal that have a problem,” Obama said. “Sometimes there are folks on college campuses who are liberal and maybe even agree with me on a bunch of issues who sometimes aren’t listening to the other side. And that’s a problem, too.”
“I’ve heard of some college campuses where they don’t want to have a guest speaker who is too conservative. Or they don’t want to read a book if it has language that is offensive to African Americans, or somehow sends a demeaning signal towards women,” he continued. (RELATED: The Dictionary Of The Modern Campus Activist)
Such censorship, Obama said, goes entirely against the purpose of education.
“I don’t agree that you, when you become students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of views,” he said.
The perceived over-sensitivity of college students is becoming a hot topic in national conversation, after campus protests have led to canceled commencement speakers and demands that classes include “trigger warnings” so that students who may be offended can skip class on certain days. (RELATED: UC Riverside Students Demand Trigger Warnings For Abortion Foes)
Popular comedians Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock have both said they avoid performing at campuses because the crowd is too easily offended, and the phenomenon inspired a major cover story for The Atlantic magazine on “The Coddling Of The American Mind.” (RELATED: The Left’s Outrage At Jerry Seinfeld Proves His Point)
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