Students are supposed to read books, not burn them

From Spiked:

Greg_lukianoff If you thought it was only uneducated Muslims in dusty towns ‘over there’ who burnt things that upset them, think again. In 2006, The Dartmouth, the student newspaper of Dartmouth College, a liberal arts college in New Hampshire, published a cartoon showing Nietzsche conversing with a male student. The student was with a very drunk girl after a night of boozing and schmoozing and was wondering whether or not he should have sex with her. ‘Will to power’, Nietzsche tells him. The cartoonist said it was intended as a pisstake of Nietzsche, and more broadly of his rehabilitation in liberal academic circles, but some Dartmouth students saw things differently – in their eyes the cartoon was effectively okaying date rape. So they did what any well-educated, privileged students at a liberal arts college would do – gathered outside the offices of The Dartmouth and publicly burned copies of the offending newspaper. Like fascists.

Greg Lukianoff’s mouth is agape as he recounts the incident four years on, clearly still shocked by the demented censoriousness and humourlessness of the Dartmouth book-burners. Lukianoff is president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE, ironically), which was founded in 1999 to defend ‘freedom of speech, legal equality, due process, religious liberty and sanctity of conscience’ on American campuses, those ‘essential qualities of liberty and dignity’. ‘There was a time when people believed free speech on campus should be as wild and freewheeling as possible’, he tells me in his garden in the Italian part of Brooklyn, New York City. ‘Not anymore. Today students are apparently too sensitive to be able to deal with hard ideas or outrageous humour.’

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