When college students grow into successful adults in the decades following graduation, the whole of society becomes slave to the policy and ideological perspectives that each generation of newly fomented graduates have embraced. And whether those ideas enter minds organically or, as is often the case, come as direct mandates from ivory towers, they very frequently hold the potential for great damage to liberty.
A new policy at Tennessee State University requires all students, staff and faculty to “wear and display” identification cards provided by the institution anytime they are on the university campus, or risk punishment. The cards, besides providing basic identifying information and access to different buildings on campus, come complete with a “Proximity Chip” capable of tracking the whereabouts of students and college employees.
University officials say that the implementation of the new security system resulted from a “recent rash of break-ins and vandalisms attributed to people not associated with TSU.”
“Our primary concern is always to provide a safe and healthy environment for all of our students, employees and visitors,” said Dr. Curtis Johnson, TSU’s associate vice president for administration. “Safety on our campus is priority number one, and with the new policy, we want to ensure that our students, faculty and staff are safe at all times.”
According to Campus Reform, students are also expected to wear the tracking cards during off-campus school events.
Xavier Johnson, a freshman at the university, told the local News Channel 5 that some of the card’s features, such as the ability to use the card as a dorm key and to pay for meals in the campus cafeteria, are convenient.
But, he added, “It kind of reminds me of high school. I guess it’s OK. It’s a public University.”
Johnson’s notion that he is being treated like a child hints at the problem that many libertarians have with such technology. Young adults, many of whom have already embraced wholesale dissolution of privacy via an always-connected social media culture, are now being told that their every movement must be logged in order to provide safety for all.
It may sound like privacy advocates who disagree with the implementation of tracking systems on campuses throughout the Nation are making mountains out of mole hills; but consider the trajectory of the political correctness movement.
Today, to the detriment of creativity, honesty and spirited discourse, any language that is not entirely benign in character bears the liability of being declared hate speech by some overzealous and well-educated thought Nazi holding sway over public opinion.
The Washington Redskins, forced to go on the defensive for using a term deemed insensitive to Native Americans… Alec Baldwin, publicly shamed for shouting down an unapologetic jackass who relentlessly harassed his wife, child and neighbors… University of Iowa President Sally Mason, a sexual assault victim, driven to apology for saying that complete eradication of sex crimes is “probably not a realistic goal just given human nature.”
All victims of political correctness.
And, of course, there were the 13 Americans murdered and 42 wounded in 2009 by deranged Muslim extremist Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan at Fort Hood in Texas. Hassan, upset that his fellow Muslims were languishing at the hands of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, shouted “Allahu akbar” in the moments before opening fire on his unarmed colleagues. Leading up to the shooting, clues of Hasan’s radicalization went unnoticed and some were outright ignored by a PC-wary chain of command. Furthermore, the Pentagon and White House categorically refused to allow the word “terror” to roll off of official tongues commenting on the case.
The incident was officially deemed “workplace violence.”
Any person who speaks or writes using the English language can also fairly be declared a victim of the political correctness revolution. Robbed of descriptive power and the ability to unapologetically portray certain things as they are personally perceived, each man, woman, child, androgynous being and budding transvestite has been denied the right of unfettered honesty in daily musing.
And for our troubles, we are all becoming dumber, softer and increasingly willing to hand out and accept badges of victimly rectitude which absolve the sins of masses of hapless degenerates, enable the laziness of innumerable undeserving lowlifes and cloak the dullness of the just plain dumb.
Modern political correctness has roots stemming back to 1960s radicalism. But it wasn’t until the late 1980s that American academics began assembling the machinations necessary to neuter language of any turn of phrase capable of offending those on the outer limits of the mainstream majority.
In October 1990, Richard Bernstein, an author who would later write a book taking on political correctness, wrote in a New York Times column titled “The Rising Hegemony of the Politically Correct”:
Affirmative action is politically correct. So too are women’s studies, gay and lesbian studies, and African-American studies, all of which are strongly represented in the scholarly panels at such professional meetings as those of the American Historical Association and the Modern Language Association. Politically correct papers include “Jane Austen and the Masturbating Girl,” “Brotherly Love: Nabokov’s Homosexual Double” and “A Womb of His Own: Male Renaissance Poets in the Female Body,” which were on the program for the M.L.A. conference last year in Washington.
In the same piece, Bernstein quoted “Tenured Radicals” author Roger Kimball, “It’s a manifestation of what some are calling liberal fascism … Under the name of pluralism and freedom of speech, it is an attempt to enforce a narrow and ideologically motivated view of both the curriculum and what it means to be an educated person, a responsible citizen.”
In the early 1990s, the tools necessary to render the language used by American society an asset to so-called liberal fascists were in place — newspaper style guides and workplace behavior policies were primed for edits. And once political correctness became fully institutionalized on campus, waiting for the newly indoctrinated to work themselves into positions of power was all that remained.
Now that newspaper editorships and management and policy positions in Human Resources are rife with college students of the late 1980s and early 1990s, it isn’t hard to recognize lingering adherence to the rules of political correctness. An acceptable description of a person living in the Nation illegally evolved from alien to illegal immigrant in recent years before writers were instructed to remove any negative words in describing such individuals just over a year ago, to provide just one example.
What does this have to do with identity tags on modern campuses capable of tracking student movements?
Just as the tools to change language were already in place when political correctness was just beginning to take hold, the technology to track every citizen in the Nation exists today. As a society, we aren’t quite ready to accept that in the name of safety our leaders must know where each American is at all times.
But that will change.
Some future leader, at this very moment, might be leaving a class dedicated to revisionist history. And as he heads to Journalism 101, where he’ll learn why “illegal immigrant” is no longer suitable for print, his Administrators will know the route he takes.
That student feels safe. After all, he was told the loss of just a smidgen of privacy would ensure absolute order on campus.
Upon graduation, with luck and a little hard work the student will mature into a professional who fits society’s definition of success– perhaps even assuming control of a nationally-recognized publication or taking the reigns at a powerful public policy organization where he’ll let us all in on a great plan to reduce crime and aid government investigators.
All you have to do to be a responsible citizen is carry this little card, he’ll say to supportive nods from his well-educated contemporaries.
Give it a decade or so.