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At age 56 (younger by far than our Bradley Smith), I returned to a college campus as a hyperannuated student, far more eager to learn than I was in those days when enrollment in college was one means to defer the draft for us males. I noticed many changes on campus after some forty years, but one thing, particularly noticeable at night, had nothing to do with advances in learning. That was “panic stations,” those pole-mounted telephones or buttons surmounted by a blue light by means of which anyone in fear for their physical safety could signal the campus police to the rescue. A small step forward for technology, I thought, at the same time a great leap backwards for society, or the standards by which its members deport themselves.
Today there lurks on campuses in America a bogeyman thought by many parents, administrators, and appropriations-voting politicians to have been banished long ago: the specter of Open Debate. Free Thinking—call it what you will—it is today but the faintest vestige of what it might once have been back in the times when only 1 percent or so of the populace went on to college, and very few women among these, to say nothing of … other groups. This bogeyman has been banished, the parties listed above may be thankful, from the lecture hall, and even from syllabi, not that undergraduates are much troubled with syllabi these days. It has been relegated, one can now almost say, to the occasional (paid) advertisement sequestered in a corner of the page (or screen) of a college newspaper reading something like:
“The Holocaust Question: THE POWER OF TABOO: www.codoh.com.”
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|Title:||What to Do about Campus Bogeyman Bradley Smith, A Manual for Action|
|First posted on CODOH:||June 2, 2012, 7 p.m.|