• Yale’s Fine Young Coddlebodies


    noun | ˈkä-dəl bä-dē

    A person overly interested in the lives of others, on the assumption that they require and deserve the most delicate possible treatment. Typically engages in activism via public performance of outrage.

    My Twitter is blowing up with people resharing the following video of Yale students shouting down Nicholas Christakis, Master of Silliman College, for his refusal to apologize for an e-mail from his wife (Erika Christakis) advocating that students to be allowed transgress social boundaries with respect to Halloween costumes.

    What I find most striking about this scene is that these students are upset with a couple of administrators specifically because they were arguing for the students to have more self-determination, warning of the potentially harmful “consequences of an institutional . . . exercise of implied control over college students.” The students are upset, in other words, at the failure of the University to aggressively and more thoroughly coddle their fellow students. In the words of one protester, “As your position as master, it is your job to create a place of comfort and home for the students that live in Silliman [College].” When Nicholas Christakis dares to articulate an alternate vision, she forcefully shouts him down, “YOU SHOULD STEP DOWN! IT IS NOT ABOUT CREATING AN INTELLECTUAL SPACE!”

    The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has a thorough write-up of the events leading up to this confrontation between administrators who would like to see students challenged by other views (even offensive ones) and these young coddlebodies who demand a safe space, free from anything which fellow students might consider offensive.

    Of course, this situation is not remotely unique to Yale. Some may recall when Georgetown students created trigger warnings in order to caution fellow students that former philosophy professor Christina Hoff Sommers would be creating an unsafe space, traumatizing the unwary and uncoddled with her politically incorrect ideas. Others may remember when a lifelike statue of a man in his underpants triggered some of the more delicate souls at Wellesley, prompting demands for the art installation to be removed. And then there is Yale’s arch-rival Harvard, which thoroughly embarrassed itself (and the Humanist Community at Harvard in particular) by creating a safe space for Christians at the expense of non-theistic Satanists.

    What has all this to do with skepticism and atheism? Both of these (separate but complimentary) movements spend a good deal of effort challenging dearly-held and emotionally comforting ideas. Atheists tell people that the system of ideas upon which they have staked their (after)lives, and from which they have drawn their moral codes, is nothing more than a man-made collection of memes with no grounding in reality. Skeptics tell people that purveyors of woo and faith-healing, from whom they have been gaining placebo effects and emotional comfort, are nothing but snake-oil salesmen and charlatans. Atheists and skeptics make people feel uncomfortable and unsafe by creating an intellectual space in which they challenge dearly held ideas. That’s what we do. These fine young coddlebodies may try to slow us down, but they cannot stop us.

    Category: Free Speech

    Article by: Damion Reinhardt

    Former fundie finds freethought fairly fab.