A Needle Dropped in the Liberal Echo Chamber
Perhaps my age is getting to be such that it is becoming unseemly to trawl among students’ letters to their collegiate newspapers for material. Still, by watching a babe taking its first steps, one may come to a fuller understanding of the precariousness of two-legged movement. Similarly, by considering students’ expression of their professors’ views, one may further appreciate the attributes beneath the careful construction of their ideology.
Such is the case with Anthony Maselli’s recent letter to the University of Rhode Island’s The Good 5¢ Cigar, “Safety not guaranteed to all students.” After narrowing his context to the “liberal environment” of a university within “the most wealthy and secure, free nation on Earth,” Maselli finds reason to suspect the presence of darkness:
I was leaving class in Quinn Hall at the end of last semester, and I noticed a sticker on someone’s office window. It stated that the office is a “Safe Zone” for gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals. If this sticker were posted in some kind of corporate or public building, I might have appreciated this welcoming sentiment. But, being a self-proclaimed non-discriminatory university campus, I found the message to be unsettling. It forced me to ask myself this question: If this office is a “Safe Zone,” what part of this university is an unsafe zone? I wondered if there was a sticker on the inside of the door that reads, “You are now entering the unsafe zone.” Certainly there is not, but isn’t that what the message suggests?
Forgiving the letter’s writer for proclaiming himself to be a non-discriminatory university, consider how he has discerned evil not by its manifestation, but by what he believes to be its opposite. In the most free nation on Earth, in one of the most overwhelmingly liberal environments that nation’s culture has to offer, a room professed to be a haven within a haven within a haven is evidence that maybe “some of us should think twice before we walk out our front door in the morning.”
One imagines the office’s owner, presumably a professor, congratulating him- or herself for this show of faux bravery. The great majority of people in America — let alone on a campus — wish homosexuals no harm. But of course we understand, as the professor surely intends to convey, that the “safety zone” goes much further than mere security and tolerance.
Thus we see how devotees of a certain worldview pursue its ends not with evidence and debate, but with negative proofs and euphemism. Keep an eye out for this dynamic in more-sophisticated explanations of what tolerance demands.