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College “confession” forums replace open dialogue in a world of speech codes

College “confession” forums replace open dialogue in a world of speech codes

Political correctness is driving campus problems underground without solving anything.

On the surface, college dialogue seems to be all about  ’open-mindedness’ and ‘tolerance.’

To create this impression of a tolerant environment, many universities have “speech codes” that penalize politically incorrect speech, sometimes with severe consequences.

For instance,  Florida Atlantic University insists in vague terms that “everyone in the FAU community behave and speak to and about one another in ways that are not racist, religiously intolerant or otherwise degrading to others.”

But is it possible that political correctness and speech codes are actually stifling the very conversations that the campuses are trying to promote?

Afraid of open discussion, students with controversial opinions simply turn to anonymous online forums instead, driving conflict out of sight without solving anything.

Hamilton Secrets, a Facebook page where Hamilton students can share opinions with their community anonymously, was abuzz this week over the segregated Hamilton College diversity program.

Students raised points that they may not have felt comfortable sharing in public.

Below are just three examples from the dozens of revealing posts:

This kind of page is not unique to the Hamilton community; numerous colleges have “confession” pages, and others also have online forums.

For instance, Cornell has “Ezra Hub,” Oberlin formerly had “Obie Talk” (on which the Oberlin racism hoax started), Brown has “Brown University Confessions,” etc.

These pages allow students to engage in conversations under the protection of anonymity and to air grievances.  But at campuses where open-mindedness and tolerance are apparently encouraged, why do students feel that they have to go online to say how they really feel?

Internet trolls aside, the pages reveal pent-up feelings and a general miscommunication problem on campus.

Students can’t communicate in an honest way about controversial topics like racism. The Hamilton situation reveals how true feelings get pushed deep beneath the surface, due to fear of being labeled a racist or bigot by peers and the college administration.

The only way that students can get these pent-up feelings off their chest without risk is to go online.

However, the trend of going anonymous also brings problems. For instance, websites such as CollegiateACB give students the platform to bully and slander their peers online, without consequence.  This dynamic can negatively impact the college’s sense of community.

It is worth noting that there is also potential to use anonymity for positive interactions between students. In addition to “confession” pages, a number of colleges also have “crush” pages, where students anonymously share nice thoughts about classmates.

I posed the question of why students want to express themselves anonymously online to one of the creators of Ezra Hub, an anonymous forum for the Cornell community.

He summed up the answer by saying:

“A lot of students like to express themselves anonymously online because they can speak their minds freely without worrying about whether it will affect their employment, social status or reputation. On one hand this tends to bring out honest, insightful comments that individuals might otherwise be afraid to contribute, but it also tends to attract some off-color content that make effective moderation important.”


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Is it possible that this sort of thing is actually stifling open debate? Professor, that’s the idea.

    TrooperJohnSmith in reply to Alex Bensky. | September 29, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    They do this in Communist China. It’s part of the hive-mentality, except the way it’s used by the Chi-Coms and the Progress-O-cRats, the ruling elites never confess anything.

      They were doing it in the (Grad School) Political Science Dept of the University of South Carolina in 1975. My professor was babbling on about “creative violence” (progressive) was good and how organized crime was “creative”………when I pointed out that organized crime had traditionally been used to crush leftist organizations he blew up in class. I had a straight “A” average in grad school…….I managed a “C” in his class. I learned to keep my mouth shut.

“Freedom of speech is always under attack by Fascist mentality, which exists in all parts of the world, unfortunately.”

– Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Freedom of speech ENTAILS the freedom to OFFEND someone. That’s why it has to be protected.

I had no desire to comment on this thread. None.

Until….I saw this, from the writer.

Which, to my mind, exemplifies where we are as a society, how far we’ve fallen, and what little chance we have of finding our way back.

The progressives have won.

Laurel writes: Students can’t communicate in an honest way about controversial topics like racism.

Tell me again why “racism” is controversial? Or, any “ism” invented by progressives.

Is racism wrong?

So what’s the controversy?

Again, once conservatives adopt the language of the left, they soon adopt the thinking.

Perhaps they can take a hint from this study out of Canada …


Despite recognizing the need for social change in areas such as social equality and environmental protection, individuals often avoid supporting such change. Researchers have previously attempted to understand this resistance to social change by examining individuals’ perceptions of social issues and social change. We instead examined the possibility that individuals resist social change because they have negative stereotypes of activists, the agents of social change. Participants had negative stereotypes of activists (feminists and environmentalists), regardless of the domain of activism, viewing them as eccentric and militant. Furthermore, these stereotypes reduced participants’ willingness to affiliate with ‘typical’ activists and, ultimately, to adopt the behaviours that these activists promoted. These results indicate that stereotypes and person perception processes more generally play a key role in creating resistance to social change.

    Browndog in reply to Neo. | September 29, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    That’s all well and good, but misses the mark, in my opinion.

    This is about talking, communicating.

    Humans do that through a medium called language.

    What we have here is the progressives using the one tool needed to communicate to stifle communication.

    we can’t even talk about racism because we have to watch our language

    Can’t anyone see how absurd we’ve become?

    JerryB in reply to Neo. | September 29, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    ROFL! That abstract is written by a true believer in the religion of social change. I may not be taking it the way you did, Neo, but I agree that it’s worth a read. It illustrates exactly why folks are uppity. It’s because social agitators are trying to make us think alike and behave alike, and they’ve established their fascist fiefdoms on campuses. Normal folks are absolutely sick of it, and it’s going to come to a head one way or another.

    Musson in reply to Neo. | September 30, 2013 at 7:28 am

    I welcome social change. But then my Indian name is Okaneechee for ‘Struggles with White Guilt.’

    TrooperJohnSmith in reply to Neo. | September 30, 2013 at 7:52 am

    It begs the question: When does a ‘stereotype’ become the ‘archetype’?

    Activism, by it’s very nature and definition is negative. An activist is the antithesis of a salesperson, also an agent of change, but one which deliberately seeks not to alienate his/her target audience.

    Immolate in reply to Neo. | September 30, 2013 at 11:25 am

    Nature works against an imbalance. To every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. When a government uses fiat to prevent the reaction, they simply incorporate the imbalance into the mechanics of the system. This is evident in the sickness of the US economy as a result of constant efforts to “soft the blow” of the recession, which prevents recovery.

    Phillep Harding in reply to Neo. | September 30, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Neo, I try to avoid fanatics. Period. I do not speak (in person) with the ardent leftists or rightists (the leftoids far, far, outnumber the right), nor do I bother to argue with true believers that get all glassy eyed about Jesus, Obama, or Free Masonry. The Obamabots outnumber all other fanatics around, for now. Racists and bigots? I avoid, they are not thinking nor are they open for discussion, no matter what color they are.

    Fanatical activists only have one drum to beat, and they knock the hell out of it. They are boring, and I dislike having to wipe spittle off my face.

“but it also tends to attract some off-color content that make effective moderation important.”

Epic failure right there. Rampant “political correctness” suppresses free speech (the best they can manage until they can think of a way to achieve the Holy Grail, the suppression of free thought). It doesn’t work terribly well, so they institute these weird anonymous fora. And what do they do then? They suppress free speech there, too. We can predict the future; serial application of a failed methodology can lead to nothing but more failure.

Hmmm, maybe this business of ordering society by fiat is tougher than simple minds imagine it to be.

Thus prejudice is born and nurtured. The anti-prejudice campaigns have, presumably, achieved their goal. They have empowered and enriched a minority, while fomenting conflict in their wake.

For all the fashionable talk about campuses wanting to “create a safe space” for students who want to talk about racism, diversity, queer vs. straight issues, and other assorted “othering”-related issues, it looks like that’s been a massive fail, so students have gone off and created their own “safe space”/”free speech zone” where they can feel safe to express their thoughts and feelings.

The interesting thing is, within our own racial group, we do not deal with or like each other as a group. Instead, we deal with and interact as individuals.

As a black woman, I don’t like all black people because we have a common racial heritage; indeed, there are a whole lot of black people I don’t like at all, for personal reasons. Does that make me racist? Should my saying so be subject to some speech code?

There are a whole lot of people out there, of various races, who might not like me, for whatever reason.Maybe I’ve pissed them off; maybe they don’t like how I smell or the way I talk. Whatever it is, it is personal. That is how we, as humans, deal with each other.However, some people, afraid to confront personal animus, deflect it to the group.Kanye West, who does not know George Bush personally, dimwittedly said George Bush does not like black people.Thus, West demanded the impossible of Bush (liking all in a group) while ignoring the actual (the individuals from that group to whom Bush is close).Perhaps West was afraid that Bush didn’t like him.

So,Democrats and Communists, forgive me for being redundant here, expect us to react to people as a group and so have set up speech codes that stifle our ability to express our feelings about individuals honestly. We should like all blacks, all whites, all Arabs, all Asians, all people who don’t look like us. That’s impossible because we don’t even like all the people who look like us. Moreover, we don’t know all the people in the other group. We have not spoken to them. They are nameless, faceless entities whom, when we encounter them as individuals, we may find agreeable or disagreeable.Our personal encounters are not based on the part representing the whole.

Because of determined efforts to make us act against nature, we are not allowed to be critical of each other, of individuals within a group without having a charge of racism leveled at us or having eyebrows raised because we said something indelicate. As long as that state of affairs persist, as long as we are expected to talk group to group, as long as we have to put water in our mouths to talk, we can expect no honesty unless we are shielded by anonymity.

    Well said.

    It’s OK for you to not like me but It’s not OK for me to not like you…. get it?

      veseng in reply to Roux. | September 30, 2013 at 4:09 am

      Not what Juba said. And she said it well too.

      Juba Doobai! in reply to Roux. | September 30, 2013 at 9:20 am

      Roux, veseng has the right of it. A big problem some people have is that inter-racial personal dislike thing. You might meet me and take an instant and strong dislike to me, in spite of my riotous wit and boundless charm. I’m not going to assume you dislike me because I’m black. I’m going to assume you just don’t like me for the same reason that somebody black might not like me. Some people just make your blood crawl, Roux. Don’t be shy about saying we can’t be friends. If that happens, it’ say s the cheese eating surrender monkeys would say, je m’en fiche.

    Brian Yoder in reply to Juba Doobai!. | September 29, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    Juba: True, so how about if we start making some loud demands? How about this one:

    Respect our free speech rights.

    Respect them even if you think we are completely wrong. Maybe after you listen to us you will hate us. Maybe you will still think we are wrong. But hey, that would be no change from the way it is already. Maybe you will discover that we are not all of the same mind on all of these issues the way the leftist gurus claim. Heck, you might even find out that we are not such bad folks or that we might even have a good idea every once in a while. You sure won’t learn anything if you refuse to listen and you refuse to allow us to speak. Neither will anybody else. They will just sit there with their preconceived ideas in ignorance and full of hate for people they have never bothered to listen to or understand.

    If you don’t respect our rights to speak freely then you are unfit to be affiliated with this or any other university and not really suitable to live in a civilized modern society. Don’t be surprised that if you continue to shut us up one of our chief priorities will be to remove you from your positions in the universities including your nice salary and nice ivy-covered buildings. Barbarians who cannot respect the rights of others to speak their minds are unworthy of any such positions or respect.

    If you don’t respect our rights to speak freely don’t be surprised if we are unfriendly to any supposedly high-minded ideas you have to offer us either. After all, if you show no respect for our rights why should we do the same for you? Respect is a two way street and you aren’t holding up your side.

    So respect our rights to free speech. It is moral for you to do so. It is illegal for you not to (if you are in a government-funded school). It is the educational thing to do too. It might even mean you get to keep your job in the long run.

    How often do we make reasonable demands like this to our supposed betters in universities and government? Not enough.

      Juba Doobai! in reply to Brian Yoder. | September 30, 2013 at 9:31 am

      Brian, I am a staunch free speech advocate. We should not just make demands, we should insist on free speech and not surrender one letter of any of it.

I have noticed more and more of the main stream media internet outlets are either disabling comments or requiring Facebook or some other type of identifying account.

The anonymous commenting on many local newspaper sites gets pretty wild at times, but often the commenter rip apart (with links and sources) the news article itself. I think this is where the real problem lies. The classically trained professional journalists with the highest ethical standards simply do not like it when some sit at home commenter points out the errors, omissions, bias and falsehoods in their product.

If I am expected to believe that the words some one else wrote and put on a teleprompter are Obama’s actual words, then the world can damn well live with my anonymous Anchovian alter ego.

    MrMichael in reply to Anchovy. | September 30, 2013 at 12:40 am

    I find it particularly rich when a newspaper insists on some identifying method in order to comment. I’m sure they post particularly impressive reasons for doing so on their Opinion pages.

    Where they publish articles anonymously.

“Speech codes” and the like perform a valuable service for the left by preventing honest, rational debate where they get their asses handed to them.

There is no ‘open dialogue’ at American universities. The faculty and administration are as corrupt as the American media. This is flat-out indoctrination so as to destroy our way of life and replace it with the ‘communist paradise’ so many sick people still fantasize as real.

Freedom of speech is way easier and cheaper than colleges disciplining students for having opinions, and having to create online “confessions” pages.

Phillep Harding | September 30, 2013 at 11:56 am

Yeah, well, sooner or later, the colleges are going to try to start tracking people who say something not in accordance with the party line. Punishments will start anonymously, then be for the really bad stuff, and spread like the authority of a federal inspection agency.

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