There’s a popular and trite criticism that college students cannot handle scary ideas and therefore need to censor any dissenting opinion. However, especially in the last week, people employ this rhetoric when it is not warranted. So before you copy and paste that article again about Obama criticizing “coddled” liberals, let’s define what coddling isn’t.

Calling out hate is not coddling. Upon being called out on spewing something overtly hateful, conservatives dive into the coddled defense. If President Roth expelled students who make racist statements, that would constitute coddling and most of the white students would be kicked out immediately. But, calling out racism is not coddling because racism is not an opinion: racism is pretty much just hate. Many of the students at Wesleyan experience racism, sexism, and discrimination based on their sexuality every day. So they are not shielding themselves from reality but rather just improving this community by not permitting hate to go unchecked.

Trigger warnings are not coddling either. For whatever reason, trigger warnings on college campuses are often trashed by the media. Understanding that trigger warnings are not infantile college students’ method of hiding from the “real world” is critically important. Trigger warnings represent common human decency. In only two weeks as a student at Wesleyan, I’ve read detailed, horrifying accounts of racism, sexism, and suicidal actions. Forcing someone suffering from PTSD or grappling with suicidal thoughts to read that is not you preparing anyone for life outside of college; it’s you being an a**hole.

Finally, the desire for journalistic integrity is not coddling. Recently, the Argus published an opinion piece by Bryan Stascavage that was poorly researched and misconstrued reality. Many students have no qualms with conservatism on this campus, but many take great offense to what was published because not only did the piece reduce a history of institutional racism in the police to “a few bad apples” but it also bore the Argus stamp of approval. No one wants the Argus free of conservatism, but many students would like all pieces associated with the newspaper to be properly vetted. Stascavage and every student’s first amendment rights rest safely and dissent proves valuable in college, but should we indiscriminately celebrate and publish every opinion even if it is born out of ignorance or hate?

Perhaps there exists a trend of selective listening in college. But does that problem not exist within every community in every age group? Over the past two weeks, I have been exposed to many voices and ideas that are often ignored in the “real world.” Perhaps the notion of “coddled minds” is ludicrous. But whichever proves correct, the above examples are not symptoms of liberal students protecting themselves from controversial ideas.

Aberle is a member of the Class of 2019.

  • Cliff’s Tux-table
  • Victoria Hammitt

    Now lets define what coddling IS. Coddling is going beyond “checking” or “calling out” hate, beyond “warnings” of potentially triggering material. Coddling is demanding that hateful, offensive, triggering content not be published, spoken, or discussed because it is difficult and painful. Coddling is refusing to engage with ideas and opinions that you find hateful, offensive, triggering, or incorrect and fostering an environment that encourages others to do the same.

    Not every response to Bryan’s article was a coddled response. Many were articulate, intelligent, and impassioned attacks of Bryan’s arguments and defenses of the Black Lives Matter movement. But many have also called for the article’s removal, claimed it should not have been published, and have suggested that Bryan ought not to share his opinions rather than suggesting he ought to change them. This is precisely a refusal to engage with the ideas in the article and these responses are unequivocally symptoms of liberal students protecting themselves from controversial ideas.

    • Connor Aberle

      His opinion was poorly researched and he has every right to it. NO one is taking that away. However, a school paper (especially one funded by the budget committee) cannot publish that without backlash. There was no solid research behind that piece. That’s not coddling as my article laid out.

      • Andrew Vanbarner

        Submit a well-reasoned rebuttal, then.
        The only real way to fight “hate speech” is more speech.
        Pretending it can’t be allowed won’t teach anyone anything. Censoring opinions with which you disagree cant be the answer. We will only lose our freedoms to ignorance, if we can’t tolerate disagreement, or dissent.

      • Anonymous

        I thought at first you were critiquing this very poorly researched op-ed. Then I realized you were actually the author of it. Why didn’t anyone at the Argus vet your piece for accuracy before publishing it?

      • Scott Jacobs

        Because feelz.

      • CQ

        Yes, Connor, please point out the poorly researched points of Stascavage’s comments, and tell us where his errors lay.

      • NoNonsense

        Let’s assume that you are correct: the op-ed was poorly researched and there were factual errors. Rather than castigate the paper for printing it, write your own damn column detailing what you think was incorrect. The remedy for an opinion with which you disagree is not to silence that opinion, prevent its publication, but to counter it with rational arguments and prove the other guy wrong. If you can, that is.

  • Jackson Ulrich

    a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.”

    Actually, I think racist statements are the very epitome of opinion: views or judgment not based on fact. As is your view that “most of the white students” at Wesleyan make racist statements…

    • Connor Aberle

      So? The Argus is not required to publish every opinion their staff writes. The Argus has the right to withhold pieces. Additionally, judgments in newspapers are supported by evidence. That opinion was poorly researched and supported by distortions of facts. Publishing that is irresponsible journalism.

      • Andrew Vanbarner

        I think you’re confusing articles, which are reported facts and are supposed to be free of bias, with columns, which ARE opinion pieces.
        You understand the difference between columns and articles, right?

        I happen to agree with the opinion that reforms are needed in much of our policing and law enforcement. That is an opinion, I think a well reasoned one, based on anecdotal evidence, my own observations, and reasoning.

        I also am aware that police deaths are at an all time low, AND that some minorities are heavily overrepresented in crime statistics as both victims and offenders.
        Those are FACTS, based on vetted, well respected statistics collected by the FBI’s uniform crime report. They can all be easily found via Google, from peer reviewed, respected sources of data and study.

        I also know that censorship won’t solve anything, and will make us ignorant, intolerant, afraid, and intellectually lazy.
        That’s an opinion, but one that is based on historical events and reasoning.

        Do you understand the differences, there?

  • PhotoJack45

    Every newspaper ought to be edited to avoid unnecessary offense, but the column on Black Lives Matter was not offensive; you merely disagreed with it. You think the student newspaper should be “vetted” so that it contains nothing you disagree with. That isn’t editing, it’s censorship, and stealing copies of the newspaper is a dirty trick. These are ways to eliminate free speech and turn your campus into an intellectual backwater of dull conformity. Is that really what you want?

    • Connor Aberle

      “Vetted” clearly refers to well reviewed/researched in the piece, not some weird entendre for censorship. Yes I disagreed with it, but as I said, the major gripe is the lack of research regarding the piece which was terribly irresponsible.

      • PhotoJack45

        And who will vet the vetters? Who decides the standards? Who says it is irresponsible? And what is wong with criticism? Is only your side correct? You are creating a little regime of unfreedom here. “Vetting” is not a “weird entendre” for censorship — it is merely a euphemism.

      • Connor Aberle

        uhhh no. I make it clear that vetting means fact checking. They clearly neglected to do so in this piece. Also I specifically said there was nothing wrong with conservative in the piece. DO you even go here?

      • PhotoJack45

        Really? Then why do you not specify one single factual error in your essay? Not one. You can’t just claim the other side is wrong, all wrong, without providing a bill of particulars. Or do you just assume that something you don’t like is ipso facto full of error?

      • Connor Aberle

        The article claimed the police only had “a few bad apples.” Actually, they have a history of targeting people of color more so than white people and the police have a history of excess force against people of color as well. The article claimed there’s a war on police but fails to actively investigate that paranoia. In truth, there will be the second fewest police deaths in american history by the end of this year.

      • PhotoJack45

        Thin gruel, my friend, thin gruel. The arugment you make is a perfectly fine rebuttal but not an case for advance censorship. You could probably make similar arguments about almost any opinion piece in this or any paper. What you are demanding is a system of prior restraint that prohibits the expression of opinion that is deemed unaceptable by certain powerful sectors of society, in this case your crowd. This is an old, old argument, believe me. I realize the law does not apply to a private college, but for background you may wish to check New York Times vs. Sullivan, which said debate on public issues should be “uninhibited, robust, and wide open.” I am truly sorry to see that so many in today’s college generation are such fragile flowers that they cannot stand such a debate,

      • Alex

        The article claimed the police only had “a few bad apples.” — And that is a legitimate *opinion*. For example, the number of police officers found guilty of excessive force or criminal wrong-doing is a tiny fraction of the total number of police officers in the U.S.

        “they have a history of targeting people of color more so than white people” — The “police” are not a monolithic group. What you cite happens only in some parts of the country by some officers and typically in high-crime areas. So again how frequent it is (and whether or not that “targeting” is a legitimate law enforcement tool) is a matter of *opinion*.

        “the police have a history of excess force against people of color as well.” — Yes, and against white people, too. So what?

        “The article claimed there’s a war on police” — No, it did not. The author never said that. However, even if he did, you are falsely equating a war with deaths and ignoring the inflammatory and provocative language advocating violence against the police. In some people’s *opinion*, that could be considered a war or war-like.

        I think you need to look up the definition of “opinion” and “fact”, as you seem to conflate the two.

      • NoNonsense

        Bravo! Well said!

      • Connor Aberle

        Additionally, the purpose of the piece is only slightly related to the argus article. I deemed it inappropriate to delve into details when the focus was not on the piece but the reaction to the piece.

      • Walter Kovacs


      • julia

        “Many of the students at Wesleyan experience racism, sexism, and discrimination based on their sexuality every day. So they are not shielding themselves from reality but rather just improving this community by not permitting hate to go unchecked.”
        Is this based on the 2 weeks you’ve been here?

      • FlameCCT

        I would note that your opinion article would not pass your vetting requirement as it was not a well reviewed nor researched piece. You state your opinions on various issues with no supporting evidence. IOW your article is no different than the one you want censored with the exception that your article posits opinions with which you agree.

        I have sympathy for students like you; who are in for some hard times ahead once you graduate and enter the larger world and workforce.

      • Scott Jacobs

        Save the sympathy. They don’t want it, and can’t begin to understand why you offer it.

      • FlameCCT

        I hear ya although my sympathy costs nothing and they have been warned.

  • Wes Liberal

    This post offends me because of its utter lack of understanding about what constitutes journalistic ethics and what is required of an opinion piece. Does that mean I can demand to have it taken down???

  • Andrew Vanbarner

    Define “hate.” Is criticizing a political movement “hate?” Is presenting documented facts, if they upset someone or challenge their beliefs, “hate?”
    How about opinions? Is any opinion, speculation, or idea, “hate?”
    What about teaching courses on Mark Twain? Or about WWII? Or where sexuak assault is mentioned?
    Are any of these works “triggering?”
    Unfortunately, it seems the author would say “yes” to many if these questions.
    Twain’s work contains perjoratives that can offend some minorities. So does Hemingway’s works, and so does a John Lennon song.
    Should these all be banned from critical inquiry?
    Should we censor, ban, or forbid the free exchange of ideas or expression, in the name of “diversity” or “inclusion” or “multiculturalism?”
    It seems to me that universities need to address these issues, from an adult perspective.
    No one will save academia from itself. We will all be living in an Orwellian world if we cannot allow free discourse. We will learn nothing, and know nothing, if we close off our minds in the name of “tolerance.”
    And we will soon enough trade one form of repression for another.

  • Summerfields Burrito
  • Dave Love

    When a coddled mind attempts to think, it produces garbage like this. It is interesting that people who believe in censoring ideas always assume that they will be the ones who decide which ideas are unacceptable.

  • Chris

    “If President Roth expelled students who make racist statements, that would constitute coddling and most of the white students would be kicked out immediately.”

    Who knew the white kids at Wesleyan were actually the White Knights of Wesleyan? I assume you mean to suggest, at a deeper level, that any statement, no matter how innocuous, carrying even a hint of stereotype (i.e., “micro-aggression”) should be viewed as “racist.”

    It is unbelievable how well this fits into the construct of motivated reasoning. Connor, a young white kid, has decided that certain statements that involve even the slightest undertones of racial insensitivity (and even those that don’t show the requisite level of empathy, e.g., the original article) are hateful, and therefore racial minorities will almost certainly be traumatized and require protection from said opinions.

    Here’s an idea, Connor: Why don’t you go and do a poll of racial minorities on campus, and see if they feel the regular need for their sensibilities to be protected by a freshman white kid?

  • Man with Axe

    You, sir, are yourself a racist. What evidence, what studies, do you have to substantiate your hate speech against white people, namely, that they are all guilty of racist comments? Do you understand how reading such a biased and racist comment in the school paper makes white people feel? You should have put a trigger warning on your article: This article contains racist slurs against white people.

    Additionally, do you have any sense of what college is for? By all means disagree angrily with the author of the Black Lives Matter piece, but saying it is “born out of ignorance or hate” is itself hateful and ignorant. You don’t want to disagree. You want him to shut up so you don’t have to argue with him. That is cowardly.

  • Solo Atkinson

    “In only two weeks as a student at Wesleyan, I’ve read detailed, horrifying accounts of racism, sexism, and suicidal actions.”

    I read about the South Vietnamese torturing their dissidents in the pages of “The New Republic” when I was twelve. Lots of people I know saw Nazi footage at a similar tender age. Our parents survived bombings, invasions, or Auschwitz. The fear never left their lives, some were more or less destroyed by it. Your trigger warnings in American universities are the silvery menu tassels of the privileged.

  • Anonymous

    Trigger warnings aren’t coddling. They’re just dumb. The idea that the mere discussion of certain topics will cause serious emotional trauma to many students is dubious.

  • Anonymous

    “Coddling” is not the central problem here. Demanding censorship and defunding in response to an unpopular opinion piece is the problem.

  • vivek

    This is the caliber of writing that Wesleyan freshmen are capable of? Wow.

  • Anonymous

    Democrats are fascist crybabies who want to criminalize dissent.

  • J.Mac

    I’m sorry, but I am at a total loss here.

    Would you please give direct examples of what B.Stascavage actually said in his opinion piece, “Why Black Lives Matter Isn’t What You Think” that was racist or wasn’t properly “vetted”?

    That question is directed at Connor Aberle, but I’ll also leave it open to anyone else.

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps the most disingenuous line of this article is “it also bore the Argus stamp of approval”. Um, no. the Argus is a newspaper. The word Opinion on its pages means something. Perhaps though there is an opportunity for a trigger warning. I propose:
    “Trigger warning: this piece contains an actual person’s opinions which may trigger self righteous outrage and shameless grandstanding in those prone to such things”

  • Anonymous

    Why wasn’t Mr. Aberle’s piece “vetted”? He makes sweeping claims that “[m]any” students “experience racism, sexism, and discrimination based on their sexuality every day.” But he offers no support for this claim; not even a single example. Heck, he well could be making the whole thing up for all I know. And it’s pretty clear that he’s no disinterested observer; his melodramatic schtick wouldn’t work at all (not that it does anyway) without some big claims about how terrible life is on campus.

    The reason Aberle’s writing didn;t need to be “vetted” is that Aberle is presenting his opinions. He doesn’t purport to be a reporter presenting the facts in neutral fashion. His piece doesn’t bear any Argus “stamp of approval.”

    Funny, then, that the poor confused guy just doesn’t get that he’s complaining about an op-ed piece as opposed to an article. Signed op-eds present the opinions of their authors, not a journalist-as-journalist, let alone the newspaper as a whole. If Aberle disagrees with someone’s opinions, or the putative facts underying the opinions, he’s welcome to challenge any of them — as he has.

    But when he wants people to be denied access to the op-ed pages unless and until someone (who, btw?) has “vetted” all claims in an op-ed, he’s calling for coddling. Yep,”coddling” indeed is the correct word. Shutting down someone’s speech because others want to whine about the speech simply coddles the crybabies.

  • Gubra Lagima

    As a liberal, I find it very disturbing that you seem to conflate “conservatism” with “hate” and “institutional racism.” I also find it disturbing that you seem to think “most of the white students” at Wesleyan are racists. I, personally, do not attend this university, but I have a very hard time believe that a campus can function if racism is as widespread as some of the students seem to believe it is. If a majority of students are raging racists on a non-segregated campus, why don’t you see any cases of hate crimes being committed?

    I can certainly understand the argument that Stascavage’s article should not have been published because it was poorly researched, but why should this newspaper be defunded and all copies destroyed because a poor article was released? That seems extremely reactionary and borderline childlike.

  • Andy

    Dear Sweet lil Conner, I hope you grow up alot in the next 4 years. Unless you manage to continue to hide from the world in government or acedamia, you will ligely have someone like me as a boss. Guess what, we don’t care about your snowflake status.

  • VWH

    Another example of a programmed drop in IQ.