Free from freedom: How millenials killed journalism.

Every generation loves to tout itself as the best generation and typically they follow up that statement by condemning the generation that followed. It’s a concept as old as society itself, we all love ourselves and hate whatever comes afterwards, but for the first time in history that attitude is finally justified.

I’m talking of course about millenials, you might know them by other names; Generation Y, Generation Why?, Generation Useless, the list goes on. Now I have a specific connection to Gen Y, because I myself am part of it. I was born in 1990, I was one of the first kids in my school to have internet access at home, digital cameras, Playstation, DVD’s and Blu-Ray, you name it I had it. For all intents and purposes yours truly was part of the bridge between Gen X and Gen Y, and the sad part is I wish someone had blown up the bridge.

See a lot of people criticise Gen Y unfairly, it happens. The clothes, the music, etc. These are all subjective criticisms that have existed throughout each generation, the original fans of Elvis probably didn’t care much for Manfred Mann, Elton John fans likely had a hard time identifying with Kurt Cobain, these are simple facts of life. It’s not these issues that make Gen Y a failed generation, it’s the viral nature of their regressive attitudes.

As far back as 387 BC when Greek philosopher Plato founded the Platonic Academy (sometimes referred to as the University of Athens), universities have existed as the premier institution for higher learning, a place where people present new and interesting ideas where students go to be intellectually challenged. Sadly this is no longer the case; under the guise of “progressivism”, fascism has taken root in the world of tertiary academia. A multitude of examples exist across numerous nations but in particular this epidemic has dominated modern day university culture in the USA, UK, Canada and Australia.

Need an example? The University of Missouri recently made headlines when a number of students claimed an influx of racists had attacked the university and were broadcasting death threats, the incident resulted in university President Tim Wolfe and university Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin stepping down from their positions. It sounds tragic and downright frightening…Too bad it was all made up. You’re reading that correctly, the whole incident was a fabrication; there is no evidence to suggest any of the incidents reported across mainstream media actually happened. No video footage of supposed “rednecks” driving through campus shouting racial slurs, no screen shots of threatening emails or text messages, just a number of tweets posted by University of Missouri students many of which were retroactively deleted. Source

So what’s really going on? Entitlement. That’s right, entitlement; millenials are part of a new generation, a generation that gets everything it wants, when it wants and how it wants. The reality is that these students are used to having all eyes on them and this has led to an insatiable lust for attention. These students were never concerned about the KKK attacking them, they wanted media attention and the mainstream media gave them that attention. The media should be ashamed for giving in to the demands of petulant children, however as you’ll notice anyone who speaks out against this incident is immediately labelled as a racist who simply hates black people. For the record I don’t hate black people, what I do hate is people that try to manipulate everyone into believing a mythological narrative that one group of people are exclusively victims and another group are exclusively abusers.

This epidemic isn’t exclusive to issues of race mind you, in October 2015 prominent second wave feminist author Germaine Greer was due to give a lecture at the esteemed Cardiff University in Wales. Greer had drawn criticism for holding unpopular opinions regarding transgender persons. All of which was fine, Germaine Greer has courted controversy her entire life; in 2006 she was highlighted for being highly of critical of the recently deceased “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin, for comments considered unfair and inappropriate regarding his untimely death on account of a stingray. Source

You don’t have to like Germaine Greer, God knows I certainly don’t and if this were simply an issue of not liking Greer that’d be fine, but that’s not where the situation ended. Cardiff students instead decided to circulate a petition in an effort to have Greer’s lecture cancelled because they “took offense” to what Greer had to say. Allow that to run through your head for a moment, a university, an institution of higher learning where students are expected to be confronted by unconventional ideas or concepts they may not actively agree with was being asked to silence an academic because she hurt people’s feelings. Source

I try to imagine myself in a similar situation, attending a philosophy lecture and finding myself disagreeing with a lecturer but instead of using the allotted question time to challenge or debate the ideas put forth by my lecturer, I run out of the room and start an online petition on change.org to have the lecturer barred from speaking ever again. This is the pathetic infantilisation that has infected our higher learning institutions. Hearing ideas that are different to your own is no longer allowed, instead of acting like a mature rational minded adult and debating these issues, students would rather stick their fingers in their ears and scream until they get their own way. It’s pathetic and the sad part is any time someone calls people out on it they are immediately labelled as a bigot.

There’s a concept known as Godwin’s law; originally proposed by attorney Mike Godwin in 1990 during the early days of the internet. The law suggested that the longer an online discussion went the more likely someone involved would compare their opposition to Nazi’s. Today Godwin’s law exists in fast forward; if you disagree with a socially liberal person you will be accused of bigotry and hate speech almost immediately. It’s the result of a generation opposed to critical thinking, debates are no longer about learning, they’re about winning and the fastest way to win is to make your opponent seem like a “bad person”. We used to call that an ad hominem; an attack on a person’s character rather than their position for example “I don’t agree with my opponents position on economics because he lures children into his ginger bread house and eats them”.  If that example seems pathetic to you, then good, it is a pathetic example and it’s not far off from what you’re likely to see in a discussion with millenials.

As another example one can look at Zoe Quinn; she has been the subject of the controversial GamerGate movement, an online group that argues in favour of a code of ethics in videogames journalism. Now sadly that group, while starting out as a relatively noble cause, has been commandeered by a large number of aggressive young men who use the movement as a way to coordinate online harassment and abuse of women. Source At this point GamerGate probably should just accept defeat and dissolve as the negative press is far too damaging and has arguably killed the movement.

Zoe Quinn however, is still an interesting topic of conversation. Quinn certainly didn’t deserve any death threats, harassment or online bullying that amounted from the GamerGate movement and I actively condemn the actions of those involved as should all rational people. Zoe Quinn however, has done a rather interesting thing in the aftermath, Quinn and friend/colleague Anita Sarkeesian recently appeared at the United Nations…To argue in favour of censorship. I’m not even slightly kidding, the United Nations gave time for two people to speak publicly and demand the governments of the world engage in online censorship. For the record there are countries that do engage in online censorship; China, North Korea, typically countries where human rights are a joke are quite okay with censoring the internet. Quinn and Sarkeesian argued in favour of the censorship motion because people were mean to them online, now granted I understand that getting death threats online can be an exhausting and frightening situation. The other day I received a message on facebook telling me that I should be thrown in a gas chamber because I compared feminist writer Clementine Ford to Donald Trump. A little over the top don’t you think? So should I book a trip the UN and demand censorship? Of course not, I’m an adult and I know that if I felt genuinely threatened in this situation I’d screenshot the evidence and report it to the police. I didn’t do that for the record, instead I just used the block button.

Quinn and Sarkeesina have no interest in rational responses, the two women have made thousands of dollars from being professional victims. The United Nations is a fairly toothless organisation, if you need an example: Australia has ignored the United Nations refugee convention for years and there’s never been so much as a slap on the wrist. I’m not worried about the UN managing to censor the internet, what I am worried about is the prevalence of pro-censorship attitudes; already I’ve been witness to people arguing that “Free speech isn’t really that good of an idea”, I wish that were a joke.

John F. Kennedy famously stated “…libraries should be open to all—except the censor. We must know all the facts and hear all the alternatives and listen to all the criticisms. Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors” and it bothers me that today a statement like that would be discredited by the likes of Clementine Ford as misogynistic or oppressive. This is the reality of the world today, we are subject to a generation so self-absorbed and self-indulgent that anyone who challenges their ideas is regarded as an “oppressor”. Any who dissent and argue for different points of view are immediately silenced and if need be bullied into submission. So in 10 years time when books are burned in the streets and we’ve outlawed that vast majority of words just in case someone gets offended you can thank the guy in the boatshoes, ordering a decaffeinated soy latte with his gluten free bagel and listening to the new Courtney Barnett album. Wake up before it’s too late people, we’re losing our liberty and we’re losing it fast.

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