As nearly all of us are aware by now, the Nazi Gestapo have invaded Southwestern and have begun a campaign of random room searches designed to search for illegal drugs. At least that was supposed to happen according to the flurry of statements presented by the student group protesting last week.
As it turns out, the school is not conducting random searches of dorm rooms and will not be executing students and professors for their religious, political or sexual preferences. Following last Friday’s forum on drug policy, the campus reaction has gone from a raging inferno to an eerie quiet. What happened? Wasn’t the Gestapo invading? Wasn’t Southwestern keeping a “black-list” of students? Apparently not.
While these claims were extremely unsettling and downright offensive to me and many other students and professors on campus, what is perhaps more offensive is the lack of any sort of remorse. A week later the protests are gone, but their comments remain.
Maybe this disregard for civility is indicative of a greater problem in society today. Civil communication includes responsibility, respect and restraint. In this past year a no-name South Carolina congressman made headlines for shouting “You lie!” in the middle of a speech given by the president. Disgruntled Americans organized themselves into “tea-parties” and protested what they believed the Obama administration would be doing, such as creating death-panels for Grandma. Just like the campus Gestapo, I am yet to see any death-panels. The problem isn’t just a lack of understanding the facts (as demonstrated by the tea-parties and our valiant campus protests) but a complete lack of civility.
Uncivil communication in society motivated Christian Republican Mark DeMoss and his Jewish Democratic friend Lanny Davis to start “The Civility Project” (www.civilityproject.org). Both DeMoss and Davis were upset with the offensive rhetoric that was being thrown about from all corners of the political spectrum and longed for the return of civil debate and discussion. Their goals are simple: They want people to be civil in public discourse and behavior, to be respectful of others and to stand against incivility when it is seen. This has been sorely missing from society and our very own campus.
The “SS or SU?” Facebook event clearly displayed their rhetoric and had 74 confirmed guests and 68 replying that they would “maybe attend.” The counter-group created to “encourage open dialogue and level-headed responses” only had 40 confirmed attend with 37 maybes. That’s 142 to 77 – quite one sided. The group’s comments were offensive, their lack of apology is offensive too, but what scares me the most is how many students were so willing and even eager to side with them in the face of hurtful rhetoric.
When my grandfathers served in World War II, they didn’t fight for the right to smoke pot; They fought for the survival of both their lives and the lives of others. When the last World War II veteran dies, I hope that history will treat the sacrifices made by all veterans with more respect than our campus did.