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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

The young Puritans

Overprotected by their parents, Gen Snowflake demands that college “make them comfortable,” argued Greg Lukianoff, a First Amendment specialist, and Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist, in The Coddling of the American Mind, which came out in 2017.

Children won’t grow up to be resilient adults, if they’re always under adult supervision, they wrote in a New York Times op-ed. Kids need time to play freely, “including thousands of falls, scrapes, conflicts, insults, alliances, betrayals, status competitions, and even (within limits) acts of exclusion.”

That’s true for some students, writes Kathleen Stock on Substack. But not all “speech sanitizers” are child-like and passive. A skeptic on transgenderism, she was witch-hunted out of her job as a University of Sussex philosophy professor by students brimming with “vigorous agency and confidence, however, misplaced.”

It’s not just that they didn’t fall down enough on the playground, writes Stock. Left-liberal parents are raising their children to fear “moral danger.”

Babies’ clothing proclaims “I am the future” and “Even the smallest one can change the world.”

Only a few years after being given such inspiring messages, the wearers of these will be told that the world is on fire, racism is everywhere, and nuclear holocaust might soon be on the cards. It’s a lot for a six-year-old to cope with. . . . Many children are now convinced that every time they turn a light on, a penguin dies. Barely having discovered the existence of the natural world, they are told that it is up to them to save it. In one international study surveying 10,000 children, more than 50% reported they felt “sad, anxious, angry, powerless, helpless, and guilty ” about climate change – and no wonder.

The “adolescent moralist, trying to do all of the right things all of the time,” needs “shared communal activities with others face-to-face” to develop a sense of proportion, writes Stock.

“There are plenty of valuable things in life that have nothing to do with moral judgement, or shouldn’t do: beauty, friendship, art, love, laughter, sex, food, ideas.” Furthermore, “it’s not always up to you alone to decide what’s right.”

But universities are failing to create that kind of community, she writes.

“In relative social isolation, as humans in the West increasingly are in the 21st Century, it’s easy for your moral compass to start spinning.”

Stock is the author of Material Girls: Why Reality Matters for Feminism. Reality? No wonder they came for her.

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