You may not agree with all of her statements, but this academic lady makes some good points. Do you agree with her?
By Claire Fox
Some of the girls were sobbing and hugging each other, while others shrieked. The majority appeared at the very least shell-shocked.
It was distress on a scale appropriate for some horrible disaster. Thankfully, however, I wasn’t in a war zone or at the scene of a pile-up – but in a school hall filled with A-level students.
What had provoked such hysteria? I’d dared express an opinion that went against their accepted way of thinking.
‘Generation Snowflake’ is the term for these teens, one that’s now used frequently in the U.S. and becoming more common here. It describes a fragile, thin-skinned younger generation that can’t cope with conflicting views, let alone criticism.
Being faced by a roomful of weepy teenagers certainly isn’t the only example of such behaviour I could cite, but it’s the most dramatic I have experienced.
It happened when I was taking part in a debate at a North London school as director of the Institute of Ideas early last year.
The subject under discussion was footballer Ched Evans – who was then a convicted rapist and had just been released from prison (he’s since had his conviction quashed and is awaiting a retrial). His team, Sheffield United, had taken him back, and we were debating whether the subsequent furore was social justice or mob rule.
I knew many wouldn’t agree with my stance, which was that Evans had completed his sentence and should be able to return to his profession. But during the final Q&A all hell broke loose. I dared suggest (as eminent feminists have before me) that rape wasn’t necessarily the worst thing a woman could experience.
I expected robust discussion – not for them all to dissolve into outraged gasps of, ‘You can’t say that!’
Their reaction shocked me. I take no pleasure in making teenagers cry, but it also brought home the contrast to previous generations of young people, who would have relished the chance to argue back.
It illustrated this generation’s almost belligerent sense of entitlement. They assume their emotional suffering takes precedence. Express a view they disagree with and you must immediately recant and apologise.
But as I argue in my new book – I Find That Offensive! – Generation Snowflake believe it’s their right to be protected from anything they might find unpalatable.
This mindset is particularly rife in universities. The examples are beyond parody: a National Union of Students conference banning clapping as it might trigger trauma (‘please use jazz hands’, delegates were told); the Edinburgh University student threatened with expulsion from a meeting after raising her hand in disagreement.
Last year, students at the University of East Anglia banned a Mexican restaurant from giving out sombreros because of racist stereotyping.