Sometimes I think we must be living in an Alice-in-Wonderland world. At least, it sure seems like it if we judge from the number of times we’re forced to cry “Curiouser and curiouser!” because of the cognitive dissonance which abounds around us.
Take the incident at Kellogg Community College in Michigan which recently came to light via Campus Reform. According to Campus Reform, three students were giving out copies of the U.S. Constitution to passing students when they encountered an obstacle:
“They were first stopped by Drew Hutchinson, the manager of Student Life at KCC, who told them they couldn’t approach students outside or engage them in conversation because it could ‘obstruct the student’s ability to get an education.’
‘We ask that you don’t do it in the middle of everything, and part of that is because if we obstruct the student’s ability to get an education then it kind of becomes counterintuitive to the whole, um, right to speak, kind of Second Amendment rights [sic],’ Hutchinson explained, intending to cite the First Amendment.”
Given the fact that nearly 40 percent of Americans can’t name a single First Amendment right, one might think that passing out copies of the Constitution was actually furthering student education instead of hindering it. Unfortunately, Mr. Hutchinson didn’t see it that way:
“The activists explained that they weren’t physically stopping students, and were allowing students to decide whether to stop and talk, with [student Shelly] Gregorie stating that ‘[when] we’ve had people who have said they’re not interested, we don’t go after them.’
Hutchinson denied that students could make the decision not to stop, asserting that ‘these students also don’t know that they can say “see ya later.”’”
Clearly Hutchinson doesn’t have much confidence in the reasoning abilities of his students. But then, perhaps he can’t be blamed for that lack of confidence, particularly since more than two-thirds of college students report that their alma mater failed to teach them how to ask critical thinking questions.
“[Student Isaac] Edikauskas then asked a student walking by if he ‘likes freedom and liberty.’ The student replied, ‘sure’ and stopped to talk to Edikauskas.
Hutchinson, however, declared that this action broke the Student Code of Conduct because the student was on their way to ‘educational places,’ and the question, ‘Do you like freedom and liberty?’ was too ‘provocative.’
“The activists and Hutchinson continued to debate school policy until Hutchinson eventually exclaimed in exasperation that ‘I’m digging myself into a hole here!’”
One has to give Hutchinson points for that last statement. At least he realizes how difficult it is to argue for First Amendment rights while simultaneously trampling on them.
The incident concluded with Mr. Hutchinson having the students arrested. So much for free speech.
We worry today over the state of our students: their inability to rationally debate, their declining lack of knowledge, and the difficulty they have in growing up and acting like responsible adults. But if Mr. Hutchinson’s response to the Kellogg Community College students is indicative of the treatment that students across the country receive, is it any wonder that students struggle in each of these areas? Is it possible that well-meaning adults like Hutchinson might actually be the ones who are repressing students and hindering their ability to learn and grow into responsible adults?
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” - First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution
Image Credit: Alliance Defending Freedom YouTube
Annie Holmquist is editor of Intellectual Takeout, an online magazine and sister publication of Chronicles.