Let me preface this by saying that I’m a great believer in affirmative action and that I consider the students at UC Berkeley who tried to organize a bake sale protesting the affirmative action to be silly, ignorant fools. However, the folks who believe the event should be prevented from taking place are also silly, ignorant fools.
In case you haven’t been following the story, here is what happened:
UC Berkeley student senators voted Sunday to condemn discriminatory behavior on campus – even if done in satire – in response to a Republican student group’s plans for an “Increase Diversity Bake Sale,” with pastries labeled according to race and gender. . .
The Republicans’ posting describes five price levels for their bake sale, with pastries described as “White/Caucasian” going for $2, “Asian/American American” for $1.50, “Latino/Hispanic” for $1, “Black/African American” for 75 cents, and “Native American” for a quarter. A 25-cent discount is offered for women. “If you don’t come, you’re a racist,” the post declares.
Hundreds of students opposed the bake sale on Facebook, and many sent letters of complaint to campus administrators. Alfredo Mireles, Jr., a UCSF nursing student who sits on UC’s Board of Regents, issued a statement condemning “a common stunt performed by college Republican groups to protest affirmative action policies.”
Of course, this is nothing but an ignorant stunt. What is disturbing, however, is how quickly the students who are unhappy with it turn to the parental figures of authority to protect them from ideas they don’t like. College is the first taste of adulthood many students experience. It is sad to see that many of them are not ready for the opportunity to live like independent adults and still try to recruit Mommy and Daddy figures to make the bad guys stop saying unpleasant, “hurtful” things.
The adult thing to do would be for the dissenting students to boycott the bake sale (and what brings the point across better than having nobody attend the event?), to organize a competing event at the same time that would draw audiences away from the anti-affirmative action stunt, start a debate on the issue, engage their peers intellectually, etc.
It is also very sad that students seem to think that the only speech worth protecting is the one they agree with. It’s hard to engage with ideas that bother you intellectually. Arguing, debating, organizing alternative events – who needs all that when you can just run to the authorities and complain that somebody’s freedom of expression is hurting your feelings?