20 things I teach my kids so they don’t become spoiled brats

Yale and Mizzou students are giving social justice warriors a bad name.

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Yale sent out a message to students asking they show some consideration when dressing in costume. Asking grown people to not act like assholes is tedious and condescending, but this message seemed appropriate to some students who felt marginalized on campus.

An email went out afterward from Erika Christakis, a respected faculty member, wondering out loud if everyone isn’t a bit sensitive when it comes to others’ rights to act like assholes, especially around Halloween. Read that email here.

She makes some interesting points. In a sane world, her email would open a discussion and quite possibly a healthy debate. She’s asking some good questions: Are we shutting ourselves off from opportunities to grow, when we ask authority members to ban certain types of speech and activities?

Instead, Christakis’ thoughtful suggestions led to students protesting and demanding her removal from Yale. When her husband, a respected professor, defended free speech, he was shouted down in a video that soon went viral.

Embarrassing scene.

My children have dealt with anti-Semitic comments at their high school with more grace and humor than students at one of the finest universities in the land. Who are these kids’ parents?

In related news: Another video is circulating of students and professors at University of Missouri, a respected school for journalism majors, ganging up on a photographer and denying said photographer his right to freedom of press. The same students who want the right to gather freely in a public space feel very comfortable, with the help of faculty, to deny that right to others.

Embarrassing scene.

I’d be mortified if my children acted in such a dishonorable way.

To Jerelyn Luther and other Yale students who shouted down that professor, to the Mizzou students and faculty, and anyone else who believes they alone are the arbiters of what the rest of us should see and hear…I’m going to tell you what I tell my kids and what your parents should have told you long ago:

1. Not every viewpoint you hold is valid and worthy of expression. Stop and think before you speak.

2. Yelling and cursing at the opposition is rude.

3. Not everything that offends or bothers us is bad.

4. Sometimes, offensive behavior can encourage dialogue, growth and lead to better understanding. Next time, give that a try.

5. Free speech extends to the profane. You don’t like it? Look away, ignore, or engage. Those are your options. Banning is NOT an option.

6. You are being raised in environments with zero tolerance for bullies, discrimination, harassment and even sometimes just unpleasant behavior. This has led you to believe intolerance for the unpleasant is normal. Appropriate. Unfortunately, your schools and communities are failing you. When you get into the real world, and lack sufficient skills to deal with what bothers you, you will naturally want to eliminate the uncomfortable.

7. Tough shit.

8. School is not a safe space. School is a place to learn, a place to be challenged, and a place to confront what triggers you in order to navigate within and around it.

9. Good luck with that.

10. Group mentality is dangerous. Look around. Who is thinking for themselves?

11. Listening is part of a healthy debate. Understanding is even more vital.

12. When you pitch a fit on behalf of an ideal, you have done yourself and your position a terrible disservice. The best thing to do, when that happens, is apologize. You should have learned this in preschool. Hopefully, incriminating videos will not follow you the rest of your lives. It would be terrible if you were, now and forever more, subject to the same intolerance you’ve displayed.

13. We were all young once. Most of us remember when we espoused ridiculous ideas we’d later reconsider. Thankfully, no one had a phone camera back then.

14. All of us must learn how to take “no” for an answer. And move the fuck on.

15. To contemplate a point of view without taking it as fact is the sign of an educated mind. Socrates said that. Stop talking and consider an idea bigger than yourself. There is a way to disagree without being disagreeable. Cultivating that skill is more valuable in your adult life than your GPA.

16. It’s not okay to make an ass out of yourself, just to prove a point.

17. When you scream, you lose.

18. Learn from this and maybe all is not lost. Maybe.

19. You are being raised with more privileges than most of the planet. And you believe you’re oppressed because someone asked you to reason before reacting?

20. You have become what you are fighting against.