The Psycho-Epistemology of Pathological Altruism

Five Things You Need to Read Today

1. The Psycho-Epistemology of Pathological Altruism

By now, we all know what to expect on college campuses, right? Here’s the latest: an Indian-American comedian and former Saturday Night Live writer was shooed off the stage at Columbia University—they literally cut off his microphone—for telling jokes that were offensive for reasons nobody can quite explain. The rationale was, of course, the concept of the “safe space,” which has become a universal ideal and a comprehensive way of life.

For Sofia Jao, BC ’22, problems with the performance resided not in the set, but with Patel’s closing remarks. “I really dislike when people who are older say that our generation needs to be exposed to the real world. Obviously the world is not a safe space but just accepting that it’s not and continuing to perpetuate the un-safeness of it…is saying that it can’t be changed,” said Jao. “When older generations say you need to stop being so sensitive, it’s like undermining what our generation is trying to do in accepting others and making it safer.”

This is also bleeding down into the high schools. According to the New York Daily News:

Nazi props were temporarily declared verboten in LaGuardia High School’s production of the Third Reich-set classic “The Sound of Music” prior to the show’s Thursday night opening. The principal at the elite “Fame” school, Lisa Mars, ordered Nazi flags and symbols removed from the stage set of the beloved tale of the Von Trapp family, who fled the Nazis from their native Austria as Adolf Hitler took power.

Please, no one tell them about the Indiana Jones movies.

Note in this case, though, that it is the school administration driving the decision, while the students are resisting it.

“This is a very liberal school, we’re all against Nazis,” one sophomore performer told The News about the fuhrer furor. “But to take out the symbol is to try to erase history. Obviously the symbols are offensive,” he added. “But in context, they are supposed to be.”

By now this insanity is pretty familiar, and it’s hard to add something new to the discussion—which is what makes it all the more remarkable that Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt managed to write this must-read piece blowing the issue open from a whole new angle.

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