February 25, 2015

Lana del Rey

Lana del Rey

Source: Shutterstock

Remember when young people were in favor of free speech and free expression? Yeah, me neither.

The kids who once sought liberation from the Man’s stultifying grip are now rushing into his arms for protection against the specters of racism, misogyny, and transphobia. Even more shocking, their teachers and professors, who fought for free expression when they were students, are eagerly acceding to their demands.

For an outstandingly condescending example, see University of Chicago professor Eric Posner’s recent Slate article, “€œUniversities Are Right”€”and Within Their Rights”€”to Crack Down on Speech and Behavior.”€

Posner’s article rests on a laughably flimsy premise: students are children, not adults, and left-wing speech codes are necessary to shelter their precious little brains. He ignores the reality that as recently as 50 years ago, teenagers were getting their hands dirty in factories, fighting in wars (hang on”€”some of them still are), getting married, and having babies (well, that too). Our glut of kids living at home into their 20s is an historical aberration.

But the mollycoddling of Millennials has far darker implications than the legions of basement-dwelling man-boys playing Call of Duty. We can wince at student unions banning Robin Thicke’s soulless R&B song “€œBlurred Lines”€ for its “€œrapey”€ lyrics or demanding “€œtrigger warnings”€ on class syllabi, but the problem is that these crybabies are allowed to vote. And more important, they”€™re enforcing their pearl-clutching views on everyone else.

“€œLeft-wing Twitter witch-hunts are powerful precisely because young women are desperate for a mommy figure to pat them on the head for being good little girls.

As Millennials”€”Millennial women in particular”€”grow in power, they seek to transform society into their personal hugbox. Their preferred method for doing so is the social media witch-hunt: targeting “€œracist,”€ “€œsexist”€ or otherwise un-PC individuals for Two Minutes Hates; getting them fired from their jobs, and worse. Pax Dickinson, Justine Sacco, Gavin McInnes: the list of social justice warriors”€™ victims could fill a phone book.

The flames of left-wing outrage are fanned by a battalion of websites for whom indignation is lifeblood. Gawker, Buzzfeed, xoJane, and other clickbait sewers make their ducats from catering to the worst instincts of Millennials: hypersensitivity and impotent anger. Thanks to the efforts of media moguls such as Nick Denton”€”the William Randolph Hearst of the Internet age”€”even legacy outlets such as the Washington Post have sensationalized their content in pursuit of views.

Let’s call it what it is: iMcCarthyism. Crowdsourced witch trials. The sheltered upbringings of Millennials have merged with modern technology to create a generation of monsters. Every underemployed bookstore barista is Cotton Mather, raining down moral condemnation from the safety of her smartphone. Each cry of “€œWow, just wow, I can”€™t even”€ is a Hail Mary for these latter-day Puritans.

It’s a shock for those accustomed to youth revolting against their parents to see Millennials begging authority figures for approval. The Baby Boomer mantra of “€œDon”€™t trust anyone over 30″€ is deader than Jim Morrison, as is the cynicism of Generation X. Left-wing Twitter witch-hunts are powerful precisely because young women are desperate for a mommy figure to pat them on the head for being good little girls.

Celebrities have responded by tripping over themselves to please their young female fans. Just read the breathless homilies about Beyoncé having a giant “€œFEMINIST”€ sign during one of her shows or Lena Dunham bashing men’s rights”€™ activists on Saturday Night Live. Conversely, watch how angry Millennial girls get when sainted idols such as Nash Grier or Lana Del Rey dissent from the SJW line.

Why? How did the Millennials become a generation of church ladies, finger-wagging the insufficiently PC?

It’s clear that the helicopter parenting of Baby Boomers helped create the problem. A few decades ago, kids were given free rein to play outside and have fun; nowadays, joking about how you can make your classmate “€œdisappear”€ with Tolkien’s “€œone ring”€ will get you suspended. A generation raised on “€œDon”€™t talk to strangers”€ and “€œIt’s OK to cry”€ was destined to become a bunch of fraidycats.

Graduating into a barren job market hasn”€™t helped either. Forget about the plum manufacturing and office jobs that the Boomers had; Millennials don”€™t even get the scut work. As Takimag editor Ann Sterzinger noted, as recently as the late 90s, it was possible to support yourself doing menial work such as bussing tables. In the year 2015, those jobs are dominated by immigrant labor, denying young people the opportunity to become productive adults.


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