TraumatizedI recently had occasion to reflect on academic freedom through a quote from Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World: “To make them love their servitude is the task assigned, in present day totalitarian states, to ministers of propaganda, newspaper editors, and school teachers.”

In less than a century, the United States has gone from teaching Latin and Greek in high school to teaching remedial English in college. It appears delicate new generations of students are so traumatized at the prospect of ideas and thoughts outside their “safe spaces” that the only recourse is for professors, instructors and teachers to avoid opening their minds to new or controversial thoughts and thereby offending, traumatizing or making them “uncomfortable.”

Ideas by their very nature are controversial, never neutral. The seeking of truth, of understanding, was once the goal of education. Today, students and professors are so occupied with “social justice” and its attendant issues (such as “diversity,” “income inequality,” etc.) that they have little time left to cram for punishing courses such as “Television, Gender and Sexuality” or “Beauty Pageants in American Society.” Of course, there are also serious classes on Harry Potter, Lady Gaga and the Kardashians. “Nude week” on campus is also a biggie during which students are encouraged to strip and reveal their “vulnerabilities.”

Anything more challenging finds the poor traumatized darlings sucking their thumbs, cuddling teddy bears and playing Legos in a “safe space.”

And instructors who dare expand their students’ minds and knowledge? They are frequently hounded until they have no choice but to leave. One professor equated being an instructor willing to explore the depths of education to being a goose let loose in a fenced enclosure with a pack of wolves.

A Harvard professor explained how the ideas and opinions with which students and faculty might disagree are not merely wrong and to be argued on their merits. Instead, they are deemed “offensive” and need to be shut up.

In her dystopian novel The Giver, Lois Lowry explores an authoritarian society that has eradicated all controversial, difficult, sad or uncomfortable thought and memories from the world. People are happy robots protected from bad thoughts and choices because “when people have the freedom to choose, they choose wrong.”

In George Orwell’s 1984, universities and colleges purported to restrict speech for the greater freedom of everyone. Take away the ability to express unpopular speech and you take away all thought that produces such speech.

Currently, the U.S. ranks a pitiful 36th in the world in successfully educating children and young people.

For over 30 years I have taught at a local college—history, criminal justice, creative writing. . . This semester I taught the “Cyclic Theory of World History,” the credible supposition from Scottish Professor Alexander Tyler that all empires are cyclic in traveling from Bondage to Liberty to Complacency and Apathy and back to Bondage.

One of my students was apparently traumatized. I received a one-sentence e-mail without any explanation other than, “Your course is cancelled.”

Read more in: Going Bonkers: The Wacky World of Cultural Madness, by Charles W. Sasser. Available electronically and in paperback through Amazon.com