FINCH: Tolerance creates intolerance?

By Curt Finch

MOISD Superintendent

America built its historical foundation upon democratic principles that foster creative thought and constructive discussion. We have to remember where our forefathers came from — a Europe of old, controlled by large systems.

The Church of England, the King and the British Parliament, all controlled land ownership, personal activity, and religious choice in England. When our fledgling democracy was in its formative stages after leaving England, the freedom of press, religion and speech were important tools to forming the world’s most productive society ever known to humankind. K-12 and higher education became the cornerstone to hold inclusive discussions about the future of the "melting pot" of the world. Controlling discourse, opinion and opposing thought has come back in style and now flies under the banner of "political correctness (PC)."

Recently, PC has reached a fever pitch and drawn international attention, especially in the higher education world. PC has been visible throughout the airwaves, social and print media for years, but has manifested itself most recently on college campuses. Higher education, once bastions of discourse, discussion and dissonance, now hire “Diversity Officers” to control PC of faculty, staff and students and promote the university’s positions. The push to have tolerance for each other’s views has now turned into intolerance to those who may disagree.

Most recently, faculty, administration, staff and students have been pressured to capitulate at the University of Missouri, Princeton and Yale. This past year, commencement speakers have been dismissed, protests organized, sporting events interrupted and classes canceled because someone may be offended. Mainstream comics such as Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock and Larry the Cable Guy now avoid college campuses for fear of students who may be offended and organize protests via social media. In September, President Obama called today’s college students who won’t listen to other’s opinions as "coddled." What started out as havens of acceptance and organized discussion of world views has turned into "no-offense" zones.

We have spent the last 200 years developing a culture of acceptance, discussion and discovery. Yes, we have a long way to go to be perfect, but if you look around the world, our educational system is envied for the very foundation that is eroding it. Political correctness, disguised as "tolerance" can have its place until it becomes intolerance of others who differ in opinion. By the way, the politically correct way to comment about me? I am not "balding," I am "follicly challenged." No reason to hurt my feelings ... just saying.

Dr. Finch can be reached at and followed on Twitter @ CFinchMOISD